The Nazis were determined to complete the “final solution” of systematically killing off Jews, Roma and other targeted populations, who would be considered sub-human by Nazi ideology. To facilitate this process they employed a variety of methods aimed at dehumanizing these groups in order to make extermination more palatable and easier to rationalize for those involved in the process. This included subjecting prisoners in labor camps such as Auschwitz to a wide range of degrading practices designed to strip them of their identity, dignity and ultimately their humanity (Lemkin, 2019).
At Auschwitz and other death camps, prisoners were stripped of all physical possessions that might serve as reminders of their past life such as photographs or wedding rings (Lemkin, 2019). They were given identical drab clothing that served both as uniformity among inmates but also deprived them from any sense of individuality or personal pride. Holocaust survivors often recall how it was incredibly demoralizing when forced into these uniforms which had the words “property of Auschwitz concentration camp” printed on them (Lemkin, 2019).
Along with being stripped away from their items and clothes which made individuals unique; prisoners were labelled with specific numbers tattooed onto their arms during registration (Kluger & Oren-Namir 2011). By depriving prisoners not only from memories but also a name itself; it created an almost faceless population which was much easier for perpetrators to ignore while they went about committing atrocities against them.
How did the Nazis dehumanize prisoners in the labor camps, including Auschwitz?
In addition, many medical experiments would take place on inmates without consent or anesthesia due to there being little regard for humane treatment at these camps (Gutman et al., 1998). The inhumanity even extended towards food rations where basic meals including breads and soup composed the majority diet provided by camp authorities regardless if one was working hard labour or not. This instilled hunger within captives who became desperate for relief even going so far as trading valued items just for extra scraps of food(Gutman et al., 1998).
Along with physical torment; psychological tactics used by guards further enforced immorality towards inmates. Subordinates seeking pleasure derived sadistic joy out of inflicting mental anguish onto helplessly subjected victims through acts such as public whippings and verbal abuse(Kluger & Oren-Namir 2011.) As well emotionally manipulative techniques like playing music during executions carried out executions without mercy or remorse(Kluger & Oren-Namir 2011.). These tactics combined together achieved the goal set forth by Hitler’s regime: completely stripping away human rights from those seen unfit within German society while sending an important message reverberating throughout Europe that persecuted people did have any individual worth in Nazi Germany no matter what race you belonged too.
All together; this strategy proved highly effective in performing mass genocide against millions based on racial background whilst emphasizing social control over certain segments deemed undesirable under Third Reich law thus providing justification necessary for its own population(Lemkin 2019; Kluger & Oren-Namir2011 ). Unspeakable horrors took place within the walls behind barbed wires triggered due largely because those inside had been successfully dehumanized prior making it easy to bear witness its obscenities .