Auschwitz-Birkenau played a central role in the Nazi's systematic extermination of the Jews of Europe. During the summer and autumn of 1941, Zyklon B gas was introduced into German concentration camps as a highly efficient means for murder. The SS initially converted two farmhouses for use as gas chambers, but judged these facilities inadequate for the scale of gassing they planned at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Four large crematorium buildings were constructed between March and June 1943. Each had three components: a disrobing area, a large gas chamber, and crematorium ovens. To prevent panic, the Nazis told new arrivals that they would be taking a shower. Instead they were gassed to death and then burnt in the crematoria. The SS continued gassing operations at Auschwitz-Birkenau until November 1944.
Members of the camp orchestras tended to receive preferential treatment. Their barracks were less cramped and squalid, and they usually received better quality rations than the other inmates.
Tantalus is a figure in Greek mythology.
Tantalus offered up his son Pelops as a sacrifice to the Gods, cutting him up, boiling him and serving him up at a banquet. Aware of the gruesome nature of the menu, the Gods didn't touch the offering. Only Demeter, distraught at the loss of her daughter Persephone, absentmindedly ate part of the boy's shoulder. Zeus (King of the Gods) ordered Clotho, one of the three Fates, to bring the boy to life again. His body parts were collected in a sacred cauldron and boiled, and his shoulder rebuilt from ivory. Pelops grew to be extraordinarily handsome, so much so that the god Poseidon fell in love with him and abducted him to Mount Olympus.
Tantalus's crimes of cannibalism, human sacrifice and infanticide were atrocities and breached all taboos. The punishment for his act (now a proverbial term for temptation without satisfaction, and the source of the English word tantalise), was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal beyond his grasp. Whenever he bent to drink, the water receded before he could reach any. His fate was to be cursed with eternal deprivation.