In forty five kilometers from the Polish Krakow there is the city Auschwitz which is associated by the most people with genocide of Jews (Holocaust) at the time of World War II. Exactly here the complex of the Auschwitz Concentration Camps was situated. The Auschwitz Concentration Camp is the largest and the long-live existed Nazi factory of death. The complex consisted of three camps: Auschwitz I, II and III, and we were succeeded to visit the first two. Today we will tell you and show on the photos Oswiecim- Auschwitz I. Since 1947 in the territory of the former Auschwitz Concentration Camp the museum included in the list of the World Heritage of UNESCO was opened and it is unfortunate that the heritage is so sad.
We arrived to the museum on Saturday early in the morning, and the parking before the entrance was absolutely empty. If you plan to visit Auschwitz without excursion group as we, that the prime time is the opening of the museum, directly from 8th morning as from April 1 to October 31 from 10:00 to 15:00 the entrance in the territory “Auschwitz I” is possible only as a part of excursion groups. For visit of the concentration camp it is worth allocating not less than 2-3 hours, and impressionable people it is better to refrain in general from visiting - you can not to remain indifferent. Impressions after visit of both camps as heavy as lead and remain in memory for a long time. Understanding of that, how many living people was tortured, killed, poisoned and burned in these walls incredibly oppresses and all of this is increased by “the presence effect” - after all You are physically in the rooms which walls saw and remember a vast number of human death.
If all of you decided to visit this shivery place and to see everything with own eyes without guide, we categorically recommend to watch the 45-minute documental film “Auschwitz - Journey Into Hell” filmed in 2013 by British Toby Grum and recently shown on the TV channel «History». Taking in the movie, it will be easier for you to take lead from the museum territories, you will know, where exactly and what specifically to look, and also it will open some facts which aren't described in this article.
On the view of the prepared photographic materials to this publication we decided almost completely to clean color as the joyful verdant grass and very bright walls from a red brick were out of character the sense of this article and this place therefore further almost all photos will be black-and-white. All photos, as usual, are clickable.
The Auschwitz Concentration Camp - the factory of death
In 1939 the Polish city Oswiecim was occupied with the German troops and renamed as Auschwitz, and the first of concentration camps - Auschwitz I was based by in two-storeyed brick - built structures of the Polish army artillery barracks on May 20, 1940. Rudolf Hess was appointed the camp commandant and the first prisoners (728 Polacks) were sent to Auschwitz from prison in Tarnow.
On the average the number of the prisoners who were at the same time varied from 13 to 16 thousand people, but in 1942 their number reached 20000 there. All blocks from basements to garrets were applicable for placement of prisoners. In 1941 the decision of construction of the second camp Auschwitz II - Birkenau was made (about it - in the following post). It was situated 3km away from Auschwitz, in the country Bzhezinka. In 1943 near Auschwitz, in Monowitz, in the territory of the plant «IG Ferbenindustrie» one another camp - Auschwitz III - was built. In total during 1942-1944 about four dozen branches of the Auschwitz camp were constructed. As a rule, they were located nearby metallurgical complex, mines and factories, and prisoners from these camps were used as free work forces.
The inscription over the entrance to the Auschwitz camp in German is “ARBEIT MACHT FREI” in translation it means “Work sets you free” (“Work releases”). What a wonder, the letter “B” in the word ARBEIT is turned turtle, the prisoners made it as a protest. At night on December 18, 2009 unknown malefactors stole the inscription and sawed it on three parts. After a few days the inscription was found not far from the city Torun in northern Poland, and it was wrapped in tarpaulin and hidden under leaves and snow. In process of time it was succeeded to find out later that the theft of the inscription was the special-order - the Swedish collector wished to get this inscription. The exact copy was installed to the place of the stolen inscription, which was made in 2006 before sending the original for restoration.
The entire territory of the camp is enclosed with a double fence with a barbed wire which carried a voltage.
Initially the camp consisted of 20 constructions: 6 two-storeyed and 14 single staged. In 1941-1942 the second floors were completed to all one-storey buildings, and there were new eight buildings. All construction was conducted by forces of prisoners.
In the middle of the war a brothel was organized on the second floor of the Block №24.
“Death Wall” is one of the deadliest places in the concentration camp, also known as “The Black wall”. Here in a nape more than 5 thousand people were shot.
To the left side of the “Death wall” there are windows of the barrack №10 - the camp hospital. Here the weakened prisoners who had no hope of recovery got. As the hospital was always crowded, SS doctors periodically made “cleaning” among patients - sent them to the gas chamber or entered a lethal dose of phenol into heart. Often prisoners called this hospital “the threshold of the crematorium”. Nazi doctor Josef Mengele under his criminal experiments conducted genetic and other pseudoscientific experiments on newborns, dwarfs and other “non-standard” people here, and also experiments in involuntary overcooling of adult prisoners. Other professor, Karl Clauberg, conducted criminal sterilization experiments on Jews for the purpose of development the fast method of Slavs' biological destruction. Besides, new preparations and drugs were tested here therefore hundreds of prisoners of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp perished here. Usually if the prisoner got to the “hospital”, he didn't leave it alive.
There is the Block №11 to the right in which basement the camp prison was located.
The Court-Martial arrived in Auschwitz from Katowice and during 2-3 hours passed some hundreds of death sentences. Before execution all prisoners had to take of their things in special washing rooms. Sometimes, if condemned was much, an execution was made directly here.
The system of punishments in the camp was fulfilled meticulously and prisoners were punished absolutely for everything: if supervisors seemed that they work too slowly, if a prisoner went to the toilet during the operational period and even that a prisoner took out his tooth. They were punished for any fault by lashes or were hung up by tie hands on special columns or were forced to do “penal exercises”. More often than not prisoners could stay in freezing temperatures with the hands raised up a few hours and if someone from them lowered hands, time of execution of such “exercise” was started at first, and the trespasser repaired to the isolation.
In the basements of the prison in the Block №11 there are cameras wherein not only the punished prisoners were located, but also civilians suspected of the help to prisoners, and also political prisoners were located. The tests of the killing Zyklon-B gas carried out here, this gas moved on special pipes. In the basement and cameras it is strictly prohibited to photograph but as we at the start walked the museum quite alone, we were succeeded to make some photos.
However, it is not the most killing gas chambers of Auschwitz. Those are in the camp Auschwitz II (Birkenau) and we will tell about them in the following post.
In this camera many prisoners sentenced to death for the organization of escapes died, and the Polish priest Maximilian Kolbe who sacrificed himself in the name of life saving of other prisoner was one of them. This act wasn't vain - Franciszek Gajowniczek saved by the priest, the young Polish sergeant having many children, survived after the camp tortures and lived long life.
Delinquents were sent to the “standing” cameras (isolations) by size 90x90cm and Nazis placed 4-5 people in each box at the same time. Prisoners standing spent in such camera overnight and sometimes several days. After such torture prisoners had to go in the morning to work and those who weren’t able, usually were killed.
All ingoing prisoners were cut washed and disinfected, their clothes and personals were taken away, and then registered and personal numbers were assigned. Initially, all prisoners were photographed in three positions, but since 1943 they were tattooed - Auschwitz was the only concentration camp where prisoners were made number tattoos. Adults were tattooed on a hand, and children and babies - on a hip.
The clothes didn't protect prisoners of Auschwitz from cold, the linen changed once in some weeks, and sometimes in some months. It was forbidden stringent to wash clothes therefore among prisoners raged spotted and typhoid fever, itch.
In one of the barracks also there is the reconstruction of prisoners’ berths of the Concentration Camp Auschwitz II - Birkenau about which we will tell later.
All prisoners were fallen into classes and received triangles of different color which were sewn on prison uniforms with numbers. The red triangle was carried by political prisoners; Jews had a six-pointed star which consisted of the triangle of yellow color and the triangle showing the arrest reason. The black triangles were carried by “antisocial elements” (for example, Roma). Homosexuals carried pink triangles, and “Jehovah's Witnesses” - the violet ones. The others were marked out by the green triangle.
For the first time the prisoners who arrived at the camp slept on straw which was lied around by a slice on a floor, and there were beds of hay later. In rooms wherein it was hardly possible to place 40-50 people, often there was 200 and even more.
Then in the camp triple-deck bunk which stood one to one were appeared. The situation didn't improve - two prisoners had a rest on each bed.
The separate category of prisoners was so-called “Capo” or “Vorarbeiter” which had serious privileges. On the photo lower there is a room of one of such Capo, “the senior pavilion”. Criminals, loyal to the fascist regime, became them, as a rule, and they helped to Nazis in the workplace management of prisoners, made denunciations on bungles, gathered information and various hearings, for what they received numerous indulgences from supervisors and the improved housing conditions.
Water in the camp was only cold in any time of year and temperature behind a window, and its quantity was strictly regulated. The prisoner could use water only within several minutes per week.
All personals of prisoners were taken-off by SS-men. At first they were sorted and moved to barracks on the camp territory Auschwitz II for holding, and then taken out to the Third Reich for needs of Wehrmacht by trains. The gold teeth taken out of the slain were melted into ingots and also went to Germany, but as often as the staff of the camp used the subjects which were taken away from prisoners. When the Soviet troops approached Auschwitz, from stores quickly were started taking out all the most valuable, and in the days prior the liberation Nazis set fire them therefore 30 barracks burned down. Tons of footwear, clothes and other personals of the prisoners who were lost in the camp were found in the undamaged buildings. Even glasses, ware and hygiene items were taken away from prisoners. Fascists also stored the human hair received after a haircutting of prisoners, however the photo of this “exposition” we decided to clean from this article for a score of reasons.
The footwear of the prisoners.
The huge number of footwear. According to the data from the museum there are 110 thousand couples. All show-windows are filled from a floor to a ceiling with footwear of arrested.
Even prosthesis and crutches were taken away from people.
Together with adults in the camp there were children. Most of children were lost in the gas chambers immediately after arrival, someone died as a result of sadistic experiences of Nazis, and the strongest children were sent on the job on the same basis as the others.
Behind the fencing of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp there is a crematorium.
When the mass deportation of the Jews began from all Europe allegedly in immigration to the east, prisoners arrived in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp completely were undressed and under the pretext of “disinfection”, were exhausted in one of the rooms of the crematorium remade in the gas chamber.
Through a ventilating hatch in a roof Nazis filled up inside crystals of the “Zyklon-B” and within 15 minutes of hundreds Jewish men, women and children died in inhuman pains. Fascists on the street started some motorcycles to shout down of dying, but it didn't help - terrible groans could be heard everywhere.
After finishing of the execution, members of the special SS-Sonderkommando moved the bodies in the neighboring room where now it is possible to see two furnaces from three which were reconstructed from the remained metal elements.
Therewith cart bodies pushed in the furnace. Within 24 hours this crematorium burned about 350 bodies.
On entering the building of the crematorium there is the obelisk the inscription on which says: “You are in the building where SS killed thousands of people. Please, observe silence, remember their sufferings and show respect in the name of their memory”.
Near the crematorium the building is located wherein there was the office of the first camp commandant - Rudolf Hess.
Portraits of the former prisoners of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp now hang in the corridors of many barracks. Also it seems that their name is legion - number of faces is enormous.
Over entire history of the existence of the camp about 700 escape bids were made, and 300 of which were crowned with success, but the relatives of escaped were arrested and sent to the camp instead of the lamster, and neighbors in the block were killed. It will never be possible to establish the exact number of the dead in Auschwitz and often SS-men didn't keep books of the people taken to the gas chambers. Most of historians agree in opinion that during the existence of camps was lost from 1.4 to 1.8 million men the most of them were Jews.
On March 29, 1947 in Warsaw the process on business of Rudolf Hess took place. The Polish Supreme People' Court sentenced the commandant of Auschwitz to hanging. The gallows, on which Hess was hung up, is installed on-site of the former SS staff building of the concentration camp in Auschwitz now.
The museum of Auschwitz is the amazing, weird, terrible and frightening place, it is also impossible to fail to be moved after its visit. Your brain still very long time tries to realize the scale of human cruelty which was created in these walls. Tries and can't understand.
Thanks to our grandfathers who could stop this awful terror and returned the peaceful world. After the visit of such places you understand how much we have to them and we will never make for them anything equivalent...