Auschwitz and Birkenau

Kersten Prince

Auschwitz

The oldest camp, located near the center of Germany, was created in the mid 1940's before the war within Polish barracks. Contact with those within the camps was forbidden to outsiders, and those within were kept within the camp by barb wire and guards within watch towers.

Birkenau

Also referred to as Auschwitz II and built to hold 90,000 prisoners, Birkenau had the largest complex of the Auschwitz camps. The building of this site began in 1941 in the village of Brzezinka. The houses were demolished within the town and the Polish population expelled, in it's place a camp built with the Nazi's greatest item of mass murder used throughout the areas in Europe to exterminate the Jews, the gas chambers.

Typical Day in Aushwitz

  1. Prisoners were woken and had to quickly make simple beds to the SS guards' satisfaction
  2. Roll call, which could last for up to four hours in the freezing cold with the prisoners barely wearing anything.
  3. Tiny rations that were just enough to keep the people alive were given to the prisoners.
  4. After breakfast, another roll call, followed by the prisoners being put into work groups. SS guards escorted them to their sites and they worked for 11 - 12 hours, with a break of soup at noon.
  5. At dusk, prisoners were escorted back to the camp with a four-hour evening roll call, and a small dinner.

There was no heat or running water and a few toilets that could only be used for 10 seconds. Prisoners could wake up to find their bedmates dead due to the insects and vermin.

Differences in Birkenau

  • Prisoners had a nearby constant reminder of how they can be killed at any moment.
  • An "experimental block" for prisoners being experimented on.
  • Strong scent of charred skin and burned hair even in the living quarters.

Dr. Josef Mengele

Captain and war criminal during the Holocaust, Dr. Mengele's crimes were experimenting on twins, dwarfs, and giants. His tests were normally fatal, giving him the nickname "Doctor Death" or "Angel of Death". He died by drowning while having a stroke while in hiding.

Anne Frank

A Jewish girl from Frankfurt, Anne Frank is famous for writing her diary, which was achieved by her father. She was born in 1929 and died in 1945 in Bergen-Belsen of typhus just a few weeks before the camp was liberated.

Oskar Schindler

Oskar was a German industrialist, and was an opportunist and spy. He was originally driven by profit but developed a strong bond with his employees and managed to save them from the Nazis, later writing the book "Schindler's Ark" and developing the book "Schindler's List."