- AUSCHWITZ - SYNONYMOUS WITH THE HOLOCAUST -
The general term for the network of Nazi labor and concentration camps is Auschwitz – Birkenau. The camps were established in and aroiund the Polish city of Oswiecim.
This complex was the largest of all the Nazi death camps in Europe and could hold over 100 000 inmates at a time. Created formally in 1940 as a concentration camp for Polish political prisoners, it became the centre for extermination where about 1.4 million people met their deaths. Auschwitz – Birkenau concentration and extermination camp functioned until it’s liberation in January 1945. Historians estimate the number of people murdered at Auschwitz somewhere between 1.1 million to 1.3 million, of whom the vast majority were Jews. Prisoners of Auschwitz were murdered in the gas chambers though many died from starvation, disease, shooting, dehumanised medical experiments, and forced labour. The Final Solution, stating that all Jews in Europe would be worked to death and their corpses disposed of was decided at the infamous Wannsee conference outside Berlin in January, 1942.
Auschwitz and the other camps established on the area of Nazi occupied Poland, with their railway connections to the other countries of Europe were ready to start processing millions of Jews together with thousands of Roma and other inmates. The peak of the murder was in May 1944, when some 10,000 people were being gassed every day at Birkenau gas chambers. around. 70 % of those who arrived by trains from all over Europe were gassed within hours upon arrival. The Red Army arrived in January 1945 to find just 7,500 survivors. The Nazi’s had sent around 75,000 prisoners and their camp guards to other concentration camps as the Soviets pushed deep into Poland. The evacuation and destruction of the gas chambers and crematoriums had been ordered by the Nazi high command. SS chief Heinrich Himmler had directed: "Not a single prisoner from the concentration camps falls alive into the hands of the enemy."
Many efforts were made by the Nazi Germans to destroy the evidence. The term “Auschwitz” has become synonymous with Holocaust, terror, and genocide.
The former camp Auschwitz – Birkenau museum was established two years after WW II to help future generations commemorate the victims of atrocities committed within its fences. Its main tasks are conservation of the original remains of the camp, scientific research, documentary work, and, above all, education.
Visitors will have the opportunity to consider and contemplate the significance of the Holocaust. Auschwitz museum continues in their efforts with a view to build new generations free of national chauvinism, racism and intolerance.