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Ghetto life was hopeless, and many felt suicide was a better alternative. They were overcrowded, with more than one family living in an apartment. Human waste was thrown into the streets with the trash. Because of the unsanitary living conditions, diseases were rampant. Adequate food supplies were unavailable to the Jews, so they were always hungry. There was a lack of heating fuel and warm clothing. There were many dying from sickness, starvation, and cold.

In the camps, the prisoners were classified according to their nationality and grounds for incarceration. Those with higher social status had better work assignments, and some held power over other prisoners. Those with lower social status did factory work, mining, and construction, and they suffered a higher mortality rate. The living conditions were harsh, and varied from camp to camp.

Hitler believed in the idea of racial superiority. Not only did his followers persecute six million Jews, but also about six million others including homosexuals, political opponents, Slavs, gypsies, and the mentally defective. The German citizens and soldiers participated because they feared retaliation. They did not want to be included in the ranks of those who were persecuted. They knew that they could be easily targeted as political opponents

There was a heavy presence of Nazi troops in the occupied areas. Civilians were executed in the streets, or found themselves deported to concentration camps, while others were used as slave labor, where they were worked to death. Food was rationed to keep the people under control.

Civilians were forced to watch, and sometimes participate in the genocide. If they resisted, they were punished, so most times they did not resist. Self-preservation is the reason they did not resist.


Causes and motivations Retrieved from https://www.ushmm.org/learn/introduction-to-the-ho…

Daily life in the concentration camps. Retrieved from https://www.ushmm.org/research/research-in-collect…

Shubert, A., and Goldstein, R. (2012). Twentieth-century europe. [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/

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