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Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp

Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp

More than one million people died in the WWII Nazi death camp located in present-day Poland.

History

Keywords

Auschwitz, Birkenau, concentration camp, extermination camp, holocaust, genocide, gas chamber, Hitler, Jewish, Gypsy, crematorium, SS, war crime, Himmler, deportation, Arbeit macht frei, barrack, Oświęcim, captive, camp, execution, prisoner of war, National Socialist, Höß, Hoess, Liebehenschel, Baer, Mengele, barbed wire, death, history, Germany, Poland

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Narration

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp consisted of three main camps and 40-50 smaller camps. The infamous Auschwitz II extermination camp was established here by the Nazis, in the autumn of 1941. The name of the facility near Birkenau became inseparable from the name Auschwitz.

The extermination camp was established by Heinrich Himmler, originally for political prisoners brought from annexed Poland and from concentration camps. Later, however, trains full of prisoners, mainly Jews arrived here through the Gate of Death from all over Europe.

These people were separated into three groups, but they all shared a common fate: certain death. One group was taken to the gas chambers right away, others were forced to do hard manual labor, and members of the third group became subjects of human experiments. Women and men, forced to work, were accommodated in different parts of the camp. Prisoners' possessions were sorted in a section of the camp called Canada.

The Birkenau camp had four gas chambers and crematoria. The Nazis killed people with an insecticide, Zyklon-B, in the gas chambers, which were disguised as shower rooms. Bodies were burnt in the continuously operating crematoria. The exact number of people killed in Auschwitz cannot be established on the basis of the available documents, but the scale is shocking: about 1 million people lost their lives.

When the Soviet army liberated the camp in January 1945, they found only 7,600 survivors, most of them skeleton thin.
In 1947, a museum was established by the Polish government on the site of the Auschwitz Concentration and Extermination Camp.

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