AUSCHWITZ CONCENTRATION CAMP (German: Konzentrationslager Auschwitz,
pronounced ( listen ), also KZ
Auschwitz or KL Auschwitz) was a
network of German
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps
built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi
World War II
World War II . It consisted of AUSCHWITZ I (the
original camp), AUSCHWITZ II–BIRKENAU (a combination
Monowitz (a labor
camp to staff an
IG Farben factory), and 45 satellite camps.
Auschwitz I was first constructed to hold Polish political prisoners
, who began to arrive in May 1940. The first extermination of
prisoners took place in September 1941, and
went on to become a major site of the Nazi
Final Solution to the
Jewish Question . From early 1942 until late 1944, transport trains
Jews to the camp's gas chambers from all over
German-occupied Europe , where they were killed en masse with the
Zyklon B . An estimated 1.3 million people were sent to the
camp, of whom at least 1.1 million died. Around 90 percent of those
killed were Jewish; approximately 1 in 6
Jews killed in the Holocaust
died at the camp. Others deported to
Auschwitz included 150,000
Poles , 23,000 Romani and
Sinti , 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war , 400
Jehovah\'s Witnesses , and tens of thousands of others of diverse
nationalities, including an unknown number of homosexuals . Many of
those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labor,
infectious diseases , individual executions, and medical experiments.
In the course of the war, the camp was staffed by 7,000 members of
Schutzstaffel (SS), approximately 12 percent of whom were
later convicted of war crimes . Some, including camp commandant Rudolf
Höss , were executed. The Allied Powers refused to believe early
reports of the atrocities at the camp, and their failure to bomb the
camp or its railways remains controversial . One hundred forty-four
prisoners are known to have escaped from
Auschwitz successfully, and
on 7 October 1944, two
Sonderkommando units—prisoners assigned to
staff the gas chambers—launched a brief, unsuccessful uprising.
As Soviet troops approached
Auschwitz in January 1945, most of its
population was sent west on a death march . The prisoners remaining at
the camp were liberated on 27 January 1945, a day now commemorated as
International Holocaust Remembrance Day . In the following decades,
survivors, such as
Primo Levi ,
Viktor Frankl , and
Elie Wiesel ,
wrote memoirs of their experiences in Auschwitz, and the camp became a
dominant symbol of the Holocaust. In 1947, Poland founded the
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum on the site of
Auschwitz I and II, and
in 1979, it was named a
World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site by
* 1 History
* 1.1 Background
* 1.3.1 The Gypsy camp
* 1.5 Subcamps
* 1.6 Evacuation, death marches, and Soviet liberation
* 1.7 After the war
* 1.8 Trials of war criminals
* 2 Command and control
* 3 Life in the camps
* 4 Selection and extermination process
* 4.1 Medical experiments
* 4.2 Death toll
* 5 Escapes, resistance, and the Allies\' knowledge of the camps
* 5.1 Individual escape attempts
* 5.2 Birkenau revolt
* 6 Legacy
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
* 7 See also
* 8 Notes
* 9 Citations
* 10 References
* 11 Further reading
* 12 External links
The ideology of
Nazism brought together elements of anti-Semitism ,
racial hygiene , and eugenics , and combined them with pan-Germanism
and territorial expansionism with the goal of obtaining more
Lebensraum (living space) for the Germanic people. Immediately after
Nazi seizure of power
Nazi seizure of power in Germany, acts of violence perpetrated
Jews became ubiquitous. The Law for the Restoration of the
Professional Civil Service , passed on 7 April 1933 excluded most Jews
from the legal profession and the civil service. Similar legislation
soon deprived Jewish members of other professions of the right to
practise. Harassment and economic pressure were used by the regime to
Jews to leave the country voluntarily. Their businesses
were denied access to markets, forbidden to advertise in newspapers,
and deprived of government contracts. German
Jews were subjected to
violent attacks and boycotts.
In September 1935, the
Nuremberg Laws were enacted. These laws
prohibited marriages between
Jews and people of Germanic extraction,
extramarital relations between
Jews and Germans, and the employment of
German women under the age of 45 as domestic servants in Jewish
households. The Reich Citizenship Law stated that only those of
Germanic or related blood were defined as citizens. Thus
other minority groups were stripped of their German citizenship. The
laws were expanded on 26 November 1935 to include
Romani people and
Afro-Germans . This supplementary decree defined Gypsies as "enemies
of the race-based state", the same category as Jews. By the start of
World War II
World War II in 1939, around 250,000 of Germany's 437,000
emigrated to the United States, Palestine, the United Kingdom, and
Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. German dictator Adolf
Hitler ordered that the Polish leadership and intelligentsia be
destroyed. Approximately 65,000 civilians, who were viewed as being
inferior to the Aryan master race , were killed by the end of 1939. In
addition to leaders of Polish society, the Nazis killed Jews,
prostitutes, Romani, and the mentally ill. SS-Obergruppenführer
Reinhard Heydrich , then head of the
Gestapo , ordered on 21 September
Jews should be rounded up and concentrated into cities
with good rail links. Initially the intention was to deport the Jews
to points further east, or possibly to Madagascar . Two years later,
in an attempt to obtain new territory, Hitler invaded the Soviet Union
, intending to deport or kill the
Slavs living there.
Auschwitz I entrance
50°01′39″N 19°12′11″E / 50.027606°N 19.203088°E
/ 50.027606; 19.203088 (Site of
Auschwitz I entrance with Arbeit
Macht Frei (work makes you free) gate) Map showing the
location of the three main camps (1944). Prisoners: yellow;
After this part of Poland was annexed by
Nazi Germany , Oświęcim
(Auschwitz) was located administratively in
Germany , Province of
Upper Silesia ,
Regierungsbezirk Kattowitz , Landkreis Bielitz. It was
first suggested as a site for a concentration camp for Polish
Arpad Wigand , an aide to Higher SS and
Police Leader for Silesia,
Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski . Bach-Zelewski
had been searching for a site to house prisoners in the Silesia
region, as the local prisons were filled to capacity. Richard Glücks
, head of the
Concentration Camps Inspectorate
Concentration Camps Inspectorate , sent former
Sachsenhausen concentration camp commandant
Walter Eisfeld to inspect
the site, which already held sixteen dilapidated one-story buildings
that had once served as an Austrian and later Polish Army barracks and
a camp for transient workers.
Heinrich Himmler ,
head of the
Schutzstaffel (SS), approved the site in April 1940,
intending to use the facility to house political prisoners.
Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel)
Rudolf Höss oversaw the
development of the camp and served as the first commandant.
Obersturmführer (senior lieutenant)
Josef Kramer was appointed
Auschwitz I, the original camp, became the
administrative center for the whole complex.
Local residents were evicted, including 1,200 people who lived in
shacks around the barracks. Around 300 Jewish residents of Oświęcim
were brought in to lay foundations. From 1940 to 1941, 17,000 Polish
and Jewish residents of the western districts of
expelled from places adjacent to the camp. The Germans also ordered
Poles from the villages of
Broszkowice , Babice ,
Brzezinka , Rajsko ,
Harmęże , Bór , and Budy to the
General Government . German citizens were offered tax concessions and
other benefits if they would relocate to the area. By October 1943,
more than 6,000 Reich Germans had arrived. The Nazis planned to build
a model modern residential area for incoming Germans, including
schools, playing fields, and other amenities. Some of the plans went
forward, including the construction of several hundred apartments, but
many were never fully implemented. Basic amenities such as water and
sewage disposal were inadequate, and water-borne illnesses were
The first prisoners (30 German criminal prisoners from the
Sachsenhausen concentration camp ) arrived in May 1940, intended to
act as functionaries within the prison system. The first mass
Auschwitz concentration camp , which included Catholic
prisoners, suspected members of the resistance, and 20 Jews, arrived
from the prison in
Tarnów , Poland, on 14 June 1940. They were
interned in the former building of the Polish Tobacco Monopoly,
adjacent to the site, until the camp was ready.
The inmate population grew quickly as the camp absorbed Poland's
intelligentsia and dissidents, including the Polish underground
resistance . By March 1941, 10,900 were imprisoned there, most of them
Poles. By the end of 1940, the SS had confiscated land in the
surrounding area to create a 40-square-kilometre (15 sq mi) "zone of
interest" surrounded by a double ring of electrified barbed wire
fences and watchtowers. Like other Nazi concentration camps, the
Auschwitz I displayed the motto
Arbeit macht frei
Arbeit macht frei ("Work
American surveillance photo of Birkenau (1944). South is at the
top in this photo. Eyeglasses of victims
The victories of
Operation Barbarossa in the summer and fall of 1941
against Hitler's new enemy, the Soviet Union, led to dramatic changes
in Nazi anti-Jewish ideology and the profile of prisoners brought to
Auschwitz. Construction on
Auschwitz II-Birkenau began in October
1941 to ease congestion at the main camp.
Himmler , head of the
Schutzstaffel (SS), intended the camp to house
50,000 prisoners of war , who would be interned as forced laborers.
Plans called for the expansion of the camp first to house 150,000 and
eventually as many as 200,000 inmates. An initial contingent of
10,000 Soviet prisoners of war arrived at
Auschwitz I in October 1941,
but by March 1942 only 945 were still alive, and these were
transferred to Birkenau, where most of them died from disease or
starvation by May. By this time Hitler had decided to annihilate the
Jewish people, so Birkenau was repurposed as a combination labor
camp/extermination camp . The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum
estimates that 1.3 million people, 1.1 million of them Jewish, were
sent to the camp during its existence.
The chief of construction of
Auschwitz II-Birkenau was Karl Bischoff
. Unlike his predecessor, he was a competent and dynamic bureaucrat
who, in spite of the ongoing war, carried out the construction deemed
necessary. The Birkenau camp, the four crematoria , a new reception
building, and hundreds of other buildings were planned and
constructed. Bischoff's plans called for each barrack to have an
occupancy of 550 prisoners (one-third of the space allotted in other
Nazi concentration camps). He later changed this to 744 prisoners per
barrack. The SS designed the barracks not so much to house people as
to destroy them.
The first gas chamber at Birkenau was the "red house" (called Bunker
1 by SS staff), a brick cottage converted into a gassing facility by
tearing out the inside and bricking up the windows. It was operational
by March 1942. A second brick cottage, the "white house" or Bunker 2,
was converted some weeks later. These structures were in use for
mass killings until early 1943. Himmler visited the camp in person on
17 and 18 July 1942. He was given a demonstration of a mass killing
using the gas chamber in Bunker 2 and toured the building site of the
IG Farben plant being constructed at the nearby town of
In early 1943, the Nazis decided to increase greatly the gassing
capacity of Birkenau.
Crematorium II, which had been designed as a
mortuary with morgues in the basement and ground-level incinerators,
was converted into a killing factory by installing gas-tight doors,
vents for the
Zyklon B (a highly lethal cyanide -based pesticide ) to
be dropped into the chamber, and ventilation equipment to remove the
gas thereafter. It went into operation in March.
Crematorium III was
built using the same design. Crematoria IV and V, designed from the
start as gassing centers, were also constructed that spring. By June
1943, all four crematoria were operational. Most of the victims were
killed using these four structures.
The Gypsy Camp
Porajmos Zigeunermischlinge (Gypsy half-breeds) used
in an anthropological study by German psychologist
Eva Justin . Housed
in the Gypsy camp, all but two of Justin's subjects were murdered when
the camp was liquidated.
On 10 December 1942, Himmler issued an order to send all
Roma (Gypsies) to concentration camps, including Auschwitz. A
separate camp for Roma was set up at
Auschwitz II-Birkenau known as
the Zigeunerfamilienlager (Gypsy Family Camp). The first transport of
German Gypsies arrived on 26 February 1943, and was housed in Section
Auschwitz II. Approximately 23,000 Gypsies had been brought
Auschwitz by 1944, 20,000 of whom died there. One transport of
Sinti and Roma were killed in the gas chambers upon
arrival, as they were suspected to be ill with spotted fever .
Gypsy prisoners were used primarily for construction work. Thousands
died of typhus and noma due to overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions,
and malnutrition. Anywhere from 1,400 to 3,000 prisoners were
transferred to other concentration camps before the murder of the
On 2 August 1944, the SS cleared the Gypsy camp. A witness in another
part of the camp later told of the Gypsies unsuccessfully battling the
SS with improvised weapons before being loaded into trucks. The
surviving population (estimated at 2,897 to 5,600) was then killed en
masse in the gas chambers. The murder of the
Romani people by the
World War II
World War II is known in the
Romani language as the
Monowitz concentration camp Detailed map of Buna
Monowitz , and nearby subcamps
After examining several sites for a new plant to manufacture buna, a
type of synthetic rubber essential to the war effort, chemicals
IG Farben chose a site near the towns of Dwory and
Monowitz in German), about 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) east of
Auschwitz I and 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) east of the town of Oświęcim.
Financial support in the form of tax exemptions was available to
corporations prepared to develop industries in the frontier regions
under the Eastern Fiscal Assistance Law, passed in December 1940. In
addition to its proximity to the concentration camp, which could be
used as a source of cheap labor, the site had good railway connections
and access to raw materials. In February 1941, Himmler ordered that
the Jewish population of
Oświęcim should be expelled to make way for
skilled laborers that would be brought in to work at the plant. All
Poles able to work were to remain in the town and were forced to work
building the factory. Himmler visited in person in March and decreed
an immediate expansion of the parent camp to house 30,000 persons.
Development of the camp at Birkenau began about six months later.
Construction of IG
Auschwitz began in April, with an initial force of
1,000 workers from
Auschwitz I assigned to work on the construction.
This number increased to 7,000 in 1943 and 11,000 in 1944. Over the
course of its history, about 35,000 inmates in total worked at the
plant; 25,000 died as a result of malnutrition, disease, and the
physically impossible workload. In addition to the concentration camp
inmates, who comprised a third of the work force, IG Auschwitz
employed slave laborers from all over Europe.
At first, the laborers walked the seven kilometers from
to the plant each day, but as this meant they had to rise at 03:00,
many arrived exhausted and unable to work. The camp at
called Monowitz-Buna or
Auschwitz III) was constructed and began
housing inmates on 30 October 1942, the first concentration camp to be
financed and built by private industry. In January 1943 the
ArbeitsausbildungLager (labor education camp) was moved from the
parent camp to Monowitz. These prisoners were also forced to work on
the building site. The SS charged
IG Farben three Reichsmarks per
hour for unskilled workers, four for skilled workers. Although the
camp administrators expected the prisoners to work at 75 percent of
the capacity of a free worker, the inmates were only able to perform
20 to 50 percent as well. Site managers constantly threatened inmates
with transportation to Birkenau for death in the gas chambers as a way
to try to increase productivity. Deaths and transfers to the gas
chambers at Birkenau reduced the prisoner population of
nearly a fifth each month; numbers were made up with new arrivals.
Life expectancy of inmates at
Monowitz averaged about three months.
Though the factory had been expected to begin production in 1943,
shortages of labor and raw materials meant start-up had to be
postponed repeatedly. The plant was almost ready to commence
production when it was overrun by Soviet troops in 1945.
List of subcamps of Auschwitz
Various other German industrial enterprises, such as
Siemens-Schuckert , built factories with their own subcamps. There
were 45 such satellite camps, 28 of which served corporations involved
in the armaments industry. Prisoner populations ranged from several
dozen to several thousand. Subcamps were built at
Jawiszowice , Jaworzno , Lagisze ,
Trzebinia , and other
centers as far afield as the
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia .
Satellite camps were designated as Aussenlager (external camp),
Nebenlager (extension or subcamp), or Arbeitslager (labor camp).
Industries with satellite camps included coal mines, foundries and
other metal works, chemical plants, and other industries. Prisoners
were also made to work in forestry and farming.
EVACUATION, DEATH MARCHES, AND SOVIET LIBERATION
Young survivors at the camp, liberated by the
Red Army in
In mid-1944, about 130,000 prisoners were present in
the SS started to move about half of them to other concentration
camps. In November 1944, with the Soviet
Red Army approaching through
Poland, Himmler ordered gassing operations to cease across the Reich.
The crematorium IV building was dismantled, and the Sonderkommando
were ordered to begin removing evidence of the killings, including the
mass graves. The SS destroyed written records, and in the final week
before the camp's liberation, burned or demolished many of its
buildings. The plundered goods from the 'Canada' barracks at Birkenau
together with building supplies were transported to the German
interior. On 20 January, the overflowing warehouses were set ablaze.
On the same day, the gas chambers as well as crematoria II and III at
Birkenau were blown up. The raging fires lasted for several days. On
26 January 1945, the last crematorium V at Birkenau was demolished
with explosives just one day ahead of the Soviet attack.
Himmler ordered the evacuation of all camps in January 1945, charging
camp commanders with "making sure that not a single prisoner from the
concentration camps falls alive into the hands of the enemy." On 17
Auschwitz detainees, of whom two-thirds were
Jews, were evacuated under guard, largely on foot, in severe winter
conditions. Thousands of them died in the subsequent death march west
Wodzisław Śląski . The guards shot all prisoners who were
unable to march at the imposed pace.
Peter Longerich estimates that a
quarter of the detainees were thus killed. A column of inmates
Gross-Rosen concentration camp complex. Throughout February,
the terribly overcrowded main camp at Gross-Rosen was cleared, and all
44,000 inmates were moved further west. An unknown number died in this
last journey. In March 1945, Himmler ordered that no more prisoners
should be killed, as he hoped to use them as hostages in negotiations
with the Allies. Approximately 20,000
Auschwitz prisoners made it to
Bergen-Belsen concentration camp
Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, where they were liberated
by the British in April 1945.
Auschwitz was liberated on 26 and 27 January by the 322nd Rifle
Division of the
Red Army , the soldiers found 7,500 prisoners alive
and over 600 corpses. Among items found by the Soviet soldiers were
370,000 men's suits, 837,000 women's garments, and 7.7 tonnes (8.5
short tons) of human hair. The camp's liberation received little
press attention at the time. In historian
Laurence Rees ' opinion,
this was due to three factors: the previous discovery of similar
Majdanek concentration camp , competing news from the Allied
summit at Yalta , and the Soviet Union's interest, for propaganda
purposes, in minimizing attention to Jewish suffering. Due to the
vast extent of the camp area, at least four divisions took part in
liberating the camp: 100th Rifle Division (established in Vologda,
Russia ), 322nd Rifle Division (Gorky, Russia ), 286th Rifle Division
Leningrad ), and 107th Motor Rifle Division (Tambov, Russia ).
AFTER THE WAR
Ruins of barracks at Birkenau. Stoves and chimneys are all that
remains of most of them
Auschwitz II Birkenau was liberated by the
Red Army at around 3:30
p.m. on 27 January 1945, and the main camp (
Auschwitz I) two hours
later. Military trucks loaded with bread arrived the next day.
Volunteers began to offer first aid and improvised assistance the
following week. In early February, the
Polish Red Cross hospital
opened in blocks 14, 21, and 22 at
Auschwitz I, headed by Dr. Józef
Bellert and staffed by 30 volunteer doctors and nurses from
along with around 90 former inmates. The critically injured patients
– estimated at several thousands – were relocated from Birkenau
Monowitz to the main camp. Some orphaned children were immediately
Oświęcim residents, while others were transferred to
Kraków, where a number of them were adopted by Polish families.
Others were placed in an orphanage at Harbutowice .
The hospital cared for more than 4,500 patients (most of them Jews)
from 20 countries, suffering from starvation , alimentary dystrophy ,
gangrene , necrosis , internal haemorrhaging , and typhoid fever . At
least 500 patients died. Assistance was provided by volunteers from
Brzeszcze , who donated money and food, cleaned
hospital rooms, delivered water, washed patients, cooked meals, buried
the dead, and transported the sick in horse-drawn carts between
locations. Securing enough food for thousands of former prisoners was
a constant challenge. The hospital director personally went from
village to village to collect milk.
In June 1945 the Soviet authorities took over
Auschwitz I and
converted it to a POW camp for German prisoners. The hospital had to
move beyond the camp perimeter into former administrative buildings,
where it functioned until October 1945.
Early on, many barracks at Birkenau were taken apart by civilians who
used the materials to rebuild their own homes, levelled out in the
Auschwitz II. The poorest residents sifted the
crematoria ashes in search of nuggets from melted gold, before the
warning shots were fired. The POW camp for the German prisoners of
war was used by the Soviet
NKVD until 1947. In the two years, the
Soviets dismantled and exported the
IG Farben factories to the USSR.
Meanwhile, Soviet and Polish investigators worked to document the war
crimes of the SS.
After the site became a museum in 1947, exhumation work lasted for
more than a decade.
Antoni Dobrowolski , the oldest known survivor of
Auschwitz, died aged 108 on 21 October 2012, in
Dębno , Poland.
TRIALS OF WAR CRIMINALS
Auschwitz I where
Rudolf Höss was executed on 16
Rudolf Höss was pursued by the British Intelligence
Corps , who arrested him at a farm near
Flensburg , Germany, on 11
March 1946. Höss confessed to his role in the mass killings at
Auschwitz in his memoirs and in his trial before the Supreme National
Warsaw , Poland. He was convicted of murder, returned to
Auschwitz and hanged at the site of his crimes on 16 April 1947.
Around 12 percent of Auschwitz's 6,500 staff who survived the war
were eventually brought to trial. Poland was more active than other
nations in investigating war crimes, prosecuting 673 of the total 789
Auschwitz staff brought to trial. On 25 November 1947, the Auschwitz
Trial began in
Kraków , when Poland's Supreme National Tribunal
brought to court 40 former
Auschwitz staff. The trial's defendants
Arthur Liebehenschel , women's camp leader Maria
Mandel , and camp leader
Hans Aumeier . The trials ended on 22
December 1947, with 23 death sentences, 7 life sentences, and 9 prison
sentences ranging from three to fifteen years.
Hans Münch , an SS
doctor who had several former prisoners testify on his behalf, was the
only person to be acquitted.
Other former staff were hanged for war crimes in the Dachau Trials
Belsen Trial , including camp leaders
Josef Kramer , Franz
Hössler , and
Vinzenz Schöttl ; doctor
Friedrich Entress ; and
Irma Grese and
Elisabeth Volkenrath . The Frankfurt Auschwitz
Trials , held in West
Germany from 20 December 1963 to 20 August 1965,
convicted 17 of 22 defendants, giving them prison sentences ranging
from life to three years and three months.
Bruno Tesch and Karl
Weinbacher , the owner and the chief executive officer of the firm
Rudolf Höss (1900–1947), the first commandant
Auschwitz was considered a comfortable posting by many SS members,
due to its many amenities and the abundance of slave labor. Of the
various prisoner groups, SS officers preferred Jehovah\'s Witnesses
for household slaves because of their nonviolent behavior. Höss
lived with his wife and children in a villa just outside the camp
grounds. Other SS personnel were also initially allowed to bring
fiancees, wives, and children to live at the camp, but when the SS
camp grew more crowded, Höss restricted further arrivals. Facilities
for the SS personnel and their families included a library, swimming
pool, coffee house, and a theater that hosted regular performances.
One prisoner in each work detail or prisoner block—usually an
Aryan—was appointed as a Kapo ("head" or "overseer"). The Kapos
received better rations and lodging and wielded tremendous power over
other prisoners, whom they often abused. Very few Kapos were
prosecuted after the war, due to the difficulty in determining which
Kapo atrocities had been performed under SS orders and which had been
About 120 SS personnel were assigned to the gas chambers and lived on
site at the crematoria. Several SS personnel oversaw the killings at
each gas chamber, while the bulk of the work was done by the mostly
Jewish prisoners known as Sonderkommandos (special squads).
Sonderkommando responsibilities included guiding victims to the gas
chambers and removing, looting, and cremating the corpses.
The Sonderkommado were housed separately from other prisoners, in
somewhat better conditions. Their quality of life was further improved
by access to the goods taken from murdered prisoners, which
Sonderkommandos were sometimes able to steal for themselves and to
trade on Auschwitz's black market. Hungarian doctor Miklós Nyiszli
reported that the
Sonderkommando numbered around 860 prisoners when
Jews were being killed in 1944. Many Sonderkommandos
committed suicide due to the horrors of their work; those who did not
generally were shot by the SS in a matter of weeks, and new
Sonderkommando units were then formed from incoming transports. Almost
none of the 2,000 prisoners placed in these units survived to the
LIFE IN THE CAMPS
Guard tower at Auschwitz-Birkenau (2013) Latrine at
The prisoners' day began at 4:30 am (an hour later in winter) with
morning roll call. Dr.
Miklós Nyiszli describes roll call as
beginning 03:00 and lasting four hours. The weather was cold in
Auschwitz at that time of day, even in summer. The prisoners were
ordered to line up outdoors in rows of five and had to stay there
until 07:00, when the SS officers arrived. Meanwhile, the guards
would force the prisoners to squat for an hour with their hands above
their heads or levy punishments such as beatings or detention for
infractions such as having a missing button or an improperly cleaned
food bowl. The inmates were counted and re-counted. Nyiszli describes
how even the dead had to be present at roll call, standing supported
by their fellow inmates until the ordeal was over. When he was a
prisoner in 1944–45, five to ten men were found dead in the barracks
each night. The prisoners assigned to Mengele's staff slept in a
separate barracks and were awoken at 07:00 for a roll call that only
took a few minutes.
After roll call, the
Kommando , or work details, walked to their
place of work, five abreast, wearing striped camp fatigues, no
underwear, and ill-fitting wooden shoes without socks. A prisoner's
orchestra (such as the Women\'s Orchestra of
Auschwitz ) was forced to
play cheerful music as the workers left the camp. Kapos were
responsible for the prisoners' behavior while they worked, as was an
SS escort. The working day lasted 12 hours during the summer and a
little less in the winter. Much of the work took place outdoors at
construction sites, gravel pits, and lumber yards. No rest periods
were allowed. One prisoner was assigned to the latrines to measure the
time the workers took to empty their bladders and bowels.
Sunday was not a work day, but the prisoners did not rest; they were
required to clean the barracks and take their weekly shower.
Prisoners were allowed to write (in German) to their families on
Sundays. Inmates who did not speak German would trade some of their
bread to another inmate for help composing their letters. Members of
the SS censored the outgoing mail. Polish inmate Czesława Kwoka
Auschwitz in 1942 or 1943. Prisoner identity photographs taken by
Wilhelm Brasse .
A second mandatory roll call took place in the evening. If a prisoner
was missing, the others had to remain standing in place until he was
either found or the reason for his absence discovered, regardless of
the weather conditions, even if it took hours. After roll call,
individual and collective punishments were meted out, depending on
what had happened during the day, before the prisoners were allowed to
retire to their blocks for the night and receive their bread rations
and water. Curfew was two or three hours later. The prisoners slept in
long rows of wooden bunks, lying in and on their clothes and shoes to
prevent them from being stolen.
According to Nyiszli, "Eight hundred to a thousand people were
crammed into the superimposed compartments of each barracks. Unable to
stretch out completely, they slept there both lengthwise and
crosswise, with one man's feet on another's head, neck, or chest.
Stripped of all human dignity, they pushed and shoved and bit and
kicked each other in an effort to get a few more inches' space on
which to sleep a little more comfortably. For they did not have long
The types of prisoners were distinguishable by triangular pieces of
cloth, called Winkel, sewn onto on their jackets below their prisoner
number. Political prisoners had a red triangle, Jehovah's Witnesses
had purple, criminals had green, and so on. The nationality of the
inmate was indicated by a letter stitched onto the Winkel.
Jews had a
yellow triangle, overlaid by a second Winkel if they also fit into a
second category. Uniquely at Auschwitz, prisoners were tattooed with
their prisoner number, on the chest for Soviet prisoners of war and on
the left arm for civilians.
Prisoners received a hot drink in the morning, but no breakfast, and
a thin meatless vegetable soup at noon. In the evening they received a
small ration of moldy bread. Most prisoners saved some of the bread
for the following morning. Nyiszli notes the daily intake did not
exceed 700 calories, except for prisoners being subjected to live
medical experimentation, who were better fed and clothed. Sanitary
arrangements were poor, with inadequate latrines and a lack of fresh
Auschwitz II-Birkenau, latrines were not installed until
1943, two years after camp construction began. The camps were
infested with vermin such as disease-carrying lice, and the inmates
suffered and died in epidemics of typhus and other diseases. Noma , a
bacterial infection occurring among the malnourished, was a common
cause of death among children in the Gypsy camp.
Block 11 of
Auschwitz I was the prison within the prison, where
violators of the numerous rules were punished. Some prisoners were
made to spend the nights in standing cells . These cells were about
1.5 m2 (16 sq ft), and held four men; they could do nothing but stand,
and were forced during the day to work with the other prisoners.
Prisoners sentenced to death for attempting to escape were confined in
a dark cell and given neither food nor water while being left to die.
In the basement were the "dark cells", which had only a very tiny
window and a solid door. Prisoners placed in these cells gradually
suffocated as they used up all the oxygen in the cell; sometimes the
SS lit a candle in the cell to use up the oxygen more quickly. Many
were subjected to hanging with their hands behind their backs for
hours, even days, thus dislocating their shoulder joints.
SELECTION AND EXTERMINATION PROCESS
Jews on the Judenrampe (Jewish ramp) after
disembarking from the transport trains . To be sent rechts!—to the
right—meant the person had been chosen as a laborer; links!—to the
left—meant death in the gas chambers . Photo from the Auschwitz
Album (May 1944). Hungarian
Jews not selected as laborers were
murdered in the gas chambers almost immediately after arrival. Photo
Auschwitz Album (May 1944). A Deutsche Reichsbahn
"Güterwagen" (goods wagon), one type of rail car used for
On 31 July 1941,
Hermann Göring gave written authorization to
Heydrich, Chief of the
Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), to prepare
and submit a plan for Die Endlösung der Judenfrage (the Final
Solution of the
Jewish question ) in territories under German control
and to coordinate the participation of all involved government
organizations. The resulting
Generalplan Ost (General Plan for the
East) called for deporting the population of occupied Eastern Europe
and the Soviet Union to Siberia, for use as slave labor or to be
murdered. In addition to eliminating Jews, the Nazis also planned to
reduce the population of the conquered territories by 30 million
people through starvation in an action called the
Hunger Plan . Food
supplies would be diverted to the German army and German civilians.
Cities would be razed and the land allowed to return to forest or
resettled by German colonists.
Plans for the total eradication of the Jewish population of
Europe—eleven million people—were formalized at the Wannsee
Conference on 20 January 1942. Some would be worked to death and the
rest would be killed. Initially the victims were killed with gas vans
Einsatzgruppen firing squads, but these methods proved
impracticable for an operation of this scale. By 1942, killing
centers at Auschwitz, Sobibór ,
Treblinka , and other Nazi
extermination camps replaced
Einsatzgruppen as the primary method of
The first mass exterminations at
Auschwitz took place in early
September 1941, when 900 inmates were killed by gathering them in the
Block 11 and gassing them with Zyklon B. This building
proved unsuitable for mass gassings, so the site of the killings was
moved to the crematorium at
Auschwitz I (
Crematorium I, which operated
until July 1942). There, more than 700 victims could be killed at
once. In order to keep the victims calm, they were told they were to
undergo disinfection and de-lousing. They were ordered to undress
outside and then were locked in the building and gassed. After its
decommissioning as a gas chamber, the building was converted to a
storage facility and later served as an air raid shelter for the SS.
The gas chamber and crematorium were reconstructed after the war using
the original components, which remained on site. Some 60,000 people
were killed at
Mass exterminations were moved to two provisional gas chambers
(Bunkers 1 and 2), where the killings continued while the larger
Crematoria II, III, IV, and V were under construction. Bunker 2 was
temporarily reactivated from May to November 1944, when large numbers
Jews were exterminated. In summer 1944 the capacity of
the crematoria and outdoor incineration pits was 20,000 bodies per
day. A planned sixth facility—
Crematorium VI—was never built.
Prisoners were transported from all over
German-occupied Europe by
rail, arriving in daily convoys. By July 1942, the SS were conducting
Jews were segregated; those deemed able to work
were sent to the selection officer's right and admitted into the camp,
and those deemed unfit for labor were sent to the selection officer's
left and immediately gassed. The group selected to die, about
three-quarters of the total, included almost all children, women with
small children, all the elderly, and all those who appeared on brief
and superficial inspection by an SS doctor not to be completely fit.
After the selection process was complete, those too ill or too young
to walk to the crematoria were transported there on trucks or killed
on the spot with a bullet to the head. The belongings of the
arrivals were seized by the SS and sorted in an area of the camp
called "Canada", so called because Canada was seen as a land of
plenty. Many of the SS at the camp enriched themselves by pilfering
the confiscated property. Destroyed gas chamber at
SS officers told the victims they were to take a shower and undergo
delousing. The victims undressed in an outer chamber and walked into
the gas chamber, which was disguised as a shower facility. Some were
even issued soap and a towel. The
Zyklon B was delivered by ambulance
to the crematoria by a special SS bureau known as the Hygienic
Institute. The actual delivery of the gas to the victims was always
handled by the SS, on the order of the supervising SS doctor. After
the doors were shut, SS men dumped in the
Zyklon B pellets through
vents in the roof or holes in the side of the chamber. The victims
were dead within 20 minutes. Despite the thick concrete walls,
screaming and moaning from within could be heard outside. In one
failed attempt to muffle the noise, two motorcycle engines were revved
up to full throttle nearby, but the sound of yelling could still be
heard over the engines.
Sonderkommando wearing gas masks then dragged the bodies from the
chamber. The victims' glasses, artificial limbs, jewelry, and hair
were removed, and any dental work was extracted so the gold could be
melted down. The corpses were burned in the nearby incinerators, and
the ashes were buried, thrown in the river, or used as fertilizer.
The gas chambers worked to their fullest capacity from April–July
1944, during the massacre of Hungary\'s
Jews . Hungary was an ally of
Germany during the war, but it had resisted turning over its Jews
Germany invaded that March. A rail spur leading directly into
Birkenau was completed that May to deliver the victims closer to the
gas chambers. From 14 May until early July 1944, 437,000 Hungarian
Jews, half of the pre-war population, were deported to Auschwitz, at a
rate of 12,000 a day for a considerable part of that period. The
incoming volume was so great that the SS resorted to burning corpses
in open-air pits as well as in the crematoria. The last selection
took place on 30 October 1944.
Nazi human experimentation
Nazi human experimentation The cadaver of Berlin
dairy merchant Menachem Taffel. He was deported to
Auschwitz in March
1943 along with his wife and child, who were gassed upon arrival. He
was chosen to be an anatomical specimen. He was shipped to
Natzweiler-Struthof and murdered in the gas chamber in August 1943.
German doctors performed a wide variety of experiments on prisoners
at Auschwitz. SS doctors tested the efficacy of
X-rays as a
sterilization device by administering large doses to female prisoners.
Carl Clauberg injected chemicals into women's uteruses in an
effort to glue them shut.
Bayer , then a subsidiary of IG Farben,
bought prisoners to use as research subjects for testing new drugs.
Prisoners were also deliberately infected with spotted fever for
vaccination research and exposed to toxic substances to study the
The most infamous doctor at
Josef Mengele , known as
the "Angel of Death". Particularly interested in research on identical
twins , Mengele performed cruel experiments on them, such as inducing
diseases in one twin and killing the other when the first died to
perform comparative autopsies. He also took a special interest in
dwarfs, and he deliberately induced noma in twins, dwarfs, and other
prisoners to study the effects.
Kurt Heissmeyer took twenty Jewish children from
Auschwitz to use in
pseudoscientific medical experiments at the Neuengamme concentration
camp . In April 1945, the children were killed by hanging to conceal
A skeleton collection was obtained from among a pool of 115 Jewish
Auschwitz inmates, chosen for their perceived stereotypical racial
Rudolf Brandt and
Wolfram Sievers , general manager
Ahnenerbe (a Nazi research institute), were responsible for
delivering the skeletons to the collection of the Anatomy Institute at
the Reich University of Strasbourg in the
Alsace region of Occupied
France . The collection was sanctioned by Himmler and under the
August Hirt . Ultimately 87 of the inmates were shipped
Natzweiler-Struthof and killed in August 1943. Brandt and Sievers
were later convicted in the Doctors\' Trial in Nuremberg.
Clandestine photo taken by a member of the
undressed women on their way to the gas chamber Hungarian
Jewish children and an elderly woman on the way to the gas chambers of
Auschwitz-Birkenau (1944). Many of the very young and very old were
murdered immediately upon arrival and were never registered.
The exact number of victims at
Auschwitz is difficult to fix with
certainty, because many prisoners were never registered and much
evidence was destroyed by the SS in the final days of the war. As
early as 1942, Himmler visited the camp and ordered that "all mass
graves were to be opened and the corpses burned. In addition the ashes
were to be disposed of in such a way that it would be impossible at
some future time to calculate the number of corpses burned."
Shortly following the camp's liberation, the Soviet government stated
that four million people had been killed on the site, a figure now
regarded as greatly exaggerated. While under interrogation, Höss
Adolf Eichmann told him that two and a half million
been killed in gas chambers and about half a million more had died of
other causes. Later he wrote, "I regard the figure of two and a half
million as far too high. Even
Auschwitz had limits to its destructive
Gerald Reitlinger 's 1953 book The Final Solution
estimated the number killed to be 800,000 to 900,000, and Raul
Hilberg 's 1961 work The Destruction of the European
the number killed to be a maximum of 1,000,000 Jewish victims. French
chemist and author
Jean-Claude Pressac estimates that between 631,000
and 711,000 killed at Auschwitz, of whom 470,000 to 550,000 were
In 1983, French scholar George Wellers was one of the first to use
German data on deportations to estimate the number killed at
Auschwitz, arriving at a figure of 1,471,595 deaths, including 1.35
Jews and 86,675 Poles. A larger study started by Franciszek
Piper used timetables of train arrivals combined with deportation
records to calculate at least 960,000 Jewish deaths and at least 1.1
million total deaths, a figure adopted as official by the
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in the 1990s. Piper stated that a
figure of as many as 1.5 million total deaths was possible.
By nation, the greatest number of Auschwitz's Jewish victims were
from Hungary, accounting for 438,000 deaths, followed by Polish Jews
(300,000 deaths), French (69,000), Dutch (60,000), and Greek (55,000).
Fewer than one percent of Soviet
Jews murdered in the Holocaust were
killed in Auschwitz, as German forces had already been driven from
Russia when the killing at
Auschwitz reached its peak in 1944.
Approximately 1 in 6
Jews killed in the Holocaust died at the camp.
The next largest group of victims were non-Jewish Poles, who
accounted for 70,000 to 75,000 deaths. Twenty-one thousand Roma and
Sinti were killed, along with 15,000 Soviet POWs and 10,000 to 15,000
peoples of other nations. Around 400
Jehovah's Witnesses were
imprisoned at Auschwitz, at least 152 of whom died. An estimated
5,000 to 15,000 gay men prosecuted under German Penal Code Section 175
(proscribing sexual acts between men) were detained in concentration
camps of which an unknown number were sent to Auschwitz; of those sent
Auschwitz 80 percent died.
ESCAPES, RESISTANCE, AND THE ALLIES\' KNOWLEDGE OF THE CAMPS
Resistance movement in Auschwitz ,
Witold Report , and
Responsibility for the Holocaust § The Holocaust: What the Allies
Inmates were at times able to distribute information from the camp to
the outside world via messages used in shortwave radio transmissions.
Polish government-in-exile in London first reported the gassing of
prisoners on 21 July 1942. However, these reports were for a long
time disregarded as exaggerated or unreliable by the Allied Powers ,
Germany's opponents in the West. Information regarding
also available to the Allies during the years 1940–43 by the
accurate and frequent reports of Polish
Home Army (Armia Krajowa)
Witold Pilecki . Pilecki was the only known person to
volunteer to be imprisoned at
Auschwitz concentration camp, spending
945 days there. He gathered evidence of genocide and organized
resistance structures known as
Związek Organizacji Wojskowej (ZOW) at
the camp. His first report was smuggled to the outside world in
November 1940, through an inmate who was released from the camp. He
eventually escaped on 27 April 1943, but his personal report of mass
killings was dismissed as exaggeration by the Allies, as were his
Conspiratorial reportage about
Auschwitz "Camp of death" written by
Natalia Zarembina (pl) in 1942.
Halina Krahelska report from
Auschwitz Oświęcim, pamiętnik
więźnia ("Auschwitz: Diary of a prisoner"), 1942.
"The Mass Extermination of
Jews in German Occupied Poland", a paper
issued by the
Polish government-in-exile addressed to the United
Nations , 1942
The first information about
Auschwitz concentration camp was
published in winter 1940–41 in the Polish underground newspapers
Polska Żyje (pl) (Poland Lives) and Biuletyn Informacyjny
(Newsletter). From 1942, members of the Bureau of Information and
Propaganda of the
Home Army published in occupied Poland a
few brochures based on the accounts of escapees. The first of these
was a fictional memoir "Oświęcim. Pamiętnik więźnia" (Auschwitz:
Diary of a prisoner), written by
Halina Krahelska and published in
April 1942 in Warsaw. Also published in 1942 were the books
Auschwitz: obóz śmierci (Auschwitz: Camp of Death) written by
Natalia Zarembina (pl), and W piekle (In Hell) by Zofia
Kossak-Szczucka , the Polish writer, social activist and founder of
In 1943, the Kampfgruppe
Auschwitz (Combat Group Auschwitz) was
organized with the aim of sending out information about what was
happening. Sonderkommandos buried notes in the ground, hoping they
would be found by the camp's liberators. The group also smuggled out
photographs of corpses and preparations for mass killings in mid-1944.
The attitude of the Allies changed with receipt of the detailed,
Vrba–Wetzler report , compiled by two Jewish prisoners,
Rudolf Vrba and
Alfréd Wetzler , who escaped on 7 April 1944. This
report finally convinced Allied leaders that mass killings were taking
place in Auschwitz. Details from the Vrba-Wetzler report were
released to the Swiss press by diplomat
George Mantello and printed on
6 June by
The New York Times
The New York Times .
Auschwitz Plans originating with the
Polish government were provided to the U.K foreign ministry in August
1944. A Polish report about
Auschwitz titled "Oswiecim, Camp of Death
(Underground Report)" with a foreword by
Florence Jaffray Harriman was
published in English by the Polish Labor Group in New York in March
1944, prior to the camp's liberation. Gassing of prisoners from 1942
was described in this report.
Starting with a plea from the Slovakian rabbi Chaim Michael Dov
Weissmandl in May 1944, there was a growing campaign by Jewish
organizations to persuade the Allies to bomb
Auschwitz or the railway
lines leading to it. At one point British Prime Minister Winston
Churchill ordered that such a plan be prepared, but he was told that
precision bombing the camp to free the prisoners or disrupt the
railway was not technically feasible.
In 1978, historian David S. Wyman published an essay titled "Why
Auschwitz Was Never Bombed", arguing that the
US Air Force
US Air Force had the
capability to attack
Auschwitz and should have done so; books by
Bernard Wasserstein and
Martin Gilbert raised similar questions about
British inaction. Since the 1990s, other historians have argued that
Allied bombing accuracy was not sufficient for Wyman's proposed
attack, and that counterfactual history is an inherently problematic
endeavor. The controversy over this decision has lasted to the
present day in both countries.
INDIVIDUAL ESCAPE ATTEMPTS
At least 802 prisoners attempted to escape from the
mostly Polish or Soviet prisoners fleeing from work sites outside the
camp. 144 were successful. The fates of 331 of the escapees are
unknown. A common punishment for escape attempts was death by
starvation; the families of successful escapees were sometimes
arrested and interned in
Auschwitz and prominently displayed to deter
others. If someone did manage to escape, the SS picked ten people at
random from the prisoner's block and starved them to death.
A daring escape from
Auschwitz was staged on 20 June 1942 by four
Polish prisoners: Eugeniusz Bendera (auto mechanic at the camp),
Kazimierz Piechowski , Stanisław Gustaw Jaster, and Józef Lempart.
After breaking into a warehouse, the four dressed as members of the
SS-Totenkopfverbände (the SS units responsible for concentration
camps), armed themselves, and stole an SS staff car, which they then
drove unchallenged through the main gate.
On 24 June 1944, a Belgian-Polish Jew,
Mala Zimetbaum , escaped with
her Polish boyfriend, Edek Galiński, dressed in a stolen
prisoner-guard uniform. They were later recaptured, tortured, and
executed by the SS. On 21 July 1944, inmate Jerzy Bielecki , dressed
in an SS uniform and using a faked pass, managed to cross the camp's
gate together with his Jewish girlfriend, Cyla. Both survived the war.
Crematorium IV, blown up in the revolt
Sonderkommando units were aware that as witnesses to the
killings, they themselves would eventually be killed to hide Nazi
crimes. Though they knew that it would mean their deaths, the
Sonderkommandos of Birkenau
Kommando III staged an uprising on 7
October 1944, following an announcement that some of them would be
selected to be "transferred to another camp"—a common Nazi ruse for
the murder of prisoners. The Sonderkommandos attacked the SS guards
with stones, axes, and makeshift hand grenades. As the SS set up
machine guns to attack the prisoners in
Crematorium IV, the
Crematorium II also revolted, some of them managing
to escape the compound. The rebellion was suppressed by nightfall.
Ultimately, three SS guards were killed — one of whom was burned
alive by the prisoners in the oven of
Crematorium II — and 451
Sonderkommandos were killed. Hundreds of prisoners escaped, but were
all soon captured and executed, along with an additional group who
participated in the revolt.
Crematorium IV was destroyed in the
fighting, and a group of prisoners in the gas chamber of
was spared in the chaos.
Entrance building at Auschwitz-Birkenau Interior of the
Auschwitz I museum
In the decades since its liberation,
Auschwitz has become a primary
symbol of the Holocaust. Historian
Timothy D. Snyder attributes this
to the camp's high death toll as well as to its "unusual combination
of an industrial camp complex and a killing facility", which left
behind far more witnesses than single-purpose killing facilities such
as Chełmno or
Treblinka . The
United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly has
designated 27 January, the date of the camp's liberation, as
International Holocaust Remembrance Day . In a speech on the fiftieth
anniversary of the liberation, German chancellor
Helmut Kohl described
Auschwitz as the "darkest and most horrific chapter of German
Notable memoirists of the camp include
Primo Levi ,
Elie Wiesel , and
Tadeusz Borowski . In
If This Is a Man , Levi wrote that the
concentration camps represented the epitome of the totalitarian
ever has there existed a state that was really "totalitarian." ...
Never has some form of reaction, a corrective of the total tyranny,
been lacking, not even in the Third Reich or Stalin's Soviet Union: in
both cases, public opinion, the magistrature, the foreign press, the
churches, the feeling for justice and humanity that ten or twenty
years of tyranny were not enough to eradicate, have to a greater or
lesser extent acted as a brake. Only in the Lager was the restraint
from below non-existent, and the power of these small satraps
Viktor Frankl drew on his imprisonment at
composing Man\'s Search for Meaning (1946), one of the most widely
read works about the camp. An existentialist work, the book argues
that individuals can find purpose even among great suffering, and that
this sense of purpose sustains them. Wiesel wrote about his own
Auschwitz in Night (1960) and other works, and became
a prominent spokesman against ethnic violence. In 1986, he was awarded
Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize .
Simone Veil was later elected President of the European
Parliament , serving from 1979–82. Two Auschwitz
Maximilian Kolbe , a priest who volunteered to die by
starvation in place of a stranger, and
Edith Stein , a Jewish convert
to Catholicism—were later named saints of the Roman Catholic Church
AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU STATE MUSEUM
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Arbeit macht frei
Auschwitz I Commemorative flowers on the rail track in
On 2 July 1947, the Polish government passed a law, establishing a
state memorial to the victims of
Nazism on the site of the camp. In
1955, an exhibition opened, displaying prisoner mug shots ; hair,
suitcases, and shoes taken from murdered prisoners; canisters of
Zyklon B pellets; and other objects related to the killings. UNESCO
added the camp to its list of World Heritage Sites in 1979. In 2011,
the museum drew 1,400,000 visitors.
John Paul II
John Paul II celebrated mass over the train tracks leading to
the camp on 7 June 1979. In the decades following his visit,
controversies erupted over a group of
Carmelite nuns founding a
convent on the site and erecting a large cross originally used in the
pope's mass. Protesters objected to what they saw as Christianization
of the site, while others argued that the cross's presence effectively
recognized the camp's Catholic victims.
On 4 September 2003, three
Israeli Air Force F-15 Eagles performed a
fly-over of Auschwitz-Birkenau during a ceremony at the camp below.
The flight was led by Major-General
Amir Eshel , the son of Holocaust
survivors. On 27 January 2015, some 300
Auschwitz survivors and other
guests gathered under a giant tent at the entrance to
Birkenau to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the camp's liberation.
Attendees included president of the
World Jewish Congress
World Jewish Congress Ronald
Lauder , film director
Steven Spielberg , and world leaders such as
Bronisław Komorowski and King Willem-Alexander of
the Netherlands . As the number of remaining survivors decreases each
year, the attendance at the event is unlikely to be surpassed at
future major anniversaries.
Museum curators consider visitors who pick up items from the ground
to be thieves, and local police will charge them as such. The maximum
penalty is a prison sentence of ten years. On 22 June 2015, two
British youths from the Perse School were convicted of theft after
picking up buttons and shards of decorative glass they found on the
ground near the area where camp victims' confiscated personal effects
were stored. The boys, both 17 years old, received probation and were
fined £170, but later appealed the sentence. Curators said that
similar incidents happen once or twice a year.
Some of the roads among postwar buildings nearby are named
commemoratively, for example Więżniów Oświęcimia (translates as
"Of the prisoners of Oświęcim"), Obozowa ("Of the camps"), Ostatni
Etap ("Last Stage"), Spóldzielców ("Of the co-workers"), Ofiar
Faszyzmu ("Of the victims of fascism"), Piwniczna ("Pertaining to the
cellar(s) or basement(s)"), Wyzwolenia ("Liberation"), Maximiliana
Maximilian Kolbe "). Stefana Jaracza ("of Stefan Jaracz
* List of
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi concentration camps
List of victims and survivors of Auschwitz
March of the Living
"Polish death camp" controversy
* ^ Steinbacher gives a figure of "about 3,000"; Rees states that
1,400 were transferred.
* ^ Of the Hungarians who arrived in the summer of 1944, 85 percent
were killed immediately.
* ^ For "pseudo-scientific", see Kater, Michael H (2000). Doctors
Under Hitler, University of North Carolina Press, ISBN
978-0-8078-4858-6 , pp. 124–125; Lukas, Richard C (1994) Did the
Children Cry?: Hitler's War Against Jewish and Polish Children,
1939–1945, Hippocrene Books, ISBN 978-0-7818-0242-0 , pp. 88–89;
and Schwarberg, Günther (1984). The Murders at Bullenhuser Damm,
Indiana University Press, ISBN 978-0-253-15481-1 , p. 117.
* ^ Sievers wrote in a letter in June 1943: "Altogether 115 persons
were worked on, 79 were Jews, 30 were Jewesses, 2 were Poles, and 4
were Asiatics. At the present time these prisoners are segregated by
sex and are under quarantine in the two hospital buildings of
* ^ The museum's website shows a tally of 1 million Jews,
70–75,000 Poles, 21,000 Roma, 15,000 Soviet POWs, and 10–15,000
others killed, for a total of approximately 1.1 million.
* ^ Rees 2005 , p. 298.
* ^ A B C Snyder 2010 , p. 383.
* ^ A B Hoare 2015 .
* ^ A B Evans 2005 , p. 7.
* ^ Longerich 2010 , pp. 33–35.
* ^ Longerich 2010 , pp. 38–39.
* ^ Longerich 2010 , pp. 67–69.
* ^ Longerich 2010 , p. 41.
* ^ Kershaw 2008 , p. 346.
* ^ Evans 2005 , p. 544.
* ^ Majer 2003 , p. 102.
* ^ Longerich 2010 , p. 127.
* ^ Evans 2005 , p. 555.
* ^ Longerich 2010 , p. 144.
* ^ Evans 2008 , p. 15.
* ^ Longerich 2012 , pp. 430–432.
* ^ Longerich 2010 , pp. 148–149.
* ^ Longerich 2010 , p. 132.
* ^ Dwork & van Pelt 2002 , p. 166.
* ^ A B C Gutman 1994 , pp. 10, 16.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , pp. 22–23.
* ^ Oswiecim 60th Anniversary .
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 63.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 72.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , pp. 67, 69.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 73.
* ^ Nagorski 1995 .
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 27.
* ^ Rees 2005 , p. 9.
* ^ Longerich 2010 , pp. 260–262, 264–265, 270.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 89.
* ^ A B C D Steinbacher 2005 , p. 94.
* ^ Longerich 2010 , pp. 282–283.
* ^ "Number of deportees by ethnicity". Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial
and Museum . Retrieved 16 November 2016.
* ^ BBC Television 2005 .
* ^ Rees 2005 , p. 96.
* ^ Rees 2005 , pp. 97, 101.
* ^ Piper 1994c , p. 161.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 98.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 106.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , pp. 100–101.
* ^ Rees 2005 , pp. 168–169.
* ^ Barth 2005 , p. 122.
* ^ Longerich 2012 , p. 670.
* ^ A B Rees 2005 , p. 248.
* ^ A B Steinbacher 2005 , p. 110.
* ^ A B Steinbacher 2005 , p. 111.
* ^ A B Rees 2005 , p. 251.
* ^ Epstein 2015 , p. 165.
* ^ Hancock 1997 , p. 339.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 45.
* ^ Hilberg 1994 , pp. 81–82.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 49.
* ^ Hilberg 1994 , p. 82.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 51.
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* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 52.
* ^ A B C Steinbacher 2005 , p. 53.
* ^ A B Steinbacher 2005 , p. 57.
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* ^ Krakowski 1994 , p. 57.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , pp. 52, 56.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 129.
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* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 58.
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* ^ A B C D Lachendro 2017 , Evacuation.
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* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , pp. 125–6.
* ^ Longerich 2010 , pp. 415–416.
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* ^ Norin 2015 .
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* ^ A B C D E F Lachendro 2017 , PRC.
* ^ Rees 2005 , p. 294, chpt. 6: from testimony of Józefa
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* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 130.
* ^ Rees 2005 , p. 293.
* ^ Strzelecki, Liberation .
* ^ A B Steinbacher 2005 , p. 132.
* ^ CBS News 2012 .
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* ^ Rees 2005 , pp. 289–291.
* ^ Rees 2005 , pp. 295–96.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , pp. 138–39.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 140.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , pp. 146–149.
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* ^ Rees 2005 , p. 160.
* ^ Rees 2005 , p. 7.
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* ^ Wittmann 2003 , pp. 519–20.
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* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 102.
* ^ Rees 2005 , p. 290.
* ^ Friedlander 2009 , pp. 307–08.
* ^ Rees 2005 , p. 294.
* ^ Nyiszli 2011 , p. 41.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , pp. 103–104.
* ^ Nyiszli 2011 , pp. 25–26.
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* ^ Nyiszli 2011 , p. 26.
* ^ Nyiszli 2011 , p. 27.
* ^ A B Gutman 1994 , pp. 20–21.
* ^ A B Gutman 1994 , p. 21.
* ^ A B Steinbacher 2005 , p. 34.
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* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 31.
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* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 91.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 35.
* ^ Nyiszli 2011 , pp. 57, 102.
* ^ Lachendro, Punishments and executions .
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* ^ Rees 2005 , pp. 180–82.
* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 114.
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* ^ Steinbacher 2005 , p. 133.
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