Auschwitz-Birkenau. Niemiecki nazistowski obóz koncentracyjny i zagłady (1940-1945)
The Concentration Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau (20 Więźniów Oświęcimia Street)
Konzentriatonslager Auschwitz-Birkenau (Obóz Koncentracyjny Oświęcim-Brzezinka) was the largest Nazi concentration and immediate extermination camp. It consisted of three camps:
- Auschwitz I (Oświęcim I) - the first camp, mainly of forced labor and the administrative centre of the whole complex;
- Auschwitz II - Birkenau (Brzezinka) - initially a concentration camp, later an extermination camp equipped with gas chambers and crematoria;
- Auschwitz III - Monowitz (Monowice), a forced labor camp in the Buna-Werke factory belonging to the IG Farben Group.
Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945, head of SS), had the concentration camp Auschwitz I established on April 27, 1940. He followed the request of a higher SS, safety police and safety service commanding officer from Wroclaw, von dem Bach. The area chosen for the camp’s location was Zasole in the suburbs of Oswiecim. It was located on the territory of Germany in those days (those were Polish lands incorporated into the Third Reich in 1939). The camp was built within the premises of deserted Polish artillery barracks in 21 one - or two - storey brick buildings. With time, the prisoners were forced to build seven more buildings, and a storey was added to the one - storey buildings. The camp was surrounded by a large and small chain of wardens and a so called depopulated area of the camp’s business (40 km2). The aim of establishing the camp was to isolate and exterminate the Polish armed underground.
The first maintenance works in the camp were carried out by approximately 300 Jews from Oswiecim, who were sent there for forced labor. The first transports of Polish political prisoners from the prisons in the General Government, Silesia and Greater Poland arrived on June 14, 1940. Initially the camp was mainly used for Poles, especially for representatives of the intelligentsia and members of underground organizations, as well as ordinary people kidnapped from the street. At the turn of 1940 and 1941 part of the prisoners from the concentration camps Sachsenchausen, Gross-Rosen, Dachau, Flossenburg and others were transported to Auschwitz.
In March 1941 the Auschwitz concentration camp was extended, to increase its capacity from 10,000 to 30,000 prisoners. At the same time a decision was taken to build a second camp, Auschwitz II, which originally was to be used for Russian war prisoners.
In October 1941 the first group of 12,000 Russian war prisoners arrived to the Auschwitz I camp and were quartered in a separate sector of the camp. They were kept in inhumane and ruining conditions. In March 1942 the 1,000 surviving prisoners were moved to the camp Auschwitz II (Brzezinka), to help with the construction of the barracks.
From September 3 to 5, 1941 the first experiments with mass extermination by means of gas- the Zyklon B - were carried in the camp Auschwitz I on a group of 850 prisoners (600 Russian war prisoners and 250 Poles). It was on the camp’s territory that the Nazis carried out murderous pseudo medical experiments on prisoners and made most of the shooting executions. It was also the location of the central detention for prisoners from all parts of the complex and the central commandant office and most of the SS offices. The camp’s authorities led the camp’s expansion from there.
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