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Oświęcim, Polska



 


Notes:
Oświęcim ɔˈɕfʲɛɲtɕim Aussprache ?/i (deutsch Auschwitz) ist eine am Fluss Sola gelegene polnische Stadt in der Woiwodschaft Kleinpolen im südlichen Teil des Landes, rund 50 Kilometer westlich der Wojewodschaftshauptstadt Krakau.

Bekannt geworden ist die Stadt als Standort des größten Komplexes von Konzentrationslagern zur Zeit des Nationalsozialismus, insbesondere des KZs Auschwitz II (Auschwitz-Birkenau).

Geschichte

Im Jahr 1179 fand Oświęcim erste urkundliche Erwähnung, als es aus der Krakauer Seniorenprovinz herausgelöst und dem Herzogtum Oppeln zugeschlagen wurde und lag an der Nahtstelle zwischen Slawen und Deutschen. 1272 wurden dem Ort die Stadtrechte verliehen. Ende des 13. Jahrhunderts ließen sich Deutsche erstmals in der Gegend um Oświęcim nieder. Im Laufe der Geschichte lebten hier Deutsche und Polen friedlich zusammen. Der Name ist vom altpolnischen "święty" abgeleitet und bedeutet soviel wie "Heiliger", was auf die frühe Christianisierung hindeutet.

Die Stadt am Zusammenfluss von Weichsel und Soła wurde bald zu einem Handelszentrum, war Gerichtssitz und Hauptstadt des Herzogtums, das deren Namen trug. Im Laufe der Jahrhunderte wechselte Oświęcim seine politische Zugehörigeit: Die den westlichen Teil Galiziens bildenden die Herzogtümer Auschwitz und Zator kamen 1327 durch Herzog Johann von Auschwitz in ein Vasallenverhältnis zum Königreich Böhmen. 1348 wurde es dem Heiligen Römischen Reich Deutscher Nation einverleibt und Deutsch setzte sich als Amtssprache durch. Nach der ersten Agrarkrise des Mittelalters geriet die deutsche Siedlungsbewegung Mitte des 14. Jahrhunderts ins Stocken und die Hussitenkriege beendeten die Ostkolonisation und unter böhmischer Herrschaft - später ging die Gegend wieder an die Herzöge von Teschen und Großglogau - wurde Tschechisch die Amtssprache.

Im 14. Jahrhundert setzte eine Landflucht ein, die viele Bewohner des Ortes in andere Gebiete zog. Das Interesse der Deutschen am Ort schwand und 1457 kaufte der polnische König Kasimir IV. für 50.000 Silbermark die Rechte am Ort, der anschließend der Woiwodschaft Krakau angegliedert wurde. Bereits im 15. Jahrhundert stellten Juden, die von den polnischen Königen zur Ansiedlung eingeladen worden waren, die Bevölkerungsmehrheit.

1655 wurde Oświęcim von schwedischen Truppen verwüstet. Bis zu den Teilungen Polens am Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts hatte der Ort seine frühere Bedeutung völlig verloren. Er kam 1772 zu Österreich - Deutsch wurde wieder Amtssprache - und lag bald auch an der Grenze zu Preußen und Russland. Die Stadt hieß Auschwitz und war Teil im neuen Königreich Galizien und Lodomerien des habsburgischen Kaiserreichs.

Auf dem Wiener Kongress wurde die Gegend 1818 zum Deutschen Bund geschlagen, wo sie dann lange Zeit Bestandteil von Schlesien war. Während des Preußisch-Österreichischen Krieges erfolgte am 27. Juni 1866 ein Angriff der Preußen auf Auschwitz, der jedoch zurückgeschlagen wurde. Bis 1918 führte der Kaiser von Österreich auch den Titel eines „Herzogs von Auschwitz“.

Nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg wurde Oświęcim wieder polnisch. Bereits 1918 organisierte die „Polnische Liquidationskommission“ in Krakau die Übernahme der Zivilverwaltung. Bis 1932 war Oświęcim Verwaltungssitz eines polnischen Landkreises.

Zeit des Nationalsozialismus

Die Nationalsozialisten stellten ihre Leitidee, den „Lebensraum im Osten“ zu erweitern, auf diese mittelalterliche „Ostkolonisation“ ab. Die Teilung Oberschlesiens im Jahr 1921 durch den Völkerbund trotz gegenteiliger Volksabstimmung galt als Vorwand für die „Wiedergewinnung ostdeutscher Ländereien“, welche die Deutschen unter dem Namen Ostoberschlesien zusammenfassten. (Steinbacher, 2004 und Frei, 2000)

Gemeindeumgliederungen

Seit dem 30. November 1940 wurde die Stadt Verwaltungsmittelpunkt des gleichnamigen Amtsbezirks. Dieser bestand aus der Stadt Auschwitz und den umliegenden Gemeinden Babitz, Birkenau, Broschkowitz, Dwory, Klutschnikowitz, Monowitz, Poremba-Wielka, Stara-Stawy, Wlocienitz und Zaborz-Ost. Auschwitz war der Sitz des deutschen Amtskommissars. Auschwitz bildete im westlichen Teil des neuen Landkreises Bielitz einen Teil des neuen Regierungsbezirkes Kattowitz in der preußischen Provinz Schlesien, ab dem 18. Januar 1941 – nach der Teilung Schlesiens – der Provinz Oberschlesien.

Mit der Verleihung des Rechtes der Deutschen Gemeindeordnung vom 30. Januar 1935 an die Stadt Auschwitz stand diese ab 1. April 1943 außerhalb des Verbandes eines Amtsbezirks. An der Spitze der Ortsverwaltung stand nunmehr bis Kriegsende ein deutscher Bürgermeister.

Konzentrationslager

Auschwitz wurde zum Standort des größten Komplexes von Konzentrationslagern im Deutschen Reich und den besetzten Gebieten. Dazu zählten:

* Auschwitz I (Stammlager ab 1941), das ursprüngliche Konzentrations- und Gefangenenlager und Verwaltungszentrum des gesamten Lagerkomplexes. Hier wurden ungefähr 70.000 Menschen, meist polnische Bürger und sowjetische Kriegsgefangene, umgebt.

* Auschwitz II (Birkenau), ein Vernichtungslager. Die allgemeine Zahl der Opfer von Auschwitz in den Jahren 1940–1945 wird auf 1,1 bis 1,5 Millionen Menschen geschätzt. Die Mehrheit von ihnen, vor allem die Opfer der Massentransporte des Holst, die ab 1942 aus fast ganz Europa hierher deportiert wurden, kamen in Gaskammern um.

* Auschwitz III (Monowitz), ein Arbeitslager

Nachkriegszeit

Der einzige jüdische Heimkehrer starb 2000 und wurde auf dem örtlichen jüdischen Friedhof beigesetzt. Es gibt derzeit keine dort ansässige jüdische Bevölkerung. Im September 1945 lebten zwar wieder etwa 190 Juden in Oświęcim, die aber fast alle in kürzester Zeit emigrierten. Die einzig erhaltene Synagoge in der Stadt wurde rekonstruiert, nachdem das Gebäude 1977 verstaatlicht und als Teppichlager genutzt wurde. Das Gebäude der erst 1928 eröffneten Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot-Synagoge wurde zur Zeit des Krieges als Waffen- und Munitionslager genutzt, wodurch zumindest das Gebäude als einziges die Zeit überdauerte und nicht wie bspw. die Große Synagoge am 20. September 1939 niedergebrannt. Am 12. September 2000 wurde die kleine Synagoge schließlich als vollständige Synagoge wiedereröffnet.

Die durch das KZ Auschwitz aufgebauten Buna-Werke wurden vom polnischen Staat übernommen und als Chemiewerke Oświęcim (heute: Dwory S.A.) zum größten Arbeitgeber des Ortes. Die einseitige wirtschaftliche Ausrichtung auf diesen Großbetrieb brachte der Stadt nach 1990 wirtschaftliche Probleme. Seither werden die Bereiche Handel und Dienstleistungen stark ausgebaut.

Der Powiat Oświęcimski wurde 1948 wieder eingerichtet. Zwischen 1975 und 1999 gehörte die Stadt zur Woiwodschaft Bielsko-Biała.

Stadtgliederung

Die Stadt Oświęcim gliedert sich in die Stadtteile Błonie, Domki Szeregowe, Dwory-Kruki, Monowice (Monowitz), Pod Borem, Północ, Południe, Stare Miasto (Altstadt), Stare Stawy (Stara Stawy), Wschód, Zachód, Zasole

Museen

Als Ort des Verbrechens steht Auschwitz als Synonym für den während des Zweiten Weltkriegs von den Nationalsozialisten begangenen Holocaust. Große Teile des Konzentrationslagers sind erhalten und erinnern als ein von der UNESCO zum Weltkulturerbe erklärtes Staatliches Museum an jene Zeit.

Im Stadtzentrum befindet sich auch das jüdische Zentrum (Auschwitz Jewish Center), welches 2000 eröffnet wurde und das reichhaltige jüdische Leben der Stadt vor dem Einmarsch der Nazis beleuchtet. Es beinhaltet neben der Rekonstruktion der kleinen Synagoge eine Ausstellung über Oświęcim vor dem Zweiten Weltkrieg.

Es gibt in Oświęcim auch ein städtisches Museum, das in bescheidenem Rahmen über die Geschichte der Stadt und das frühere Leben ihrer Einwohner informiert.

Oświęcim (pronunciation: ʔoɕ'fʲeɲʨiːm) (German: Auschwitz, Yiddish Oshpitizin אָשפּצן, Romany: Aushvitsa, Osvyenchim, Czech: Osvětim, Slovak: Osvienčim, Russian: Освенцим) is a town in southern Poland with about 43,000 inhabitants (2001), situated some 50 km west of Kraków in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship since 1999, previously in Bielsko-Biała Voivodeship (1975-1998).

The German name Auschwitz is still used when referring to the Auschwitz concentration camp built there by Nazi Germany during World War II.

History

The city was first mentioned in 1117. In 1179 it was detached from the Kraków senior province and attached to the Duchy of Opole. Oświęcim was organized under German law (more precisely Lwówek law, which is a flavor of Magdeburg law) in 1270. Throughout history, Germans and Poles lived here together peacefully. From 1315 Oświęcim was the capital of an independent duchy. In 1327 duke John I of Oświęcim formed with the western part of Galicia and the duchies of Oświęcim and Zator a vassaal state attached to the kingdom of Bohemia. Later the area went again to the dukes from Te and Grossglogau. In the 14th century many people moved away. The interest of the Germans in Auschwitz shrank and in 1457 the Polish king Casimir IV bought the rights to Oświęcim which was attached afterwards the Cracow Voivodeship. Jews, invited by Polish kings to settle in the region, had already become the majority of the population in the 15th century. Oświęcim also became one of centres of Protestant culture in Poland.

The town was destroyed by Swedish troops in 1655. When Poland was divided in the late 18th century, Oświęcim became part of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria (an Austro-Hungarian province) in 1772 and was located close to the borders of Russia and Prussia. After World War I the town returned to Poland with that country's reemergence as an independent nation. On the eve of World War II there were about 8,000 Jews in the city.

During the German occupation of Poland, slave labour was used to build a new subdivision that would house concentration camp guards and others that moved to Oświęcim to run the Auschwitz death camps. The prisoners of Auschwitz were also used to build a large chemical works, Buna-Werke, for I.G. Farben, which produced many different chemicals needed for Germany's war effort.

Following World War II, the town recovered and new housing estates were constructed in the typical communist style. The buildings are large rectangular concrete constructions, and they satisfy the housing needs for many of the town's inhabitants. Until 1989, the town thrived from the large chemical works. In the mid-1990s, the chemical company, now named Dwory S.A., began to downsize and lay workers off. During the communist era, the chemical works employed about 10,000 people. Following the firm's restructuring and financial problems after 1989, employment at the plant shrank to only 1,500 people.

Concentration camp

Auschwitz (Konzentrationslager Auschwitz (help·info)) was the largest of the Nazi concentration camps. Located in southern Poland, it took its name from the nearby town of Oświęcim (Auschwitz in German), situated about 50 kilometers west of Ków and 286 kilometers from Warsaw. Following the Nazi occupation of Poland in September 1939, Oświęcim was incorporated into Germany and renamed Auschwitz.

The complex consisted of three main camps: Auschwitz I, the administrative center; Auschwitz II (Birkenau), an extermination camp or Vernichtungslager; and Auschwitz III (Monowitz), a work camp. There were also around 40 satellite camps, some of them tens of kilometers from the main camps, with prisoner populations ranging from several dozen to several thousand.

The camp commandant, Rudolf Höss, testifed at the Nuremberg Trials that up to 2.5 million people had died at Auschwitz. The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum revised this figure in 1990, and new calculations now place the figure at 1.1–1.6 millionon, about 90 percent of them Jews from almost every country in Europe. Most of the dead were killed in gas chambers using Zyklon-B; other deaths were caused by systematic starvation, forced labor, lack of disease control, individual executions, and so-called medical experiments.

Summary

Beginning in 1940, Nazi Germany built several concentration camps and an extermination camp in the area, which at the time was under German occupation. The Auschwitz camps were a major element in the perpetration of the Holocaust; at least 1.1 million people were killed there, of whom over 90% were Jews.

The three main camps were:

* Auschwitz I, the original concentration camp which served as the administrative center for the whole complex, and was the site of the deaths of roughly 70,000 people, mostly Poles and Soviet prisoners of war.

* Auschwitz II (Birkenau), an extermination camp, where at least 1.1 million Jews, 75,000 Polish people, and some 19,000 Roma (Gypsies) were killed.

* Auschwitz III (Monowitz), which served as a labor camp for the Buna-Werke factory of the I.G. Farben concern.

See list of subcamps of Auschwitz for others.

Like all Nazi concentration camps, the Auschwitz camps were operated by Heinrich Himmler's SS. The commandants of the camp were the SS-Obersturmbannführers Rudolf Höß (often written "Hoess") until the summer of 1943, and later Arthur Liebehenschel and Richard Baer. Höß provided a detailed description of the camp's workings during his interrogations after the war and also in his autobiography. He was hanged in 1947 in front of the entrance to the crematorium of Auschwitz I. Command of the women's camp, which was separated from the men's area by the incoming railway line was held in turn by Johanna Langefeld, Maria Mandel, and Elisabeth Volkenrath.

The camp

Auschwitz I

Auschwitz I served as the administrative center for the whole complex. It was founded on May 20, 1940, on the basis of an old Polish brick army barracks (originally built by the Austro-Hungarian Empire). A group of 728 Polish political prisoners from Tarnów became the first residents of Auschwitz on June 14 that year. The camp was initially used for interning Polish intellectuals and resistance movement members, then also for Soviet Prisoners of War. Common German criminals, "anti-social elements" and 48 German homosexuals were also imprisoned there. Jews were sent to the camp as well, beginning with the very first shipment (from Tarnów). At any time, the camp held between 13,000 and 16,000 inmates; in 1942 the number reached 20,000. The entrance to Auschwitz I was—and still is—marked with the ironic sign “Arbeit Macht Frei”, or “work (will) make (you) free.” The camp's prisoners who left the camp during the day for construction or farm labor were made to march through the gate to the sounds of an orchestra. Contrary to what is depicted in several films, the majority of the Jews were imprisoned in the Auschwitz II camp, and did not pass under this sign.

The SS selected some prisoners, often German criminals, as specially privileged supervisors of the other inmates (so-called: kapo). The various classes of prisoners were distinguishable by special marks on their clothes; Jews were generally treated the worst. All inmates had to work in the associated arms factories; except Sundays, which were reserved for cleaning and showering and there were no work assignments.

The harsh work requirements, combined with poor nutrition and hygiene, led to high death rates among the prisoners. Block 11 of Auschwitz (the original standing cells and such were block 13) was the "prison within the prison", where violators oof the numerous rules were punished. Some prisoners were made to spend the nights in "standing-cells". These cells were about 1.5 metres square, and four men would be placed in them; they could do nothing but stand, and were forced during the daday to work with the other prisoners. In the basement were located the "starvation cells"; prisoners incarcerated here were given neither food nor water until they were dead. Also in the basement were the "dark cells"; these cells had only a verery tiny window, and a solid door. Prisoners placed in these cells would gradually suffocate as they used up all of the oxygen in the air; sometimes the SS would light a candle in the cell to use up the oxygen more quickly. Many were subjected to hanging with their hands behind their backs, thus dislocating their shoulder joints for hours, even days.

The execution yard is between blocks 10 and 11. In this area, prisoners who were thought to merit individual execution received it. Some were shot, against a reinforced wall which still exists; others suffered a more lingering death by being suspended from hooks set in two wooden posts, which also still exist.

In September 1941, the SS conducted poison gas tests in block 11, killing 850 Poles and Russians using cyanide. The first experiment took place on 3 September 1941, and killed 600 Soviet POWs. The substance producing the highly lethal cyanide gas was sold under the trade name Zyklon B, originally for use as a pesticide used to kill lice. The tests were deemed successful, and a gas chamber and crematorium were constructed by converting a bunker. This gas chamber operated from 1941 to 1942, during which time some 60,000 people were killed therein; it was then converted into an air-raid shelter for the use of the SS. This gas chamber still exists, together with the associated crematorium, which was reconstructed after the war using the original components, which remained on-site.

The first women arrived in the camp on March 26, 1942. From April 1943 to May 1944, the gynecologist Prof. Dr. Carl Clauberg conducted sterilization experiments on Jewish women in block 10 of Auschwitz I, with the aim of developing a simple injection method to be used on the Slavic people. These experiments consisted largely of determining the effects of the injection of caustic chemicals into the uterus. This was extremely painful and many died during and shortly after. Dr. Josef Mengele, who is well known for his experiments on twins and dwarfs in the same complex, was the camp "doctor". He regularly performed gruesome experiments such as castration without anesthetics. Prisoners in the camp hospital who were not quick to recover were regularly killed by a lethal injection of phenol.

The camp brothel, established in the summer of 1943 on Himmler's order, was located in block 24 and was used to reward privileged prisoners. (The existence of a brothel has not been confirmed by female survivors of the camp.) It was staffed by women specifically selected for the purpose, and by some volunteers from the female prisoners, most of whom were raped by the Nazis.

Auschwitz II (Birkenau)

Auschwitz II (Birkenau) is a camp that many people know simply as "Auschwitz" (it was larger than Auschwitz I, and more people passed through its gates than did those of Auschwitz I). It was a purpose-built camp for extermination purposes. It was the site of imprisonment of hundreds of thousands, and of the killing of over one million people, mainly Jews but also large numbers of Poles, and Gypsies, mostly through gassing.

The Nazis established Auschwitz in April 1940 under the direction of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. The camp originally housed political prisoners from occupied Poland and from concentration camps within Germany. Construction of nearby Birkennau (in Polish, Brzezinka), also known as Auschwitz II, began in October 1941, and a historic picture of that construction can be found. Birkenau had four gas chambers, designed to resemble showers, and four crematoria, used to incinerate bodieses. Approximately 40 more satellite camps were established around Auschwitz. These were forced labor camps and were known collectively as Auschwitz III. The first one was built at Monowitz and held Poles who had been forcibly evacuated from their hometowns by the Nazis. The inmates of Monowitz were forced to work in the chemical works of IG Farben.

Prisoners were transported from all over German-occupied Europe by rail, arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau in daily convoys. Arrivals at the complex were separated into four groups:

* One group, about three-quarters of the total, went to the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau within a few hours; they included all children, all women with children, all the elderly, and all those who appeared on brief and superficial inspon by an SS doctor not to be fully fit. In the Auschwitz Birkenau camp more than 20,000 people could be gassed and cremated each day. At Birkenau, the Nazis used a cyanide gas produced from Zyklon B pellets, which were manufactured by two compannies who had acquired licensing rights to the patent held by IG Farben. The two companies were Tesch & Stabenow, of Hamburg, who supplied two tons of the crystals each month, and Degesch, of Dessau, who produced three-quarters of a ton. The bills of lading were produced at Nuremburg.

* A second group of prisoners were used as slave labor at industrial factories for such companies as IG Farben and Krupp. At the Auschwitz complex 405,000 prisoners were recorded as slaves between 1940 and 1945. Of these about 340,000 perishhrough executions, beatings, starvation, and sickness. Some prisoners survived through the help of German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who saved about 1,100 Polish Jews by diverting them from Auschwitz to work for him, first in his factory near Kraków and later at a factory in what is now the Czech Republic.

* A third group, mostly twins and dwarfs, underwent medical experiments at the hands of doctors such as Josef Mengele, who was also known as the “Angel of Death.”

* The fourth group was composed of women who were selected to work in "Canada", the part of Birkenau where prisoners' belongings were sorted for use by Germans. The name "Canada" was very cynically chosen. In Poland it was - and is still -d as an expression used when viewing, for example, a valuable and fine gift. The expression comes from the time when Polish emigrants were sending gifts home from Canada.

The camp was staffed partly by prisoners, some of whom were selected to be kapos (orderlies) and sonderkommandos (workers at the crematoria). The kapos were responsible for keeping order in the barrack huts; the sonderkommando prepared new arrivals for gassing (ordering them to remove their clothing and surrender their personal possessions) and transferred corpses from the gas chambers to the furnaces, having first pulled out any gold that the victims might have had in their teeth. Members of these groups were killed periodically. The kapos and sonderkommandos were supervised by members of the SS; altogether 6,000 SS members worked at Auschwitz.

By 1943 resistance organizations had developed in the camp. These organizations helped a few prisoners escape; these escapees took with them news of exterminations, such as the killing of hundreds of thousands of Jews transported from Hungary between May and July 1944. In October 1944 a group of sonderkommandos destroyed one of the crematoria at Birkenau. They and their accomplices, a group of women from the Monowitz labor camp, were all put to death. It was also not uncommon if one prisoner escaped, selected persons in the escapee's block were killed.

When the Soviet army liberated Auschwitz on January 27, 1945, they found about 7,600 survivors abandoned there. More than 58,000 prisoners had already been evacuated by the Nazis and sent on a final death march to Germany. In 1947, in remembrance of the victims, Poland founded a museum at the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp. By 1994, some 22 million visitors — 700,000 annually — had passed through the iron gate crowned with the cynical motto, "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work makes one free").

Auschwitz III and satellite camps

he surrounding work camps were closely connected to German industry and were associated with arms factories, foundries and mines. The largest work camp was Auschwitz III Monowitz, named after the Polish village of Monowice. Starting operations in May 1942, it was associated with the synthetic rubber and liquid fuel plant Buna-Werke owned by I. G. Farben. In regular intervals, doctors from Auschwitz II would visit the work camps and select the weak and sick for the gas chambers of Birkenau. The largest subcamps were built at Trzebinia, Blechhammer and Althammer. Female subcamps were constructed at Budy , Plawy, Zabrze, Gleiwitz I, II, III, Rajsko and at Lichtenwerden (now Světlá).

The whole Auschwitz complex of camps was liberated in early 1945 by the advancing Russian army.

Knowledge of the Allies

Some information regarding Auschwitz reached the Allies during 1941–1944, such as the reports of Witold Pilecki and Jerzy Tabeau, but the claims of mass killings were generally dismissed as exaggerations. This changed with receipt of the very detailed report of two escaped prisoners, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, which finally convinced most Allied leaders of the truth about Auschwitz in the middle of 1944.

Detailed air reconnaissance photographs of the camp were taken accidentally during 1944 by aircraft seeking to photograph nearby military-industrial targets, but no effort was made to analyse them. (In fact, it was not until the 1970s that these photographs of Auschwitz were looked at carefully.)

Starting with a plea from the Slovakian rabbi Weissmandl in May 1944, there was a growing campaign to convince the Allies to bomb Auschwitz or the railway lines leading to it. At one point Winston Churchill ordered that such a plan be prepared, but he was told that bombing the camp would most likely kill prisoners without disrupting the killing operation, and that bombing the railway lines was not technically feasible. Later several nearby military targets were bombed. One bomb accidentally fell into the camp and killed some prisoners. The debate over what could have been done, or what should have been attempted even if success was unlikely, has continued heatedly ever since.

Birkenau revolt

On October 7, 1944, the Jewish Sonderkommandos (those inmates kept separate from the main camp and put to work in the gas chambers and crematoria) of Birkenau Kommando III staged an uprising. They attacked the SS with makeshift weapons: stones, axes, hammers, other work tools and homemade grenades. They caught the SS guards by surprise, overpowered them and blew up the Crematorium IV, using explosives smuggled in from a weapons factory by female inmates. At this stage they were joinened by the Birkenau Kommando I of the Crematorium II, which also overpowered their guards and broke out of the compound. Hundreds of prisoners escaped, but were all soon captured and, along with an additional group who participated in the revolt, executed. The girls from the munitions factory were brutally tortured, but refused to name any of their co-conspirators. Destroyed crematoria were never rebuilt.

There were also international plans for a general uprising in Auschwitz, coordinated with an Allied air raid and a Polish resistance attack from the outside.

Individual escape attempts

About 700 prisoners attempted to escape from the Auschwitz camps during the years of their operation, with about 300 attempts successful. A common punishment for escape attempts was death by starvation; the families of successful escapees were sometimes arrested and interned in Auschwitz and prominently displayed to deter others. If someone did manage to escape, the SS would kill ten random people from the prisoner's block. This was a quite persuasive method to discourage escape attempts.

Since the Nazi regime was designed to degrade prisoners to the standards of animals, maintaining the will to survive was seen in itself as an act of rebellion. Primo Levi was given this very teaching from his fellow prisoner and friend Steinlauf: "that precisely because the camp was a great machine to reduce us to beasts, we must not become beasts; that even in this place one can survive, and therefore one must want to survive, to tell the story, to bear witness; and that, if we want to survive, then it's important that we strive to preserve at least the skeleton, the scaffolding, the external shape of civilization.".

In 1943 the 'Kampf Gruppe Auschwitz' was organised with the aim to send out as much information about what was happening in Auschwitz as possible. They buried notes in the ground in the hope a liberator would find them and smuggled out photos of the crematoria and gas chambers.

Evacuation and liberation

The gas chambers of Birkenau were blown up by the SS in November 1944 in an attempt to hide their crimes from the advancing Soviet troops. On January 17, 1945 Nazi personnel started to evacuate the facility; most of the prisoners were forced on a death march West. Those too weak or sick to walk were left behind; about 7,500 prisoners were liberated by the 322nd Infantry unit of the Red Army on January 27 1945.

Death toll

The exact number of victims at Auschwitz is impossible to fix with certainty. Since the Nazis destroyed a number of records, immediate efforts to count the dead depended on the testimony of witnesses and the defendants on trial at Nuremberg. While under interrogation Rudolf Höß, commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp from 1940 to 1943, said that two and a half million jews had been killed. Later he wrote "I regard two and a half million far too high. Even Auschwitz had limits to its destructive possibilities", while Adolf Eichmann gave a figure of 2 million. The Auschwitz Death Book, recently uncovered in Soviet archives, is an example of logged records, but other examples of collected figures are scarce.

Communist Soviet and Polish authorities maintained a figure "between 2.5 and 4 million", which was used on the original Auschwitz memorial.

In 1983, French scholar George Wellers was one of the first to use Nazi data on deportations to estimate the number killed at Auschwitz, arriving at 1.613 million dead, including 1.44 million Jews and 146,000 Catholic Poles. A larger study started around the same time by Franciszek Piper used time tables of train arrivals combined with deportation records to calculate 1.1 million Jewish deaths and 140,000-150,000 Catholic Polish victims, along with 23,000 Roma & Sinti (Gypsies). This number has met with "significant, though not complete" agreement among scholars.

According to Harmon and Drobnicki, relevant estimates are in range between 800,000 and five million people.

City/Town : Latitude: 50.033333, Longitude: 19.233333


Died

Matches 1 to 153 of 153

   Last Name, Given Name(s)    Died    Person ID 
1 Bamberger, Hindrikje  11 February 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539175
2 Bamberger, Joseph  28 February 1943Oświęcim, Polska I539407
3 Bargeboer, David  15 December 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538956
4 Bargeboer, Frederika  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538952
5 Bargeboer, Kindelliena  29 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539235
6 Bargeboer, Lena Aaltje  05 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538959
7 Bargeboer, Sientje  20 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538912
8 Baruch, Dientje  19 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I394157
9 Bloemendal, Heiman  30 September 1942Oświęcim, Polska I393879
10 Bloemendal, Rebekka  19 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I53449
11 Bloemendal, Roosjen  29 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I48489
12 Bollegraaf, Abraham  31 March 1944Oświęcim, Polska I394070
13 Bollegraaf, Antje  22 October 1943Oświęcim, Polska I394072
14 Bollegraaf, Elsien  22 October 1943Oświęcim, Polska I394073
15 Bollegraaf, Heiman  11 August 1942Oświęcim, Polska I393854
16 Bollegraaf, Naatje  17 September 1943Oświęcim, Polska I393860
17 Bollegraaf, Nathan  04 August 1942Oświęcim, Polska I394066
18 Bollegraaf, Saartje  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I393922
19 Cohen, Aaltje  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538973
20 Cohen, Abraham  22 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I16274
21 Cohen, Betti  06 October 1944Oświęcim, Polska I779662
22 Cohen, Heiman  30 September 1942Oświęcim, Polska I393885
23 Cohen, Marianne  26 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I6940
24 Cohen, Naatje  19 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I393934
25 van Dam, Rosina  19 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I393926
26 van Delft, David  18 August 1942Oświęcim, Polska I192314
27 Denneboom, Anna  15 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I58747
28 Dikker, Regina  12 February 1943Oświęcim, Polska I538933
29 Elshof, Racheltje  19 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539086
30 Frank, Eva  02 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539006
31 Frank, Flip  02 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539008
32 Frank, Froukje  02 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539005
33 Frank, Israël  02 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539007
34 Frank, Rika  02 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539009
35 Gosler, Joseph  03 December 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538830
36 Gosler, Maria Sara  12 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538837
37 Gosler, Sara  19 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538843
38 Goudeket, Simeon  15 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I58758
39 de Groot, Elsien  01 October 1943Oświęcim, Polska I394042
40 Haalman, Philip Levie  19 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I127730
41 van Hasselt, Judicje  11 December 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538796
42 van Hasselt, Judikje  03 December 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538814
43 van Hasselt, Sylvia Esther  19 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538828
44 de Jong, Heijman  05 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I36973
45 de Jong, Rachel  08 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I36972
46 Joosten, Henderika  12 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538899
47 Joosten, Jantje  25 January 1943Oświęcim, Polska I538900
48 Jozep, Herman  31 August 1944Oświęcim, Polska I394025
49 Kats, Vroukje Engelina  02 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539354
50 van Kollem, Arnold  30 November 1943Oświęcim, Polska I394270
51 van Kollem, Eliazar  19 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I394267
52 Kosses, Heiman  19 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I75526
53 de Lange, Caroline  02 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I394034
54 de Lange, Jettje  11 December 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539330
55 de Lange, Joël  26 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I503634
56 de Lange, Leman  14 January 1943Oświęcim, Polska I539332
57 de Lange, Louis  30 April 1943Oświęcim, Polska I53194
58 de Lange, Mietje  14 January 1943Oświęcim, Polska I539331
59 de Lange, Sientje  11 December 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539333
60 de Leeuw, Branka  15 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538941
61 Leezer, Fieka  15 December 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538957
62 de Levie, Baruch  31 January 1943Oświęcim, Polska I53376
63 de Levie, Baruch  31 January 1943Oświęcim, Polska I394103
64 de Levie, Bernard  11 December 1942Oświęcim, Polska I394318
65 de Levie, Betje  19 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I394149
66 de Levie, Betje  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I394240
67 de Levie, Bloemina Marianne  29 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I393881
68 de Levie, Daatje  09 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I455856
69 de Levie, Elsje  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I394082
70 Levie, Lina  Date unknownOświęcim, Polska I75659
71 de Levie, Marie  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I394319
72 de Levie, Mozes  31 January 1943Oświęcim, Polska I53377
73 de Levie, Rebekka  25 January 1943Oświęcim, Polska I394315
74 de Levie, Salomon Izak  29 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I393880
75 de Levie, Selma  12 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I53380
76 Leviet, Bernard  15 December 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539381
77 Leviet, Heiman  15 December 1942Oświęcim, Polska I235558
78 Leviet, Henriette  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I185924
79 Leviet, Sara  28 January 1944Oświęcim, Polska I394074
80 Levit, Benjamin  29 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538801
81 Levit, Clara  12 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538807
82 Levit, Michiel Benjamin  12 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538808
83 Levit, Michiel Benjamin  11 December 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538798
84 Levitus, Geertje  19 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539090
85 Levitus, Johanna  19 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539091
86 Lezer, Allegonda  22 October 1943Oświęcim, Polska I394057
87 Lezer, Elsien  28 January 1944Oświęcim, Polska I394075
88 Lezer, Jetta  22 October 1943Oświęcim, Polska I394050
89 Lezer, Jonas  28 January 1944Oświęcim, Polska I394055
90 Lowenstein, Schoontje  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I364976
91 Lutraan, Lena  12 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I394113
92 Marcus, Hartog  11 December 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539105
93 Meijer, Josephine  11 December 1942Oświęcim, Polska I455854
94 Meijers, Josephus  02 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539358
95 Meijers, Judith  02 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539359
96 Mossel, Henri Emile  04 August 1944Oświęcim, Polska I30210
97 Mozes, Jacob  18 August 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539387
98 Mozes, Mozes  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539336
99 Mozes, Rachel  15 December 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539372
100 Muller, Levie Marcus  28 July 1942Oświęcim, Polska I394355
101 Nieweg, Abraham  07 August 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539188
102 Nieweg, Bertha  19 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538824
103 Nieweg, Meijer  18 August 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539262
104 Nijstad, Joel  05 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538960
105 Nijstad, Reeltje  12 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538982
106 Nijveen, Jakob  26 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I364696
107 Nijveen, Rika  19 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I364697
108 Oudgenoeg, Rika  26 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539366
109 Oudgenoeg, Samuel  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538953
110 Philips, Johan  28 February 1943Oświęcim, Polska I455860
111 van der Pool, Jakob  28 February 1943Oświęcim, Polska I538908
112 van der Pool, Roelfien  25 January 1943Oświęcim, Polska I538909
113 van Rein, Maurits  30 April 1943Oświęcim, Polska I267988
114 Salomons, Henderika  02 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538928
115 Schott, Paulina  19 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I394260
116 Schreiber, Martha  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I394137
117 Schrijver, Jacoba  12 February 1943Oświęcim, Polska I707505
118 Schrijver, Jakob  30 September 1942Oświęcim, Polska I392579
119 Simons, Saartje  17 September 1943Oświęcim, Polska I393878
120 Slager, Abraham  28 February 1943Oświęcim, Polska I393920
121 Slager, Heiman  31 March 1944Oświęcim, Polska I393925
122 Slager, Henrij  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I16277
123 Sleutelberg, Ester Saartje  29 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539238
124 Sleutelberg, Mietje  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539243
125 Smilde, Hiskia  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538869
126 Snijders, Maria  29 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I229596
127 Stoppelman, Bernard  28 February 1943Oświęcim, Polska I539386
128 Stoppelman, Dewes  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I159500
129 Stoppelman, Hanne  25 January 1943Oświęcim, Polska I217870
130 Stoppelman, Izak  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I185923
131 Stoppelman, Mary Josephine  09 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I455857
132 Stoppelman, Regina Efina  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I185926
133 de Swaan, Rachel  19 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I394272
134 Swartberg, Judith Josephine  12 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538841
135 Swartberg, Louis  31 January 1943Oświęcim, Polska I538838
136 Swartberg, Margaretha Beatrice  12 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538842
137 Valk, Frouktje  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I170429
138 Valk, Jonas  31 March 1943Oświęcim, Polska I172298
139 Veldman, Mina  19 February 1943Oświęcim, Polska I267989
140 Vissel, Borach  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539251
141 Vissel, Joseph  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539249
142 Vissel, Julius Barend  23 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539250
143 Vissel, Simon Lazarus  30 September 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539246
144 de Vries, Rozette  14 January 1943Oświęcim, Polska I539339
145 de Vries, Saartje Bertha  19 November 1943Oświęcim, Polska I538887
146 Walg, Elisabeth  09 November 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538875
147 Wertheim, Bertil Eduard  12 February 1943Oświęcim, Polska I707511
148 Wertheim, Robert Martin  12 February 1943Oświęcim, Polska I707512
149 Wijnberg, Mietje  12 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I538804
150 Wolff, Maria  26 October 1942Oświęcim, Polska I539370
151 Zadoks, Roosje  11 December 1942Oświęcim, Polska I394327
152 van Zand, Eliazar  30 September 1942Oświęcim, Polska I171969
153 Zuidema, Jettje  19 November 1943Oświęcim, Polska I202832

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