Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp

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Auschwitz-Birkenau - German National Socialist Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940–1945)
UNESCO world heritage UNESCO World Heritage Emblem

Auschwitz Museum Birkenau.jpg
Entrance building of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum (2009) with a mounted photograph from 1945
National territory: PolandPoland Poland
Type: Culture
Criteria : (vi)
Surface: 191.97 ha
Reference No .: 31
UNESCO region : Europe and North America
History of enrollment
Enrollment: 1979  ( session 3 )
Waiting undressed women and men,
photographed by Alberto Errera , August 1944 (detail)
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp (Poland)
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp
Map of today's Poland,
location of the Auschwitz camp complex with the three concentration camps in today's Poland and other German extermination and concentration camps

The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was the largest German extermination camp during the National Socialist era . Other common names are Auschwitz-Birkenau and Auschwitz II concentration camps , and also KL Auschwitz-Birkenau at the time . It was built in 1941 three kilometers away from the main camp Auschwitz I in the area of ​​the municipality of Brzezinka (German Birkenau). It was located near the city of Oświęcim ( German Auschwitz ) in the district of Bielitz, which was annexed by the German Empire after the occupation of Poland and established as an administrative unit . The concentration camp was liberated on January 27, 1945 by Red Army troops .

In the Auschwitz camp complex 1.1 million people were murdered around. The name "Auschwitz" became a symbol of the National Socialist genocide ( Holocaust / Shoa ) worldwide in the post-war period . Of the more than 5.6 million victims of the Holocaust, around one million Jews were murdered as racially persecuted people in Auschwitz-Birkenau . There were also around 160,000 non-Jewish victims, including Sinti and Roma and Poles , who were also racially justified , as well as homosexuals . Around 900,000 of the deported people were murdered in the gas chambers immediately after their arrival . Another 200,000 people came through disease, malnutrition, abuse and medical experiments to death or were later than the other forced labor unfit selected and murdered. Most of those murdered came from Belgium , Germany , France , Greece , Italy , Yugoslavia , Luxembourg , the Netherlands , Austria , Poland, Romania , the Soviet Union , Czechoslovakia and Hungary .

Today, many parts of two of the large concentration camps are still preserved or added to true to the original. They are a publicly accessible part of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum , Holocaust memorial and Jewish cemetery on the site of the two former concentration camps I and II. This museum is also a memorial, international meeting and Holocaust research center. It was declared part of the world cultural heritage by UNESCO under the name Auschwitz-Birkenau - German National Socialist Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940–1945) .

Camp structure

Schematic map of the SS area of ​​interest (with the location of the three concentration camps of the camp complex to one another, catchment area, restricted area)
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp (expansion status from August 1944)
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, overview from the entrance building to the railway ramp and the camp area, 2007
Video: Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp (including the White House)

The Auschwitz I concentration camp, built in 1940 and about three kilometers away, was the administrative center of the entire camp complex. It therefore also bears the administrative name extension Stammlager in research . Around 70,000 people, mostly Polish intellectuals and Soviet prisoners of war , perished there (murdered or as a result of the prison conditions). The SS moved prisoners or groups of inmates back and forth between the two parts of the camp as required, for example when certain professions were required for the affiliated companies.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, also known as KL Auschwitz II , was built in 1941 as a labor and extermination camp with a total of six gas chambers and four crematoria. Hundreds of thousands of prisoners were held here under extremely adverse conditions, forced to work and killed en masse from untreated diseases, frostbite, inadequate nutrition, physical exhaustion, medical experiments, executions or gassing . Many prisoners from all over Europe were gassed on the day of their arrival; their bodies were cremated in the crematoria. Many people today therefore mainly associate this part of the camp complex with the name "Auschwitz".

The warehouse is roughly divided into eight different structural areas (see sketch on the right).

  1. Three prison camps, named BI, B II and B III (B stands for construction phase) from south to north , and sub-camps named therein with lowercase letters a, b etc., also so-called fields with up to 40 barracks, which are separated by barbed wire barriers were. Colloquially, they were named after the category of prisoner locked there. The guard houses of the SS troops ( block leaders ) were located at their entrance and the respective kitchen barracks were already within the extra fencing of the field.
  2. The train ramp for the deportation trains was not erected between prison camps BI and B II until 1944. It had only one entrance from the east through the striking gatehouse with its watchtower. Trains could enter the storage area from the freight yard. ( From 1942 to May 1944, the selections on death or continued life took place there at the Judenrampe .)
  3. The first two buildings with combined gas chambers and crematoria were erected at the western end . In Nazi linguistic usage, they were probably only called Crematorium II and III for camouflage reasons.
  4. The houses initially used as gas chambers ("Red" and "White House") were a little to the west.
  5. The storage area for the recycling of prisoners' goods (called " Canada ") was connected to camp section B II in the west. In addition, crematoria IV and V were later built in a separate section (gas chambers and crematorium combined again).
  6. On the road to Oświęcim in the east the commandant's office ( Kommandantur II ) and the SS barracks area were connected . In 1944 a military hospital for the Waffen-SS ( SS-Lazarett ) was added. The SS hospital, inaugurated on September 1, 1944, was destroyed by an Allied bombing raid on December 26, 1944.
  7. Various infrastructure buildings such as potato bunkers, sewage treatment plants and waterworks were outside the prison camp area. The drainage ditches ran from the latrines of the various “fields” in a westerly direction and there at the edge of the camp in collecting ditches to the sewage treatment plants.
  8. Overall, the camp was surrounded by multiple fences secured by high voltage with over 30 wooden watchtowers erected within sight. See also: Inner chain of posts .

Original construction plans of the " Central Construction Office of the Waffen SS and Police Auschwitz " (under the direction of Karl Bischoff ) that were first discovered in Germany in 2008 were transferred to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel in 2009 .

In the spring of 1942, the mass deportations of Jews began by train transport from Poland, France, Slovakia and the German Reich. In the middle of the year 16,000 Jews from Poland, over 4,000 from France and more than 1,000 from Slovakia were imprisoned in the extermination camp . In the years that followed, the number of transports increased to its peak in 1944 with 600,000 Jews, 500,000 of whom were murdered in the gas chambers immediately upon arrival. Everywhere in the occupied European countries there were transit camps from which the deportation trains rolled to the eastern extermination camps. The number of victims and the timing of the deportation is described in detail in the article Number of victims in the Auschwitz concentration camps .

Within the area of interest of KL Auschwitz, which is bordered by the Sola and Vistula rivers, with an area of ​​approx. 40 square kilometers, some sub-camps were set up and some of them only operated temporarily. The Polish population was gradually expelled from the area of ​​interest. It was cut off from the environment and easy to control. Many prisoners' attempts to escape have failed because of this deep staggering of the entire complex, which they cannot recognize.

The most well - known sub-camps (or satellite camps, external commandos) of the Auschwitz concentration camp in the surrounding area of interest were:

  • Plawy (agriculture, fish farming)
  • Harmense (agriculture, poultry, rabbit and fish farming)
  • Rajsko ( SS Hygiene Institute , Plant Breeding Research Station )
  • Budy (agriculture, fish farming)

(see list of sub / satellite camps of Auschwitz I , possibly incomplete)

In addition to the IG-Farben industrial complex Buna , a newly built plant for synthetic fuel and rubber , the Auschwitz III Monowitz concentration camp was finally built as a concentration camp with the main function of this factory's labor camp, which was not within the area of ​​interest. With this, the factory management, in consultation with the SS, wanted to ensure that the “workers” were not exhausted by daily marches to and from the respective main camp. At the same time, the plant management had more influence on the composition of the “own” forced workforce.

Special storage areas

Glasses of the victims in Auschwitz (photo from January / February 1945). Similar images also exist of a collection of scalp hair, children's and women's shoes.

Buildings with gas chambers for mass murder and crematoriums: Crematorium II and III (with underground gas chambers) and crematoriums IV and V (gas chambers at ground level), Bunker I (“Red House”), Bunker II (a farmhouse, “White House”, later a bunker Called V).

The central sauna (official name BW.32 ) in Auschwitz-Birkenau served as a reception building and as a disinfection and disinfestation facility . The admission procedure for newly arrived prisoners took place in this building. They were assigned numbers, and pregnant women and sick inmates who had not been noticed during the selection on the “ramp” (platform) were selected from the inmates who were fit for work.

The women's camp was a separate area of ​​the camp .

In another area, called “ Canada ”, the inmates' possessions were collected and sorted after admission. Clothes and valuables were taken over by the SS-Wirtschaftsverwaltungshauptamt (WVHA) under Oswald Pohl and SS-Hauptsturmführer Bruno Melmer (Melmer-Gold; Zahngold and other types of money) who were subordinate to him .


Interior view of a prisoner barracks, March 2007
Ruins of the gas chambers, Crematorium II, October 2002
Former Kommandantur building ( Kommandantur II ), 700 m north of the gatehouse, today a Catholic parish church, October 2018

On March 1, 1941, Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler visited the main camp in Auschwitz for the first time . In the course of this inspection, Himmler commissioned the SS with a fundamental structural, personnel and operational expansion of the “KL Auschwitz Area of ​​Interest”. The area of ​​the new camp complex was to encompass a total of 40 km², achieve a capacity of 100,000 prisoners and maintain various SS-owned production facilities and agricultural research test sites.

In the summer of 1941, the commandant of the Auschwitz main camp, Rudolf Höß, received an order from the Reichsführer SS's adjutant to appear in Berlin for a service meeting with Himmler . According to the testimony of Höß before the International Military Court in Nuremberg and his own notes, Himmler revealed to him during this conversation that the Führer Adolf Hitler had ordered the “ final solution to the Jewish question ” and that the SS had carried out this order. He, Himmler, had chosen Auschwitz for the coming “big actions” because the existing “extermination sites” in the east did not have the necessary capacities. Auschwitz came into question because it was conveniently located in Katowice due to its connection to the Upper Silesian rail network . Furthermore, the surrounding area is large, easy to cordon off and just as easy to camouflage.

Himmler instructed Höss to be prepared for a visit from Adolf Eichmann to Auschwitz. He will discuss the conception and planning of the future extermination camp with Höß on site. At that time, Eichmann was head of the "Jewish Department " within the Reich Security Main Office and was in charge of the administrative handling of the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question".

Shortly after Höss' return to Auschwitz, Eichmann actually arrived there and informed Höss about the plans to annihilate European Jewry. After the construction of the central extermination camp, transports with Jews from East Upper Silesia and the neighboring areas of the General Government should initially be sent to Auschwitz, before the Jews from the rest of Europe should follow. Eichmann explained that in the face of the masses of people who were to be exterminated, a lethal gas should be the preferred means of killing in large-scale actions. He wanted to inquire about a suitable gas that would be easy to obtain and “did not require any special equipment”. Höß and Eichmann then inspected the site and considered "a farmstead on the north-west corner of the later construction section III Birkenau" suitable as an extermination facility, as it is protected from view by a surrounding forest area and hedges and is close to the railroad tracks found. According to Höß 'and Eichmann's calculations, around 800 people were killed using gas in each of the buildings.

After Eichmann left, Höss said he was working on a detailed site plan, together with a description of the future gas chamber. He sent the plan to Himmler by courier. Eichmann informed him at a later date that he agreed with his plans.

Construction work on the new warehouse complex began in October. An area near the village of Brzezinka (Birkenau) was chosen as the location, about three kilometers from the main camp. The Polish residents were unceremoniously forced to leave their homes and their village. According to the construction plans from autumn 1941, which were drafted by Office Group C of the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office, the storage capacity originally aimed at by Himmler had meanwhile doubled. The plan now envisaged a prisoner strength of 200,000 people in the Birkenau camp, who would be housed in around 600 barracks.

For the construction work in Birkenau, the SS separated nine blocks in the main camp and delivered 10,000 Soviet prisoners of war there, who were to serve as construction crews for the new camp to be built. Five months later, on March 1, 1942, only 925 of these prisoners were still alive. At that time, you and other prisoners were transferred to the new camp.

The barrack camp was about five square kilometers. It was divided into several sections, which in turn were divided into fields. These fields as well as the entire camp were fenced with a double electric fence made of barbed wire, which was under a deadly voltage of 6000 volts if touched. At a distance of about 150 meters between these two fences stood five meter high watchtowers equipped with machine guns and searchlights. In addition, there was an ordinary wire fence in front of the inner high-voltage fence. This guarding system formed the “small chain of posts”, which was closed at night.

To the east of it, outside the “small chain of posts”, there had been a commandant's barracks and the accommodation area for the SS guard companies since the beginning of 1943 . By November 1943, the new commandant building ( Kommandantur II ) of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the SS barracks were completed, on the eastern side of which an SS hospital was built, which is not connected to the prisoner sick barracks (in section II o and p) confused and was inaugurated on September 1, 1944.

In the course of time, several protective custody camps were set up . These storage areas were named in the warehouse jargon as follows:

The camp was initially intended as a small-scale labor camp in which prisoners of war and other inmates were to do forced labor for the SS. However, its purpose already changed in the planning phase and the target number of prisoners was increased significantly. In the autumn of 1942, Soviet commissars and incapacitated prisoners were killed with Zyklon B for the first time in Auschwitz-Birkenau , after attempts had been made in the main camp at the end of 1941 . A little later, mothers with children and persons unfit for work were driven from the incoming transports to the gas chambers and killed there. From April or July 1942 (the exact time is disputed within a tight timeframe), the vast majority of the Jews who were transported were murdered immediately. Auschwitz-Birkenau had thus taken on the function of an extermination camp , but was also used as a concentration and labor camp.

Selection and gassing

Barbed wire in front of the barracks
The old "unloading ramp", also known as the "Judenrampe", where the deportation trains arrived until May 1944. Photo from 2007

Most of the victims arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau by train, often after traveling in cattle wagons for days . The arriving prisoners were herded into the camp on foot from an unloading ramp (old ramp, south of Auschwitz train station). In the spring of 1944, a siding was laid right up to the new ramp in the warehouse (see photo). Sometimes the whole transport was sent directly to the gas chambers - usually a selection was carried out first, in which the “weak, elderly and sick” were separated from the “able to work” and led to the gas chamber. The on-site doctor Eduard Wirths assigned the camp doctors for the selection and led the selections . The camp doctor Josef Mengele, who was notorious for cruel pseudoscientific medical experiments, was involved in these selections . In the linguistic usage at the time, the term selection was not used. The activity was referred to as ramp service , the process itself as sorting out .

An old Jewish woman with children (Photo: Auschwitz Album May 1944)

In Auschwitz-Birkenau there were gas chambers in four crematoria and two farmhouses. However, they were not all used in the same period. In the course of 1942, the farmhouses were initially used as gas chambers. In the first half of 1943, the four crematoria went into operation, two of which in the basement contained gas chambers with an area of ​​210 square meters. The other two crematoria had gas chambers above ground, each with a total area of ​​236 square meters. Four construction companies were involved in the construction on site. While the SS-owned German Equipment Works (DAW) were responsible for the construction of the doors and windows, the crematoria and the ventilation systems of the gas chambers were designed, installed, maintained and repaired by the Erfurt company JA Topf & Sons .

Details on the gas chambers and crematoria are described in the article Gas chambers and crematoria of the Auschwitz concentration camp .

Between May 4 and 16, 1943, the head of the SS Personnel Main Office , SS-Gruppenführer Herff , inspected the SS facilities in occupied Poland. There is a clear internal SS report of the mass murders in Auschwitz about the course of the extermination of his victims from this time.

Forced labor and guard system

Gatehouse in Auschwitz-Birkenau

The prisoners who survived the selection had to do forced labor in the industrial and armaments factories adjoining the camp, but also in farms . Industrial plants for the production of synthetic gasoline or synthetic rubber (so-called Buna ) also had to be built on behalf of IG Farben . Other German companies such as Krupp or SS companies also had factories nearby; they paid the Nazi agencies a “rent” for each work slave left , from which the SS, through the WVHA in Berlin, profited.

The chains of posts

The factory premises and the “farms” were largely surrounded by the “large chain of posts”. During the morning roll call, all prisoners were counted, including those who died that night, and then many work details marched out of the camp to work. The work details and the respective workplaces were not allowed to be left without guarding and written orders. When the inmates had returned to the camp in full at the evening roll call, the external guard was removed. The prisoners were therefore within the "small chain of posts" at night and worked within the "large chain of posts" during the day. Functional prisoners monitored the work performance and at night the "order" within the blocks. With this system, relatively few guards were sufficient to maintain the terror regime. The Kapos - prison functionaries in the concentration camp - involuntarily carried out a large part of the surveillance functions.

The camp orchestra

The SS forced female and male musicians to march to and from the workplaces at the camp gate every day to play music, especially marching music, and thus above all to add variety for the guards. They also had to hold regular concerts for the SS members, always under the pressure to be destroyed themselves if they were displeased. The surviving contemporary witness Esther Béjarano later made it her task to tell the descendants about the events. The story of the girls' orchestra was later processed in novels, documentaries and films as well as in an opera.

German companies

The forced laborers were completely without rights and at the mercy not only of the SS guards but also of the civilian employees of the German companies. Sudden decisions to murder people for the slightest “offense” or simply on a whim were the order of the day; death was constantly in view of the prisoners.

The mass murder of the Hungarian Jews

With Operation Margarethe , the Wehrmacht marched into Hungary on March 19, 1944 . The largest group of European Jews from a nation that had previously been spared the Holocaust still lived there. Of the 795,000 Hungarian Jews , around 438,000 were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau between May and July 1944 . On April 29 and 30, two trains with a total of around 3,800 people drove to Auschwitz for the first time, of which the first with 1,800 people reached the camp in April. General deportations began on May 15 with at least three freight trains per day and approximately 4,000 people on each train. The majority of them were immediately driven into the gas chambers, some of those able to work were transferred to other camps as forced laborers.

Of the 795,000 Hungarian Jews, around 508,000 were deported. In addition to the transports of 438,000 Jews to Auschwitz, from October 1944 a further 64,000 Jews were deported to the Reich for use in the armaments industry. Around 382,500 of the deportees died; the percentage of victims attributable to Auschwitz has not yet been precisely determined. Another 120,000 Jews died or were murdered in Hungary. This results in a total of 502,000 Jews in Hungary.

The murder of the Roma in the "gypsy family camp"

In Auschwitz-Birkenau, from February 1943 to August 1944, section B II e was used as the “ Auschwitz Gypsy Camp ”. Families and individuals were deported there by the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) who were categorized as “ Gypsies ” or “Gypsy hybrids” in the sense of a “ regulation of the Gypsy question from the nature of this race ” (quote: Heinrich Himmler) . Most of the deportees came from the Altreich and the area of Austria . Of the approximately 22,600 people, over 19,300 died. Of these, over 13,600 succumbed to systematic malnutrition, disease and epidemics, and more than 5,600 were murdered in gas chambers. Others were victims of individual violent attacks or medical crimes, among others by the concentration camp doctor Josef Mengele . In mid-May 1944, the "gypsy camp" began to be dissolved. A small number of the prisoners were transferred to other concentration camps (such as Buchenwald , Ravensbrück ) for forced labor . Of the women, men and children remaining in Section B II e, 2,897 were killed in the gas chambers on August 2 and 3, 1944. The mass crimes in the "gypsy camp" of Auschwitz-Birkenau are part of the genocide against the Roma, which is known as " Porajmos " in a Romani word .

Escape attempts and uprising by the Sonderkommando

A total of around 700 prisoners tried to escape from Auschwitz; it succeeded in about 300 cases. (According to other information, fewer than 150 escape attempts were made). The other refugees were shot by the guards during their attempt to escape, or they were first captured and later murdered. Escape attempts were often punished with starvation in the bunker; the family members of fugitives were often arrested and exhibited in Auschwitz I as a deterrent. Another punishment was to let fellow prisoners atone for their escape. On July 6, 1940, Tadeusz Wiejowski managed to escape for the first time, accompanied by two members of the Polish resistance movement who were employed in the camp as "civilian workers". Wiejowski did not survive the war . On June 20, 1942, the four Poles Kazimierz Piechowski , Stanisław Gustaw Jaster, Józef Lempart and Eugeniusz Bendera managed to escape from the Auschwitz I part of the camp. They took SS uniforms and weapons and drove them out of the premises in a stolen vehicle. One of the refugees was carrying a report on Auschwitz that had been written for the high command of the Polish Home Army.

On October 7, 1944, the Jewish special command of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp (the prisoners who had to operate the gas chambers and crematoria and were kept separate from the other prisoners as a security risk) carried out an uprising. Before that, there was already at least one failed similar plan for the date of July 28th at 9 p.m. This time, female prisoners had smuggled explosives from an arms factory, partially destroying Crematorium IV. The prisoners then attempted a mass escape, but all 250 who had escaped were caught and murdered by the SS shortly afterwards.

Knowledge of the Allies

Birkenau Extermination Camp , American aerial photo taken in September 1944, at the beginning of the bombing (see top left in the picture) of the Buna works

Witold Pilecki , who was the only person who voluntarily went into captivity at the camp from September 19, 1940 to April 27, 1943, sent several reports to the Western Allies. The Association of Military Organizations he founded (pln. Związek Organizacji Wojskowej , or ZOW for short) initially provided the Polish underground with information about the camp and the crimes of the SS death-head associations there . From October 1940 the ZOW sent reports to Warsaw, and from March 1941 Pilecki's reports were sent to the British government by the Polish resistance movement, which served the Western Allies as the main source of information about Auschwitz.

On October 10 and 12, 1943, a report prepared by the Polish Resistance was received by the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in London. The Polish informants asked that the facts of the report be made publicly available. The report contains numerous details on deportations, the selection of victims, the number of those murdered in gas chambers, the capacity of the crematoria and the number of prisoners. Of the approximately 468,000 Jews deported to the camp, two percent are still alive. Of 14,000 " gypsies ", 90% were gassed. The report also contains the names of numerous perpetrators such as Rudolf Höß , Heinrich Schwarz , Hans Aumeier , Maria Mandl , Maximilian Grabner , Wilhelm Boger . The OSS decided to classify the report as secret because of its non-verifiable sources and not to forward it.

Remains of the blown up crematorium II (summer 2005)

The Allies had had aerial photos of Auschwitz since May 31, 1944, when British planes could fly from Apulia (Lower Italy) to southern Poland. In 2003, the Royal Air Force first published pictures of reconnaissance flights over Auschwitz, showing heavy smoke from the cremation pits north of Crematorium V. In 1944 a member of the Sonderkommando took secret photographs of these cremation pits.

In April 1944, Rudolf Vrba and Alfréd Wetzler fled Auschwitz and made their way to Slovakia. Here they submitted a 30-page report about Auschwitz, which, in addition to a map, daily routine, etc. a. contained a detailed description of the processes involved in mass murder with the gas chamber. Important railway junctions for the deportations were also pointed out. This report reached Budapest Jews in May 1944. A second copy went to Roswell McClelland , Swiss representative on the US War Refugee Board , who found that this report coincided with previous reports.

In the early summer of 1944, the British and American ambassadors in Switzerland gave their governments a detailed account of the incipient extermination of Hungarian Jews. An air strike was recommended against the destination and the railway lines as well as all Hungarian and German agencies that were named with exactly correct street and house details (e.g. in Budapest). The Germans knew of these telegrams, but continued the deportations anyway. The US and British did not carry out the recommended bombing.

On September 13, 1944, American bombers attacked the Buna works and caused considerable damage. Additional air strikes in the region took place on August 20 and December 18 and 26. A targeted attack on the gas chambers or transport routes was never carried out. The question of whether the Allied air forces should have bombed the camp or the rails there is still controversial today.

Pictures from the camp before the liberation

Corpses from the Sonderkommando burned, shot by Alberto Errera, August 1944

The most important photographic documents of the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Holocaust in general are three of the four photographs taken by the Greek naval officer Alberto Errera , which he secretly took in August 1944 from the entrance to the gas chamber of crematorium V. Errera was supported by the inmates Jack Dragon , Shlomo Dragon and Alter Fajnzylberg as well as David Szmulewski . With a smuggled camera, Errera and his four fellow inmates, all of whom were members of the Sonderkommando , succeeded in documenting the murder: two photos show inmates of the Sonderkommando burning corpses, one shows women and men who had to wait for their gassing at Crematorium V. . The fourth photo, a miss, only shows the treetops near the crematorium. The exposed film took weeks, through various hands, before it could be developed by the Polish resistance in Krakow in September, but it did not reach a broader public until after the fall of the Nazi regime. In 2003, the French philosopher Georges Didi-Huberman wrote a book about the effect these images had on the viewer. He calls them “Pictures in spite of everything” (French: “Images malgré tout”, which is also the title of his book). In it he argues that cropping these images makes them seemingly safe, erases the act of resistance and destroys the phenomenology of these images.

Auschwitz-Album is the name of two photo albums that show photographs from the Auschwitz concentration camp, i.e. from the time before its liberation on January 27, 1945. The photos in itwere taken and collected by members of the SS . The photo albums have been handed down in various ways.

A first Auschwitz album was discovered by Lilly Jacob during her imprisonment in the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp in 1945 and handed over to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem in 1980 . It shows the processes inside the extermination camp at the end of May or beginning of June 1944 (Hungary Action).

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum acquired a second Auschwitz album in December 2006 from a former colonel in the US Army, who remained anonymous, and who found it in 1946, with 116 recordings made by SS-Obersturmführer Höcker as a leading officer of the security team. The majority of the photo album shows members of the camp staff during target practice and leisure activities.

The following image sources are also mentioned:

  • The Dinah Babbitt portraits (born in Brno in 1923 as Dinah Gottliebová, died in the USA) are images of individual people. She was a Czech painter and sculptor who was first deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in January 1942 and from there to Birkenau on September 9, 1943. On February 22, 1944, she was taken to the SS camp doctor Josef Mengele because of a drawing she had made for children . He asked her to draw portraits of certain victims of his attempts, including six Roma destined for death , in order to record their “racial characteristics”.
  • In 2011, A. Sieradzka published 32 sketches by an unknown person for the State Museum in Oswiecim, from the selection process on the ramp to the buildings of the gas chambers in Birkenau. The repeated letters "MM" are possibly the initials of the painter ( The Sketchbook from Auschwitz ). The book is based on a message in a bottle from 1947 in the storage area.

Demolition of the camp

Crematorium II, blown up by the SS

Some crematoria and gas chambers of the Birkenau concentration camp were demolished as early as November 1944. The last gassing there is documented for November 1, 1944; After that, killing with Zyklon B in the gas chambers of Auschwitz was probably stopped. The incinerators were dismantled and, according to recent studies, should be rebuilt in the Mauthausen concentration camp , which is still considered safe . The last crematorium was blown up by the National Socialists shortly before the camp was liberated by the advancing Soviet troops in January 1945.

Death marches and liberation

Between January 17, 1945 and January 23, around 60,000 prisoners were evacuated and driven west on death marches . About 7,500 prisoners remained in the camps and outposts who were too weak or too sick to march. More than 300 were shot; it is assumed that a planned extermination operation was only prevented by the rapid advance of the Red Army.

First, the main camp Monowitz was liberated on the morning of January 27, 1945 by the Soviet troops (322nd Infantry Division of the 60th Army of the 1st Ukrainian Front under the command of Colonel General Pavel Alexejewitsch Kurochkin ). Of the prisoners left there - the figures range from 600 to 850 people - 200 died of exhaustion in the following days despite medical help.

The main camp and Auschwitz-Birkenau were finally liberated - also by the soldiers of the 322nd Division - in the early afternoon of January 27th. In Birkenau almost 5,800 exhausted and sick prisoners, including almost 4,000 women, were left without care. Field hospitals were set up in the disinfected barracks to take care of the traumatized prisoners suffering from malnutrition and infections.

A few days later, the world was informed of the atrocities. The investigators found over a million clothes, around 45,000 pairs of shoes and seven tons of human hair that had been left behind by the concentration camp guards.

Number of fatalities

Memorial plaques for those murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Translation of the inscriptions in Polish, English and Ivrit: “In memory of the men, women and children who fell victim to the Nazi genocide. Here lies her ashes. May their souls rest in peace. "

Between 1940 and 1945, at least 1.1 million Jews, 140,000 Poles, 20,000 Sinti and Roma and more than 10,000 Soviet prisoners of war were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camps. Just over 400,000 prisoners were registered. Of the registered inmates, more than half have died as a result of working conditions, starvation, illness, medical experiments and executions.

The unregistered 900,000 deportees to Birkenau were murdered shortly after their arrival.

The upper limit of the deaths in the concentration camp and extermination camp complex Auschwitz is given as 1.5 million victims.

Known prisoners and fatalities

→ Main article: Prisoners in the Auschwitz concentration camp

The separate article is u. a. on the group of the first Auschwitz prisoners, prison functionaries, members of the special commandos as well as on professional groups such as politicians and athletes.


→ Main article: Personnel in Auschwitz concentration camp

The size of the complex is also evident from the large number of guards. In 2017, the Instytut Pamięci Narodowej (IPN), the Polish state institute for national remembrance, published a database listing 9,686 SS men in the Auschwitz concentration camp. The database can be researched online. a. by name. Frequent transfers resulted in high staff turnover. On average, 3,000 to 4,000 SS members were deployed in the Auschwitz camp complex. In the summer of 1944 about 4,500 men belonged to the Auschwitz SS garrison.

Camp commanders:

Like all National Socialist concentration camps, the camps in Auschwitz were subordinate to Heinrich Himmler and the SS inspection of the KL , with the Europe-wide coordination of the mass murder primarily being carried out by Adolf Eichmann . The administration on site was controlled by the camp commandant of the Auschwitz I concentration camp (main camp). The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was somewhat more independent with its own camp commanders only between November 1943 and the end of 1944.

  • Rudolf Höß (May 1940 to November 1943; and again from May to July 1944 for the "Hungary Action" in Auschwitz as site elder; Höß was sentenced to death in 1947 and executed)
  • Friedrich Hartjenstein (November 1943 to May 15, 1944; he was sentenced to death; he died in prison in Paris in 1954.)
  • Josef Kramer (May 1944 to the end of 1944; he was executed in Hameln in 1945. )
  • Richard Baer (from May 1944 in the main camp, from late 1944 to January 1945 also for Birkenau; died in custody in Frankfurt in 1963 before the trial began.)

Further details on perpetrators:

Attempts at legal reappraisal after 1945:

Only 800 of the total of around 8,000 SS members employed as security personnel etc. in Auschwitz were indicted in courts, 40 of them in German courts.

A legal review was initially carried out in the 13 Nuremberg trials before the International and US Military Tribunals from November 1945 to 1948 and the Polish Auschwitz Trial in Kraków from 1947. A legal review in Germany only took place in the 1960s. There were six Frankfurt Auschwitz trials between 1963/1965 with the first and 1965/1966 with the second Auschwitz trial, as well as another four subsequent trials in the 1970s. Adolf Eichmann , Irma Grese , Friedrich Hartjenstein , Franz Hößler , Josef Kramer , Otto Moll , Heinrich Schwarz , Johann Schwarzhuber and many others were convicted in other places. There were a large number of proceedings in Austria .

Establishment of the museum, commemoration

Photo of the Auschwitz-Birkenau gatehouse , view from the inside, shortly after the liberation by the Red Army, photographer Stanisław Mucha
Memorial plaque for the victims of the extermination camp, August 2018
Memorial flowers on the train tracks of the unloading ramp in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, March 2007

After the war, the Buna works were taken over by the Polish state and marked the beginning of the chemical industry in the region. The concentration camp buildings slowly fell into disrepair. In 1947 the Polish parliament decided to convert the Auschwitz concentration camps into a memorial with a museum. Auschwitz belongs since 1979 to the UNESCO list of World Heritage , where he led first the name "Auschwitz" . In order to rule out any identification of the camp with its location in Poland, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee decided in 2007 to change the official name to Auschwitz-Birkenau - German National Socialist Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940–1945) . At the same time a text on the special importance of the camp was passed.

The International Auschwitz Committee was founded in 1952 by survivors of the concentration and extermination camp. It serves on the one hand to represent the interests of its members, but also to coordinate the activities of national Auschwitz committees (e.g. France, Poland, GDR) and prisoner associations, and it promotes the commemoration of the deportations and the Shoah / Holocaust.

The text on the memorial in the Birkenau extermination camp, which was erected in 1967 on the initiative of the International Auschwitz Committee , reads:

This place is always a cry of despair and
Reminder to humanity.
The Nazis murdered over a million and a half men, women and children here.
Most of them were Jews from different European countries.

The March of the Living to commemorate the Holocaust has been held annually since 1988 .

On September 1, 1992, the first Austrian memorial servant began his service at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the Jewish Center in Oświęcim / Auschwitz .

The didactic offer of the International Youth Meeting Center in Oświęcim / Auschwitz is aimed at the group of young people, especially from Poland and Germany, because according to a survey from January 2012, one fifth of 19 to 29 year old Germans cannot assign the term “Auschwitz” .

January 27, the day of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, has been the official day of remembrance in Germany for the victims of National Socialism since 1996 . According to a UN resolution since 2005, it has also been celebrated worldwide as the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Holocaust .

60th anniversary 2005

The largest European Shoa memorial in Paris was inaugurated on Memorial Day 2005. French President Chirac stressed that the denial of the Holocaust must be tackled with all the severity of the law .

On the 60th anniversary of the liberation, the victims of industrial mass destruction were commemorated in numerous events.

  • At the memorial event of the International Auschwitz Committee in Berlin, the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder called for a decisive opposition to the disgusting incitement of the neo-Nazis and the repeated attempts to downplay Nazi crimes .
  • The German Bishops' Conference issued a statement that Auschwitz was also possible because too few Germans had the courage to resist. The Catholic Church must also be asked about its joint responsibility for the Holocaust. The Polish Pope John Paul II declared in a message on the 60th anniversary of the liberation that no one was allowed to pass by the tragedy of the Shoah . “This attempt to systematically destroy an entire people lies like a shadow over Europe and the whole world; it is a crime that forever taints human history. ”On May 28, 2006 Pope Benedict XVI visited the camp as part of his apostolic trip to Poland. In his address he said that the rulers of the Third Reich wanted to exterminate not only the Jewish people as a whole, but ultimately also the God of the Jews and Christians.
  • At a memorial ceremony in the Saxon state parliament , the right-wing extremist NPD demonstratively moved out of the parliamentary hall.
  • Ingo Stawitz , the NPD candidate for the Kiel state parliament (election in February 2005), declared that on May 8 only the German war victims would be commemorated.
  • The Council of Europe remembered the victims in Strasbourg. The President of the Parliamentary Assembly , René van der Linden , called on people to continue fighting for humanity and democracy in Europe; this is owed to every single Holocaust victim.
  • The French victims' association Fils et Filles des Déportés Juifs de France FFDJF , in cooperation with the French railway SNCF , showed an exhibition about the deportation of 11,000 Jewish children to the extermination camp via the Reichsbahn network . The Deutsche Bahn refused, with reference to the human and financial resources, to show the exhibition in the German train stations Saarbrücken , Kaiserslautern , Mannheim , Frankfurt am Main , Fulda , Erfurt , Görlitz .
  • On January 24, 2005, the Holocaust survivors Elie Wiesel and Bronisław Geremek as well as the Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany Joschka Fischer spoke at the special session of the UN General Assembly .
  • On November 1, 2005, the General Assembly of the United Nations officially declared January 27, in a resolution, International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust .

70th anniversary 2015

The central rally on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz took place in the concentration camp itself in the presence of 300 survivors. Although heads of state and government and members of government from 40 countries were present, the three key speeches were given by former Auschwitz prisoners. The Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski was the only politician to give a brief greeting.

  • In New York , the commemorative speech on International Holocaust Remembrance Day of the UN General Assembly was given by Avner Shalev , chairman of the Yad Vashem memorial . In attendance were survivors, liberators, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Israel's President Reuven Rivlin . The memorial hour could be followed worldwide via live stream. On January 22nd, the General Assembly - at the request of 37 member nations - dealt with global anti-Semitism in a special session . In addition, two exhibitions were opened at the headquarters of the United Nations : Shoah - How Was It Humanly Possible? and Forbidden Art , a show of 20 works of art created in KZW.
  • On the occasion of the official UNESCO commemoration in Paris , the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra played Shostakovich's 13th Symphony Babi Yar .
  • “Too many people have increased their hatred, closed their eyes and remained silent. We must not allow something like this to happen again, ”said Martin Schulz , President of the European Parliament , at the central EU commemoration event on International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Prague with the heads of state and government.
  • At a ceremony in the European Parliament in Brussels, MEPs and members of the Belgian Jewish community honored the victims of National Socialism with a minute's silence.
  • At a memorial hour in Berlin , the German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned not to forget and at the same time drew attention to the present. In her speech she saw an "ongoing responsibility" of the Germans to keep the memory of the atrocities of the National Socialists alive: "Auschwitz challenges us every day to shape our coexistence according to human standards." Germany owes it to the many millions of victims, not to to forget.
  • At the commemoration of the German Bundestag , the German President Joachim Gauck warned the people in Germany against a line under the Holocaust: "There is no German identity without Auschwitz."
  • The youth meeting of the German Bundestag of 80 young people from Germany and its neighboring countries, especially Poland and France, traveled to Auschwitz, visited memorial exhibitions in Krakow, met Auschwitz survivors Marian Turski and Zofia Posmysz , as well as Federal President Joachim Gauck , whose speech she gave persecuted in the German Bundestag. Finally, they accompanied the Federal President to the opening of two exhibitions in Berlin's Paul-Löbe-Haus : Death does not have the last word - nobody testifies for the witness and draws against oblivion . Both exhibitions were on view until February 27, 2015.
  • More than a thousand people gathered on Heldenplatz in Vienna to commemorate the victims and the anniversary of the liberation. The rally was set by now! , a broad alliance of Austrian civil society. The resistance fighter Irma Schwager and the Mayor of Vienna Michael Häupl spoke, among others .

A specially created map of the world shows the numerous commemorations around the world. Commemorative events were held on all continents.

75th anniversary 2020

The speeches by four Auschwitz survivors were at the center of the ceremony at the concentration camp memorial. The organizers have deliberately refrained from speaking from politicians, only Poland's President Andrzej Duda spoke in a welcoming speech. The memorial event took place in a huge tent that had been erected over the train tracks leading to the Auschwitz concentration camp and included the entrance facade with the entrance gate to the concentration camp. The President of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder , accused the international community in his address: "Too many people in too many countries made Auschwitz possible". It was not only the Reichspogromnacht from November 9th to 10th 1938 that made Auschwitz possible, but global anti-Semitism. Today we hear again the same lies that the National Socialists used for their anti-Jewish propaganda. Delegations from around 50 countries, including around 25 heads of state and government, as well as around 200 survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp, took part in the memorial event. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also took part, as did Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Hungarian President Viktor Orbán . The ceremony ended with the erection of grave candles at the memorial. Russian President Vladimir Putin was not invited.

World heritage

The concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau was declared part of the world cultural heritage in 1979 by UNESCO with the later more precisely defined name Auschwitz-Birkenau - German National Socialist Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945) under No. 31 . The criterion for this was formulated as follows:

Criterion (vi): “Auschwitz Birkenau, monument to the deliberate genocide of the Jews by the German Nazi regime and to the deaths of countless others, bears irrefutable evidence to one of the greatest crimes ever perpetrated against humanity. It is also a monument to the strength of the human spirit which in appalling conditions of adversity resisted the efforts of the German Nazi regime to suppress freedom and free thought and to wipe out whole races. The site is a key place of memory for the whole of humankind for the Holocaust, racist policies and barbarism; it is a place of our collective memory of this dark chapter in the history of humanity, of transmission to younger generations and a sign of warning of the many threats and tragic consequences of extreme ideologies and denial of human dignity. "

(Auschwitz-Birkenau, the memorial to the deliberate genocide of the Jews by the German Nazi regime and the memorial to the deaths of countless other people, shows the irrefutable evidence of one of the greatest crimes ever committed against humanity. It is also a monument to the strength of the human spirit that resisted the efforts of the Nazi regime to suppress freedom and free thought and to exterminate entire races. The site is an outstanding memorial for all of humanity regarding the Holocaust, on racial politics and barbarism. It is a place of collective memory of this dark chapter in human history, a place of instruction for future generations and a warning sign of the many threats and tragic consequences of extremist ideologies and the denial of human dignity .)


The composer Günter Kochan composed the cantata Die Asche von Birkenau for alto solo and orchestra in 1965 (text: Stephan Hermlin ), which was premiered in 1966 by Annelies Burmeister and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra under Kurt Masur .

After Chancellors Helmut Schmidt in 1977 and Helmut Kohl in 1989 and 1995, Angela Merkel was the third German head of government to visit the former concentration camp Auschwitz. In December 2019, she gave a speech there on the need to preserve the memory of the crimes committed by Germans in this place. In order to preserve Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau as places of remembrance, Merkel pledged an additional 60 million euros from the federal states and the federal government to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation .

See also


  • Theodor W. Adorno : Whether I can still live after Auschwitz. A philosophical reader, ed. by Rolf Tiedemann . Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt a. M. 1997, ISBN 3-518-11844-7 .
  • Wolfgang Benz , Barbara Distel (ed.): The place of terror . History of the National Socialist Concentration Camps. Volume 5: Hinzert, Auschwitz, Neuengamme. CH Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-52965-8 .
  • Mirjam Blits: Auschwitz 13917 - Hoe ik de Duitse concentratiekampen overleefde. Elevier-Verlag, Amsterdam / Brussel 1961.
  • Tadeusz Borowski , Friedrich Griese: With us in Auschwitz. In German: 2006, Verlag Schöffling, ISBN 3-89561-329-0 .
  • Christophe Busch, Stefan Hördler , Robert Jan van Pelt (eds.): The Höcker album. Auschwitz through the lens of the SS. Translated by Verena Kiefer, Birgit Lamerz-Beckschäfer and Oliver Loew. Philipp von Zabern (WBG), Darmstadt 2016, ISBN 978-3-8053-4958-1 .
  • Danuta Czech : Calendar of events in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp 1939–1945. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989 (1958 1st A.), ISBN 3-498-00884-6 .
  • Ebbo Demant (ed.): Auschwitz - Straight away from the ramp. Kaduk, Erber, Klehr. Three perpetrators are on record. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1979, 142 p., ISBN 978-3-499-14438-7 (meaning the imprisoned Oswald Kaduk , former SS-Unterscharführer, Rapport- and Blockführer, Josef Erber , former SS-Oberscharführer and Josef Klehr , former SS-Oberscharführer, "senior medic / head of the disinfection command").
  • Georges Didi-Huberman : Pictures in spite of everything. Translated by Franz. Geimer. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag 2007. 260 pages with 30 illustrations, ISBN 978-3-7705-4020-4 .
  • Wacław Długoborski , Franciszek Piper (editors): Auschwitz 1940-1945. Węzłowe zagadnienia z dziejów obozu. Authors: Danuta Czech , Tadeusz Iwaszko, Stanisław Kłodziński , Helena Kubica, Aleksander Lasik, Franciszek Piper, Irena Strzelecka, Andrzej Strzelecki, Henryk Świebocki. Ed .: Verlag Staatliches Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1995, 5 volumes, 1,250 pages, ISBN 83-85047-52-2 (PL). In German translation under the direction of Jochen August . Auschwitz 1940-1945. Studies on the history of the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp. (5 volumes: I. Construction and structure of the camp. II. The prisoners - living conditions, work and death. III. Annihilation. IV. Resistance. V. Epilog. ) 2,076 pages, ISBN 83-85047-76-X .
  • Gideon Greif : "We wept without tears ...": eyewitness reports from the Jewish "Sonderkommandos" in Auschwitz. Translated from the Hebrew by Matthias Schmidt, Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 1995, ISBN 3-412-03794-X .
  • Gideon Greif, Peter Siebers: Auschwitz death factory. Topography and everyday life in a concentration and extermination camp. Published by the NS Documentation Center of the City of Cologne in cooperation with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Emons Verlag , Cologne 2016, ISBN 978-3954514755 .
  • Israel Gutman , Bella Gutterman (Ed.): The Auschwitz Album. The story of a transport. Wallstein Verlag, Yad Vashem, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-89244-911-2 .
  • Raul Hilberg : Special trains to Auschwitz. Ullstein Book No. 33085, Frankfurt a. M./Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-548-33085-1 .
  • Ka-Tzetnik 135633 : Shivitti. A vision . Löhrbach 2005, ISBN 3-922708-50-1 . (The green branch, 250).
  • Ernst Klee : Auschwitz. Perpetrators, accomplices, victims and what became of them. A dictionary of persons. S. Fischer, Frankfurt a. M. 2013., ISBN 978-3-10-039333-3 .
  • Helena Kubica: You shouldn't forget her. The youngest victims of Auschwitz. Ed .: State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau, 2003; 383 pages; German-Polish edition, ISBN 83-88526-30-8 .
  • Robert Jan van Pelt, Debórah Dwork: Auschwitz. From 1270 until today . Pendo Verlag, Zurich, 1998, ISBN 3-85842-334-3 .
  • Franciszek Piper, Teresa Świebocka (editor): Auschwitz. National Socialist extermination camp. Ed .: State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau, 2011, 492 pp., ISBN 978-83-88526-28-2 .
  • Jean-Claude Pressac: The Auschwitz Crematoria. The technique of mass murder. Translated from the French by Eliane Hagedorn and Barbara Reitz. Piper, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-492-03689-9 .
  • Jan Erik Schulte : From labor to extermination camp. The history of the origins of Auschwitz-Birkenau 1941/42. In: VfZ 50 (2002) (PDF; 7.5 MB), pp. 41–69.
  • Otto Schwerdt , Mascha Schwerdt-Schneller: When God and the world slept . Verlag Lichtung, 1998, 111 pages, ISBN 3-929517-27-2 .
  • State Auschwitz Museum (ed.): Auschwitz in the eyes of the SS. Rudolf Höß, Pery Broad , Johann Paul Kremer . Interpress Publishing House, Warsaw 1992, ISBN 83-223-2496-0 .
  • Tadeusz Sobolewicz : Back from hell , report by a former Auschwitz prisoner, published by Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 3-596-14179-6 .
  • Shlomo Venezia : My work in the Auschwitz Sonderkommando: The first comprehensive testimony from a survivor. Preface by Simone Veil . Dagmar Mallett translation. Blessing, 2008, ISBN 3-89667-365-3 .
  • Nikolaus Wachsmann : KL: The history of the National Socialist concentration camps. Siedler Verlag, Munich 2016, ISBN 978-3-88680-827-4 .
  • I. Gutman and M. Berenbaum (Eds.): "Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp," Indiana University Press, 1994.
  • Alfred Kantor (Vorw. Friedrich Heer): The book of Alfred Kantor, Athenäum Verlag Frankfurt a. M. 1987 / Mc Graw-Hill Company New York 1971.
  • Franciszek Piper: The number of victims of Auschwitz based on the sources and the results of research, 1945 to 1990 . Publishing house State Museum in Oświęcim, 1993, ISBN 83-85047-17-4 .
  • Agnieszka Sieradzka: The Sketchbook from Auschwitz . Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum , Oswiecim, 2011, 115 pp., ISBN 978-83-7704-031-7 (It copies the 22 original pages with 32 sketches by an unknown person. The recurring letters “MM” may be the painter's initials. )
  • Seweryna Szmaglewska : The women of Birkenau. Translated from Polish and with an afterword by Marta Kijowska . Schöffling & Co., Frankfurt a. M. 2020, ISBN 978-3-89561-536-8 .
  • Susanne Willems : Auschwitz. The history of the extermination camp , with photographs by Frank and Fritz Schumann , Edition Ost, 2015, ISBN 978-3-360-01866-3 . Book excerpt



  • Auschwitz - The Project (France, 2017, 57 min, director E. Weiss, German and French versions) - an overview of the spatial expansion of the Auschwitz concentration camp buildings from 1940 to 1945 (model town and the network of concentration camps and forced labor Sites in industry and agriculture) in the occupied region west of Krakow by means of aerial photographs in the present.
  • Der Konvoi , 2009, directed by André Bossuroy. Two Erasmus exchange students follow in the footsteps of Etty Hillesum , a 27-year-old Jew who was deported from the Netherlands to the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943.
  • Lagerstraße Auschwitz , 1979, director: Ebbo Demant (60 min, documentation of perpetrator interviews. Prize of the Chicago International Film Festival, film collection of the Museum of Modern Art New York and the Jewish Museum New York, Berlin International Film Festival and others)
  • Shoah , 1985, directed by Claude Lanzmann
  • A day in Auschwitz , shown on ZDF, January 28, 2019, 8:15 p.m. - 9:45 p.m. (Procedure, building, contemporary witnesses).

Web links

Commons : Auschwitz-Birkenau  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. For the total number of Holocaust victims see the article " Holocaust "
  2. The best known camps are Auschwitz I (main camp) and Auschwitz-Birkenau. There are only a few remains of the third Auschwitz III Monowitz concentration camp on private property.
  3. See DPA notification of June 27, 2007 . Registered on the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List since 1979 .
  4. See Christophe Busch, Stefan Hördler, Robert Jan van Pelt (eds.): Das Höcker-Album. Auschwitz through the lens of the SS. Translated by Verena Kiefer, Birgit Lamerz-Beckschäfer and Oliver Loew , Philipp von Zabern (WBG), Darmstadt 2016, p. 263 ff.
  5. ^ The Architecture of Murder: The Auschwitz-Birkenau Blueprints , video for the online exhibition,
  6. Speech by Władysław Bartoszewski at the opening of an exhibition showing original construction plans for the Auschwitz concentration camp for the first time in Germany, Berlin, February 2009
  7. ^ Franciszek Piper: Architecture of the crime. The building of the so-called central sauna in KL Auschwitz II-Birkenau.
  8. ^ SS-Wirtschaftsverwaltungsamt / Doc: Distribution of clocks, accessed March 26, 2007.
  9. ^ Martin Broszat : Anatomy of the SS State - National Socialist Concentration Camp 1933 - 1945. Munich 1967, p. 98.
  10. Martin Broszat (Ed.): Commandant in Auschwitz , Munich 1963, p. 157.
  11. Raul Hilberg: The Destruction of the European Jews, Volume 2 , Frankfurt am Main 1990, p. 943 f./ Testimony of Rudolf Höß, Trial of the Major War Criminals, I, p. 398.
  12. Martin Broszat (Ed.): Commandant in Auschwitz , Munich 1963, p. 157 f.
  13. ^ Raul Hilberg: The Destruction of European Jews, Volume 2 , Frankfurt am Main 1990, p. 944.
  14. Martin Broszat (Ed.): Commandant in Auschwitz , Munich 1963, p. 158.
  15. Martin Broszat: Anatomy of the SS State - National Socialist Concentration Camp 1933 - 1945. Munich 1967, p. 99.
  16. Jochen August: History and Topography of Auschwitz-Birkenau , p. 3, article from the Hamburg Institute for Social Research (ed.): Die Auschwitz-Hefte Volume 1 & 2 , Weinheim / Basel 2007.
  17. The building was converted into a Catholic church in 1982; see: “The Church must go”. Rabbi: Pope should close the church in Auschwitz-Birkenau , Domradio, January 27, 2017.
  18. Women in Auschwitz (University of Linz)
  19. Women in concentration camps (University of Trier)  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  20. family camp Theresienstadt on
  21. ^ Raul Hilberg: The Destruction of the European Jews, Volume 2 , Frankfurt am Main 1990, p. 947.
  22. For peace and against forgetting. In: Hamburger Abendblatt from January 19, 2011, p. 19.
  23. Wolfgang Benz (Ed.): Dimension des Genölkermordes , DTV, 1996, ISBN 3-423-04690-2 .
  24. a b Report of the Auschwitz Museum ( Memento from September 29, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  25. Marek Tomasz Pawlowski (director) staged this drama documentary and film: The Flight . Film, Poland 2006, German 2009, 45 min. German adaptation Ingrid Terhorst.
  26. Andreas Kilian: The "Sonderkommando uprising" in Auschwitz-Birkenau in .
  27. Therefore, on January 5, 1945, the following were executed: Ala Gertner , Rózia Robota , Regina Safirsztajn and Ester Wajcblum . Some of those involved came from the same place, Będzin . (English).
  28. a b on bombing see
  29. cf. Article Witold Pilecki .
  30. ^ Raul Hilberg: The annihilation of the European Jews . Frankfurt a. M. 1990, p. 1203.
  31. ideo - Auschwitz-Birkenau. (No longer available online.) In: Archived from the original on December 26, 2008 ; Retrieved March 1, 2015 (Polish).
  32. David S. Wyman: The Unwanted People . Frankfurt am Main 1989, p. 329 f.
  33. Telegram of July 6, 1944 Edmund Veesenmayer to Joachim von Ribbentrop Point 5: about three deciphered secret telegrams from Bern (printed in: Franciszek Piper: The number of victims of Auschwitz . P. 80.)
  34. Steven B. Bowman: The Agony of Greek Jews, 1940-1945. Stanford University Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-8047-5584-9 , p. 271, footnote 4.
  35. Dan Stone : "The Sonderkommando Photographs" , Jewish Social Studies , 7 (3), Spring / Summer 2001, (pp. 132-148), p. 143, n.3.
  36. Georges Didi-Huberman, Images malgré tout , Les Éditions de Minuit, 2003, and also in English: Images in Spite of All: Four Photographs from Auschwitz , University of Chicago Press, 2008.
  37. Here after the English edition by Didi-Huberman: Images in Spite of All , 2008, p. 36.
  38. Didi-Huberman, 2007 - review , history of the recordings see literature.
  39. ^ Danuta Czech: Calendar of the events in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp 1939-1945 . Reinbek near Hamburg 1989, ISBN 3-498-00884-6 , p. 921.
  40. Nikolai Politanow: "We couldn't believe our eyes." In: einestages ( Der Spiegel ) of January 27, 2008.
  41. Directory of the concentration camps and their external commandos in accordance with Section 42 (2) BEG No. 130, Birkenau = Brzezinka (Auschwitz II), November 26, 1941 to January 27, 1945.
  42. editorial Preface , accessed on 2 February 2017th
  43. Załoga SS KL Auschwitz ( Memento from February 2, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) (Polish, German, English).
  44. ^ World Heritage Committee approves Auschwitz name change Press release of the World Heritage Committee of June 28, 2007.
  45. as a source for the text at - identical to the photo opposite
  46. message , January 25, 2012, accessed on January 25, 2012.
  47. German Bishops 'Conference : The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Karl Lehmann, for the inauguration of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe on May 10, 2005 May 10, 2005.
  48. The Holy See : Message of His Holiness John Paul II on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the prisoners of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in 2005.
  49. The Holy See : Apostolic Journey of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. to Poland (May 25-28, 2006) 2006 program.
  50. ^ Commemoration of the UN General Assembly , January 27, 2014.
  51. ^ Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs : International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2015, accessed January 29, 2014.
  52. ^ ARD : "We mustn't forget" ( Memento from January 27, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) , January 26, 2015.
  53. Auschwitz 70 , accessed on January 29, 2014.
  54. Where have you been, where was the world? , Jüdische Allgemeine, January 27, 2020. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  55. ^ World Heritage Committee approves Auschwitz name change., accessed on January 28, 2020 .
  56. Auschwitz Birkenau. German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945)., accessed on January 28, 2020 .
  57. ^ Sven Felix Kellerhoff : Helmut Schmidt - the first chancellor in Auschwitz-Birkenau., accessed on January 27, 2020 .
  58. Merkel visits Auschwitz. "I feel deeply ashamed"., accessed on January 27, 2020 .
  59. ↑ Daily news report on the "visit to the" anteroom to hell "" with the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on December 6, 2019 from 5 p.m. in the news broadcasts (video clip, 3 min.).
  60. ^ Chancellor of Germany and Prime Minister of Poland at the Memorial for 10th anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation., accessed on January 27, 2020 (English).
  61. Alex Macbeth: Witness to Extermination - Auschwitz Museum Publishes Prisoner Sketchbook , Spiegel Online from January 17, 2012.
  62. Katja Iken: Auschwitz Drawings: Sketches of Terror , in: one day (Der Spiegel) from January 20, 2012 (article with ten illustrations).
  63. ^ Website for the film

Coordinates: 50 ° 2 ′ 9 ″  N , 19 ° 10 ′ 42 ″  E