All over the world, Auschwitz has become a symbol of terror, genocide, and the Shoah. It was established by Germans in 1940, in the suburbs of Oswiecim, a Polish city that was annexed to the Third Reich by the Nazis. Its name was changed to Auschwitz, which also became the name of Konzentrationslager Auschwitz.
The direct reason for the establishment of the camp was the fact that mass arrests of Poles were increasing beyond the capacity of existing "local" prisons. The first transport of Poles reached KL Auschwitz from Tarnów prison on June 14, 1940. Initially, Auschwitz was to be one more concentration camp of the type that the Nazis had been setting up since the early 1930s. It functioned in this role throughout its existence, even when, beginning in 1942, it also became the largest of the extermination centers where the "Endlösung der Judenfrage" (the final solution to the Jewish question - the Nazi plan to murder European Jews) was carried out.
Let us build memory! Donate any documents and other historical items in your possession to the Auschwitz Memorial
Memory is not something that is acquired once and stays on forever. The moment that the last eyewitnesses and survivors pass away, we have to work together to build on that which remains: the testimonies of those former prisoners and the authentic artifacts connected with Auschwitz. Each item can have its own enormous meaning and should find its place in the collection of the Auschwitz Memorial. Here, it will be preserved, studied, and displayed. Its place is here.
"On Auschwitz" podcast
The official podcast of the Auschwitz Memorial. The history of Auschwitz is exceptionally complex. It combined two functions: a concentration camp and an extermination center. Nazi Germany persecuted various groups of people there, and the camp complex continually expanded and transformed itself. In the podcast "On Auschwitz," we discuss the details of the history of the camp as well as our contemporary memory of this important and special place.
All our podcasts: auschwitz.org/podcasts
A visit to the authentic Memorial Site is a unique educational experience. However, people who do not have the ability to visit the former concentration camp of Auschwitz now have the opportunity to become acquainted with its history through education conducted via the Internet. See our online lessons here: lesson.auschwitz.org.
Poles in Auschwitz
After the liquidation of the Polish state and its institutions, the fundamental goal of German policy in occupied Poland was the exploitation of material and labor resources, and the removal of the local Polish population and ethnic minorities. This was done through expulsion and systematic extermination. The Polish lands were to be completely germanized, through German settlement in the depopulated area.
The first transport of Poles, 728 political prisoners, deported by Germans from Tarnów prison, reached the Auschwitz camp on June 14, 1940. This is why the Polish Parliament instituted June 14 the National Remembrance Day of the Victims of German Nazi Concentration Camps and Extermination Camps.
Jews in Auschwitz
Until early 1942, the Nazis deported to Auschwitz only a relatively small number of Jews, who were sent there along with the non-Jewish prisoners, mostly Poles, who accounted for the majority of the camp population until mid-1942.