The concentration camp auschwitz in reality consists of several concentration camps. This camp complex was to become the biggest killing factory of the world. It is estimated that the camps was only guarded by 3250 men, of which 70% ss and the other 30% Wehrmacht.

At the 20th of may 1940 the camp was opened by the camp commandat Rudolf hoss. At the beginning only a few polish political prisoners were ordered to clean up an few deserted army barracks in order to make it an concentration camp. This camp was to become Auschwitz I, the main camp. At the 14th of June the first transport of pisoners arrived and the camp was officially in function.



Auschwitz camps complex

Soon the camp became to small to handle all the prisoners. Since there was not enough space to exted the current camp a second one was build. This camp was to become the most wel known concentration and extermination camp of the holocaust: Auschwitz-birkenau. The first prisoner arrived at the 1st of march 1942. Also a third camp was build in the same area, Auschwitz-monowitz. This camp held an factory of IG farben and functioned as a labour camp. Many neighbouring villages were destroyed in order to make room for the camps. These 3 main camps also had many subcamps, were prisoners mainly worked in the arms industry.

From 1940 till 1944 roughly 1.3 million people were transported towards Auschwitz or it subcamps, of these people only a few survided the war. The death toll of Auschwitz itself is estimated at 1.1 million people. Auschwitz is the camp were the gassing took place by using zyklon B. An cyan containing kristal. The first experiments for gassing people with zyklon B were done on the 3rd of September 1941. In the penalbarrack of Auschwitz 1 roughly 250 sick and 800 russian people were gassed using zyklon B. This method proved to be cheap, effective and reliable. Therefore, it was decided that zyklon B would be the prevered method of killing masses of people in Auschwitz.

auschwitz concentrations camps map

Extermination by zyklon B

The zyklon B was produced by the degesch company. A death by gassing using cyan is painfull and stressful. In the gaschamber of Auschwitz you can see still see the scratches made by people on the concrete walls. two more gaschambers were opened outside Auschwitz 2 in march 1943. This in order to expend the capacity for killing people. These gaschambers were hidden inside 2 old farms and disquised as showers.  In the meanwhile the 2 biggest gaschambers with attached crematoria were build inside the camp of Auschwitz 2. In total there were 5 gaschamber present in Auschwitz Birkenau complex. The 2 final gascambers were opened between march and end of June 1943.

In total the capacity for killing people is estimated by the SS to be at 4200 people a day. However witnesses stated that a busy days double the capacity could be reached. The building plans for all the gaschambers were captured by the soviets upon liberation the camp, confirming these estimates.

zyklon-b used canisters

Auschwitz as labour camp

But Auschwitz was not only an extermination camp, but an hybrid between extermination and labour camp. Roughly 400.000 people arriving at Auschwitz were not directly gassed but selected for work. The labour was harsh and sick people were gassed. Of these 400.000 roughly 360.000 passed away due to the hard labour and epidemics. Besides all these cruelty camp inmates were also used for medical experiments. For instance, all twins were selected for research by doctor Joseph Mengele. Which got the name: the angel of death.

IG Farbenwerke Auschwitz Monowitz
home scaled
return home
auschwitz scaled
return to theme overview