The Book Thief: Concentration Camps and Death Marches

2669 WordsJul 12, 201811 Pages
World War II was a grave event in the twentieth century that affected millions. Two main concepts World War II is remembered for are the concentration camps and the marches. These marches and camps were deadly to many yet powerful to others. However, to most citizens near camps or marches, they were insignificant and often ignored. In The Book Thief, author Markus Zusak introduces marches and camps similar to Dachau to demonstrate how citizens of nearby communities were oblivious to the suffering in those camps during the Holocaust. Much of The Book Thief revolved around a common German family hiding a Jew. During the Holocaust and the book, Jews and other people seen as insignificant were imprisoned in concentration camps.…show more content…
One survivor, Bill Lowenberg, noted that bodies were not burned, but the prisoners had to bury them. The prisoners were feeble and could barely walk. If prisoners did not walk fast enough from one place to another, they were beaten without as much as a second thought. Lowenberg said he was told by Germans soldiers that they “would never get out alive”. The guards were under a tremendous amount of pressure to get as much work as possible out of the able-bodied prisoners (Lowenberg). Marches were dreadfully common in World War II. All people incarcerated in concentration camps were ordered to be evacuated toward the inner part of Germany according to Heinrich Himmler. There were three main reasons for this. The first reason was that the SS would not allow the enemies to get to the prisoners alive to tell their stories. The SS also thought the prisoners were necessary to maintain production of military supplies. The final reason was that some SS leaders believed camp prisoners could be used as hostages to bargain. Marches started on trains and ships but as time ran out and the Allied troops pressed on, many marches were on foot. If prisoners could not walk anymore, guards obeyed their orders to immediately kill them. The prisoners were murderously mistreated and thousands died of starvation, exposure, and exhaustion. Liesel notes in The Book Thief how “hunger ate them as they continued forward” (Zusak 3920. Some

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