Nazi Gas Chambers and HR Exit Process

This entry is part 5 of 9 in the series IT Life II

Shyam Sundar who is a part of NDLF IT Employees Wing is having around 20 years of experience in information technology. He wrote an article series on “IT employees Life Fun or Problems” to create awareness about various issues faced by IT employees. This write up is fifth part of Series 2

‘I guess our Performance Appraisal system is a little bit ‘Old School’.’

Appraisal system is the root cause behind the exit process used by companies for most of the layoffs happening. The following are the repeated complaints from employees who are affected by layoffs:

  1. They blame their managers “despite of all their good work, manager has given this low rating”. They portray the managers as the core responsible agent for this layoff situation and think that a better manger will solve this problem.
  2. They complain about HR officers for targeting them as part of layoffs.
  3. Their intention : unfair rating given to them needs to be reverted back and changed to good ratings.
  4. Many employees say that their managers told them during private talks that your performance is good and rating is given based on organization pressure.
  5. Some employees even record the conversation they had with their managers and Human resource officers during this discussion
  6. They raise complaint in internal grievance mechanism and expect resolution from them. Every company has ombudsperson who is responsible for resolving employee issues. This Ombuds team mostly have people with law as their educational background and help to resolve disputes within the company.

I want to quote a story on Nazi Germany related to IT layoffs to understand the scenario better. I feel this story will make employees understand the layoff process better and how to react to this situation. Compare the various players in the story with those involved in IT layoff process and understand Top Management, Manager, HR role in perspective.

During Second World War, Nazi Germany killed several thousands Jews, Slavs, communists and others whom the Nazis under Hitler considered as subhumans. Initially people are killed by gun shots but soldiers involved in gun shots are mentally affected on seeing the blood and screaming of killed people and it costs more and takes longer time to kill one by one.

When, Nazi Germany invaded Poland that has a significant Jewish population, the Nazi’s had the necessity for killing several thousand people every day. So they built death camps or concentration camps which is otherwise called as extermination camps in a place called Auschwitz. They used several thousands of people from Jewish prisoners and built a group called SonderKommando. They selected Jews as SonderKommando primarily as they want to put the blame on all murders to the Jews themselves and that’s the another reason for selecting Poland for building this extermination camps.


An extermination camp in Auschwitz

The people to be murdered are brought by trains from various places of Europe to Auschwitz. The primary role of death camps is to execute the murders in a short span of time as the assignment given to them is to murder 2000 people on average per day.

These SonderKommando talk nicely with people who are to be murdered and take them to the place where extermination to be happen. These chambers are filled with poisonous gases like cyanide and carbon monoxide to kill people.

Sonderkommando involved in extermination process encourage the jews to undress without a hint of what was about to happen. They accompanied them to the gas chambers outfitted to appear as shower rooms with nonworking water nozzles and tile walls and remain with the victims until before the chamber doors are closed. To psychologically maintain the calming effect, the Sonderkommando remain inside till just before the door is closed. They talked to the victims about the life in the camp to pacify the suspicious ones and hurried them inside to assist the young ones and old age people. To further persuade the prisoners that nothing harmful was happening, the SonderKommando deceived them with small talk about friends or relations who have arrived in the earlier transports.

But yet not every prisoner was deceived by such psychological tactics. They found courage to joke with the children, to encourage them, despite the mortal terror visible in their own eyes. Some women would give the most terrible shrieks while undressing, or tear their hair, or scream like maniacs. The sonderkommando immediately took those people outside for execution using shooting.

Finally the doors will be sealed and people are murdered with poisonous gases. After the gassings, the sonderkommando removed the corpses from the gas chambers and maintain the chambers neatly so that the next set of people who are victims did not get a trace of what was happened before in that area.

As a part of political training, some high ranked Nazi party leaders were sent to Auschwitz to witness the gassings. They all were deeply impressed by what they saw, even very few complained about the process.
Nazi Germany murdered around 12 lakh people in 4 years time frame in Auschwitz camp itself. This is the number known to outside world and real numbers might be several times above this. On an average, 2000 people were murdered on every day. More such extermination camps were built in Poland, Belarus and Serbia and several lakhs of people are murdered in these camps.

SonderKommando very well know if they don’t follow the murder execution, they in turn will be killed by gun shots. [On a side note Nazi ideology built on making a particular group, here jews, the object of hate for the population, conducting a systematic campaign to target them and coming to power based on this hate campaign. They refused to acknowledge equality of humans, but upheld superiority of one race/religion/nationality over other as their justification]

[Read about Nazi war criminal prosecution in Does onsite and High salary secure our Future?]

Human resource officers and managers are among the workforce of the company and management is using only them to lay off employees. As part of layoff process, human resource officers talk nicely, ensure employees don’t understand the overall process and show the exit doors for employees as per top management direction which is driven by quarterly profit targers. In this process, if HR officers resist to follow rules, their growth will be affected and it affects their overall career.

Complaining to ombudsperson is like complaining to Nazi military about this act. In some companies, ombudsperson will not even take complaints on appraisal concerns as part of their grievance umbrella.

As per various reports available, nearly million IT employees will be laid off in next 4 years similar to Auschwitz target of several million murders. People might feel the comparison of these murders with IT layoffs are over imagination. But there is a report from Tamil magazine Vikatan that in the past 6 years, 8,000 employees from IT sector committed suicide in Tamil nadu alone due to IT layoffs. Even if we deny this as an exaggerated number, killing does not mean only physical killing but killing a person’s social life is much worse than that.

I want to tell another story of a woman employee whom I talked to last year. She is a single mother and worked in a leading IT company. She is living with her elderly parents and has a school going kid studying 7th standard. She was suddenly sent out by her company. She sold her flat she purchased to cut down her loans. She searched for jobs and as she was not able to find any, she joined the school where her kid is studying as a teacher. She was getting a salary which is 7 times lesser than what she draws before.

Image for Representation purpose only

I talked with her daughter to understand the impact it created in her life. She mentioned that her mom used to take her to malls and movies once in a month and after she joined my school we are not going anywhere out. This may not be a major problem for the majority of our population but I feel this is much painful than suicide for children used to a certain lifestyle. People who lost their eyes in the middle only know how pain of blindness.

So to answer the questions raised in the beginning of this part, there is no point in blaming HR officers and managers as part of this act. The chances of appraisal rating being reverted back within internal struggle is very feeble and you will be no more in the good books of organization.

So now the choice left to you is to either accept the resignation or fight against that. If you decide to fight against retrenchment procedure, I will explain in detail on how to fight against layoff in this coming weeks.

– Shyam Sundar

Series Navigation<< Compliance Violation and Termination – Facts to KnowWhat Legal Rights I have as an IT Employee? >>

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