Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

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Aerial view of today's Auschwitz Concentration Camp Museum (2009)
Near the entrance to the Auschwitz I concentration camp (2006)
September 1, 1992: First memorial servant in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum
Watchtower in the concentration camp Auschwitz I (main camp)
Block 11 in Auschwitz I
Suitcases from people murdered in Auschwitz
Shoes of the murdered
Remains of the effect camp Canada at Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz I - a commemorative rose (2004)

The State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau ( Polish Państwowe Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau , abbreviation PMO) is a memorial on the territory of the Polish city of Oświęcim in southern Poland and includes the preserved and reconstructed structures of the two concentration camps Auschwitz I (with the greater part of the Exhibits) and Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp (also Auschwitz II concentration camp , the actual extermination camp ). The murders and the camps during the German occupation of Poland during World War II are remembered . For the museum has several other tasks, it is Holocaust (Shoah) to the Jews and to Porajmos to the Sinti and Roma in Europe by the German Nazis research .


The museum was founded on July 2nd, 1947 by decision of the Polish Parliament. The area is 191 hectares, with 20 hectares belonging to the Auschwitz I concentration camp and 171 hectares belonging to Auschwitz II .

Over 25 million visitors have visited the museum since it opened. The former concentration camp has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 .

Places of remembrance are: Auschwitz I (the main camp that was initially expanded), remains of the Birkenau extermination camp (Auschwitz II), the rail side ramp between the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps, which served as an "unloading station" from 1942–1944 . The three kilometers between the former Auschwitz and Birkenau camps can be covered on foot, and (free) bus trips are also offered. The museum was initially housed in various original buildings.

International interest makes the former German concentration camp Auschwitz the most important symbol for the Holocaust. Half a million people visited it every year at the beginning of the 1990s. The number of visitors to the preserved buildings and the exhibitions of the state museum has increased steadily over the years. In 2017 the number of visitors was 2.1 million. The breakdown of the visitors by country of origin (top 10): From Poland 498,000, Great Britain 339,000, USA 183,000, Italy 115,000, Spain 101,000, Germany 85,000, Israel 83,000, France 74,000, Czech Republic 53,000 and Sweden 44,000.

December 2019: After Helmut Schmidt and Helmut Kohl , Angela Merkel is the third German Chancellor to visit the former Auschwitz concentration camp and to give a speech there on the need to preserve the memory of the crimes of Germans at this location.


After the Soviet Union handed the camp over to Poland in 1947, Parliament declared the site a museum on July 2, 1947. At the same time, the first exhibition was shown in the barracks of the main camp.

For the seventh anniversary of the first transport of Polish prisoners to Auschwitz, the exhibition was revised with the help of former prisoners . However, this was strongly influenced by the Cold War period , in that in addition to pictures of Jewish ghettos , photos from slums in the USA were also on display. The main camp was restored in the 1950s.

After Stalin's death , a new exhibition was designed in 1955, which is still available in this form today. In 1959, every country with victims in Auschwitz was given the right to present its own exhibition. In contrast, victim groups such as homosexuals , Jehovah's Witnesses and Roma were denied this right. In 1963, the Polish government refused the State of Israel permission to hold its own exhibition on the grounds that the Jews murdered in the Auschwitz camp were not citizens of Israel . The Jewish exhibition based on a design by Andrzej Szczypiorski opened in April 1968 . 10 years later the Jewish exhibition was redesigned. A scandal broke out in 1979 when Pope John Paul II celebrated a mass in Birkenau on his first trip to Poland and called the camp the Golgotha ​​of our time .

In 1962 a protection zone was established around the museum in Brzezinka / Birkenau and in 1977 one around the museum in Oświęcim (the former Auschwitz) in order to preserve the historical condition of the camp. These zones were approved as law by the Polish Parliament in 1999 .

In 1967 the first major memorial, the International Memorial to the Victims of Fascism , was inaugurated on the area of Auschwitz II between the crematoria . It wasn't until the 1990s that information boards began to be put up. At the same time, the ramp tracks in the warehouse were renewed. The barbed wire is also constantly being replaced. The concrete posts are permanently preserved using the Ibach method ( full acrylic resin impregnation ).

Original construction plans for the expansion of the camp by the construction management of the SS Auschwitz discovered in Germany in 2008 were transferred to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel in 2009 .

The album of this central construction management has also survived, in which the progress of the construction work in the Auschwitz camp complex is documented photographically by the member of the central construction management, Dietrich Kamann.

The national exhibitions

Since 1960 there have been "national exhibitions" in the former Auschwitz I concentration camp , the main camp. They were created in cooperation with the respective country, which was occupied by the National Socialists during the Second World War and whose inhabitants were deported to Auschwitz , with the museum. A separate exhibition is dedicated to the Jewish victims and (since 2001) the Sinti and Roma. Most of the exhibitions have been replaced with new ones over the years. This applies to Belgium , France , the Netherlands , Slovakia , the Czech Republic and the former USSR , among others . A German exhibition that was maintained by the GDR until the fall of the Berlin Wall has not yet been replaced.

The first National Exhibition of the USSR opened in 1961. It was renewed in 1977 and 1985. In 2003, the Russian organizers made the proposal to open a completely new exhibition. As a result, this part of the exhibition was closed. Differences over questions of the territorial situation in the USSR in the years 1939–1941, after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (the German-Soviet non-aggression pact) , delay the reopening. It concerns the citizenship of the population in the territories of the Baltic States , the eastern areas of what was then Poland and part of Romania . Russian President Putin was informed of this during a visit to the concentration camp in 2005.

The Austria exhibition, which opened in 1978, presented Austria only as a victim of National Socialism. This one-sided presentation motivated the Austrian political scientist Andreas Maislinger to work in the museum through the German Action atonement 1980/81 and to found the Austrian Memorial Service . The then Austrian Federal President Rudolf Kirchschläger had given Maislinger to understand that as a young Austrian he had nothing to atone for in Auschwitz . Because of this negative attitude of the representatives of the Republic of Austria , the first memorial servant was only able to take up his service on September 1, 1992. Kirchschläger later admitted to Maislinger that the memorial service "has become more healing than I imagined at the time."

In 2005, the Austrian delegation to the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF) formed an initiative “Redesign of the Austrian Memorial in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum”, which set itself the task of to fundamentally revise the Austrian national exhibition. On November 15, 2005, the original entrance plaque, which depicted Austria as the “first victim of National Socialism”, was replaced by a new banner, which indicates that this depiction no longer corresponds to the historical image of today's Austria.

The Austria exhibition was closed to visitors in October 2013 and has been redesigned since then.

Museum organization

The museum employs over 200 people in the following departments: archive, computer section, information office on former inmates, collections, conservatory department, library, scientific research department, section for former inmates, exhibitions, education and the scientific publications of the museum staff (Interface to the publisher). Visitors and groups of visitors come into contact primarily with the two departments of exhibitions and education.

Conducting the visit

The greater part of the exhibits is in the main camp Auschwitz I , which is located just 2 km south of today's Oświęcim train station. These exhibitions can be visited (as of 2019) with approximately three-hour tours. The exhibitions can be visited from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. without a guided tour. A shuttle bus connects this exhibition area with warehouse II . Conceptually, both the museum and the world heritage site bear the name Auschwitz-Birkenau; at the same time that was the name of Camp II as Auschwitz-Birkenau, so avoid confusion. In the more extensive area of ​​Camp II, in addition to the memorial, barracks and ruins in which the gas chambers were located can be visited. This is immediately accessible without registration. A visit to the museum therefore makes sense when you register for a guided tour in camp I to the right of the museum entrance. In the case of a longer waiting time, a tour of Camp II can be interposed; in the case of a short waiting time, some exhibits can be viewed in front of the actual museum entrance. It is possible to reserve an appointment online in advance.

Oświęcim is a direct train stop between Vienna and Krakow and between Prague and Krakow; local trains continue to run to Krakow approximately every one to two hours (travel time approx. 100 minutes) and less often to Katowice - Lubliniec (as of 2019). Numerous bus tours with different lengths of stay in the concentration camp area are also offered from Krakow.

Preservation of the world cultural heritage

Memorial flowers on the train tracks of the unloading ramp in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp (2007)
World Heritage emblem

The museum was declared part of the world cultural heritage by UNESCO under the name “Auschwitz-Birkenau - German National Socialist Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940–1945)” . The extension of the name was intended to prevent the genocide committed by Germans from being equated with Poland, because the parts of the warehouse were on Polish territory and are now part of the museum there.

The preservation of the 191 hectare memorial site poses major challenges for Poland and the museum management, especially since there are 155 buildings and 300 ruins on the site, including the gas chambers and crematoria that were blown up by the SS before they escaped. For this purpose, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, headquartered in Warsaw , was established in January 2009 under the direction of Prof. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski , the Auschwitz survivor and former Foreign Minister of Poland . It has set itself the goal of soliciting donations from governments for the preservation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in the amount of 120 million euros in order to plan the necessary maintenance and restoration work systematically and long-term from the then expected annual interest income of around 4-5 million euros and to be able to carry out. In addition to the German government, which is contributing 60 million euros to the foundation, the USA, France, Canada, the Netherlands and Israel, along with other countries, have agreed to participate in this foundation. On June 16, 2020, the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and the head of the Auschwitz Memorial, Piotr Cywiński , signed an agreement according to which Germany, half of the federal government and half of the federal states, would add another 60 million euros to the capital stock of the Auschwitz Foundation Birkenau contribute this year.


In the summer of 2013, an exhibition on Auschwitz and the Holocaust was shown in Beijing . It was considered the first such exhibition in China.


  • Emil Weiss: Auschwitz, premiers témoignages. Trilogy 'Hourban'. Film documentary, France, 2009, first broadcast of the German version in the FRG by Arte, January 26, 2011 (The writings of Marc Klein about Auschwitz I and Rajsko, Suzanne Birnbaum and Robert Levy about Auschwitz II Birkenau and Robert Waitz about Auschwitz III Monowitz are spoken The contemporary images from the museum area are partially contrasted with historical black and white photographs from the same location from the post-war period.)
  • Robert Thalheim : At the end there are tourists , German feature film, 2007. In it, the director processes his own experiences as a community service provider on site in the 1990s.
  • Virtual tour of the exhibition in block 20 in main camp I (France, French)
  • Jonathan Hayoun: Save Auschwitz! France 2015. 60 min. [1] , documents that "Europe's largest cemetery ... sometimes ... looks like a macabre excursion destination".

See also


  • Danuta Czech : Calendar of events in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp 1939–1945 . Rowohlt, Hamburg 1989. ISBN 3-498-00884-6 .
  • Documentation and Cultural Center of German Sinti and Roma : The National Socialist Genocide of the Sinti and Roma . Catalog for the permanent exhibition in Block 13. Heidelberg, 2001.
  • 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 .
  • Jonathan Huener : Auschwitz, Poland, and the Politics of Commemoration, 1945–1979 . Ohio University Press, Athens 2003, ISBN 0-8214-1507-7 .
  • Verlag Staatliches Museum in Oświęcim: An information and guidebook to the Museum exhibitions. Arranged according to the accepted visitors' route through the main exhibition (blocks 4, 5, 6, 7, 11) and specific objects (the crematorium, gas chamber, and gallows). (English; Short guide through the museum)
  • Publishing house State Museum in Oświęcim: Protecting For the Future. An International Preservation Conference in Oświęcim, June 23-25, 2003 . 2004, ISBN 83-88526-55-3 (English scientific conference on the preservation and presentation of the museums in Oswiecim).

| Link to the literature list on the A.II-Birkenau concentration campLink to the literature list on the Auschwitz-I concentration camp (main camp)To the literature list on the A. III-Monowitz concentration camp |

Web links

Commons : Pictures from the Museum Deutsches KZ Auschwitz  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. see also FASZ July 20, 2014: The Guardian of the Hundred Thousand Shoes
  2. Visitor statistics on the website of the Auschwitz - Birkenau Memorial and Museum , accessed on January 4, 2018.
  3. ↑ Daily news report on the visit to the “Vorraum zur Hölle” with the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on December 6, 2019 from 5 p.m. in the news broadcasts (video clip, 3 min.). 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 .
  4. ^ The Architecture of Murder: The Auschwitz-Birkenau Blueprints , video for the online exhibition,
  5. ^ Niels Gutschow : Ordnungswahn. Architects plan in the "Germanized East" 1939–1945. Gütersloh 2001, ISBN 3-7643-6390-8 , p. 195.
  6. ^ Andreas Maislinger, Compulsory Memorial Service. Jewish Review February 13, 1992.
  7. Press archive
  8. National Exhibitions> Austria at, accessed on October 16, 2018 (English).
  9. official abbreviation APMO, Archiwum Państwowe Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau; store here u. a. the texts of the interrogations that Jan Sehn had conducted in German with Rudolf Höß in 1947 and which have so far only appeared in excerpts (but probably in Polish). An overview (no content!) Of these interrogations with Manfred Deselaers , Conscience bite, Lpz. 1997, pp. 27-31.
  10. Website Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau - Visiting (English)
  11. Website - Select the type of the visit (English)
  12. See DPA notification of June 27, 2007 . Registered on the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List since 1979 .
  13. Text of the official UNESCO description (English version)
  14. ^ Gerhard Gnauck, Warsaw: Maas in Poland: In rare unanimity . In: FAZ.NET . ISSN  0174-4909 ( [accessed June 18, 2020]).
  15. First Auschwitz exhibition shocks Chinese.
  16. ARTE : Save Auschwitz ( Memento of the original from January 25, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. ARTE , January 24, 2017. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  17. There you can also find information about the education center and the International Auschwitz Committee

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