Auschwitz Museum behind the wire mesh - Black and White picture

Auschwitz Facts You Should Definitely Know

Many rumors and wrong information exist on the internet about Auschwitz. Here you can find the true Auschwitz facts taken straight from the Auschwitz Museum Book and based on documents and survivor testimonials.


Interesting Auschwitz Facts

Auschwitz became the primary symbol of the Holocaust and it's a must-see in Poland. Find out all you need for your Auschwitz Visit.

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979 (UNESCO).

 The largest of the concentration camp complexes created by the Nazi German regime and was the one that combined extermination with forced labor.

Fact: The Interest zone of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp was 40km2 with several sub-camps.

In Auschwitz camps, there was no case where soap was produced from human fat.

Let's see the most interesting Auschwitz Facts! Some will definitely move you! You might be thinking where was God in Auschwitz.


Auschwitz Facts

General Facts about Auschwitz

Tarnów, 1940. The Nazis sent the first transport of political prisoners to KL Auschwitz consisted of 728 Poles, including a few Polish Jews. They were numbered 31-758. That was the day marked the start of the expansion of the camp, which became the largest Nazi Deat Camp in Europe.

As a result of the construction and expansion of Auschwitz and Birkenau, the Germans forcibly and brutally evacuated at least 8,000 Poles from Oswięcim and surrounding villages. The majority of the homes were demolished and a large part of the materials used to build the barracks in Birkenau.

In the first years of the camp's existence, the prisoners did not have camp numbers tattooed on their hands, it was written on their breasts with an indelible pen.

article mass murder los angeles times

After the mass extermination has begun, Eichmann arrived with Himmler's order to cut the hair of the victims and extract the gold teeth from the corpses. Hair was sold to German textile for 50 pfennig per kilogram and the gold teeth melted and delivered to Berlin in the form of gold bars.

Surviving documents do not contain the necessary data that would allow us to realize the total profits that the Nazis realized by plundering the belongings of KL Auschwitz's victims. It is not baseless, however, to suggest that their value must have exceeded several hundred million Reichsmark.

It is a fact, that since the research began on the camp's history, there is no unanimity among historians regarding how many people were murdered in Auschwitz. The figures range from 1,000,000 to 4,000,000 victims.

The Polish government in London was constantly providing the Allies with new evidence of Nazi crimes against the Polish and the Jewish nations from the beginning of the camp existence. They also turned to the Vatican for assistance with a letter to Pope Pius XII on January 2, 1943, asking to condemn the crimes publicly.

Allied planes often flew over the area of the camp. The first aerial photos were taken by pilots on April 4, 1944. In the photographs, you can clearly see the crematoria and the gas chambers, the unloading ramp, and even a group of people on their way to the crematoria.

Although they bombed the synthetic fuel plant at Biechhammer located only several kilometers from Auschwitz at least ten times and other targets close as well, they never tried an attempt to bomb the extermination facilities in Auschwitz.

During the first half of 1944, the BBC broadcast a list of SS on the Auschwitz camp who were the most responsible for the crimes, adding that they had been given a death sentence. The announcement made a deep impression and has caused some of them to even a breakdown.

Fortunately, the SS authorities did not succeed in concealing their crimes. Even during the war, the world knew that KL Auschwitz was a place where Jews and Poles were being exterminated.


Resistance / Escapes Facts

Except for the known revolt in Auschwitz Birkenau by the members of Sonderkommando on October 7 of 1944, several other smaller rebellion actions took place in Auschwitz. Also, large numbers of escapes conducted in Auschwitz chronicles.

June 10, 1942, an organized rebellion and escape broke out inside the men's penal company at the Birkenau camp in order for the prisoners to save their lives. Unfortunately, Otto Mall gave the signal to end the work earlier due to heavy rain. This disoriented the prisoners. Some of them run to escape and seven out of them succeeded.

On October 23, 1943, in the changing room to Crematorium II, one woman realizing that death awaited her, tore the pistol away from SS-man Josef Schillinger, and shot him several times. Then she also shot a second SS-man Wilhelm Emmerich. The other woman attacked the SS as well. The rebellion was put down and the women perished.

Dr. Adelajda Hautval (Nr: 31802) from France refused to work with the SS Dr. Wirths in conducting criminal experiments for the reason that such activities were not keeping with her oath and conscience as a doctor.

objects for smuggling messages out of AuschwitzObjects for smuggling messages out of Auschwitz

In the summer of 1944, an SS man, Frank, was drawn into cooperating with the resistance. He was called the «ambassador» and he was giving information about the strength of the guards, their weapons, and how orders had been given.

On December 30, 1944, the last execution took place at the main camp. The five condemned (3 Austrians and 2 Poles) did not allow their eyes to be covered. Before they were hung, they managed to let out one cry: «Down with Hitler!, Down with fascism, Today us; Tomorrow You! Long live Poland!».

The attitude of the local population was important for the success of an escape and in Nazi crime disclosure. As early as July 1940 the commandant of Auschwitz wrote: «The local population is fanatically Polish prepared to do anything against the hated SS camp staff. Every escape can count on every possible assistance if he simply reaches the nearest Polish farm».

According to calculations, from the establishment of, until it's liquidation and evacuation (see Auschwitz Liberation) on 18-19 January, 757 male and 45 female prisoners escaped with the largest group to be Poles (328), followed by USRR (179), Jews (115) and Gypsies (38). From those, the 144 successfully escaped and survived the war.

Prisoners repeatedly used SS uniforms on their guest for freedom and many escapes was successful and sometimes escapes took place with the assistance of SS men. One such case was on April 5, 1944, the SS man Viktor Pestek accompanied a Jew outside of the camp and they both traveled to Prague by train. The SS-man was captured when he returned to Auschwitz to organize yet another escape.


Find Ideas on How to Plan Your Trip to Poland

Extermination Facts

The concentration camp of Auschwitz (Oswięcim), founded in 1940, and served as a center for the immediate extermination of Jews beginning of 1942. One may divide the camp's history into two periods: the Polish period (1940 top mid-1942) and the Jewish period (mid-1942 to 1945).

burning corpses sondercommando greek pictureBurning corpses in the open sky

Because of the political situation, the Nazis had not decided to undertake the mass extermination before 1941. Only after the attack on the Soviet Union, this changed when large numbers of Soviet prisoners of war began to arrive, who were to immediately exterminated.

It was Fritzsch, who decided to test Zyklon B on POWs as a potential means of mass extermination. After several small-scale attempts in August, on September 3 of 1941, a transport of around 600 POWs together with 250 other prisoners were executed at the basement of Block 11. Because a few victims were still alive the next day, the amount of gas was doubled and the room was sealed once more.

According to Rudolf Hoss, 5-7 kilograms of Zyklon B sufficed to murder 1,500 people. In the years 1942-43, the firm Tesch und Stabenow delivered a total of 19,652,69 kg of Zyklon B, also used in disinfection.

The construction of the extermination facilities in Birkenau began in the summer of 1942. Several hundred prisoners worked day and night. The first facility put into operation was Crematorium IV, on March 22, 1943.

Before the new crematoria, officially put into operation, employees of the firm Topf and Sohne together with camp administration conducted a trial run of Crematorium II in the presence of higher SS officers from Berlin.

Restaurant in which they was helping escapes from AuschwitzRestaurant in which they were helping escapes from Auschwitz

Also, the camp staff demonstrated the entire process, from the time of the transport arrived at the emptying of the gas champers to Himmler on his 2-day visit in July 1942.

Each crematorium had the following capacities in 24 hours: I - 340 corpses, II and III - 1440 corpses each, IV, and V 768 corpses each. Altogether they could burn in a total of 4,756 corpses a day. 

KL Auschwitz also served as an execution site for partisans or members of underground organizations. The police would ship such individuals (men, women, and children) to the camp in order to carry out their death sentence.

Selections took also place in the showers of the main camp. Oswald Kaduk, sentenced to life imprisonment in Germany in 1965, he was carried out such selections. Often drunk, with a bottle of vodka in his hands, reviewed the naked prisoners deciding about their lives.


Arrange your Auschwitz Visit


Useful information about your visit to Krakow

Prisoner Employment (Auschwitz Facts)

The first industry to employ prisoners from Auschwitz was the chemical industry, and it was also the industry with the highest number of prisoners working. One of the first Auschwitz sub-camps was built in 1942 next to the IG Farbenindustrie plant.

Second place in prisoner employment was held by the mining industry. The Herman Goring Werke coal mines were the first to employ Auschwitz prisoners, in August 1942. Also the first case in the history of concentration camps in which prisoners were utilized underground for mining.

Several large German concerns and 150-200 other firms exploited the labor of prisoners from KL Auschwitz. State revenues from renting prisoners at LK Auschwitz in 1943 likely amounted to 15-20 million marks and 30-40 million marks in 1944.

Eugenius Bandera Auschwitz escapeEugenius Bandera Auschwitz escape

According to SS's figures, the daily cost for maintaining the prisoners in terms of nutrition, clothing and quarters, amounted to 1.34 marks for each male and 1.22 for each woman. It is a fact that the prisoners did not receive the official quota's, so this statement might be mistaken.


Get an Offer to Rent a Car

Children - Auschwitz Facts

If the youngest children displayed «Nordic» racial characteristics, were taken from their families and sent to Germanization centers. The Jewish children were normally murdered immediately upon arrival with exception of the twins, which they were used for criminal medical experiments.

Based on surviving documents it is a fact that around 680 children were born in Auschwitz. Around 8 children of those were released with their mothers and 46 survived until Auschwitz Liberation. Several died immediately after liberation.

Beginning of September 1943, the Jews transports from Terezin were excluded from selections and they were held in a special family camp on the grounds of Birkenau, created for propaganda purposes, including more than 470 children and youths.

Package for smuggling medicine into AuschwitzPackage for smuggling medicine into Auschwitz

At the «family camp», people received better treatment and food and they could leave together as families, although they were separated by gender. A kindergarten existed and even the children were allowed to organize a puppet theater and to write a newspaper.

All the good came to an end and the family camp liquidation started on the night of March 8-9 in 1944. Almost all the children were killed.

Another «Kindergarten» was established at the Gypsy camp with a playground in the summer of 1943 on the orders of Dr. Mengele between the barrack 31 and the washroom, including a sandbox, carousel, and seesaws. The children often photographed for propaganda purposes.

Adult prisoners strived to protect the children and youths from hard work, even defended them, and also decorated the children's barracks with color drawings and scenes from the fairy tales.

Former prisoner Wanda Szaynok witnessed one day a large number of baby carriages removed from Auschwitz and direction to Oswiecim train station. Brought out in rows of five, the procession of carriages lasted an hour.


 Find Best Hotels Worldwide

Auschwitz Liberation Facts

At the end of 1944, while the expansion of the central portion of KL Auschwitz (Main camp and Birkenau) was halted, the sub-camps established next to industrial facilities continued to expand.

On January 17, 1945, the last general roll-call took place at KL Auschwitz with a total of 67,012 prisoners in total. From January 17-21, 1945, around 56,000 prisoners were led out of KL Auschwitz to the well known «death marches» where around 15,000 perished.

Many of the prisoners who survived the evacuation from Auschwitz perished at concentration camps inside the Third Reich during the final months of its existence and a few survived the war.

Auschwitz during liberation - corpsesAuschwitz during liberation - corpses of prisoners

The residents of the towns and villages through which the evacuation route ran, they offered great assistance to the prisoners being evacuated and in some cases, people lost their lives for this.

Crematorium V remained open for use up to the last point and it was demolished as well on January 26, 1945.

After most of the SS left the camp, some prisoners died from consuming excessive quantities of «organized food».

Both Auschwitz I and Birkenau camps liberated on January the 27th around 15:00 by two hundred thirty-one Soviet soldiers mostly of the 60th Army of the First Ukrainian Front. Around 7,000 prisoners awaited liberation in the main camp, Birkenau and Monowitz.


Trials Against the SS

A total of around 7,000-7,200 SS men and women passed through the camp and we could round up that at least 6,000 of those Auschwitz SS staff should have been prosecuted as potential war-criminals.

Most of the trials against former members of the Auschwitz camp staff took place in Poland between 1946 and 1953. At least 673 people faced legal proceedings with a total of 32 death sentences, some of which were never executed, 9 sentences of life in prison, and the rest between 6 months to 15 years in prison.

Finally, evaluating the international effort, at least 788 SS staff from Auschwitz had to stand trial before various tribunals (12-15%). Many well-known criminals from the camp never had to face trial.


End Of our Unique Auschwitz Facts
Read Also About Your Auschwitz Visit
You might be interested in More Nazi Camps in Poland

Subscribe

* indicates required


Interesting Articles

Disclosure Notes:

Some links on this page are affiliate links. Meaning, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a small commission, only if you book something through my links!

I recommend only the best known companies and products!

Are you a Travel Writer? Register with GetYourGuide and start making money by recommending amazing tours worldwide. Find More info in How to Make Money Online article

Many images on this website come from Pixabay - Free License.

Other images are mine and for the rest, I should have a link to the source of the picture.

Things Change from Time to Time! Have you seen anything wrong? Please send a message in order to correct it!

Last modification: Tue 20 Oct 2020