Add to Collection


Auschwitz concentration camp.
"Work Will Set You Free." Gates to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. November 2009. 
The German forces occupying Poland during the Second World war established a concentration camp, on the outskirts of the town of Oswiecim, in 1940; the Germans called the town Auschwitz and that is the name by which the camp was known. Over the next years it was expanded into three main camps: Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, and Auschwitz III-Monowtiz and more than forty subcamps.
Camp offices.
Several hundred women prisoners, mainly Jewish were held in two upstairs rooms of this block and used as human guinea-pigs for sterlization experiments conducted by Prof. Dr. Carl Clausberg, a German gynecologist, from April 1943 to May 1944. Some of them died from the treatment they recieved, other were murdered so that autopsies could be performed on them.
From 1941 to 1943, the SS shot several thousand people at the wall in the courtyard between Blocks 10 and 11. Most of those executed here were Polish political prisoners, above all, the leaders and members of clandestine organizations and people who helped escapees or facilititated contacts with the outside world. Poles who had been sentenced to death in nearby towns were also brought here to be shot, including men, women and even children who had been taken hostage in revenge for operations of the Polish resistance against the German occupation.
Before the war this building was a munition bunker. From 15 August 1940 to July 1943 the SS used it as a crematorium. In 1941, the largest room, which had been designed by the camp authorities as a morgue, was adapated for use as an improvised gas chamber, the first of its kind in Auschwitz. Using the gas produced by pellets of Zyklon B, many thousands of Jews were murdered here by the SS within hours of their arrival at Auschwitz. 
The first people to be brought to Auschwitz as prisoners and murdered here were Poles. They were followed by Soviet prisoners of war, Gypsies and deportees of many other nationalities. Beginning in 1942, however, Auschwitz became the setting for the most massive murder campaign in history, when the Nazis put into operation their plan to destroy the entire Jewish population of Europe. 
The great majority of Jews who were deported to Auschwitz- men, women and children- were sent immediately upon arrival to death in the gas chambers of Birkenau. When the SS realized that the end of the war was near, they attempted to remove evidence of the attrocities committed here. 
Photo taken during Liberation by the Red Army on January 27, 1945.
The camp's first commandant, Rudolf Höss, testified after the war at the Nuremberg Trials that up to three million people had died there (2.5 million gassed, and 500,000 from disease and starvation). Today the accepted figure is 1.3 million, around 90 percent of them Jewish. Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Roma and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, some 400 Jehovah's Witnesses and tens of thousands of people of diverse nationalities. Those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labor, infectious disease, individual executions, and medical experiments.