By Victoria Hollifield
Auschwitz I was the first and main camp. The camp ran for five years and during that time it went through significant changes. It first began function in 1940 and it served as a concentration camp up until the beginning of 1942. It continued to serve as a concentration camp and it became the largest killing center in function. In 1943 the camp had become so large that it was split into three camps; Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II Birkenau, and Auschwitz III Monowitz. In total there were more than 40 sub camps of Auschwitz. These sub camps all served different purposes. In 1944, the gas chambers of Auschwitz I were closed and the prisoners were evacuated. At this point the camp held about 16 thousand prisoners (majority Jewish). Auschwitz I was also the home of the main offices for the political department and prisoner labor department. The blocks were created to hold 700 people but in reality they held 1,200. It was extremely crowded and there was limited access to bathrooms. At first the barracks had no furniture, prisoners slept on straw stuffed mattresses. By 1941, three-tiered bunk beds were implemented. Although they were created for three people usually there was six or more people.
Auschwitz II (Auschwitz-Birkenau)
Auschwitz Birkenau was the largest Auschwitz camp. It began construction in 1941 and opened in 1942. The majority of the prisoners in Auschwitz (roughly 90%) died in Birkenau, approximately a million people. There were two types of barracks in Birkenau, wooden and brick. Both had terrible conditions, no bathrooms (until 1943) and no heating. The brick barracks had windows and no electricity. The wooden barracks and no windows and sky-lights to provide light. If a prisoner broke any rules, ex. trying to take more food they would be punished severely using different methods of torture or were simply just sent to the gas chambers.