Friday, June 20, 2008

Auschwitz, Poland (June 9, 2008)

The Nazis opened Auschwitz concentration camp in June 1940 in the suburbs of the occupied Polish city of Oswiecim. Over the following five years, Auschwitz was expanded to include Auschwitz II-Birkenau and Auschwitz III-Monowitz, as well as 40 additional sub-camps.

The camp was first used to imprison Poles and later Soviet POWs and Gypsies. Starting in 1942, Auschwitz became the site of the largest mass murder in human history, as part of the Nazi plan for the complete extermination of European Jews. In total, between one and 1.5 million people were killed at Auschwitz, approximately 90 percent of whom were European Jews.

Today, the remaining camps (Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau) are part of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and Memorial, which serves to educate the public about the Nazi crimes and honor the victims who suffered and perished there.
A barbed wire fence encloses Auschwitz I
Auschwitz I served as the administrative center for the entire Auschwitz complex
A guard tower at Auschwitz I
Prisoners were transported from across Europe to Auschwitz II-Birkenau along these train tracks A reconstructed wooden barrack at Auschwitz II-Birkenau
The massive Birkenau camp stretched over 175 hectares and had more than 300 prison barracks and four gas chambers with crematoria. The camp could hold 200,000 inmates at one time. Today, many of the wooden buildings are destroyed.

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