Why was life harder at Auschwitz than it had been at Lodz?

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teachsuccess | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Hello! In Daniel's Story, a young boy, Daniel, and his family are initially forced to leave their home in Frankfurt for the ghettos in Lodz, Poland.When the Lodz ghetto is slowly dissolved, Daniel and his father find themselves on the way to Auschwitz. In Chapter 9, Daniel's father fears that both Mother and Erika are dead. He has heard from a guard that the Germans have selected some to be gassed and their bodies burned. Daniel tries to rally his father by reminding him that both of them survived the selection process, and that Erika and Mother may have done so as well.

Daniel relates that in Auschwitz, the Jews were used as slave labor. They were fed on little food, and many were forced to labor beyond their strength. The part of the camp they were in was actually called Auschwitz-Birkenau. This is where the gas chambers and crematoria were. At Auschwitz, Jewish prisoners were initially sent to the quarantine camp, where they were forced to sleep on the cold floor until early morning the next day. Prisoners were then beaten and forced to stand in the hot sun until all of them were accounted for by the guards. Anyone who fell or tripped was either whipped or shot to death. After quarantine, many were forced to either build more barracks or, like Daniel, work in factories. He relates that the Lodz factories 'seemed like heaven in comparison.' At Auschwitz, prisoners were continually beaten, tortured, or shot to death for not performing up to arbitrary standards set by the guards. When workers became weak, the guards simply sent them to the gas chambers.

After prisoners are gassed, their bodies are unceremoniously tossed into pits for burning. Daniel resolves to be part of the resistance movement at Auschwitz. When he is tasked with carrying huge vats of alcohol to the pits, he is horrified when he finds out that the alcohol is needed because the Germans do not think that the fire is burning as fast as they would like.

To summarize, life was harder at Auschwitz because prisoners were tortured, abused, and shot if they did not perform to the satisfaction of the guards. Weak prisoners (the sick and infirm) who could no longer work were sent to the gas chambers. Their bodies were then burned in the pits. Anyone caught trying to warn new prisoners about their fate in the gas chambers were also promptly shot. Food was sparse (unless one traded for extra rations), sanitation atrocious, and rebels were tortured and murdered by the guards.

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