She and Leichter were among 1, women gassed over the course of a few days: Jews, yes, but also infirm and weak prostitutes the asocials, who wore black triangles and criminals who wore green triangles. They were killed in one of the clandestine euthanasia centres where the Aryan mentally ill and disabled were taken, from the institutions where they had lived, to be murdered; relatives were sent notices that they had died of natural causes. Whatever this represents it is not vernichtung — the rendering into nothing — that was the work of the death camps and the death squads, the Einsatzgruppen.
But none us this gets us very far. Helm never explains why the regime kept it up. It is hard to make a general claim based on evidence from so special a place. The Nazi doctors who created wounds in the Polish experimental subjects and infected them with dirt and glass in order to test cures for gas gangrene worked at Auschwitz and used male subjects, too. So much else besides their gender determined the fate of women and men at the hands of the Nazi state.
Helm follows their stories. Not now. Both she and her husband were deviationists, more interested in fighting fascism than in party orthodoxy.
In , Stalin handed her over along with other heterodox German communists to Hitler. Langerfeld, daughter of a blacksmith and with a son born out of wedlock, got her first job as a guard in a prison for prostitutes. Still she was in charge of managing daily operations. From the beginning Langerfeld had trouble with her male superiors. Yet these regulations were often ignored by the camp S. Strangely, however, it was possible, in the prewar years, at least, for a guard to be prosecuted for such a killing. In , Paul Zeidler was among a group of guards who strangled a prisoner who had been a prominent churchman and judge; when the case attracted publicity, the S.
He was sentenced to a year in jail. In , Himmler agreed to allow the Red Cross to deliver food parcels to some prisoners in the camps. To send a parcel, however, the Red Cross had to mark it with the name, number, and camp location of the recipient; requests for these details were always refused, so that there was no way to get desperately needed supplies into the camps. Even the distinction between guard and prisoner could become blurred.
From early on, the S.
This system spared the S. In some cases, Kapos became almost as privileged, as violent, and as hated as the S.
Mory was sentenced to death but managed to commit suicide first. At the bottom of the K.
Once there, however, they found themselves subject to special torments, ranging from running a gantlet of truncheons to heavy labor, like rock-breaking. As the chief enemies in the Nazi imagination, Jews were also the natural targets for spontaneous S. The systematic extermination of Jews, however, took place largely outside the concentration camps. They had almost no inmates, since the Jews sent there seldom lived longer than a few hours. By contrast, Auschwitz, whose name has become practically a synonym for the Holocaust, was an official K.
The first people to be gassed there, in September, , were invalids and Soviet prisoners of war. It became the central site for the deportation and murder of European Jews in , after other camps closed. The vast majority of Jews brought to Auschwitz never experienced the camp as prisoners; more than eight hundred thousand of them were gassed upon arrival, in the vast extension of the original camp known as Birkenau. Only those picked as capable of slave labor lived long enough to see Auschwitz from the inside. Many of the horrors associated with Auschwitz—gas chambers, medical experiments, working prisoners to death—had been pioneered in earlier concentration camps.
Oswald Pohl, the S. The most ambitious was the construction of a brick factory near Sachsenhausen, which was intended to produce a hundred and fifty million bricks a year, using cutting-edge equipment and camp labor. The failure of the factory, as Wachsmann describes it, was indicative of the incompetence of the S.
To turn prisoners into effective laborers would have required giving them adequate food and rest, not to mention training and equipment.
Ravensbruck: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women [Sarah Helm] on retouwingere.tk *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Months before the. architect of the Holocaust—designed a special concentration camp for women,. Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women . A Life in Secrets Ravensbrück gives us an agonizing sense of the dark heart of the Nazi ethos.
It would have meant treating them like employees rather than like enemies. But the ideological momentum of the camps made this inconceivable. Labor was seen as a punishment and a weapon, which meant that it had to be extorted under the worst possible circumstances.
Prisoners were made to build the factory in the depths of winter, with no coats or gloves, and no tools. This debacle did not discourage Himmler and Pohl. On the contrary, with the coming of war, in , S. On the eve of the war, the entire K. New camps were built to accommodate the influx of prisoners from conquered countries and then the tens of thousands of Red Army soldiers taken prisoner in the first months after Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the U.
The enormous expansion of the camps resulted in an exponential increase in the misery of the prisoners. Food rations, always meagre, were cut to less than minimal: a bowl of rutabaga soup and some ersatz bread would have to sustain a prisoner doing heavy labor.
In , Johanna Langefeld found a new saviour in Adolf Hitler. Women were not fit for public life; most jobs would be barred to women and access to university curtailed. Tens of thousands of Swastika flags blot out the Gothic beauties of the place.
They looked up at him as if he were a Messiah. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Overview Months before the outbreak of World War II, Heinrich Himmler—prime architect of the Holocaust—designed a special concentration camp for women, located fifty miles north of Berlin.
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