Auschwitz Research

By: De'Ja Ladd

Auschwitz I

Auschwitz I was founded in the year 1940. It began as 22 brick barracks, but over time expanded and became more organized. It covered 40 sq km by the summer of 1994. The original plan for Auschwitz I began as an idea for a quarantine camp that expanded into a concentration camp, until becoming a combination of a Dachau concentration camp with a place of extermination for Jews. Because Auschwitz as a whole was rather large, it was decided to divide it into three sections. Auschwitz I held 16 thousand prisoner, 10 thousand of them Jews, was the location for the SS garrison administration, and home to many offices concerning political matters and the prisoner labor department.
A section of Auschwitz I contained 28 two-story blocks. Originally created to house 700 prisoners, each block held roughly about 1,200 prisoners. Prisoners did not have beds or any furniture, and had to sleep on mattresses stuffed with straw on the ground. They later received three-tier bunks in the February of 194. Prisoners also had coal-fired stoves for heating purposes. Access to lavatories were very limited as prisoners form upstairs and downstairs had to share. Because water was only for the kitchen barracks, prisoners had to either walk around dirty, or find standing water outside to wash. Living conditions were so poor and unsanitary that lice and rats were a common sight among the prisoners.

Auschwitz II- Birkenau

Birkenau was the largest of the camps that made up Auschwitz. Originally, the purpose of this camp was to be a camp for the prisoners captured in war. It officially opened in the March of 1942, and became yet another extermination center for Jews. Later on it became a place for prisoners to be concentrated before they were moved to labor work for the Germans in 1944. About 90 percent of the prisoners in Auschwitz Concentration Camp died at Birkenau, with a majority of them being Jewish. It's estimated that 70 thousand Poles,and 20 thousand Gypsies were among the million people who perished in Birkenau. The life of a prisoner in Birkenau was not much different than the life of a prisoner in Auschwitz I. The only difference was that some of the prisoners were concentrated at Birkenau, while none were concentrated in Auschwitz I.
The segments of the camp were divided into sectors and surrounded with electric barb wired fences. About 300 housing,administrative, and infrastructure barracks were built. The gas chambers were built right next to were Birkenau was constructed. It was to later have four huge gas chambers and a crematorium, whose construction began in the middle of 1942. Birkenau was active for three years after. A lot of the prisoners that were being concentrated and sent to do labor for German industries was through the power of the Third Reich.