The history of Auschwitz, a small town located about sixty kilometers West of Krakow, was nothing special among the annals of other towns and villages of Poland until January 1945. During the Vistula-Oder operation, the Soviet troops came to the set order of the boundaries, occupying the area of Auschwitz and Birkenau (the name taken by the Germans after capturing the territory in 1939). What they saw the soldiers shook them.
What did the Soviet soldiers see?
No, it was not the fact of the existence of a death camp that caused the confusion of Soviet soldiers and officers. Some of our military knew, sometimes from their own life experience, that institutions of this profile exist both in the USSR and not only in Kolyma. The shock caused the pedantry and systematic nature of the process of mass deprivation of life. The cynical inscription on the gate of Auschwitz read: "Labor makes it free". Everything was put on a broad industrial foot, the belongings of the murdered prisoners developed systematically. Toothbrushes, shoes, suitcases, trimmed hair (used to insulate solid submarine hulls), costumes, dresses and much more were sorted and loaded into separate storage. After the crematorium, the Soviet military discovered a whole lake, but instead of water it was filled with human fat. Ashes served as fertilizer for agricultural land. As it turned out later, there were several such camps in fascist Germany, and each of them had its own "motto". For example, above the gates of Buchenwald was inscribed: "To each his own."
General information about the organization
The camp was arranged in German sensibly. Part of it after the liberation was even used by the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs for about two years for its intended purpose. The history of this place of mass destruction of "subhumans" began in 1939, after part of the Polish territory became part of the Reich. The rest of the occupied lands, for the most part throughout the war, retained the status of the occupied lands. In May 1940, work began here to rebuild the old barracks of the Polish (and earlier Austro-Hungarian) army to isolate the "undesirable elements" such as Jews, gypsies, communists, homosexuals, members of the resistance, etc. The second floors were erected, residents, there were special purpose buildings. Since February 1942, new prisoners - Soviet prisoners of war, mostly political workers - have appeared in the camp. A reliable fence of barbed wire was built, to which high tension was brought, then the inscription on the gate of Auschwitz appeared. Actually, the camp here was not one, but a whole network, which consisted of three main camps, separated, in turn, into divisions. Each category of prisoners was held separately, except for those whose work could not be profitably used. Such destroyed immediately.
So, constantly expanding and improving technology, increased the productivity of the largest concentration camp in the Third Reich Auschwitz. The factory of death worked at full power, its crematorium did not always cope with the load, and then the corpses were burned in the ditches. Every day several echelons with "human material" entered the gate, filtration was immediately performed, and those who did not represent value were waiting for the gas chambers commissioned in 1943.
The inscription on the gate of Auschwitz fully corresponded to its murderous-troublesome essence. Really should have worked a lot. The whole hard and dirty work was done by the prisoners themselves, and six thousand guards from the SS division "The Dead Head" only guarded and followed the order. The furnaces interrupted their work for three hours a day - at that time ash was unloaded from them. In total there were 46, 30 in the first two crematoria and 16 more in the "second stage". The total average productivity was eight thousand burnt corpses per day.
To estimate the number of victims of this factory of death was not easy, the Nazis tried to hide the scale of the crime. Even the camp commandant had no idea of the number of people he killed, calling the approximate figure of two and a half million during the Nuremberg trial. According to the historian J. Weller, more than 1.6 million prisoners entered and entered the Auschwitz gate, of which 1.1 million were Jews.
It was here that the sinister doctor Mengele conducted his studies. Under his leadership, other doctors, who without any stretch can be called the doctors-killers, did unthinkable things with the prisoners. They infected prisoners with deadly viruses, performed amputations and cavitary operations without anesthesia, just for training. Experiments were conducted on the mass deprivation of reproductive functions by irradiation, sterilization and castration. The effect of chemicals on the body, the effects of freezing, and many other anti-human experiments were studied. Most of the fanatics suffered a well-deserved punishment. The first camp commandant, R. Hess, hoped to get away from retribution, surrendering to the Allies, but was transferred by the British to the Poles. He was hanged near the crematorium No. 1 in 1947. Well, to each his own.
History with the inscription
Collectors - the people are strange, in their passion they sometimes break the boundaries of the reasonable. Who could have guessed that some of them do not care about the inscription on the gate of Auschwitz, which became a museum in the open? Nevertheless, at the end of 2009, it disappeared. Five people took part in the theft: they cut a piece of the fence and sawed it to pieces. The customer of the crime was a certain Swedish citizen, who so far managed to avoid responsibility. How much he promised to pay executors - and still remains a mystery.
After the restoration, the famous sinister inscription will take place in the museum exposition of Auschwitz, it will not be put in its place.