Auschwitz concentration camp facts
There is lot of things about World War II that we know in general. We know some details about Holocaust, we know who was Adolf Hitler and that we decided to build concentration camps. But how much we really know about Auschwitz? Read this article to learn about history.
Question nr 1 – how big was auschwitz?
The concentration camp at Auschwitz had a total camp area of 40 square kilometers with a surrounding radius of five kilometers for isolation. To help you understand the size of the camp imagine, that Auschwitz was more than 10 times bigger than Central Park in New York City. The complex consisted of: Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II – Birkenau and Auschwitz III – Monowitz.
Question nr 2 – how many people died in Auschwitz?
It’s one of the hardest questions and one of the most important at the same time. Historians and analysts try to estimate the number of people murdered at Auschwitz. Unfortunately it’s extremely hard to set the correct number. Why? During the liberation of Auschwitz the Nazis burned mostly all of the documentation. The second problem to estimate the number of victims is the fact, that people sentenced to the gas chamber were never enrolled in documents. Because of those two reasons it’s hard to set the exactly number of victims.
Question nr 3 – what does Auschwitz mean?
Many people don’t really know what is the meaning of the word “Auschwitz”. At the beginning of World War II a small city Oświęcim has been annexed to the Third Reich by the Nazis. Because they were changing all the Polish names of the cities, streets, squares etc. to the German ones, the same happened with Oświęcim city, so its name was changed to Auschwitz. Nowadays, in the democratic Poland German names doesn’t exist anymore. City Auschwitz became Oświęcim again. Also Birkenau – the second part of the concentration camp was a village, called in the past and nowadays Brzezinka.
Question nr 4 – where were the concentration camps located?
Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its allies established more than 40,000 camps (and other incarceration sites). The the beginning the main idea was to eliminate so-called “enemies of the state”. Over the years the sizes and numbers of the camps grew up to became a huge death machines in the end of the war. Most camps have been built on the territory of the present Poland. Lot of them have been created in present Germany, some of them in present Ukraine, France, Austria, Czech Republic and Netherlands.
Question nr 5 – which one were the biggest concentration camps?
The biggest concentration camp was Auschwitz-Birkenau camp with a total camp area of 40 square kilometers with a surrounding radius of five kilometers for isolation. The other ones were: Bergen-Belsen in Germany, Dachau in Germany, Chelmno in Poland, Majdanek in Poland, Plaszow in Poland and Treblinka also in Poland.
Question nr 6 – who were killed in the Holocaust?
Although many people think that Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was created to exterminate Jews, until early 1942, the Nazis deported to Auschwitz only a relatively small number of Jews, who were sent there along with the non-Jewish prisoners, mostly Poles, who accounted for the majority of the camp population until mid-1942. Over the months the number of Jewish prisoners grew up and soon the Jews became a majority of the camp population. The second biggest group of prisoners were Poles. Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS said: “All skilled workers of Polish background are to be used in our war industry. Afterwards, Poles will disappear from the world. . . . Every German’s time is coming. That is why it is necessary for the great German people to see their main task in the destruction of all Poles.” Another group of prisoners were homosexuals. They were one of the specially selected groups in the concentration camps. Homosexuals were treated as the lowest of the groups within the prisoner population. Between 5,000 and 15,000 gays died in the camps. The other groups of prisoners in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp were: Roma, Soviets, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other prisoners from almost all the nations around Poland.
Question nr 7 – what happened inside concentration camp’s gas chambers?
Question nr 8 – what happened with people who survived the Holocaust?
After liberation, many camp survivors feared to return to their former homes because of the antisemitism that persisted in parts of Europe or a trauma they had suffered. With few possibilities for emigration, thousands of homeless Auschwitz survivors migrated westward to other European territories liberated by the western Allies, to United States, Canada or to England. Because each Holocaust survivor has a unique and individual story, they started to talk about what happened inside camp. Many of them wrote books and started to work in many kinds of survivor organizations.
Question nr 9 – what happened with Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi stuff?
There were around 7000 staff (The SS command of Auschwitz) at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. From all the personnel only 750 were ever tried for war crimes. The most unfamous person inside the camp was The commander of the SS, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. He was the highest SS official with knowledge of Auschwitz. SS personnel consisted of: Garrison commanders, Senior adjutant officers, Junior adjutant officers, Headquarters staff, Pay office, Post office, Legal office, Directors of administration, Camp administration main office, Prisoner property office, Camp personnel department, Camp technical section, Camp motor pool, Camp labor section, Women’s camp sub-section, Camp guards, Camp medical personnel, Camp Gestapo command, Personnel involved in genocide and Female camp personnel.
You just read the answers to frequently asked questions about Auschwitz. We hope that the article about Auschwitz concentration camp facts get you closer to the real history and made you curious about the mysteries of Holocaust.