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The Auschwitz complex was a major construction project of Nazi Germany during the height of World War II in southern Poland. In 1940, a single camp with 22 buildings opened and expanded with an additional three main camps and 40 sub-camps.
See the fact file below for more information on the Auschwitz or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Auschwitz worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Construction and Structure
- In April 1940, the Main Camp, also known as Auschwitz I, was opened to house prisoners who were forced to work. Camps were divided into sections, all separated by barbed wire fences. About 700 to 1200 prisoners were densely housed in wooden or brick barracks.
- Prisoners were segregated into different categories. Jews, Jehovah’s Witness and Gypsy political prisoners were in separate areas. Men, women and children were also in separate sections.
- When Germans invaded the Soviet Union, they decided to establish prisoner-of-war camps. Auschwitz II was built adjacent to the main camp near Brzezinka. Soviet soldiers were held captive in the camp, which became known as Auschwitz-Birkenau. The building was supervised by Strumbamführer Karl Bischoff and built on swampy exposed terrain.
- In early 1941, a small labor camp was set up and became known as Auschwitz III, after the Petrochemical Corporation I.G Farben established a factory for synthetic rubber and fuel. In order to provide cheap labor, a camp was built next to it.
- Thousands of Soviet prisoners were forced to work during the construction.
- Soon after, they were joined by Polish and Jewish prisoners who constructed a camp that could accommodate 200,000 prisoners.
- Compared to the Main Camp made of bricks, Birkenau was mainly wooden huts. Thousands of prisoners fell ill and died during the winter due to unfit living conditions.
As Concentration and Extermination Camps
- In the fall of 1941, the German Camp Administration carried out their gas experiments. After seeing the effectiveness, they installed four permanent gas chambers in Birkenau.
- By 1942, the Germans converted all the buildings and erected two more gas chambers near the camp.
- In 1943, four extermination installations became operational. The facilities included underground undressing rooms and gas chambers, and a crematorium for incinerating the bodies.
- In the spring and summer of 1944, extermination reached its peak. It was during this time that over 430 000 Hungarian-Jews were deported to the camps and the majority of them murdered.
- “A number of victims noticed that the covers had been removed from the six holes in the ceiling (of the gas chambers). They screamed in terror when a head, covered in a gas-mask appeared at one of the holes. As soon as the tins were opened, their contents were thrown through the holes, and the covers were replaced immediately… About two minutes later, the scream died down, and only muffled groans could be heard. Most of the victims had already lost consciousness. Two more minutes passed, and Grabner stopped looking at his watch. Absolute silence prevailed.”
-SS man Perry Broad
- Aside from being an extermination camp, Auschwitz served as a center for collection and distribution of forced laborers to all areas of German industry. More factories for different products were set up near Auschwitz.
- Until November 1944, construction work at Auschwitz continued but the systematic extermination of Jews was halted. Germans began to dismantle extermination facilities like gas chambers to conceal all traces of their crimes against humanity.
- Despite their dismantling efforts, most of Birkenau remained intact when the Red Army arrived on January 27, 1945.
Auschwitz and Holocaust
- Among the most infamous events of WWII is the holocaust. It is considered as one of the most-known notorious acts of genocide in modern history.
- The Holocaust began in 1933 when Adolf Hitler came into power in Germany. The Nazis targeted Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and the Jehovah’s Witness. Most of them were deported to concentration camps in Auschwitz.
- The extermination of Jewish people was called by the Nazis as the “Final Solution.” Over a million were killed in gas chambers in extermination camps like the six built in Poland including Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz (both Majdanek and Auschwitz are concentration and extermination camps).
- Among the largest concentration and extermination camps built by the Nazis was the Auschwitz complex with over 1.1 million people killed.
- The German words “Arbeit macht frei” can be read in the infamous Auschwitz gates, which means “work makes you free.”
- Aside from death by gas chambers, prisoners were shot or hanged, died of starvation and disease, while others chose to take their own lives.
- It is believed that almost 80% of prisoners transported to Auschwitz were gassed within a few hours of their arrival. Some were selected to work and survived up to 3 months.
- An estimated 700 out of 230,000 children in Auschwitz and Birkenau survived.
- Nazi Germany embarked on its campaign of genocide because it believed in Aryan superiority and that Germans were the purest race of Aryans. They, therefore, resolved to rid the world of any other race deemed inferior to them.
- In popular culture, the horrors of the holocaust are depicted in the 1993 American epic historical drama film Schindler’s List, which was directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg. The film showed concentration camps including Plaszow and Auschwitz-Birkenau. It also depicted infamous figures including Rudolf Höss.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Auschwitz across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Panama Canal worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Auschwitz complex which was a major construction project of Nazi Germany during the height of World War II in southern Poland. In 1940, a single camp with 22 buildings opened and expanded with an additional three main camps and 40 sub-camps.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Auschwitz Facts
- WWII in Poland
- Auschwitz Camps
- Infamous Figures
- Phrases of Terror
- Camps in Poland
- Diary of Anne Frank
- Auschwitz: Then and Now
- Lessons of History
- Holocaust Denial
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Link will appear as Auschwitz Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, January 4, 2021
Use With Any Curriculum
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