Building Hitler's jets : using Holocaust survivors' testimonies to examine a branch of the Nazi armaments industry / by Clifton Caskey.
The purpose of this thesis is to utilize the testimonies of Holocaust survivors in studying conditions in the concentration camps where prisoners were forced to build jet aircraft for the German Luftwaffe , or air force. Building jets such as the two profiled, Messerschmitt's Me 262 and Heinkel's He 162, was part of a last-ditch effort by the Nazis to produce a "wonder weapon" which they hoped could turn the tide of the Second World War.Using the testimonies of these jet camp survivors, I am able to concentrate on detailing the hellish work conditions and camp conditions these people faced. Testimony regarding the camps used for final assembly of the Me 262 and He 162 help to fill out our understanding of how these enterprises were run, especially important as is becoming clear that, due to recent research by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the number of catalogued camps has grown by a multiple of at least three, from around 5,000-7,000 to about 20,000 camps. Because the Nazis managed to destroy some camp records in order to minimize incriminating evidence, oral testimony regarding some of these facilities becomes even more important. Most of the testimonies used in this study are from the USC Shoah Foundation Institute For Visual History and Education, in Los Angeles, California.While researching this topic, it became obvious that several important themes were emerging, including an examination of the importance of food and calories in the camps, along with the significance of medical attention (or lack of medical attention) received by concentration camp inmates. Along with chapters about these themes, I felt it was also important to look at the role psychiatry plays in the changing perception of the concentration camp survivor. Elements of oral history, history from below, Alltagsgeschichte–the history of everyday life, and prosopography–multiple biography–are all important methods used in this study.
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