Auschwitz concentration camp has a complicated and tragic history. There are widely known details associated with this infamous death camp; however, there are also little known and forgotten facts that may shock those who feel they know the tragic history of this institution. Here are some little known and forgotten facts associated with Auschwitz concentration camp.
Following the occupation of Poland by the Nazis in 1939, the name of the city of Oswiecim was changed to Auschwitz by the Germans, and in 1940, it later became the name of the camp as well. Auschwitz functioned throughout its existence as a death camp, and it would become the largest as well as most reviled Nazi concentration camp in existence.
Additional little known and forgotten facts regarding Auschwitz concentration camp include that it served as the primary destination spot for Polish captives of war, who were sent to the death camp by German occupation authorities. Auschwitz concentration camp was initially reserved for those Jewish captives who were deemed dangerous to society. Those individuals included the elite of Polish society, members of academia, cultural and scientific figures, political, spiritual, and civic leaders, as well as artists, resistance movement participants, and those of like ilk.
As the Nazi movement progressed, other groups of prisoners from other occupied countries were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. By 1942, Jews who were deemed able-bodied and fit for labor were also registered in the death camp. In total, approximately 400,000 people were registered, confided, and deported to Auschwitz concentration camp and its sub-camps. Of those numbers, nearly 200,000 captives were of Jewish descent, almost 150,000 were of Polish descent, and nearly 20,000 were Gypsies from various countries. Other residents of Auschwitz concentration camp included more than 10,000 Soviet prisoners-of-war as well as over 10,000 captives of other nationalities. It was also during this time that Auschwitz concentration camp became the site of the greatest mass genocide in the history of humanity. This extermination campaign was instigated against the European Jews as part of Adolf Hitler’s plan for ethnic cleansing, elimination of the Jewish race, and fortification of the Aryan race.
As the Nazi occupation continued, Auschwitz concentration camp was expanded and divided into three main areas–Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, and Auschwitz III-Monowitz. Moreover, Auschwitz concentration camp also had over 40 sub-camps or sections.
Other little known and forgotten facts regarding Auschwitz concentration camp include the various methods of death suffered by its prisoners. Approximately 50 percent of the registered prisoners within Auschwitz concentration camp died as a result of starvation, violence and attacks that occurred in the camp, excessive physical labor, executions, deplorable and unsanitary living conditions, torture, disease, and widespread epidemics, as well as captives subjected to medical experimentation.
In terms of pecking order, most of the Jewish men, women, and children whom were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp were designated for extermination in the Birkenau gas chambers upon their arrival. At the end of the war neared, the SS, which stood for Schutzstaffel and represented a protection squadron under Hitler and the Nazi Party (NSDAP), began burning documents, dismantling the gas chambers, crematoria, and other buildings in an effort to eradicate evidence of the crimes they had committed.
Without question, Auschwitz concentration camp has a complicated and tragic history. While there are widely known details associated with this infamous death camp, there are also little known and forgotten facts that may shock even those who feel they know the tragic history of this institution. An important little known and forgotten fact associated with Auschwitz concentration camp to note is that the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum was erected on the grounds of the two remaining sections of the death camp, Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. This decision was a result of an act of Polish parliament and it was passed on July 2, 1947.
Written and Edited by Leigh Haugh