Auschwitz Concentration Camp | Largest extermination camp by Nazi Germany
The Auschwitz Concentration Camp, also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau, was a complex of 40 concentration and extermination camps that became the centre of the genocide carried out by the Nazis. Over the course of four-and-a-half years, 1.3 million people were sent to Auschwitz, as part of Hilter's Final Solution to the Jewish problem. Of this, 1.1 million people died here. Much has been written about the horrors that occurred within those walls, but a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum brings alive its spine-chilling history.
On this page, you can find information about the history of the Auschwitz concentration camp, life inside the camp, the liberation effort and what stands there today.
What was Auschwitz before the concentration camp?
Auschwitz, the largest and possibly the most notorious of all the Nazi death camps, opened in the spring of 1940. Located on a former military base outside Oswiecim in southern Poland, it was constructed by appropriating nearby factories and forcibly evicting residents. It was originally conceived as a detention center for the many Polish citizens arrested after Germany annexed the country in 1939. They imprisoned teachers, civil servants, artists, priests, politicians, intellectuals, and members of resistance organisations.
Once Hitler’s Final Solution became official, Nazi policy death camps began to be constructed and Auschwitz became the center of the mass destruction of European Jews. These camps also used it as a way to employ slave labour. Those unfit for work were immediately exterminated.Plan your visit to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp
Auschwitz Concentration Camp Today
- Auschwitz is open to the public as the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. It is also the only death camp on the UNESCO World Heritage site.
- It sees millions of visitors each year. In 2019, 2 million 320 thousand people from across the globe visited Auschwitz.
- Auschwitz Concentration Camp stands as a reminder of the horrors inflicted on millions of people.
Inside Auschwitz Concentration Camp
At the peak of its operations, Auschwitz covered about 40 sq km, and had more than 40 camps. In November 1943, due to the difficulties in managing the growing complex, the Auschwitz Concentration Camps were divided into three. Today, Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau are open to visitors.
Constructed to incarcerate enemies of the Nazi regime, provide a supply of forced laborers, and serve as a site of extermination, the original camp, Auschwitz I, housed about 16,000 prisoners. Its main gate carries the infamous inscription, “Arbeit Macht Frei”, meaning “Work Makes You Free.”
This was the location of the SS garrison administration. It had a gas chamber, crematorium, and Barrack 10, where SS physicians carried out pseudo-medical experiments. You can still see these structures as part of the Auschwitz Museum.
Auschwitz II, or Auschwitz-Birkenau, about 72 km from Krakow, began being constructed in October 1941. Birkenau, the biggest of the Auschwitz facilities, was divided into ten sections, each separated by electrified barbed-wire fences. After its opening in March 1942, it acted as a center for the extermination of Jewish people. It housed a group of gas chambers and crematoriums. More than 40 smaller facilities, called subcamps, served as slave-labor camps. The majority of victims of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp died in Birkenau.
Auschwitz III-Monowitz & Subcamps
Largest of the subcamps of Auschwitz, Monowitz began operating in 1942. Created as a barrack-camp for slave laborers working in the IG Farben and other factories, Monowitz came to be seen as the headquarters of the industrial sub-camps. Despite better conditions than in Birkenau, the hard labor took a toll on the prisoners. 1,670 prisoners were murdered at the site or died in the sub-camp hospital. 11,000 were sent to Auschwitz and Birkenau, to be killed. The Monowitz and other subcamps are not open to visitors.
All Your Questions About Auschwitz Concentration Camp Answered
A. Auschwitz Concentration Camp was the most notorious of all Nazi death camps, and today, it stands as a symbol of the Holocaust.
A. Spread over 191 hectares, Auschwitz was the largest of the German Nazi concentration camps and extermination centers.
A. The Auschwitz Concentration Camp was created by German Nazis as part of Hilter’s Final Solution policy that called for the extermination of the Jews.
A. Estimates suggest that 1.3 million people were sent to the death camp in occupied Poland.
A. Established in 1940, the Auschwitz Concentration Camp went on to function until January 1945, when the Soviet army entered Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Monowitz and liberated more than six thousand prisoners.
A. In just over four-and-a-half years, Nazi Germany systematically murdered at least 1.1 million people at Auschwitz. Of this, almost one million were Jews.
A. The Jews were liberated from the Auschwitz Concentration Camp by the Soviet forces in January 1945.
A. Although most of the prisoners had been forced onto a death march, about 7,000 had been left behind. Most of them were ill or dying.
A. They were stripped of their identity. They were forced to work, live in terrible conditions, and provided insufficient nutrition. They were also subjected to arbitrary executions, torture, and retribution as well as inhumane medical experimentation.
A. The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. Here you can find the concentration and extermination camps at Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau, as well as relics from the camp.
A. Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau are open to visitors. Auschwitz III- Monowitz and other subcamps are not open to the public.
Yes, Auschwitz Concentration Camp is the only death camp on the UNESCO World Heritage site.
Today, it exists as the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, and continues to stand as a symbol of the horrors of the Holocaust.