Never Again…until…well…now

   The Nazis at Auschwitz used the word Stücke or pieces to describe and completely dehumanize their captives. They didn’t start out calling them that. Back in the 1930s in a Nazi propaganda film, immigrants in general were referred to as “parasites…bringing with them crime, corruption and chaos.”

   Also, Auschwitz itself did not start out as a death camp. In the spring of 1940, the Nazi conquerors of Poland needed some place to house their Polish POWs. It chose an abandoned army barracks in the town of Osiewicz, near the Polish/Czech border. Only after iterations as a work camp for Polish political prisoners, then captured Russian soldiers and finally, when penning Europe’s Jews in ghettos proved increasingly costly to maintain, did the Nazis hit upon the idea of “repurposing” Auschwitz for mass extermination. It took a full two years before Auschwitz went from POW camp to death camp. And even then, there was a period when the camp population still waged a daily “battle of starvation, disease and appalling physical abuse,” according to a BBC documentary on the camp.