Auschwitz location – where it is?
Are you one of many thinking where Auschwitz is located?
In southern Poland, 70 kilometers west of Kraków, in a small town named Oświęcim you can find dozens kilometers of barbed wire. It’s Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. But don’t call it “polish”. Although it’s located in Poland, from the beginning it was created by Germans from the Third Reich. Read this article and learn more about World War II and Holocaust.
In 1939, as result of Nazi Germany’s invasion and Poland’s lost defensive war, Poland’s western territories (including Oświęcim) were incorporated into the Third Reich. In september 1939 town Oświęcim and surrounding areas in Poland joined to become Auschwitz. In the same year Gestapo initiated the idea of transforming this place into a concentration camp. For the Nazis Auschwitz had very good location – at the center crossroads of many polish cities.
Auschwitz-Birkenau was the first concentration camp for men and for women. Birkenau (which is sometimes named Auschwitz II) was the largest part of its. Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II are situated over 3 kilometers from each other. To Birkenau you can go by bus or even by foot, through streets: Leszczyńska and Wyzwolenia, crossing the by- camp premises, warehouses, offices and technical backrooms, in which prisoners would work and die.
The Auschwitz Museum is located on the outskirts of the Oświęcim on national road 933. The Museum is about 2 kilometers from the train station, there are also two international airports within 50 kilometers of Oświęcim: Kraków-Balice and Katowice-Pyrzowice.
Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp had a total area of 40 square kilometers with about five kilometers for isolation. Camp made 28 two-story buildings, divided into three sections: Auschwitz I (the base camp), Auschwitz II (Birkenau) and Auschwitz III (Monowitz).
Auschwitz I was the smallest one, with the base part of camp established near Oświęcim. There were: offices and living quaters for commendants, the buildings administration, the “death block”, kitchen and hospital for prisoners, the main quard station, the first crematorium and gas chamber, also Gestapo camp. Auschwitz I was surrounded by nine towers and barbed wire electric fences. In the “death block” prisoners had “courtrooms”, where they were very unfairly tried, tortured into confession. In the camp there were 28 two-story blocks, which were used to house prisoners. In each there were two large rooms upstairs and number of smaller rooms downstairs. Every block could hold about 700 prisoners, but it practise it could be even 500 more! The first prisoners at Auschwitz were German and Polish political prisoners. Similar to most German concentration camps, Auschwitz I was constructed to serve three purposes:
1. To incarcerate real and perceived enemies of the Nazi regime.
2. To provide a supply of forced laborers.
3. To serve as a site to eliminate small, targeted groups of the population.
Auschwitz II (Birkenau) was built in 1941 in Brzezinka near the Oświęcim. It was the largest section on Auschwitz camp. The camp included sections for women, men, a family camp for Gypsies and a family camp for Jewish families. 250 barracks located throughout Birkenau were earlier horse stables (for only 52 horses) – then had to live there about 200 000 prisoners. The barracks were unheated in the winter. There was no electric lighting at the beginning. Conditions in Auschwitz Ii were far worse than dose in base camp. There was no running water or sanitary equipment. Birkenau also had commandant’s office, the kitchen barack, gas chambers and Crematoria II, III, IV and V. Death chambers were situated near the barracks, to reminder that people couldn’t feel safe and in any moment they could be send to be gassed and cremated. Prisoners selected to die were undressed in the undressing room and then pushed into the gas chambers. It took only about 20 minutes for all the people inside to die. Gas chambers played a central role in the German plan to kill the Jews of Europe.
In Birkenau was also ‘experimental block’ for medical experiments on the prisoners. The camp was surrounded by a barbed wire fence and 28 towers.
Auschwitz III called Monowitz or Buna was a small area, where the main function was the production of synthetic fuel and rubber. Auschwitz III housed prisoners assigned to work. It was located on the outskirts of the small village of abandoned by force in 1942 Monowice.
Huge pits scattered throughout the camp were used as mass graves for thousands bodies. One pit could held over 100 000 people.
Over the enter of Auschwitz I, there is a sentence left for the visitors to read. ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ – which means ‘Work will give you freedom’ greeted the prisoners and gave the hope to be free again. It was one of Nazis lies. These words promoted false hope in prisoners – that hard work could give them a freedom. Of course, it wasn’t true. The most of those people were murdered in concentration camp or died naturally from hunger or illness.
Nowadays the concentration camp is changed into the Museum. Every year over 1 000 000 visitors came to Oświęcim, to see the Auschwitz former Nazi camp. Since the inception of the Museum more than 44 million people from all over the world visited Auschwitz.
Auschwitz Museum works hard to spread the truth about Holocaust. One of the top ideas was to create a virtual tour of the Auschwitz Memorial. Since several months ago the idea came true and today on the site panorama.auschwitz.org there are dozens of 360° images which present the authentic sites and buildings of the former German Nazi conzentration camp. It’s definitely worth to go for this virtual walk.
It depends only on you, if you want to face with the difficult past and see the concentration and extermination camp. It won’t be easy for you. But when you will think about it in future – it will be worth it.
“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness”