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Carly Bowman 2/3/14 Informative Essay

Gas Chambers
During the Holocaust, millions of people were killed by gas chambers. A gas chamber was a tool of mass destruction located in 1940s concentration camps in Eastern Europe consisting of a narrow and dark concrete room, much like a shower, with faucets which poured not water but deadly gasses. Everyday thousands of people were sent into these chambers to suffocate and die from poisonous gas. Gas chambers were located in the concentration camps, such as Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek, and Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland. The first time a gas chamber was used was in August 1941. At first, chambers were used to kill people that were viewed by the Nazis to be of no help, and then later they were later used to kill everyone else in the concentration camps whether the people were viewed as helpful or not. The purpose of the gas chambers was mass killings. Millions of people were imprisoned in the concentration camps, and there were too many captives for the Nazis to kill all of them by using guns. The easiest way to kill many people at once was to put them in gas chambers. One particular gas chamber in Auschwitz, for example, had hundreds of people in it at once, and the chamber was only 25 square meters, 45 cubic meters. The Nazis targeted people whom they viewed as having unworthy lives. Unworthy people were defined as people that were mentally ill, physically disabled, or too weak to work. Since they werent any help to the Nazis, the Nazis just killed the prisoners. The victims that were most commonly gassed were the Jewish people, gypsies, homosexuals, and other unworthy people. Some camps werent designed for mass extermination but they still had prisoners that had unworthy lives. Those camps had small gas chambers that were only used to kill the people that couldnt work. During the Final Solution, the time period when Nazis tried to finish killing everybody in the camps, mass killings through the use of gas chambers occurred. Everyday thousands of people were killed in the chambers. In Auschwitz, for example, 6,000 people were gassed every day. Gas chambers were the easiest way for the Nazis to kill such a massive amount of people at once. The method for using the gas chambers was deception. The Nazis tricked the prisoners into entering the chamber. The prisoners werent told they were going to be killed or sent into a gas chamber. One person who visited the Dachau camp after it was liberated described how the gas chambers looked like ordinary showers: "We were then shown a room which looked something similar to a reception room, and off it was another room with the marking 'Showers' on it. When some prisoners exited the cattle cars, they were told before entering the camps that they had to disinfect themselves by taking a shower. One survivor of the Holocaust remembered from his experience: The crematorium greeted us with its horrible tongues of flame coming out of its smokestacks. They undressed in certain yards in the camps, undressing rooms, or just in open parts of the camp. Then, once they entered the chamber there werent any showers; it was just hundreds of people in a packed room suffocating to death. The gas was called Zyklon B,

and it was often in the form of tablets. First, the gas was released from the tablet, and then it suffocated the prisoners. If prisoners werent gassed as soon as they entered the camps, they were usually gassed later on. Sometimes prisoners went on marches, and those marches led them to the chambers that were disguised as showers. The prisoners were told they were just going to take a shower, but then they were corralled in the chamber and gassed. Following the gas chamber killings came the process of corpse removal. Other prisoners in the concentration camps were required to remove the dead bodies from the chambers. The bodies were piled in huge pits and then sent to crematorium furnaces to be burned. During periods with fewer deaths as opposed to mass killings, the dead bodies were typically buried underground in large graves. For mass killings, cremation was typically used to destroy the piles of corpses. Before the bodies were burned or buried, all hair was cut off, metal dental work was removed, and jewelry was removed. Concentration camps accomplished what the Nazis set out to do. They killed thousands of people per day, millions of people in all. The gypsies, the mentally ill, disabled people, Jews, young and old, and even people who were strong enough to work in the camp were victims of the gas chambers. The Nazis, commanded by Hitler, wanted their prisoners dead. By the Final Solution, the Nazis attempted to put all their captives into gas chambers and kill them all. Power affected the group of Jewish people. Hitlers hatred of Jews led to millions of people of that group and other groups to be nearly extinguished. Millions of people were killed in the gas chambers all because of Hitlers leadership of the Nazi party and abuse of power. He used his power to control the Nazis and make them believe that the Jews, and other groups, should be killed. In Maus II, for example, Vladek, a Jewish individual, was affected by Hitlers abusive power. He suffered from typhus, starvation, and beatings in a concentration camp. Vladek was also separated from his beloved Anja in the concentration camp, which devastated him because he adored her.