26 Facts About Auschwitz


Auschwitz concentration camp was a complex of over 40 concentration and extermination camps operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II and the Holocaust.

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Construction of Auschwitz II began the following month, and from 1942 until late 1944 freight trains delivered Jews from all over German-occupied Europe to its gas chambers.

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The area around Auschwitz was annexed to the German Reich, as part of first Gau Silesia and from 1941 Gau Upper Silesia.

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The camp at Auschwitz was established in April 1940, at first as a quarantine camp for Polish political prisoners.

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Former World War I camp for transient workers and later a Polish army barracks, Auschwitz I was the main camp and administrative headquarters of the camp complex.

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The prisoner reception center of Auschwitz I became the visitor reception center of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

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Auschwitz'storians have disagreed about the date the all-Jewish transports began arriving in Auschwitz.

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Auschwitz inmates began working at the plant, known as Buna Werke and IG-Auschwitz, in April 1941, demolishing houses in Monowitz to make way for it.

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Deaths and transfers to the gas chambers at Auschwitz II reduced the population by nearly a fifth each month.

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Uniquely at Auschwitz, prisoners were tattooed with a serial number, on their left breast for Soviet prisoners of war and on the left arm for civilians.

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Deportees were brought to Auschwitz crammed in wretched conditions into goods or cattle wagons, arriving near a railway station or at one of several dedicated trackside ramps, including one next to Auschwitz I The Altejudenrampe, part of the Oswiecim freight railway station, was used from 1942 to 1944 for Jewish transports.

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Work on a new railway line and ramp between sectors BI and BII in Auschwitz II, was completed in May 1944 for the arrival of Hungarian Jews between May and early July 1944.

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Conditions in the women's camp were so poor that when a group of male prisoners arrived to set up an infirmary in October 1942, their first task, according to researchers from the Auschwitz museum, was to distinguish the corpses from the women who were still alive.

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In one experiment, Bayer—then part of IG Farben—paid RM 150 each for 150 female inmates from Auschwitz, who were transferred to a Bayer facility to test an anesthetic.

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Auschwitz testified that the figure of over two million had come from Eichmann.

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Information about Auschwitz became available to the Allies as a result of reports by Captain Witold Pilecki of the Polish Home Army who, as "Tomasz Serafinski", allowed himself to be arrested in Warsaw and taken to Auschwitz.

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Auschwitz was imprisoned there from 22 September 1940 until his escape on 27 April 1943.

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In 1943, the Kampfgruppe Auschwitz was organized within the camp with the aim of sending out information about what was happening.

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The group smuggled out photographs; the Sonderkommando photographs, of events around the gas chambers in Auschwitz II, were smuggled out of the camp in September 1944 in a toothpaste tube.

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Auschwitz writes that most escapes were attempted from work sites outside the camp's perimeter fence.

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The dead included Zalmen Gradowski, who kept notes of his time in Auschwitz and buried them near crematorium III; after the war, another Sonderkommando member showed the prosecutors where to dig.

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Liberation of Auschwitz received little press attention at the time; the Red Army was focusing on its advance toward Germany and liberating the camp had not been one of its key aims.

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On 25 November 1947, the Auschwitz trial began in Krakow, when Poland's Supreme National Tribunal brought to court 40 former Auschwitz staff, including commandant Arthur Liebehenschel, women's camp leader Maria Mandel, and camp leader Hans Aumeier.

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The 180-day Frankfurt Auschwitz trials, held in West Germany from 20 December 1963 to 20 August 1965, tried 22 defendants, including two dentists, a doctor, two camp adjudants and the camp's pharmacist.

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Dwork and van Pelt write that, in addition, Auschwitz I played a more central role in the persecution of the Polish people, in opposition to the importance of Auschwitz II to the Jews, including Polish Jews.

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On 27 January 2015, some 300 Auschwitz survivors gathered with world leaders under a giant tent at the entrance to Auschwitz II to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the camp's liberation.

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