By: Olivia Pepin
Auschwitz I was founded in 1940 by the Germans. It consisted of 22 barrack buildings and over time it expanded both organizationally and spaciously. Around this time, it held about 135,000 people. This camp is known to be terrifying and deadly. For example, there were:
- Slow killings
- Inhumane Conditions
Daily life in the camps was known to be horrific and inhumane. They were crowded and not well maintained. At the start of the camp, the rooms where the prisoners slept had no beds or furniture. Instead, they had to sleep on a straw-stuffed mattress, laid out on the floor. They also had limited access to the restrooms because prisoners from the upstairs and the downstairs had to use the same restroom. Over time, three tiered bunks began to appear along with other furniture. This included a coal-fired tile stoves to keep the rooms heated.
- SS Heinrich Himmler
- Soviet POW's
SS Heinrich Himmler was a German physician that did criminal medical experiments on prisoners of the camps. The experiments were planned at the highest level and they were often done to increase academic knowledge or to advance their medical careers.
Soviet POW's were the first prisoners in Auschwitz to be tattooed with numbers. When they first arrived to the camp, many of them were shot in the gravel pits.
This is where all of the cattle cars would enter the camp.
Arbeit Macht Frei
This entrance sign means "work sets you free".
Behind the Wires
This was a look of all the prisoners in the camp.
Auschwitz II was the largest portion of the Auschwitz complex. It began in 1941 and lasted for three years. It had a range of purposes including providing a place for 125 thousand prisoners of war. 90% of prisoners in the Auschwitz complex died in Auschwitz II. This was about 1 million people. The majority of them were Jews.
During the first year of certain portions of the camp, water was not available. Due to this, prisoners walked around the camps dirty. Lice and rats were a big problem around the camps. Epidemics of contagious diseases erupted frequently and these conditions didn't change until 1943. This was when each part of the camp got a bathhouse and equipment for cleaning clothes, improving sanitary conditions.
Jews were incredibly important to Auschwitz II because there were very few of them. They were sent there with non Jews and most of them were Poles. They took up most of the population until 1942.
Many of the barracks of Auschwitz were made of wood.
Many of the prisoners had to face horrifying conditions while they were in the camps.
Traveling to the Camps
Many prisoners had to fit into very small carts in order to travel to the camps.