Birkenau

Auschwitz/Birkenau

Auschwitz concentration camp was a network of concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the nazis. It consisted of Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II–Birkenau, Auschwitz III–Monowitz, and 45 satellite camps.

Auschwitz II–Birkenau was designated by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, the Third Reich’s Minister of the Interior, as the place of the “final solution of the Jewish question in Europe”. From early 1942 until late 1944, transport trains delivered Jews to the camp’s gas chambers from all over German-occupied Europe.

The camp’s first commandant, Rudolf Höss, testified after the war at the Nuremberg Trials that up to three million people had died there (2.5 million gassed, and 500,000 from disease and starvation).Today the accepted figure is 1.3 million, around 90 percent of them Jewish.

Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Roma and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, some 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses and tens of thousands of people of diverse nationalities. Those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labor, infectious diseases, individual executions, and medical experiments.

On January 27, 1945, Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet troops, a day commemorated around the world as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In 1947, Poland founded a museum on the site of Auschwitz I and II, which by 2010 had seen 29 million visitors. 1,300,000 annually—pass through the iron gates crowned with the infamous motto, Arbeit macht frei.

(Source: Wikipedia)

All photos are shot from a visit to the camps in April 2013.

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