Photographer's Note

Auschwitz II (Birkenau) is the camp that people know simply as "Auschwitz". It was the site of imprisonment of hundreds of thousands, and the murder of over one million people, mainly Jews, Roma and Sinti.
The camp is located in Brzezinka (Birkenau), about 3 kilometers from Auschwitz I. Construction started in 1941 as part of the Endlsung. The camp was about 2.5 kilometers by 2 kilometers large and was divided into several sections, each of which was separated into fields. Fields as well as the camp itself were surrounded with barbed, electrified wire (which was used by some of the inmates to commit suicide). The camp held up to 100,000 prisoners at one time.
The camp's main purpose, however, was not internment with forced labor (as Auschwitz I & III) but rather extermination. For this purpose, the camp was equipped with 4 crematoria with gas chambers; each gas chamber was designed to hold up to 2500 people at one time. Large-scale extermination started in Spring 1942.
Most people arrived at the camp by rail, often after horrifying trips in cattle wagons lasting several days. From 1944 railway tracks extended into the camp itself; before that, arriving prisoners were marched from the Auschwitz railway station to the camp. At times, the whole transport would be sent to its death immediately. At other times, the Nazis would perform "selections", often administered by Josef Mengele, to the end of choosing whom to kill right away and whom to imprison as labor force or use for medical experiments. Young children were taken from their mothers and placed with older women to be gassed, along with the sick, weak and old.
Those arriving prisoners who survived the initial selection would go on to spend some time in quarantine quarters and eventually work on the camp's maintenance or expansion or be sent to one of the surrounding satellite work camps.
One section of the camp was reserved for female prisoners. In another section known as "Canada" (so named because Germans belived that Canada was a land of vast riches), the belongings of the arriving victims were sorted and stored, to be transferred to the German government. Items such as banknotes, coins, jewellery, precious metals and diamonds were removed from "Canada" and shipped off to the Reichsbank.
On October 7, 1944, the Jewish Sonderkommandos (those prisoners kept separate from the main camp and involved in the operation of the gas chambers and crematoria) staged an uprising. Female prisoners had smuggled in explosives from a weapons factory, and crematorium IV was partly destroyed by an explosion. The prisoners then attempted a mass escape, but all 250 were killed soon after.
The B&W version in workshop.

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Additional Photos by Aleksander Liebert (alexlie) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 368 W: 86 N: 775] (5359)
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