Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp barracks
1941 October-1945 January 18
Birkenau (Concentration camp);
Brzezinka (Wojewodztwo Ma‚opolskie, Poland)
Buildings and structures
- Object Type
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
Barracks from Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp established by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland from October 1941-January 18, 1945. Barracks were primitive wooden structures with large wooden shelves for bunkbeds. There were 36 bunks per barrack; 5 to 6 prisoners were packed on a shelf to fit over 500 prisoners per barracks. Inmates wore the same ragged clothes for work and sleep. The barracks had no insulation from the cold or heat, the wooden roofs often leaked, and the straw sometimes supplied as bedding was soon filthy and wet. The only toilet facility was a single bucket, and diarrhea, lice, and disease were common. From 1943-44, Birkenau was a killing center as well as a concentration camp. Most prisoners who arrived at the camp were selected for immediate death. A small number were temporarily spared by being selected as labor for the German program of destruction through work. These prisoners lived in the barracks. Most survived only a few weeks or months.
Birkenau was the largest of the 40 camps and subcamps in the Auschwitz complex. The majority of the victims of Auschwitz perished at Birkenau: 90% of 1 million people. 90% of these were Jews; the majority of the other victims were Poles, Gypsies, and Soviet POWs. The camp, located in Brzezinka, was renamed Birkenau (Birch Wood). Construction began in October 1941 and stopped in 1944 as Soviet forces approached. The 346 acre camp had 300 barracks and other buildings, 10 miles of barbed wire, and 4 gas chambers with crematoriums. In August 1944, there were 90,000 prisoners and 908 guards. In January 1945, the Germans blew up the killing compound as they prepared to liquidate the camp. Most of camp's administrative records were destroyed. The camp evacuation was completed on January 18, 1945, when the last 15,000 prisoners exited on a forced death march. Soviet troops entered the camp on January 27.
Record last modified: 2018-01-11 14:23:56
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