Auschwitz Research

By: Jessica Sedotto

Auschwitz I

Facts and Statistics

  • In 1944, there were about 135 thousand people in the Auschwitz complex, which accounted for 25% of all people in the entire concentration camp system.
  • 1.1 million people died in the four and a half years of Auschwitz's existence. One million of them were Jewish.
  • Auschwitz initially served as a prison for political prisoners. Over the years, it evolved into many camps where Jewish people and other perceived enemies of the Nazi state were exterminated in harmful ways and used as slave labor.

Daily life of Prisoners

Daily life of the prisoners consisted of waking up early, arranging the bed's straw, a long lineup that sometimes lasted for hours, marching to labor, and then working as slaves for many long hours. Next the prisoners would wait for their daily meal that usually consisted of watery vegetable soup and half a piece of bread. After their meal, they return to a camp and have another lineup before they go to the barracks and go to sleep.

Important Figures from Auschwitz I

  • Rudolph Franz Ferdinand Hoss was the commandant of Auschwitz from May 4, 1940 to December 1, 1943 and May 8, 1944 to January 18, 1945. He was later executed by hanging.
  • Arthur Liebehenschel was the commandant of Auschwitz from December 1, 1943 to May 8, 1945 and was executed by hanging.
  • There were many people that participated in human experimenting in Auschwitz such as Dr. Carl Clauberg, Dr. Horst Schumann and Dr. Eduard Wirths.

Auschwitz II ( Auschwitz- Berkenau)

Facts and Statistics

  • Auschwitz- Birkenau was the largest of the concentration and death camps.
  • The purpose of this camp was to strip the Jewish and other minorities of their rights and use them as slave labor. The prisoners were overworked and starved and usually died.
  • Of the 405,000 registered prisoners, 67,000 survived.
  • Of the 16,000 Soviet POW's, 96 survived.

Daily life of Prisoners

Before dawn, the prisoners are woken up from their overcrowded, unsanitary beds for roll call. At roll call, the prisoners all stood in a line while SS guards called out their names. After roll call, the prisoners are giving just enough food to keep them alive for slave labor. They were given a 10 ounce piece of bread and a small piece of salami or one ounce of margarine and brown coffee with no sugar. After breakfast, the prisoners are combined together in their work groups. The workers labored for 11 to 12 hours daily. At lunch, the prisoners are given a watery soup. The prisoners continue to work until dusk when they are called again for a four hour roll call. The final meal was bread with rotten salami or margarine and jam. After going back to the barracks, the prisoners lay 10 per bed and each person has to lay sideways to fit.

Important figures from Auschwitz- Berkenau

  • Karl Bischoff was the head of extermination camp construction.
  • Notable memoirists include Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, and Tadeusz Borowski.
  • Levi wrote that the concentration camps represented the epitome of the totalitarian system.