Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp

Auschwitz (Auschwitz-Birkenau) concentration camp was a large network of concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas (areas that were annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II).

AuschwitzAuschwitz, camp

Auschwitz was the largest of the German concentration camps, consisting of Auschwitz I (which was the base camp), Auschwitz II–Birkenau (which was the extermination camp), Auschwitz III–Monowitz (mainly labor camp) and 45 satellite camps.

Auschwitz had for a long time been a German name for Oświęcim, the town by and around which the camps were located. The name “Auschwitz” was made the official name again by the Germans after they invaded Poland in September 1939. Birkenau, the German translation of Brzezinka, referred originally to a small Polish village that was destroyed by the Germans to make way for the camp.

AuschwitzAuschwitz, camp

Auschwitz II–Birkenau was designated by the Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler Germany’s Minister of the Interior) as the place of the “final solution of the Jewish question in Europe”. Camp was built since 1942. From early 1942 until late 1944 many transport trains delivered Jews to the camp’s gas chambers from all over German-occupied Europe. The camp’s first commandant Rudolf Höss testified after the war at the Nuremberg Trials that up to three million people had died there (2.5 million gassed, and 500,000 from disease and starvation). New numbers corrected that amount.

AuschwitzAuschwitz, camp

Today the accepted figure is 1.3 million, around 90 percent of them Jewish. Others deported to Auschwitz included 150 thousand Poles, 23 thousand Roma and Sinti, 15 thousend Soviet prisoners of war, some 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses and tens of thousands of people of diverse nationalities. Those prisoners, which were not killed in the gas chambers, died of starvation, forced labor, infectious disease, individual executions, and medical experiments.

On January 27, 1945, concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by Soviet troops. Since those days is that day commemorated around the world as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In 1947 Poland founded a museum on the site of Auschwitz I and II, which is seen by millions visitors annually.

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