You cannot understand, because this world cannot be understood; such was the first part of the message broadcast to the prisoner by all the man-degrading, soul-destroying conditions he encountered, including the living standards incompatible with life, the rules without cause, the tortures without purpose—the conditions which no mind could take in or grasp, the conditions imposed because no mind could grasp them. And: you cannot understand, because you are nothing; such was the second part of the message.

The final product of the camps, one which the Nazis carefully shaped, was death. What the SS shaped was mass death without a murmur of protest; death accepted placidly by victims and killers alike; death carried out not as any kind of exception, not as an act of purposeful vengeance or hatred, but as casual, smiling, even homey routine, often against a background of colorful flower beds and to the accompaniment of lilting operetta music. It was to be death as a confirmation of all that had preceded it, death as a last demonstration of absolute power and absolute unreason, death as the final triumph of Nazism over man and over the human spirit.