Return to Home Page Torah Poems and reading Photos Calendar
Services Looking for people Polish Jews history Holocaust Contact
Click on icon above to go to ...    

Return to intro page

Auschwitz-Birkenau (Oswiecim-Brzezinka) - Poland

a map of the camp click

he death camp was located approximately 60 km (37 miles) west of Krakow (Cracov), in Eastern Upper Silesia, which was annexed to Nazi Germany following the defeat of Poland, in September, 1939. The first camp was built shortly after Poland's defeat, in a suburb of Oswiecim (Zasole), and held about 10,000 prisoners. The second site, known as Auschwitz II, or Birkenau, was located 3 km from the original camp. Construction began in October 1941.

he first, relatively small gas chamber was built in Auschwitz I. Here the experimental gassing using Zyklon B gas first took place, on September 3, 1941. The victims were 600 Soviet prisoners of war and 250 other prisoners. After that experiment, the firm J. A. Topf and Sons received a contract to build much larger, permanent gas chambers connected with very large crematoria in Auschwitz-Birkenau, where the mass exterminations were mainly carried out. Altogether four such installations -- II, III, IV, and V -- were built in Birkenau." (Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Vol. I, 113)

he Auschwitz procedure evolved in stages. In April 1942, Slovak Jews were gassed in Crematorium I, apparently with their clothes on. Later, deportees from nearby Sosnowiec were told to undress in the yard. The victims, faced by the peremptory order to remove their clothes, men in front of women and women in front of men, became apprehensive. The SS men, shouting at them, then drove the naked men, women and children into the gas chamber.

wo German firms, Tesch/Stabenow and Degesch, produced Cyclone B gas after they acquired the patent from Farben. Tesch supplied two tons a month, and Degesch three quarters of a ton. The firms that produced the gas already had extensive experience in fumigation. "In short, this industry used very powerful gases to exterminate rodents and insects in enclosed spaces; that it should now have become involved in an operation to kill off Jews by the hundreds of thousands is not mere accident." (Hilberg, Commandant, 567) After the war the directors of the firms insisted that they had sold their products for fumigation purposes and did not know they were being used on humans. But the prosecutors found letters from Tesch not only offering to supply the gas crystals but also advising how to use the ventilating and heating equipment. Hoess testified that the Tesch directors could not help but know of the use for their product because they sold him enough to annihilate two million people. Two Tesch partners were sentenced to death in 1946 and hanged. The director of Degesch recieved five years in prison." (Feig)

yclone B (Zyklon-B) is a powerful insecticide which serves as a carrier for the gas Hydrocyanic acid, or HCN. It usually comes in the shape of small pellets or disks. HCN is the cause of death following the application of Zyklon-B. While interacting with iron and concrete, it creates Hydrocyanic compounds, which Leuchter admitted were found in the ruins of the gas chamber in Krematoria II. His finding was confirmed by findings of the Polish government. HCN is *extremely poisonous* to humans. It is used in execution gas chambers in the US; the first was built in Arizona in 1920. The Germans had a lot of experience with HCN, as it was extensively used for delousing.

everal of the seventy or more medical-research projects conducted by the Nazis between the fall of 1939 and spring of 1945 were conducted at Auschwitz. These projects involved experiments conducted with human beings against their will, and at least seven thousand were so treated, based upon existing documents and personal testimonies; there were undoubtedly many more for which no documentation or personal testimony remains. About two hundred German medical doctors were involved in the concentration camp experiments, conducting 'Selektionen,' medical services, and research. They maintained close professional ties with the German medical establishment, and used the universities and research institutes in Germany and Austria in their work. Dr. Ernst Robert Grawitz, SS Chief Medical Officer, received all requests for authority to perform experimentation, and obtained two opinions before passing them to Himmler with his recommendation. Grawitz used Dr. Karl Gebhardt, Himmler's personal physician, for one opinion, and Richard Glu"cks and Arthur Nebe for the other. He then passed his report to Himmler, who took great interest in the experiments and often interfered with them. There were three broad classes of experiments. The German Air Force conducted experiments at Dachau (and elsewhere) dealing with survival and rescue, including research into the effects of high altitude, freezing temperatures, and the ingestion of seawater. Medical treatment constituted a second class, and involved research into the treatment of battle injuries, gas attacks, and the formulation of immunization compounds to treat contageous and epidemic diseases. Finally, there were racial experiments, including research into dwarfs and twins, serological research, and skeletal examination. It is this class of horrors that returns us to Auschwitz. (Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, 957-958)

Auschwitz camp was liberated by USSR army on January 27, 1945.
Total number of victims in the Auschwitz death camp is about 1,500,000. Approx. 90% of them were Jews.