During the Second World War the mere mention of Auschwitz-Birkenau was enough to send a chill down the spine of even the most hardened soldier. As part of the concentration camps set up in the Polish city of Osweicim and renamed Auschwitz by the Nazis in 1940, it became a synonym for terror, genocide and Holocaust. The purpose of the camp was to accommodate the large number of arrested Poles with the existing infrastructure proving to be inadequate.
The construction of this camp located in Brzezinka about 3 kilometers from Osweicim began in October 1941 with an intention to ease the pressure on the main camp and house more than 125 thousand prisoners of war. The Germans forced the Poles to evict their houses which were demolished to serve as the extermination camps. Two gassing chambers The Little Red House and The Little White House were made by tearing the inside and bricking the walls.
It is believed that more than 1.1 million people majority of them being Jews were killed at these camps before the gassing chambers were blown away and records destroyed in January 1945 to hide the German brutality from the advancing Soviet Army.
After the liberation of Poland the new government decided to convert the camps to a museum as a mark of respect to the victims of Nazi brutality. At the museum you would be appalled to see the objects related to the prisoners bearing a testimony to the pathetic conditions that the prisoners were subjected to at the camp. A 98 feet hall is full of human hair which the prisoners were forced to give to the Nazis before being sent to labour or the gas chamber.
On the list of UNESCO Heritage Sites Auschwitz-Birkenau gives you a chance to also see the remains of horrific gas chambers of Auschwitz II along with most of the buildings of that period which still stand intact. You would also be able to see the various memorial plaques in many languages at the extreme end of Birkenau, a sobering reminder of the horrors that were committed in this peaceful part of Poland.
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