Auschwitz Research

by DT Huynh

Auschwitz I

Purpose:

Auschwitz I was the first and main camp established near the Polish city Oswiecim. It opened in April 1940. It was used as a forced labor camp of the prisoners there. The prisoners included "German prisoners from Sachsenhausen (repeat criminal offenders) and Polish political prisoners from Lodz via Dachau concentration camp and from Tarnow in Krakow District of the Generalgouvernement." This main camp had three main purposes that were: to imprison actual and perceived enemies of the Nazis, to bring a source of forced labor for the deployment of construction-related jobs and later war-related jobs, and a site to exterminate specific targeted groups whose death was to "benefit" the country of Germany.

Daily Life

Prisoners were forced to do labor everyday. There were also experiments on the prisoners such as forced sterilizations and castrations on adult men. Medical experiments were also done on infants, twins, and dwarfs. There was a temporary gas chamber built in the basement of prison Block 11 and a permanent one was built later in a separate building. Prisoners would be forced to build second-stories in their living spaces to fit more prisoners. They would all be packed into small buildings with one bathroom that had 22 toilets and urinals.

Auschwitz-Birkenau

Purpose

This camp began to be built in October 1941 near Brzezinka. "The camp included sections for women; men; a family camp for Roma (Gypsies) deported from Germany, Austria, and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia; and a family camp for Jewish families deported from the Theresienstadt ghetto." This facility's main purpose was for the mass extermination of groups and the gas Zyklon B was first tested here. This gas later became the gas used all over the Auschwitz facility.

Daily Life

Prisoners living in Birkenau were living in wood and brick houses with no floor. These houses only had two iron stoves, which had little to no effect in heating the complex. The bare earth would be exposed inside these small, cold housing spaces. There were also many stringent laws in place, such as not being allowed to acquire extra food or smoking. There were severe punishments to these rules if broken such as the "post" or hanging torture.