miles long. They would walk all this way, if they couldn?t keep up they would be shot. If they broke their ankle or leg or just couldn?t go on for any reason, they would either be shot or left there to die. If the Nazi?s thought they were just trying to fool them, so they could run when everyone else got far enough away, then the Nazi would shoot him or her in the leg or somewhere so they couldn?t move, and just leave them their to die. A total of about 250,000 people died during them. The Nazi?s also murdered them. They would line them up, one behind another, then shoot a bullet to see how many people they could shoot through with one bullet. Then, they would move the dead out of the way and do it again. They would also line the bodies up along huge pits in the ground, that other prisoners have dug. They would be forced to remove their closes, and then the Nazi?s would take turns shooting them in the back or the back of the head. Then they would just let them fall into the pit. If they were lucky the shot would kill them, if they weren?t, they would be covered with other dead bodies and then when the pit got full of them, they were covered with dirt. It is estimated about 261,000 inmates died in Auschwitz. About 80,000 of those deaths was from the infamous death marches.
They are packed so tightly into the railroad cars that they can’t even squat to sit, much less lie down to sleep. They ride for two days with no food, no water, no toilet facilities–with only dirty straw on the floor. They finally arrive at their destination, glad to finally be breathing fresh air when the cattle car doors are pulled open. Instead they are greeted with shouts of anger, with guns and bayonets pointed at them, and with guards holding back police dogs ready to tear them apart. A stench fills the air.
Some prisoners were assigned to the most gruesome task — that of the Sonderkommando. These prisoners were forced to work in the crematoria, burning the Jews who had just been gassed. All prisoners who were selected for forced labor were tattooed with numbers on their left arms. Any slip, outburst, or failure to comply with the guards resulted in immediate death. Because executions by gunfire were inefficient, expensive, and potentially identifiable, intoxication by poison gas–a method used by the Germans to kill over 50,000 mental patients since 1939–was agreed on as the method of choice. Zyclon was originally brought to Auschwitz as a disinfectant and vermin killer. On September 3, 1941, Fritzsch experimented with Zyclon B. on 600 Russian prisoners of war and 250 tubercular patients. He was amazed at the number of people who could be killed at once.