Birkenau Birkenau I did reasearch on Birkenau, a concentration camp used in the Holocaust also know as Auschwitz. I chose this particular topic because, I thought it would be interesting to learn about the concentration camps used in the Holocaust. The two sources i used for my presentation is an internet site and the encarta encloypedia. The Nazis established Auschwitz in April 1940 under the direction of Heinrich Himmler, chief of two Nazi organizations the Nazi guards known as the Schutzstaffel , and the secret police known as the Gestapo. The camp at Auschwitz originally housed political prisoners from occupied Poland and from concentration camps within Germany.
Construction of nearby Birkenau (Brzenzinka), also known as Auschwitz II, began in October 1941 and included a women’s section after August 1942. Birkenau had four gas chambers, designed to resemble showers, and four crematoria, used to incinerate bodies. Approximately 40 more satellite camps were established around Auschwitz. These were forced labor camps and were known collectively as Auschwitz III. The first one was built at Monowitz and held Poles who had been forcibly evacuated from their hometowns by the Nazis. Prisoners were transported from all over Nazi-occupied Europe by rail, arriving at Auschwitz in daily convoys.
Arrivals at the complex were separated into three groups. One group went to the gas chambers within a few hours; these people were sent to the Birkenau camp, where more than 20,000 people could be gassed and cremated each day. At Birkenau, the Nazis used a cyanide gas called Zyklon-B, which was manufactured by a pest-control company. A second group of prisoners were used as slave labor at industrial factories for such companies as I. G. Farben and Krupp.
At the Auschwitz complex 405,000 prisoners were recorded as laborers between 1940 and 1945. Of these about 340,000 perished through executions, beatings, starvation, and sickness. Some prisoners survived through the help of German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who saved about 1000 Polish Jews by diverting them from Auschwitz to work for him, first in his factory near Krakw and later at a factory in what is now the Czech Republic. A third group, mostly twins and dwarfs, underwent medical experiments at the hands of doctors such as Josef Mengele, who was also known as the Angel of Death. The camp was staffed partly by prisoners, some of whom were selected to be kapos (orderlies) and sonderkommandos (workers at the crematoria). Members of these groups were killed periodically.
The kapos and sonderkommandos were supervised by members of the SS; altogether 6000 SS members worked at Auschwitz. By 1943 resistance organizations had developed in the camp. These organizations helped a few prisoners escape; these escapees took with them news of exterminations, such as the killing of hundreds of thousands of Jews transported from Hungary between May and July 1944. In October 1944 a group of sonderkommandos destroyed one of the gas chambers at Birkenau. They and their accomplices, a group of women from the Monowitz labor camp, were all put to death.
When the Soviet army marched into Auschwitz to liberate the camp on January 27, 1945, they found about 7600 survivors abandoned there. More than 58,000 prisoners had already been evacuated by the Nazis and sent on a final death march to Germany. In 1946 Poland founded a museum at the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp in remembrance of its victims. By 1994, about 22 million visitors 700,000 annually had passed through the iron gates that bear the motto Arbeit macht frei (work makes one free). What i found most interesting about Birkenau was how many prisoners they had in these concentration camps.