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ALEXANDER KIMEL - HOLOCAUST UNDERSTANDING & PREVENTION

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DEHUMANIZATION

Written by Alexander Kimel - Holocaust Survivor.

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In civilized societies a condemned man is provided with some comfort and the process of execution is geared to inflict the minimum amount of emotional and physical pain; the State provides the services of clergyman to ease the anxieties and sufferings. The Germans did just the opposite, the system was geared to provide the maximum pain, all religious observances were punished with death, praying was not allowed. In order to make the killing and oppression psychologically easy for the oppressors, dehumanization of the victims had to take place. The process was quite simple; the victims forced to behave like beasts proven that the are subhuman, victims forced to live without sanitary facilities prove that they enjoy filth, etc. In the concentration camps, the inmates were so "broken-in" that they were almost oblivious to their lot. Primo Levy describes a heart-breaking scene from Auschwitz when a prisoner selected for gassing was demanding the double ration of soup, coming to him because he was selected to be gassed:

The selection is now over in our hut, but it continues in others and we are still locked in. ...the soup pots have arrived and the Blocalteste decides to proceed with the distribution at once. A double ration will be given to selected (to be gassed). ...Ziegler holds out his bowl, collects his normal ration and then waits expectantly. "What do you want?" asks the Blockaltester: according to him, Ziegler is entitled to no supplements, and he drives him away, but Ziegler returns and humbly persists. He was on the left, everybody saw it, let the Blocaltester check the cards; he has the right to a double ration. When he is given it, he goes quietly the his bunk to eat.
After the selection is over....I see and hear old Kuhn praying aloud,....swaying backwards named forwards violently. Kuhn is thanking God because ha has not bee chosen...Kuhn is out of his senses. Does he not see Beppo the Greek in the bunk next to him, Beppo who is twenty years old and is going to the gas chamber the day after tomorrow and he knows it and lies there....If I was God, I would spit at Kun's prayers.
The Germans established a bureaucracy that dealt with people like we are dealing with commodities not even cattle. For example coal is mined, stored, transported and burned in a casual manner, when it comes to transport cattle man is more careful; cattle requires the supply of fodder, water and proper facilities. The SS dealt with their victims like with commodities. People were collected, stored, transported to Gas Chambers for processing without any provision of food, water or sanitary facilities. On the opposite the lack of food especially water was used cruelly for facilitating the destruction; hungry, thirsty, emaciated people do not resist. For example a transport of Jews from Salonik was travelling for three weeks to Auschwitz, without water, food , upon arrival to Auschwitz they were herded to the Gas Chambers, and promised a glass of tea upon disinfection. People dying from thirst were fighting to get into the gas chambers. Why all this cruelty? Psychologically it is explained that powerless, inferior victims are causing a high level of anxiety and frustration in their oppressors, who act out the rage on the same victims. So it is necessary to dehumanize the victims and make their destruction easier for the oppressors.
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