One of the biggest and most feared concentration camps, were Auschwitz. But Auschwitz was not just one camp, it’s a joint designation for all the three Auschwitz-camps, Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II – Birkenau and Auschwitz III. The Auschwitz-complex became a symbol on the entire dark history, Holocaust.

Auschwitz I:

Auschwitz I was in the beginning a military camp. The soldiers started using them as prisoners’ camp for Jews in 1942. Here died about 70.000 people. Mostly Pole and Soviet prisoners in the war. This camp became quickly too small, so they had to build a new one.

Auschwitz II – Birkenau:

Birkenau was built in 1941-42 by the prisoners. It was built about 3km from the first camp. There were a least 1.1 million Jews, 75.000 Poles, and 19.000 Romans killed. Henrich Himmler decided this to be the centre of the eradication. The Birkenau-camp consisted by 300 buildings, and a 100.000 prisoners. The dimensions of Birkenau were 813.600 square metres.

Auschwitz III (Monowitz):

Auschwitz III, also called Monowitz was built in springtime in 1943. Most of the prisoners were Jews, but also gypsies, homosexuals, politic active people, Christians, criminals and Nazi-opponents. Roughly 700 Norwegian Jews were sent to Auschwitz, and only 10-12 survived.

Directing in Auschwitz:

At first had Rudolf Hôss the commando. But 1st of December 1943 Arthur Liebenhenchel came to the power. Under his reign stopped the worst torturing, but the selections held on. 8th of May 1944 Hôss comes to the power again. This because the Nazi-regime the way he ruled.

The trip to Auschwitz:

The prisons came from all over Europe with boat, lorry, and at last but not least cow-wagons that went straight into the camp. When they got there, it was time for selection. In the cow- or goods wagons a lot of people died. The main reasons to this were deficiency of air, high temperature, squeezed to death, or killed by others.

The food:

The food the prisoners got was:

  • Breakfast: Coffee-substitute or nothing.
  • Dinner: one litre soup with rotten vegetables.
  • Supper: 300-350gram rye bread, 30gram butter, 20gram sausage, and tea or coffee-substitute.
  • In addition they ate grass, flowers, bark and branches from the trees if they were lucky.
Because of all the hard work and almost no food they slowly got fatigue. And caused by the hunger, illness showed up and often ended with death. In Birkenau was the food brought around with wagons they used to carry dead bodies with at night.


When the trains with prisoners came to Auschwitz, it was time for selection. Those who were able to work, worked. But old people, small children and mothers was showed to “the Left”. They were sent straight to the gas chamber. Some of the children were kept to be used in medical experiments.

The gas chambers and the crematorium furnaces:

The gas chambers in Auschwitz were made like showers. So when the prisoners came, they thought they were supposed to take a normal shower. But the showers were fake. The chambers were heated up so the gas easier should evaporate faster. This gas were so strong that it killed them by throttling. SS did not care about finding the right dose with gas. So the throttling could last in all from three minutes and until twenty minutes. To kill 1500 people they needed 5-7kg Zyclon B. In 1942-43 it was used over 20.000 kg with Zyclon B. And if you weren’t dead you surely would be dead after being burned in the crematorium furnaces or at the huge body-fires.

The crematorium furnaces burned all day, but they still didn’t manage to follow the gas chambers. So there were often huge body-fires, just so they could get rid of all the dead bodies. About 70% of those who came to Birkenau were sent straight to the gas chambers.

The first crematorium furnace in Auschwitz had “only” a capacity on 350 bodies per day.


There were two SS-doctors in Auschwitz which used torture on the prisoners. C. Clauberg investigated on a biologic way to phase out slavish nationalities. Josef Mengele investigated twins, handicaps and manipulation by gene.

Josef Mengele:

He got the nick-name “Angel of Death”. He was appointed 30th of May 1943, and performed “medical” experiments. Here are some of the things he did:

- He picked out normal twins and sewed them together to make Siamese twins. He did this without any form for drugging. They managed to live for three days before they died because of the pain.
- He bored with a drill down into his brain just to study how long they screamed.
- He sewed straw and grass into people’s legs.
- He injected water and oil into the prisoner’s blood vessels.
- He tried to find out how long a human could survive in ice-cold water before they died.
- He did experiments to find out how long a baby could live without food.

Josef Mengele never went to prison, he was helped over to Brazil were he was declared dead in 1987.

Dr. Carl Clauberg:

7th July 1942, Himmler and some Germanys Jews had a meet, where they realised how they could sterilize Jewish women. Clauberg got a message form Himmler where he told him to sterilize all women in Ravensbrük.

Block 11:

Block 11 was like a prison in the prison, insulated from rest of off the camp. Those who had done something wrong was doomed by SS. The place where the Jews were killed was between block 10 and block 11. They stood in front off a big brick wall and got shot by SS or they got hung.

Those who were not hung had to stand still for hours, or they had to work extra hard.

Prisoners who sat in cell 18 had no food and starved the whole. And in cell 20, it was so dark that the prisoner couldn’t see anything and then they got killed by lack of oxygen. Those who was in cell 22 had to stand in some small “standing cells” on just 90x90 cm, four man, at the same time, in the same room.

Inside the “house”:

In Birkenau the “slaves” had to sleep in bed who just was 1,5 m wide, and on three level. And they got none mattress, on the most it was 8 prisons in each level. And that means 24 people in one bed! It was no floor in the barracks, only mud. And it was just two small stoves in every barracks, which should provide heat to over 1000 people.

Birth in the C-camp:

A few days after it came new prisoners to Auschwitz, the SS go to the pregnant women and said that they would go to a new and improved camp. And all the pregnant women were moved to another camp.

But it was not that they had thought. One day, a doctor, Gisella, got a random errand near the crematory, and then she saw some SS-men and women who played with and tortured those who was pregnant. They hit them, kicked them in the stomach and pulled their hair. Then they got the dogs to bite them. When they collapsed, they were thrown alive into the crematory.

When Gisella saw this, she run and told it to every pregnant women, then she took abortion on every pregnant women, and sent them to the hospitality with the diagnose pneumonia, then they was sure, because wouldn’t send them to the crematory just because off that.

Lauster new work:

When the Jews worked in the camps, it was not always that what they did was just as useful. Something they could do was to carry stone and soil from a hill to another and then back again.

The camp was cleaned every six-months.

Every 6 months was Dr. Mengele and some SS-guards, to get rid of the hostages that were in camp at that time, so they could get new Jews to the camp. The process took around 4 weeks on each camp, and it was 32.000 women in camp-c when they drained the camp. 20.000 women got burned and 12.000 were sent for work I Germany.

The Red Army found something in Auschwitz.

27. January was the Red Army outside the gates of Auschwitz, Auschwitz- Birkenau and Monowitz and they find this:

  • 7.650 surviving Jews who SS “didn’t got time to” kill.
  • 350.000 men’s suits.
  • 43.500 couple of shoes.
  • About 7 tonne human hair.

Auschwitz. (24. February 2009) URL: [25. February 2009]
Birkenau (28. November 2005) URL: [25. February 2009]
Auschwitz (26. February 2009) URL : [26. February 2009]

By: Janita Kristin Solibakke and Elise Kvamme Andersen.