Auschwitz Concentration Camp

Oświęcim, Poland

Auschwitz concentration camp was a network of German Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II. It consisted of Auschwitz I (the original camp), Auschwitz II–Birkenau (a combination concentration/extermination camp), Auschwitz III–Monowitz (a labor camp to staff an IG Farben factory), and 45 satellite camps.

Auschwitz I was first constructed to hold Polish political prisoners, who began to arrive in May 1940. The first extermination of prisoners took place in September 1941, and Auschwitz II–Birkenau went on to become a major site of the Nazi 'Final Solution to the Jewish question'. From early 1942 until late 1944, transport trains delivered Jews to the camp's gas chambers from all over German-occupied Europe, where they were killed with the pesticide Zyklon B. At least 1.1 million prisoners died at Auschwitz, around 90 percent of them Jewish; approximately 1 in 6 Jews killed in the Holocaust died at the camp. Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Romani and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, 400 Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and tens of thousands of people of diverse nationalities. Many of those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labor, infectious diseases, individual executions, and medical experiments.

In the course of the war, the camp was staffed by 7,000 members of the German Schutzstaffel (SS), approximately 12 percent of whom were later convicted of war crimes. Some, including camp commandant Rudolf Höss, were executed. The Allied Powers refused to believe early reports of the atrocities at the camp, and their failure to bomb the camp or its railways remains controversial. One hundred forty-four prisoners are known to have escaped from Auschwitz successfully, and on October 7, 1944, two Sonderkommando units—prisoners assigned to staff the gas chambers—launched a brief, unsuccessful uprising.

As Soviet troops approached Auschwitz in January 1945, most of its population was evacuated and sent on a death march. The prisoners remaining at the camp were liberated on January 27, 1945, a day now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In the following decades, survivors, such as Primo Levi, Viktor Frankl, and Elie Wiesel, wrote memoirs of their experiences in Auschwitz, and the camp became a dominant symbol of the Holocaust. In 1947, Poland founded a museum on the site of Auschwitz I and II, and in 1979, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Oświęcim, Poland
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Founded: 1940
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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

noah mclean (14 months ago)
great food love wet and soggy bread given for free!!!! and cant get over the free pyjamas though didn't like the blue didn't work to well with the white, oh and don't get me started on the amazing hair-dresses couldn't speak highly enough of there amazing buzz cuts for free. good quality showers good pressure a little to cold for my liking
Andrew Nolan (14 months ago)
Certainly a place worth visiting. It's very easy to get here and back from Krakow. The place is fairly well organised considering the major number of people that visit every day. Buses between the two camps are free. There is limited snack options to purchase. Toilets and storing bags are both charged.
Paige Wilkinson (14 months ago)
This is a place I have always wanted to go so as to appreciate the sad history that it holds. I was not disappointed, our guide, Anna, was very informative whilst being compassionate and patient with our very large group. I am grateful to have done there to understand fully the scale and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in this time period and tragic event in history.
Magnus S (15 months ago)
It's horrible place but it's important to see what what human can do to each other (and are doing today, just in a smaller scale) and it's important not to forget. We had a brilliant guide and the tour was just about 4 hours in total and include a visit to Birkenau. I wish that this place would never have existed and I wish that they removed the entrance fee so that more people do come here and see that it did and does exist and hear the stories what happened here.
Ramunė Vaičiulytė (15 months ago)
I am not surprise that in this museum book shop you can also buy pain-stopper and other drugs. The place remind very sad part of our history and sure, it must stay in the future to remind us what in the history must not repeat. I am really sorry for the people who were here and their families...
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