Font size:


Fate of children in Auschwitz

There were a few children among the adult Poles deported to Auschwitz as early as 1940. At the turn of 1942/1943, children from the Zamość region (the majority of whom were soon murdered) were sent to the camp along with adults, and in 1944, children from Warsaw during the Uprising there.

Jewish children began to be deported with their families to Auschwitz in 1942. The great majority were sent to die in the gas chambers after selection. Sporadically, teenage boys and girls were picked for registration in the camp. For a time, children from the Theresienstadt ghetto were held with their families in the so-called Theresienstadt family camp in Birkenau. Similarly, Roma children stayed with their parents in the so-called Zigeunerlager. 

Children, along with adults, were also deported to Auschwitz from occupied Soviet territory (mostly Belarus) in 1943–1944. The majority of them were later transferred to camps for children in Potulice and Konstantynów near Łódź. Some died in Auschwitz.

Until mid-1943, all children born in Auschwitz, regardless of origins, were murdered—usually by phenol injection or drowning. Later, non-Jewish newborns were allowed to live. They were entered in the camp records as new arrivals and prisoner numbers were tattooed on their thighs or buttocks. Due to the woeful conditions in the camp, few lived long. Children born to Jewish mothers were murdered until the end of October 1944, when the SS halted the mass killing of Jews.

The extant records note the birth of at least 700 children in Auschwitz, including those born in the Zigeunerlager.

It is estimated that about 232,000 children and young people were deported to Auschwitz, of whom 216,000 were Jews, 11,000 Roma, about 3,000 Poles, more than 1,000 Belarusians, and several hundred Russians, Ukrainians, and others. A total of about 23,000 children and young people were registered in the camp. Slightly more than 700 were liberated in January 1945.

Source: Auschwitz from A to Z. An Illustrated History