Auschwitz Birkenau, German Nazi Concetration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945), Oświęcim
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

Auschwitz Birkenau, German Nazi Concetration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945)

Oświęcim

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The Auschwitz Birkenau, German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp was established in German-occupied Poland. It was the main and largest among the six existing complexes of this kind, used for the purposes of the extermination of Jews – a racist, anti-Semitic scheme that was being implemented by the Nazis on a mass scale. Virtually unchanged since its liberation in January 1945, the camp forms an immensely important site of remembrance which reminds us of the merciless genocide which took place there.

The intended use of the camp has changed in the course of its operation. Established in 1940 as a forced labour camp for Poles and, than, Soviet prisoners of war and citizens of other countries, it was subsequently converted into a site of mass extermination in 1942. More than one million people lost their lives in Auschwitz Birkenau; apart from Jews, who accounted for approximately 90% of all victims of the camp, these also included a few dozen thousand Poles as well as thousands of Roma and Sinti and other Europeans.

The entry on the World Heritage List encompasses a property with a surface area of approximately 191 hectares. The World Heritage property incorporates the three most representative constituent parts of the massive complex: the former KL Auschwitz I camp, the former KL Auschwitz II–Birkenau camp and the mass grave where the prisoners were buried. The Auschwitz I main camp served as a site of extermination as well as of forced labour in various facilities located here, including the administrative offices of the camp as well as the workshops and industrial facilities of the Waffen SS. The Birkenau camp, the largest of all, served as the primary place of extermination; this is where approximately 90% of all victims of the Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp have been killed.

The complex encompasses approximately 455 buildings made of brick and wood, with about 300 of them remaining in a state of ruin. The preserved barracks, gas chambers, crematoriums, railway sidings and platforms, gallows and barbed wire fences show clearly what the living conditions were like at the camp and how the crimes perpetrated here have taken place. This vivid image of human cruelty is completed by the collection of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, containing numerous documents, photographs and personal objects of the camp’s prisoners as well as the post-war testimonies of those who have survived.

The Auschwitz Birkenau, German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945) was included on the World Heritage List in 1979 during the 3rd session of the World Heritage Committee in Cairo and Luxor (dec. CONF 003 XII.46).

Entry made on the basis of criterion VI:

Criterion (VI):

Auschwitz Birkenau, monument to the deliberate genocide of the Jews by the German Nazi regime and to the deaths of countless others, bears irrefutable evidence to one of the greatest crimes ever perpetrated against humanity. It is also a monument to the strength of the human spirit which in appalling conditions of adversity resisted the efforts of the German Nazi regime to suppress freedom and free thought and to wipe out whole races. The site is a key place of memory for the whole of humankind for the Holocaust, racist policies and barbarism; it is a place of our collective memory of this dark chapter in the history of humanity, of transmission to younger generations and a sign of warning of the many threats and tragic consequences of extreme ideologies and denial of human dignity.

The property is available to visitors.

Compiled on the basis of materials of the National Heritage Board of Poland, 30-11-2015

General information

  • Type: cultural
  • Chronology: 1940 - 1945 r.
  • Form of protection:
  • Address: Więźniów Oświęcimia 20, Oświęcim
  • Location: Voivodeship małopolskie, district oświęcimski, commune Oświęcim (gm. miejska)
  • Copyright owner: National Heritage Board of Poland

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