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Auschwitz Camp

Nazi death camp built near Oswiecim, Poland. Heinrich Himmler ordered its creation on April 27, 1940. Composed of three large camps which housed five crematoria and forty-five subcamps. An estimated 1.1 million people were killed at this death camp.


  • Oswiecim, Poland
  • Death, extermination camp
  • April 27, 1940 Heinrich Himmler ordered established
  • Kommandant was Rudolf Höss
  • "Black Wall" near Block 11 was where prisoners executed
  • 667 prisoners escaped; 270 recaptured and executed
  • January 27, 1945 Soviet troops liberated

Auschwitz I: Main Camp

  • Auschwitz I also named Stammlager (Main Camp)
  • Over the main gate of Auschwitz I stood the sign "Arbeit Macht Frei" ("Work Makes One Free")
  • September 3, 1941 experimental gassing on Soviet prisoners using Zyclon-B
  • March 1942 a women's section created (moved to Auschwitz II on August 16, 1942)
  • SS-Brigadeführer Carl Clauberg conducted sterilization experiments in Block 10

Auschwitz II: Birkenau

  • March 1941, Himmler ordered enlargement, second section of the camp to be build at Birkenau - Auschwitz II
  • Nine sub-units
  • August 16, 1942 women's section established (moved from Auschwitz I)
  • March 22, 1943 Crematoria IV was completed
  • March 31, 1943 Crematoria II was completed
  • June 25, 1943 Crematoria III was completed
  • April 4, 1943 Crematoria V was completed
  • Gypsy family camp
  • October 7, 1944 Sonderkommando uprising; destroyed at least one gas chamber

Auschwitz III: Buna-Monowitz

  • Monowice, Poland
  • Buna synthetic-rubber factory
  • Additional forty-five sub-camps including Gleiwitz, Budy, Rürstengrube, Czechowitz, Rajsko
  • I.G. Farben (Buna - synthetic oil and rubber factory), Deutsche Gasrusswerke, Oberschlesische Hydriewerke, Erdöl Raffinerie


View of the entrance to the main camp of Auschwitz (Auschwitz I).
View of the camp's double, electrified, barbed wire fence and barracks.
Prisoners at forced labor constructing the Krupp factory at Auschwitz.
A large pile of prayer shawls, that were confiscated from arriving prisoners, are stored in one of the warehouses in Auschwitz.
Prisoners of Auschwitz greet their liberators.

To More Pictures

Words to Know

"roll call" (German) - Inmates were forced to stand at attention for hours at least twice a day while they were counted. This was always carried out no matter what the weather and often lasted for hours. Often accompanied by beatings and punishments.


The work detail that would empty the trains of belongings as well as store and sort these materials.


Prisoner on the verge of death.


Railway platform (ramp) located in Auschwitz II: Birkenau where selections were held after unloading from the trains


"selection" - SS officers, usually doctors, would quickly determine if a prisoner was able to work or not. Those chosen as capable of working lived, while those determined uncapable of work were killed. Those determined uncapable to work were children, mothers with young children, elderly, invalids, and those worn out from work. Selections occured on the rampa and randomly in the camp.


Work detail that were responsible for emptying out the gas chamber and burning the bodies. These inmates were allowed better food and clothing but were exterminated after approximately four months. Some of these inmates were forced to burn their own families.

Zyclon B

Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN) - The poison that was dropped in crystal form, through a small hole in the ceiling, into the gas chambers. The pellets turned into a lethal gas once in air. Previous to its use in gas chambers, Zyklon B was a common insecticide.

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