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The Revolt of the Sonderkommandos in Auschwitz

  • Date Submitted: 05/26/2011 05:32 AM
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THE REVOLT OF THE SONDERKOMMANDOS IN AUSCHWITZ

Sonderkommandos was the name given to concentration camp prisoners whose job was to service the assembly lines of death. They were in the hell of the hell. And because they were forced to do this monstrous work, and murdered at regular intervals, they have to be considered as much victimized as the others.

I. Presentation of the Sonderkommandos

Sonderkommandos were work units of prisoners who aided with the killing process in the Nazi Death Camps. These groups should not be confused with the SS-Sonderkommandos which were units formed from various SS offices between 1938 through 1945. The members of the Sonderkommandos were selected by SS. They were choosen because they had better physical conditions than other Auschwitz inmates. They had decent food, slept on straw mattresses and could wear normal clothing. Sonderkommando members did not participate directly in the killing, which was reserved for the guards. Their primary responsibility was disposing of the corpses. The sonderkommando

duties included guiding the new arrivals into the gas chambers, removing the bodies afterwards, shaving hair, removing teeth, sorting through possessions, cremating the bodies, and disposing of the ashes. The Sonderkommando were dependent on continued shipments of Jews for their lives. "Any slowing down of operations due to lack of victims meant they were in danger of being eliminated." Their knowledge of the internal workings of the camp marked them for certain death. Someone selected for the sonderkommando had a choice: die then or die in four months time. Every few months, the current sonderkommando was liquidated and the first task of their successors was to dispose of the bodies of the previous group. Since a sonderkommando usually comprised men from incoming transports, their second task often consisted of disposing of the bodies of their own families. Contrary to what is often asserted, it was not a renewal in regular...

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