Auschwitz, the preserved authentic memorial consists of two parts of the former concentration camp Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II - Birkenau. It was a network of concentration and extermination camps built by the German Nazis in annexed part of Poland during WW II. It was the largest of the Nazi concentration camps.
The basis for Auschwitz I consisted of 22 prewar brick barracks buildings. In view of the basic functions of Auschwitz, its history may be divided into two basic periods: * from its founding in 1940 to the first months of 1942, when it functioned exclusively as a concentration camp-that is predominantly a place of slow killing as the result of deliberately created inhuman conditions above all starvation;
* from the first months of 1942 to October 1944 when the camp continued to function as a concentration camp for prisoners of various ethnic backgrounds (from mid-1942 mainly Jews, Poles and Gypsies), while simultaneously functioning as the largest center for the immediate mass killing of Jews brought here within the framework of the campaign for destruction of the entire Jewish population in Europe.
The division of the Auschwitz camp
The difficulties in running such a large camp complex led to its formal division on November 1943 into three camps with considerable autonomy.
Auschwitz II - Birkenau
Birkenau was the largest of the more than 40 camps and sub-camps that made up the Auschwitz complex. During its three years of operation it had a range of functions. When construction began in October 1941 it was supposed to be a camp for 125 thousand prisoners of war. It opened as a branch of Auschwitz in March 1942 and served at the same time as a center for extermination of the Jews.
In its final phase from 1944 it also became a place where prisoners were concentrated before being transfered to labor in German industry in the depths of the Third Reich. The majority-probably about 90%- of the victims of Auschwitz Concentration Camp died in Birkenau. This means approximately a milion people. The majority, more than nine out of every ten, were Jews. A large proportion of the more than 70 thousand Poles who died or were killed in the Auschwitz complex perished in Birkenau.
So did approximately 20 thousand Gypsies in addition to Soviet POWs and prisoners of other nationalities. Auschwitz III-Monowitz The camp in Monowice was one of the first and also largest of the sub-camps and its commandant was a manager and administrator as well as the commander of the SS garrisons that reported to him. The history of the founding of the camp is connected with the initiative by the German chemical concern IG Farbenindustrie A. G. to build its third large plant for synthetic rubber and liquid fuels.
The new camp was to be located in Silesia, beyond the range of Allied bombers at the time.
Recommended related trips: Kraków and Salt mine Wieliczka (UNESCO).
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