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Since Birkenau was pretty much a makeshift facility for the purpose of extermination millions, the Nazis gave little concern for comfort for the prisoners who they chose not to eliminate immediately. The barrack quarters were quickly slapped together, little care was given to heating or the health of the prisoners. The prisoners stept together without matresses or blankets. Usually they used their shoes for pillows. This way they would not be stolen.
Auschwitz prisoners' toilets
The laterines that the inmates had to use would have been vile places. These are toilets found in one of the few remaining buildings in Birkenau. No attempt was made to consider the modesty of the inmates when they conducted their bodily functions. In fact, the laterine was designed so as to humilate the inmates who had to use them.
One of the more upsetting images of Auschwitz is the piles of shorn hair of the victims of the death camp. Before entering the gas chamber the victims had there head shaved. The Nazis used the hair to weave clothing. There are also articales of such pieces of clothing on display at Auschwitz.
Upon their arrival to Auschwitz, the prisoners were forced to give up there personal belongings. Pictured here is a pile of suitcases retrieved by the guards before the prisoners were lead into the showers. Of note, the prisoners, not realizing that the train ride to Auschwitz would ultimately end in their deaths, brought along all their worldly possessions. These now became the property of the Nazis.
The furnaces seen here are located just 10m from the showers where the Jews and others were disposed off. The creepy thing about the room other than the way the bodies were destroyed was how efficient it was to rid of them in this manner. It is why you can see Auschwitz as a killing factory. It functioned like a machine.
Gas Chamber No. 1
This is Gas Chamber No. 1, the first gas chamber to be used by the SS to eliminate thousands of Jews, political dissedents and Soviet POWs. The SS used Zyklon B pellets dropped from above onto the unsuspecting prisoners who assumed that they had entered the chamber to shower. Although hundreds of prisoners could be killed this way in a day, the chamber proved to be too small. Therefore other gas chambers were built at Birkenau.
At the time I was rather numbed by the experience of visiting this horrifying room. This is probably because of the combination of being under the weather healthwise and for the fact that they tour of Auschwitz can involve being overloaded with information. After I had this photograph developed, I felt a chill down my spine upon first viewing it and have ever since when I show it to others.
Directions: Located on the western edge of Auschwitz I
Pictured here is the gallows from which the first commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Franz Hoss, was hung. Hoss was the commandant of Auschwitz from 1940 to 1945. He was promoted to the deputy inspector of all such concentration camps through the Nazi world before being captured by the Allies at the wars end. He was tried by the Polish Government in 1947 and taken to his old killing ground to executed. The gallows you see here is just a few feet from Auschwitz's only surviving gas chamber.
Chimney for the crematorium, Auschwitz I
Today if you where not aware of the history of Auschwitz, you probably would not guess what horrors occured beneath this mound of grass with the chimney that comes out of it. The well manicured mound lies overtop of the only remaining gas chamber and crematorium that was not destroyed at Auschwitz.
Cell Blocks, Auschwitz I
Before the Second World War, Auschwitz, in the town of Oswiecim, was a barracks for the Polish Army. Hence the first buildings used to house prisoners were actually fairly solid structures. Auschwitz was originally intended to be a concentration camp for Polish troublmakers that the Nazis thought would be best removed from mainstream Polish society.
Eventually besides for the imprisonment of Jews, the camp was used for holding political dissidents from all over Europe. In the various building blocks there are memorials dedicated to each countries victims at the hands of the Nazis.
Auschwitz was not originally intended as a death camp for Jews but rather a concentration camp for mostly Polish political dissidents and intellectuals. In the early months of Auschwitz, when the Nazis were finished interrogating their prisoners they would then have them shot against this wall. Eventually the Nazis where killing people at such a rate that it was necessary to develop a fast means of execution. This was especially the case when Hitler and his cronies went forward with the Final Solution for the Jews.
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