Different forms of works dealing with Auschwitz are provided in documentaries or primary sources as well. The British Broadcasting Corporation filmed a six section documentary on the operation of Auschwitz. The documentary details the authoritative figures, the layout of the camps, and the Nazi’s Final Solution. Memoirs and diaries are immense from both survivors and those who kept diaries while being held captive at Auschwitz. These provide details of the emotional mutilation and the impact Auschwitz had on the human body and mind. Primo Levi, a survivor of Auschwitz, recalls his ten months being held as a prisoner in the death camp in his memoir Survival in Auschwitz. Elie Wiesel provides a horrific autobiographical account of his time spent in the death camp in Night and writes historical fiction novels based on his experiences.
Situated in the midst of Polish territory captured by Hitler and the German army the year prior, Auschwitz was constructed in Upper Silesia. The location of Auschwitz was ideal for the SS because it was positioned on the main railway line connecting Vienna to Cracow. The railway lines could easily connect to the railway lines leading to Berlin, Breslau, and Warsaw. Auschwitz’s connection with the railway lines played a key role in the Final Solution. The ideal location allowed the camp to receive Jewish people from across Europe by using the trains.
Himmler’s initial vision for Auschwitz was to develop an agriculturally based camp and a research station for experimentation. In a sense this is exactly what Auschwitz would become, but it would simultaneously by known as the largest and most efficient killing center used during the Holocaust. The main camp at Auschwitz opened 14 June 1940 as a concentration camp to hold Polish political prisoners captured early in the war. One year later in the summer of 1941 Auschwitz went through an extreme transformation period of expansion and development. At the time of construction for Birkenau, the Auschwitz main camp was expanded from holding ten thousand prisoners to hold thirty thousand prisoners.
Located three kilometers from the main camp and established on swamplands was Birkenau, an Auschwitz sub-camp. Birkenau was built on property with dimensions of seven hundred and fifty metres wide and one thousand eight hundred metres long. It was constructed to be the size of a small town by providing housing for one hundred thousand prisoners. Birkenau would become the largest camp complex not only within the Auschwitz networks of camps, but also among all the Nazi camps throughout World War II. It was noted “no one on that first day could have predicted the camp would, within five years, become the site of the largest mass murder the world has seen yet.”
Construction of Birkenau began in autumn of 1941. Ten thousand Soviet Prisoners of War were sent to Birkenau’s location to begin construction. It was initially constructed to hold the Soviet Prisoners...