Zyklon B canisters (L) and an electrified fence (R), Auschwitz.
After going through the death camps, and alone to discuss the day and what we saw, Baruch and I talked about how the nazis were able to take control of so many people. It went beyond just the force of the weapons. In the beginning, the Warsaw ghetto was the largest of all the Jewish ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. It was established in the Muranów neighborhood between October and November 16, 1940.
The Jewish people were told to pack some belongings and that they were going to be moved to a different part of the city. They were told that they would have a 2 room apartment to live in. What they were not told was that there would be 8 families sharing that apartment. In the ghetto, 92,000 Jewish people died of hunger, freezing to death and disease. The nazis did not think they were dying fast enough, so the deported them to concentration camps.
The nazis used lies, deception, and false hope to control the people. If you look at pictures of the Jewish people as they arrived at Auschwitz and Birkenau, you will see that they had on their best clothing and brought suitcases with items they thought they would be needing. We saw many of the items confiscated from them, including shoes, eyeglasses, prayer shawls (tallit), pots and pans, etc. They didn’t know that at the end of the train tracks at Birkenau, there were 2 big gas chambers with crematoriums attached. The majority of Jewish prisoners were taken directly there and exterminated immediately. There were 3,000,000 Jewish Poles murdered in the Holocaust.
After visiting these death camps, I was struck by not only the physical abuse the people went through (which was horrific), but the constant mental anguish they were subjected to. These people were constantly being told things to get their hopes up (and bring them into submission) and then the promises were broken. They were treated inhumanely every day; they were mentally abused every moment of every day.
Let us pray and thank the L-rd for everything that we have at this moment. Let’s also pray for the strength for what lies ahead.