Auschwitz, located thirty-seven miles west of Krakow, was the first concentration camp where Jewish people worked to death, or were automatically killed. This camp, compared to all the other camps, tortured the most people. At the camp there was a place called the "Black Wall," this was where the people were executed. In March of 1941, there was another camp that started its building. This second camp was called Auschwitz II, or Birkenau. It was located 1.9 miles away from Auschwitz I. In the town Monowitz, another camp was being built. This camp was called Auschwitz III, or Buna-Monowitz. Other camps that were located close to Monowitz were moved to Buna-Monowitz.
People that were forced to come to these camps were expelled from their homes, and their houses were destroyed purposely for building the camp, Birkenau. Birkenau had nine sub-units. Electrically charged fences that lined their borders separated the terrifying camps from each other.
In August 1942, the women’s section at Auschwitz I was moved to Birkenau. Nine hundred and ninety-nine women from Ravensbruck camp and other women from neighboring camps joined them. Birkenau now had over 6,000 women prisoners being held.
The population of Birkenau was the most densely populated one out of all the camps. It also had the most horrifying and cruel conditions out of all the camps in the complex. The prisoners at Birkenau mostly consisted of Jews, Poles, and Germans. There were a number of Gypsy and Czech Jew family camps located at Birkenau for a period of time also.
Birkenau and all the other sub-camps were mainly forced labor camps. The
most recognized of the labor camps were, Budy, Gleiwitz, Rajsko, and
Furstengrabe. The prisoners here were worked to the point of death. Trains
transported people to these camps, then the victims were violently forced off the
train. All of their personal items were left in the confines of the train as well.
The prisoners were separated into two different lines, one for women and the other for men. The lines moved into the camp where a procedure called “selection” took place. The people who could work were not killed at this time. The nazi’s were going to get their work out of the new prisoners. The women, children, and others that couldn’t work were not so lucky, they were gassed. Tattoos were given to the selected prisoners on their right arm as an easy way of registration. Not all of the original prisoners had this tattoo. The registered number of prisoners was 405,000.
The prisoners that were picked to work, had their clothes taken, heads shaved, sterilized, and were given black and white striped clothes to wear. In the forced labor camps, the average lifetime was only a few months. A dreaded part of camp routine was the appeal, or roll call. In this practice, prisoners
were sent out into the cold after a hard day of work, and were lined up....