Auschwitz - facts
In all, 1.1 million people died during the four and a half years of
Auschwitz's existence; one million of them were Jewish men, women and
Other groups of people who died included Polish political prisoners,
Soviet prisoners of war, Gypsy families, homosexuals, people with disabilities
and prisoners of conscience or religious faith (including several hundred
More people died in Auschwitz than the British and American losses of
World War Two combined.
About 60 million Reichmarks - equivalent to £125m today - was generated
for the Nazi state by slave labour at Auschwitz.
Nazis at Auschwitz offered some non-Jewish female prisoners the option
of 'light work'. As the women soon discovered, 'light work' meant prostitution.
To lull new arrivals at Treblinka death camp into believing they were
only in transit, plants were placed on the railway station and at the
entrance to the gas chambers.
The train ramp was disguised to look like a regular railway station
with signs, timetables and even a clock painted on the wall.
A Star of David was placed above the entrance to the gas chamber and
a sign was painted in Hebrew on a purple curtain covering the entrance
to the gas chamber that said "This is the Gateway to God. Righteous
men will pass through".
A unit in Auschwitz where valuables snatched from incoming prisoners
were kept was known as Canada, because Canada was thought to be a land
of untold riches.
Auschwitz guards had their own athletics team. The camp was like a small
town, with its own staff canteen, cinema, theatre and grocery store.
There were 170 female SS staff at Auschwitz, of whom the most infamous
was Irma Grese, the 20-year-old daughter of a dairyman.
Josef Mengele's scientific experiments at Auschwitz often involved studies
of twins. If one twin died, he would immediately kill the other and
carry out comparative autopsies.
Denmark was the only Nazi-occupied country that managed to save 95%
of its Jewish residents. Following a tip-off by a German diplomat, thousands
of Jews were evacuated to neutral Sweden.
Some Jewish prisoners secretly wrote eye-witness accounts of the atrocities
of the gas chambers and hid them in bottles or metal containers buried
in the ground. A number of these accounts were discovered after the
Of a total of about 7,000 staff at Auschwitz, only 750 were ever punished.
Many went on to build good careers, including one man who became head
of human resources for a large German company.
There are approximately 500 survivors of Nazi death camps or ghettos
living in Britain today.