Auschwitz Research

by. Miranda Goodwin

Auschwitz 1

This camp housed around 15, 000 to 20, 000 political prisoners. This was also the residing location of the SS garrison administration, the commander of the local garrison, the seat of the main offices of the political department and the prisoner labor department, and the commander of Auschwitz 1. Finally, the site housed the main supply stores, workshops, and SS companies. Prisoners' jobs were often centered around these sites.

The camp was originally founded as a quarantine camp, then into a concentration camp and finally into an extermination camp. The goal of the concentration camp was to slowly kill prisoners due to malnutrition and overuse, which the goal of the extermination camp was to kill as many people as quickly as possible. An estimated 1.1 to 1.5 million people lost their lives in Auschwitz camps alone.


Important People: Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel is an important figure in Auschwitz 1. His experiences are published in his many books, beginning with his memoir entitled "Night".

Auschwitz-Birkenau

Auschwitz 2, also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau was the extermination camp of the three Auschwitz camps, giving it the name of "The Death Factory". It was located in Oswiecim, Poland and ran from May 26 1940 to it's liberation by the Soviet Army on January 27 1945. The camp became the largest of the death camps of the time in 1942. It's original purpose was to serve as a detention center, but it soon evolved into a network of extermination camps. The site could hold 90, 000 prisoners and housed many bathhouses used as gassing chambers, as well as many crematoriums where bodies were burned. An estimated 1.1 to 1.5 million people lost their life in the Auschwitz camps alone.


Important People:

Heinrich Himmler ordered the construction of Auschwitz 2 in 1941.

Josef Menegele was a German Physician who began working in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943. He gained the name "Angel of Death" because of his extreme and barbaric experimentation performed on prisoners. Children were often the targets of his terror.

Daily Life

1. Prisoners were woken up before dawn, and each was required to make their bed, which consisted of a small thin blanket and a mattress of wooden boards. If the bed was not make to satisfaction, punishment would follow.

2. Next came roll call, where prisoners stood for up to four hours in the elements, with no protection from shelters or sufficient clothes, while SS guards called out their names. Penal roll calls were given as collective punishments for the errors of on prisoner, and forced prisoners to stand all night in their lines and in the weather. Many prisoners died from the weather, the hunger, or the exhaustion, though beating and shootings were also common here.

3. After roll call came breakfast, where each prisoner was given enough to keep them somewhat alive, but still malnourished. Breakfast included 10 oz of bread with a piece of salami or with 1 oz of margarine, and tasteless coffee with no sugar.

4. Breakfast ended with another roll call announced by a siren. Here prisoners split up into their work groups and armed SS guards took them to their working locations for the day.

5. The workers labored for 11-12 hours a day. One such job included sorting out the possessions of prisoners, organizing them, and finding any hidden items for the Nazis. The job was considered a privilege, but was deeply depressing for the prisoners to be going through the remains of people who had lost their lives or were soon going to here.

6. Lunch was at noon and consisted of a soup made of a quart of water and some carrots and/or rutabagas.

7. After lunch, prisoners resumed working until duck, at which point they were escorted back to the four evening roll call.

8. Dinner followed the final roll call and was bread with rotten salami or margarine and jam. Sometimes a piece of rotten skim cheese was included.