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Auschwitz II-Birkenau (Polonia : Campo di sterminio)   Cerca


During his March 1, 1941 visit to Auschwitz I, Reichsführer-SS and Head of the German Police Heinrich Himmler ordered an expansion of the camp. In October 1941 10,000 Soviet POWs began the construction of Auschwitz II-Birkenau. The site of the camp was near the Polish village of Brzezinka which was emptied of its Polish population for the project. Overcrowding in Auschwitz I, caused by the arrival of Soviet prisoners of war in late 1941, forced the acceleration of the camp's construction. The first sections of Auschwitz II-Birkenau were completed in 1942. When construction was complete, the camp had nine sections separated by electrified barbed-wire fences. Originally intended as a camp for 100,000 Soviet POWs, Auschwitz II-Birkenau's main function became the murder of European Jews. The insecticide Zyklon B was used in the camp's gas chambers. The first provisional gas chambers were judged inadequate for the scale of gassing planned. Four large gas chamber and crematoria facilities became operational between March and June 1943. When all four were operational, Auschwitz II-Birkenau possessed an unsurpassed capacity for mass murder and body disposal. Gassing operations continued until November 1944. The pace of deportations increased in the spring of 1944 after the German occupation of Hungary. The Hungarian Jewish community was by then the largest remaining Jewish community in German-controlled Europe. Between April and November 1944 Auschwitz received more Jewish deportees than it had in the previous two years. During the initial selection, newly arrived prisoners were declared fit or unfit for forced labor by SS physicians or other camp officials. Most were sent immediately to the gas chambers. On January 27, 1945, the Auschwitz camp complex was liberated by Soviet forces; at Auschwitz II-Birkenau 5,800 prisoners remained alive. During the course of its existence, prisoners in the camp represented many categories including political prisoners, Poles, criminals, Jews, Soviet POWs, and Sinti/Roma ("Gypsies"). It is estimated that between 1.1 and 1.6 million predominantly Jewish men, women, and children were murdered at Auschwitz, nearly all of them in the gas chambers at Auschwitz II-Birkenau. (en-US)


Pilichowski, Czeslaw. Obozy hitlerowskie na ziemiach polskich 1939-1945: Informator encyklopedyczny = Nazi Camps in Poland 1939-1945: Dictionary and Encyclopedia. Warszawa: Panstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe Warszawa, 1979. (4 fold maps). p. 359

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