After the start of the war in Europe, the Nazis started to separate the Jews from the non-Jews. At first, they were separated in small ways. They had to wear a yellow star, they couldn't ride on the trains, drive, could only shop in certain stores, and they had an 8 o'clock curfew and were forbidden to go into places with entertainment. By 1931, most of the polishes Jews were in the ghettos of Warsaw, Krakow, and other cities. Jews from other countries including Germany was sent to other countries (Rossel 53-55).
Over the next few years thousands died of diseases, starvation and of the cold weather, "Some eighty five thousand Jews died in Warsaw ghetto. More than twenty thousand were children" {Resnick pg. 47).
In spring 1942, the orders came to start deporting Jews out of the ghetto to the camps. The Jews were herded into cattle cars, there was no way to sit or lie down. "The trains stopped at the ramp {railway platform} in Birkenau, the people inside were brutally forced to leave the cars in a great hurry. They left behind all their personal belongings"(Buszko pg.109).
Elie Wiesel accurately portrays the conditions and treatment of the death camp in Auschwitz in his novel Night.
"By October 1942, all Jews that were in German concentration camps were deported to Auschwitz" (Resnick P 58). The first of the Nazi camps had been opened in Dachau in 1933 (Stranhinich pg. 32). Auschwitz was the largest concentration and extermination camp. It became known as the harshest of the Nazi concentration camps (Buszko pg. 107). "When prisoners arrived as Auschwitz, they saw a big sign over the main gate. It read, "Arbeit Macht Frei" ( Work makes one free). This sign would lead one to believe that if they worked hard while at the camp, they would be released. It was however; another trick played on the new arrival (Resnick pg. 62). "The prison population was constantly growing despite the periodic changes resulting from mass deaths, and despite the high mortality rate caused by starvation, hard labor, disease and exhaustion." By January 20, 1944, the total number of prisoners in Auschwitz had reached eighty thousand eight hundred thirty nine (Buszko pg. 112).
"In March 1941, the erection of a second, much larger, secion of the camp began, called Auschwitz II or Birkenau." (Buszko pg. 107) " The first, relatively small gas chamber was built in Auschwitz I. Here, the experimental gassing, using Zyklon 13 gas, first took place on September 3, 1941. The victims were six hundred Soviet prisoners of war and two hundred fifty other prisoners chosen from among the sick." In Birkenau the gas chambers and crematories of the Auschwitz killing center opened (Buszko pg. 113). Labor and mass murder went together at camps like Birkenau. The laborers who weakened could be sent directly to the gas chamber (Strahinich pg. 42). The camp was surrounded by barbed wire fences, four meters in height, which were electrically charged (Buszko pg. 113).