The term “final solution” is used when referring to the extermination of the Jews. This occurred through various methods. Hitler’s once ludicrous dreams soon became reality when more severe actions were carried out against the Jews. The invasion of Poland brought some 2 million Jews under Nazi control. This is when the situation began to change rapidly. At first, Jews were herded into concentrated areas, not only causing humiliation, but also to starve them.
After being forced into heavily restricted ghettos, many Jews died due to being exposed to forced labour leading to starvation, disease and overwork. Ghettos were established in all major cities, all having a different quality of living for the inhabitants. In Warsaw, a particularly notorious ghetto, there was a policy of starvation and tens of thousands of Jews died before the deportations began. In Warsaw, underground shelters were built and arms were purchased.
When the Nazis moved in for the final destruction of the ghetto, the rebelling Jews launched a massive attack. However, more Nazi troops intervened and although the Jewish resistance held out for several weeks, the Nazis overcame them eventually. This method was simply not effective enough for Hitler and so mobile killing units were devised. After entering a town, the rabbi was sent for and all the Jews were demanded to assemble. Once all the Jews were together, the Action Group and local militia transported them to a ravine or wood.
On arrival, a large trench was dug by the Jews, that acted as their grave once they had been brutally machine-gunned down. This procedure was repeated as the Germans advanced. The worst case of this was the massacre of up to 50,000 Jews in one or two days at Babi Ayr. Although the number of Jews killed exceeded others, communists, commisors, the mentally unsound, Poles, Russian prisoners of war, gypsies and Armenians were also victims of Nazi prejudice. However, this again was not a quick enough method of extermination. Death camps soon became a ‘popular’ method for Hitler.
Industrial methods were introduced in order to find the most effective way of killing the largest number of Jews possible at one time. Jews were deported to camps, built away from towns, by rail in cattle trucks. Each camp had a rail route directly into it. Auschwitz was the central extermination centre for Western Europe. It could hold up to 140,000 inmates with 5 crematoria able to dispose of up to 10. 000 bodies per day. It was calculated that up to 2 million died in total at Auschwitz alone. At these camps, large chambers were fitted to look like shower rooms.
However, as the Jews were lead through and closed in, a poisonous gas such as Zyklon B was pumped into the room. Only small amounts of this gas was needed and killed in about 3 – 15 minutes. This was therefore considered one of the ‘best’ methods. Throughout this period, there were many attempts to exterminate the Jews. Although many say that Hitler had a plan thoughout his time in power, it seems that he may have just used trial and error. As one method failed, Hitler tried another desperate attempt to exterminate efficiently.