Living Conditions During the Holocaust

World War II was a tragic time for Europe. During the war many people in Europe were put into concentration camps by the Nazis.  The Nazis gained control of Germany under their leader Adolf Hitler.  Hitler moved very quickly to begin what he called the "Third Reich," which was a plan to take over Europe.   The Nazis blamed the Jews for the war and maintained that they were the reason the war started.   The Nazis decided to finally deal with the problem which they believed were the Jewish people.  Jews and many other races will never forget what they went through at the camps during the Holocaust. 

Living in the Ghettos

The Ghettos
Laws were forced upon the  Jews that placed them into ghettos away from the rest of society so they could not influence the Germans around them.    In the ghettos, Jewish people had to wear the Star of David to show they were Jewish. If they were caught without the Star on their clothing, they would be sent to a concentration camp or killed.  The ghettos did not provide freedom or protection for the Jewish people; many houses were raided by the Nazis who would take all of the gold, silver, and money the Jews owned.  Ghettos were extremely filthy because they did not have proper sanitation, making disease rampant throughout the ghettos.    The ghettos were overcrowded, forcing many families to share one house. The food supply was in short-supply, and many people went hungry.  Also, the Jews' right to go to school was taken away.  The winters in the ghettos were very difficult for people with the lack of warm clothes and heating fuel.  Even though the ghettos were very strict on the Jews, the Jewish people still found ways to send their child to school and even celebrate Jewish holidays.

Concentration Camps Conditions

Living quarters of prisoners
Eventually, the Nazis began rounding up the Jews sending them to concentration camps were they would live until the war was over.  The camps where located mainly in Poland; many of the camps were labor camps, slaving the Jews into forced labor.  These camps were designed to hold only about fifty people per housing  unit, but the Nazis forced  around one-hundred fifty people into these housing units they had built.    These barracks the camps had set up were lined with stone and wooden bunk-beds that ran down the length of the building; the buildings were in poor condition which made it tough for the people living there.  The buildings had leaking roofs, rotting stalls where the bunks lay, the deteriorating straw mattress, and many prisoners were suffering from diarrhea which made the living conditions worse; all sorts of vermin and rats were running about through the barracks, and with the shortage of water made it difficult to keep the barracks sanitary.  As more and more prisoners arrived in the camps, the camps became so over crowded more people were dying of diseases spreading through the camp.  Prisoners did not survive long if they were sick or "weak" in any way, the camps were a horrible place for all these people to live.

Forced Labor

Prisoners working in the Camps
During the day, the prisoners were expected to work twelve hours of hard back-breaking work each day,  and the prisoners were fed breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. Depending on the physical labor prisoners were engaged in determined how many calories they needed each day; prisoners with less demanding work would receive one-thousand three hundred calories and the prisoner with more demanding labor would receive one-thousand seven hundred calories each day.  Many prisoners died of starvation in the camps, prisoners also suffered from what is know as "Muzulman"  is a organic deterioration the body goes through.  When the prisoners worked in the camps they were helping to build the camp itself, they would level the ground, build buildings, make new blocks, laying roads, and digging drainage ditches.  The death rate of the camps were going through the roof when the labor was so continuous throughout the camp.  Labor was one of the methods the Nazis used to kill the prisoners, they would hope the prisoners would die of over exhaustion  rather than killing them in the gas chambers or shooting the prisoners.