MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

Sterbebücher

The death...
The death...

This data base uses the partially preserved Death Books (Sterbebücher) of Auschwitz Concentration Camp prisoners. The 46 volumes of political department (camp Gestapo) record the deaths of almost 69,000 prisoners who were registered in the camp and who died between July 29, 1941 and December 31, 1943. Their names have been entered in the data base.

Limited number of records

When using the data base, please remember that the death certificates cover only registered prisoners who died in the period mentioned in the previous paragraph. The overwhelming majority of victims, mostly Jewish, perished in the gas chambers immediately after arrival, without being entered in the camp records, and without their deaths being noted in the German documents.

Sample death certificate

Below is the death certificate issued by the Politische Abteilung (camp Gestapo) for Auschwitz Concentration Camp prisoner Janusz Pogonowski. Prisoner no. 253, Pogonowski (who went by the name “Skrzetuski” in the camp) arrived on the first transport of political prisoners from the prison in Tarnów on June 14, 1940.

He was an active member of the underground camp resistance. He was hanged during a public execution, along with eleven other prisoners from the surveyors labor detail, on July 19, 1943. This was a reprisal for the escape of four prisoners from this labor detail and for contacts with civilians outside the camp.

His heroic behavior at the time of his execution remained etched in the memory of the prisoners. Without waiting for camp commandant Rudolf Höss to finish reading out the sentence, Janusz Pogonowski kicked the stool out from under his feet and hanged himself. He was 21.

The death certificates contain the following fields:

  • Certificate no.
  • date of issue
  • first and last names
  • denomination
  • place of residence
  • date of death, time of death, place of death – always Kasernestrasse Auschwitz (Barracks Street, Auschwitz), not the camp (!)
  • date and place of birth
  • father’s first and last names
  • mother’s first and last names
  • spouse’s first and last name
  • pronouncing physician
  • date
  • signature
  • reason of death (fictitious)

The “denomination” field in the death certificate of Janusz Pogonowski reads “Katholisch”, other documents may contain one of the following religious affiliations:

  • Bibelforscher - Jehovah’s Witness

böhmisch-mährische Religion - Czech-Moravian religion

  • buddhistisch - Buddhist
  • evangelisch - Ewangelical-Lutheran
  • glaubenslos - Atheist
  • gottgläubig - Believes in God
  • grekokatholisch - Greek Catholic
  • griechischorthodox - Greek Orthodox
  • husit - Hussite
  • katholisch - Catholic
  • konfessionslos - Unaffiliate
  • mosaisch - Mosaic (i.e., Jewish)
  • moslemisch - Muslim
  • orthodox - Eastern Orthodox
  • religionslos - Agnostic
  • russischorthodox - Russian Orthodox
  • unbekannte Religion - Religion unknown

An analysis of the “denomination” item shows that the majority of the registered prisoners in the Death Books were Roman Catholic (31814 persons - 46,8%) and Jewish (“Mosaic”) (29125 persons - 42,8%). Others belonged to the following denominations: Greek Orthodox (3,6%), Evangelical-Lutheran (3,4%), and Greek Catholic (1,6%). This item is left blank on 1,275 (1,9%) death certificates.