25 Interesting Facts about Auschwitz

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Want to know more about Auschwitz in Poland? Here are 25 Interesting facts about Auschwitz that you probably didn’t know before reading this! 

The events that took place here are some of the most cruel and horrifying acts in human history. That is why it’s important to never forget what happened here. 

1. The Nazis performed cruel experiments

Starvation, exposure to toxic substances, hypothermia and electroshocks are just some of all the experiments carried out here. 

Joseph Mengele was the main camp doctor, and he was obsessed with experimenting on twins. 

horror facts about auschwitz

2. 1/6 of all Jews killed in the Holocaust died here

The number of deaths in Auschwitz was larger than the British and American deaths combined. It is estimated that around 1.1 million people died at the concentration camps in Auschwitz. 

3. It was first constructed for political prisoners from Poland

The first Polish political prisoners arrived in Auschwitz in May 1940, and that was the main reason for why it was built, but it quickly expanded and became an extermination camp to fit the ideology of Hitler and his “final solution”. 

4. Auschwitz-Birkenau was the part with the gas chambers

This photo was taken after the liberation and it’s from the inside of one of the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Many of the gas chambers were destroyed before after an order from SS chief Heinrich Himmler to destroy the evidence. 

gas chamber auschwitz

5. The slave labor at Auschwitz generated about 60 million Reichsmarks

Many of the prisoners were used for labor, and some of the largest companies in the world today used slaves from the German concentration camps.

The slave labor in Auschwitz alone generated 60 million Reichsmarks, which would be worth $163 million in today’s value. 

6. Rudolf Höss was the camp commandant

Rudolf Höss subordinated the camp from 1940 to 1943 and was later arrested in 1946 and convicted of murder. 

Höss confessed that 2.5 million persons had been killed, and half a million more died from diseases and starvation during the time that he was the Commandant in the Nazi army between June 14, 1940, and December 1, 1943.

rudolf hoss

7. It wasn’t only Jews that got killed here

Reports state that some 22 000 Romani and 150 000 Polish people were killed in addition to the Jews. 15,000 Soviet war prisoners and 400 Jehovah’s witnesses are said to been killed as well. 

8. Every prisoner received a camp number

Every person who was sent to Auschwitz or other concentration camps was marked with a unique number. 

auschwitz prisoner number

9. The prisoners received three meals during the day

Every morning, half a liter of water with a substitute of coffee was served. Later the prisoners were served 1 liter of soup, and for supper, they got to eat 300 grams of black bread with 25 grams of topping.

10. A SS guard fell in love with a Jewish prisoner and saved her

Franz Wunsch was a SS guard who fell in love with the Jewish prisoner Helena Citronova. He was in charge of the gas chambers and fell in love with her after she was brought in to sing birthday songs for him.

Helena didn’t reciprocate the feelings, but over time she somehow developed mutual feelings. Perhaps because Franz saved her and her sister from being sent to the gas chambers several times.

She later told that they slept together and thirty years after liberation, Franz was put to trial for his crimes, but Helena and her sister defended him in the trials.

11. There are still survivors alive today

On 27 January in 1945, about 7000 prisoners were liberated from Auschwitz’s concentration camps. Most of them have since died from age or from starvation problems caused after the liberation, but there are still many survivors that were children or younger adults. 

auschwitz children

12. Tadeusz Wiejowski was the first person to escape

In 1940, the Polish Tadeusz Wiejowski became the first person to escape Auschwitz, but he was caught a year later and was executed.

13. 4 Poles successfully escaped in 1942

Kazimierz Piechowski, Stanisław Gustaw Jaster, Józef Lempart and Eugeniusz Bender fled after successfully breaking into the SS Magazine and stole both weapons and SS uniforms. They managed to steal a car and escaped the concentration camp on June 20 in 1942. 

SS officer

Photo: Shutterstock

14. Anne Frank’s father survived the Death Camp

The father of Anne Frank survived Auschwitz and later died of lung cancer in 1980. Anne Franke, however, wasn’t as lucky, and she contracted typhus after being transferred to Bergen-Belsen. 

15. Just 196 people escaped from Auschwitz

928 prisoners attempted to escape of which 50 were women and 878 men. In addition to the 196 prisoners that managed to escape successfully, there are reports of 25 more prisoners who escaped but was later caught and brought back to the camp.

Most of the failed attempts to escape ended in the prisoners being shot. 

auschwitz information

5 x Horror Facts about Auschwitz

  • Joseph Mengele’s experiments included genetic tests, sterilization, hypothermia, electroshocks, and testing of toxic substances
  • The Zyklon B gas was used to kill people in the gas chambers
  • The prisoners lived under horrific conditions
  • There is a room full of all the shoes from 80,000 victims
  • There were at least 40 subcamps, and Auschwitz-Birkenau was by far the largest.

auschwitz prisoner cells

5 x Auschwitz Facts for kids

  • The Nazis operated the camp between May 1940 and January 1945.
  • Over 232,000 children under the age of 18 years were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.
  • Arbeit Macht Frei means “Work makes you free”. 
  • Today, more than 2 million people visit the concentration camps in Oświęcim.
  • The Jewish boxer named Salamo Arouch was imprisoned and forced to fight for his survival for more than 2 years, and 200 fights against other prisoners.

Auschwitz facts for kids

General Facts about Auschwitz

Here is some more general information that might be interesting to know if you’re looking for Auschwitz facts. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. 

  • Name in Polish: Oświęcim.
  • Operational years: 1940 to 1945.
  • Number of inmates: At least 1.3 million
  • People killed: 1.1 million
  • Founding commandant: Rudolf Höss

How many of these Auschwitz facts did you already know? Leave a comment below!

April 17th, 2019|

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Hello! I’m Alex Waltner — A Swedish Travel Blogger & Photographer.

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One Comment

  1. Sylwia 04/17/2019 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    Also after 3pm is free entry – you can just walk in and Information is provided every where in English anyway :)

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