As expected, going to the Holocaust Museum was a very emotional experience. I learned about the Holocaust throughout my middle and high school years and it makes me angry and disgusted, but once I saw all the artifacts and pictures of what the Jewish people and their families had to go through I have this indescribable sense of empathy, putting myself in their shoes which gives me a different feeling then of just learning about it from a book or a Powerpoint presentation. Seeing artifacts from the war and concentration camps gave me chills. Going through this Museum makes you think how could one person full of hate could not only get a whole county’s support, but their willingness to execute his insanely dark and murderous plan. When I was walking through the museum I decided to talk about the crematorial which they used to dispose of the bodies after they were executed. This gives great insight of this time period by showing us how the Nazis thought that they really were the superior race and that using scientific racism was a justification to their inhumane thoughts and actions. We learn that the people of Germany were so desperate for a leader to bring them out of depression and make them a European or global power again, that they embodied his terrible plans and were willing to execute the Final Solution for him.
When I went to the Museum there were so many moving artifacts to choose from. I was debating on quite a few of them to write about. I ended up choosing the crematorial because I felt like it showed us more of the destruction and intent of the Final Solution than the other artifacts. It was actually in the very last room of the tour so I thought I had already found what I was going to write about, but this really intrigued me because I had never seen one of the things the Nazis used to dispose of the bodies. Throughout school they show pictures of the gas chambers, the work sites, and the awful living spaces for the Jewish people at the camps, but I had never once seen a cermatorial, not even a picture of one. It had its own room and not very many people stopped and looked at it so I decided I would check it out. After reading the short write up on it I knew I wanted to use it for this paper. I think it is something different than a lot of people would choose to do because no one really cares and talks about what happened to the Jewish people after they were killed. I will say it isn’t as important to learn about it compared to most things when you are taught about World War II and the Holocaust, but very important and it is symbolic of this time period. This is the final step of the Final Solution so it is important to talk about and should not get left out.
It looks like how you would think a crematorial would look like. It has a big black metal door to it with a handle on. It also has another opening at the bottom of it that is also made out of the black metal which I don’t know what the bottom opening is used for. Around the openings is made of red brick. When you look at the picture you can see that there are metal tools that they used when they were disposing of the bodies. You can see blackness all around the red brick from the fire.
In the death camp of Auschwitz there were five different crematoriums that they used to burn the dead bodies. Each of the crematoriums had their own building. Some also had gas chambers connected to them. These Crematoriums were first built in 1939, but there wasn’t many of them solely because at that time period the deaths were relatively low compared to what they would become in the upcoming years. The crematoriums used oil to run and were actually built for farmers who needed to burn debris and dead animals. As the number of deaths grew a man by the name of Heinrich Kori made the first permanent crematoria which did not run off oil like the previous one, but it ran off coal. The permanent ones would be put into brick buildings so an accident wouldn’t burn down the building. The crematorium buildings would also have a place to store the dead bodies to just lay there until they could be cremated. They were usually built right beside where the Jewish people would sleep so it would be easier to gather them to be executed. If you have ever seen the Boy in the Striped Pajamas the process is the same. They would round everyone up then tell them they are getting to shower so they had to take off all their clothes, then they would lock them in and put the gas on, killing everyone inside. After all that they would cremated the bodies and that was the smoke his father saw at the end of the movie. My artifact was taken from Crematorium V in 1944 when this specific furnace broke down after burning thousands of dead bodies.
The first permanent crematorium was built in 1940 and was used until 1943. According to the Jewish virtual library this crematorium could burn 340 bodies per day. People that were deemed unfit and not healthy would be killed then burned first, and the Polish would be picked out too. There were two rooms in the crematorium that were just for killing people with gas. These rooms were called Bunker no.1 and Bunker no.2. After 1943 they had made countless other crematoriums so they stopped using crematorium I.
Crematorium II-III were even bigger than the first one. According to the Jewish virtual library they could burn 1,440 bodies per day, that is more than 4x as many bodies per day. These buildings also had gas chambers connected to them and were used to kill Jews and some people who weren’t Jewish. These crematoriums were used from 1943- 1944. At the end of the war once the Nazis knew the allies were going to find the camps, the officers ordered Crematorium II-V to be destroyed to hide all the evidence.
Crematorium IV-V were smaller than II and III, but bigger than the first one. According to Jewish virtual library it could burn 740 bodies per day, and some ex-Nazis say it could even be more. The Nazi soldiers would make the Jewish people dig pryes and pits next to these two crematoriums and then burn them inside the pits after they were killed in the gas chambers. That seems so messed up to me that they would almost work them to death digging so later they can lay in them dead and then cremated. These two crematoriums were used between the years 1943-1945, and were also destroyed so the Allies couldn’t find the evidence of them.
This object gives us insight on how much faith and how much the military personal and the whole country looked up to Hitler and thought he was the country’s savior. This country was in a time of misery and economic desperation, and Hitler rose to power and fixed it. Once this happened everyone was brainwashed by Hitler and his ideas and thought because he got them out of the country’s worst depression that everything he said and planned was the right thing to do. Being an independent person in this time period was very difficult and most people weren’t. If you had ideas that were against Hitler’s regime you could be prosecuted or worse, killed. For that reason the majority of people just followed what Hitler said, no questions asked. I’m not saying no one spoke out, but the majority did not either because they were scared or because they truly thought Hitler was the country’s savior. This furnace and the crematoriums show us how dark and evil Hitler’s Nazi regime really was. They were willing to kill 11 million people because of one man’s plans for a better Germany. The military and German people were so brainwashed that they thought all of this evil was acceptable.
This museum was a memory I will have with me for the rest of my life. It showed more of the Jewish peoples’ struggles that you can’t always invision from a book. My artifact supported how desperate the people of Germany must have been to get out of their depression and how they were dependent on Hitler and believed everything he wanted to do was the right thing to do. Based on the facts and history of the five crematoriums and the amount of people that were killed and then burned in them supports my thesis of the dependency and desperation of the German people.
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