About On Auschwitz
The official podcast of the Auschwitz Memorial. The history of Auschwitz is exceptionally complex. It combined two functions: a concentration camp and an extermination center. Nazi Germany persecuted various groups of people there, and the camp complex continually expanded and transformed itself. In the podcast "On Auschwitz," we discuss the details of the history of the camp as well as our contemporary memory of this important and special place. We kindly ask you to support our mission and share our podcast in social media. Online lessons: http://lesson.auschwitz.org
The Auschwitz II-Birkenau gas chambers and crematoria never became targets for Allied bombing, despite reports about their existence forwarded both by the Polish resistance movement and some people who escaped from the camp. Instead, American bombers carried out several strikes against the IG Farben petrochemical installations located at the distance of seven kilometers from Auschwitz. Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz, the head of the Research Center of the Auschwitz Museum talks about the issue of bombing the camp.
One of the groups of witnesses to the crimes perpetrated at the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz were British prisoners of war who were forced to work on the construction of the IG Farbenindustrie factory. The building site was located in the immediate vicinity of the Auschwitz III-Monowitz camp and a few kilometers from the Auschwitz I main camp. British prisoners of war were also employed at the mines in Libiąż and Jaworzno, where Auschwitz sub-camps were later established. Dr Piotr Setkiewicz, head of the Auschwitz Museum Research Centre, talks about the history of British POWs near the Auschwitz camp.
On 27 January 1945, Red Army soldiers liberated over 7,000 prisoners of the Auschwitz. The 1,689-day history of this concentration and extermination camp came to an end. Dr Jacek Lachendro of the Museum Research Centre tells us what the last days of Auschwitz looked like and what happened immediately after the liberation. See also our online lesson about evacuation, liquidation and liberation of Auschwitz: http://lekcja.auschwitz.org/en_11_wyzwolenie/
In the second half of 1944, due to the Red Army successes and the advancing Eastern Front, the SS authorities in Auschwitz decided to evacuate some 65,000 prisoners to camps in the German Reich interior. At the same time, they began to destroy the evidence of the crimes committed in the camp. Dr. Jacek Lachendro from the Research Center of the Museum talks about the last period of the operation of Auschwitz. See also our online lesson about evacuation, liquidation and liberation of Auschwitz: http://lekcja.auschwitz.org/en_11_wyzwolenie/ In the picture: Mieczysław Kościelniak, burning of documents
After Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941. Heinrich Himmler gave the order to create a "German settlement area" around the occupied Polish town of Zamość. The population of that region was to be expelled and replaced by German settlers. The area was chosen for its agricultural character. It consisted of five towns and 696 villages. The displaced population was sent to transit camps, where they were subjected to racial screening. Those who, according to German criteria, were not "racially valuable" were planned to be deported to concentration camps. A total 1,301 people, including at least 162 children were deported to Auschwitz in three transports Dr Wanda Witek-Malicka of the Auschwitz Memorial Research Centre talks about the ethnic cleansing carried out by the Germans in the Zamość region and the fate of the inhabitants of this region deported to Auschwitz. — In the picture: a family photo of Jan and Aniela Malec (Jan - the younger man sitting in the middle). Their children were taken away from them in the Zamość camp. Jan and Aniela were deported to Auschwitz, where they both died in a short time (Jan in March and Aniela in April 1943), orphaning four daughters aged 4-13. The girls were deported from the Zamość camp to Siedlce, where they survived the war. See also our online lesson about this topic: https://lekcja.auschwitz.org/dep_zam_PL/
Listen to the interview with Dr. Maria Zalewska who is the editor of a unique cookbook "Honey Cake & Latkes: Recipes from the Old World by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors". "More than a cookbook, this collection of heirloom recipes conveys Auschwitz-Birkenau survivors’ stories through the mnemonic lens of cooking and food. Collected and edited during the pandemic, this book—in the words of Ronald S. Lauder, Chairman of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation—“is a story of hope and triumph of the human spirit.” Over 110 recipes accompanied by survivors’ pre-war recollections and post-liberation memories weave a unique tapestry of sensory experiences of flavors and aromas from the old world, accounts of loss and trauma, as well as heartwarming and poignant tales of new beginnings and healing. All of the recipes have been tested and retested to make sure they can be replicated in your kitchen while keeping the original character and voice of the survivors who contributed to the volume." The book at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Honey-Cake-Latkes-Auschwitz-Birkenau-Survivors/dp/1595911235 All proceeds from the sale of this book go to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation.
The camp orchestra played for the first time at the German camp Auschwitz at the beginning of January 1941. Initially there were seven musicians there, but the ensemble grew very quickly. The main task was to play military marches to the rhythm of which the prisoners marched as they left for work and returned to the camp. The orchestra also gave concerts for the SS garrison members and prisoners. Later, other orchestras were also established in the men's and women's camps at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, as well as in some of the sub-camps. Dr. Jacek Lachendro of the Memorial Research Centre talks about the history of orchestras in Auschwitz.
It might seem that we already know everything about the history of places such as Auschwitz, because several decades have passed since the events and we have access to a great many documents and thousands of testimonies. However, this is not true. We are constantly learning new facts about the history of the camp, as Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz, the head of the Memorial Research Centre, explains in our podcast.
At the end of July 1941 the camp commander Karl Fritzch selected 10 hostages from among the prisoners in Block 14 in retaliation for the escape of a prisoner. He condemned them to death by starvation in the bunker of Block 11. During the selection, a Polish prisoner who was a Franciscan monk and missionary, Maksymilian Kolbe (no. 16670), stepped out of link and asked the camp commander to take him instead of a desperate selected prisoner Franciszek Gajowniczek (np. 5659). After a brief dispute with Father Kolbe, Fritzch agreed to the substitution, especially when he found out that Kolbe is a Catholic priest. The 10 selected prisoners were led off to Block 11. In the Bunker Register the admission of them is noted without listing names, numbers, day of admission or day of death. Franciszek Gajowniczek survived the war and died in 1995. Maksymilian Kolbe was murdered with a poisonous injection on 14 August 1941. He was canonized by the pope John Paul II in October 1982. Teresa Wontor Cichy from the Auschwitz Memorial Research Center talk about Father Maksymilian Kolbe. The Germans incarcerated at least 464 priests, seminarians & monks as well as 35 nuns in #Auschwitz. Learn about the fate of Christian clergy and religious life in the camp: http://lekcja.auschwitz.org/en_18_duchowienstwo/
The Archives of the Auschwitz Memorial collect, preserve, and provide access to documents and materials connected mainly with the history of the Auschwitz camp. The collection includes original German camp records, copies of documents obtained from other institutions in Poland and abroad, source material of postwar provenance (memoirs, accounts by survivors, material from the trials of Nazi war criminals, etc.), photographs, microfilms, negatives, documentary films, scholarly studies, reviews, lectures, exhibition scenarios, film scripts, and research results. Dr. Wojciech Płosa, the head of the Archives, talks about the activity of this part of the Museum. The document in the picture is one of the first plans of the main Auschwitz camp from mid-1940.
On October 7, 1944 a revolt took place at the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp, in the Sonderkommando - the special work unit that consisted mainly of Jewish prisoners whom the Germans forced to work in gas chambers, burning pits areas and crematoria. Dr. Igor Bartosik of the Auschwitz Memorial Research Center talks about the background of resistance of the Sonderkommando and the revolt itself. In the picture: gas chamber and crematorium IV at Auschwitz that was set on fire by Sonderkommando prisoners during the revolt.
“Auschwitz. A Monograph on the Human” is a new book by the Auschwitz Museum Director Dr. Piotr Cywiński. It is the first attempt - on a global scale - to delve so deeply into human emotions inside the camp. It is a must-read for those seeking to understand what Auschwitz was all about. The gathering of materials and work on the publication took almost six years. Piotr Cywiński analysed nearly 250 books with memoirs of survivors of the German Nazi camp Auschwitz and extensive hitherto unpublished archival material containing their accounts. On this basis, he presented an in-depth reflection on the condition of people subjected to the process of turning into prisoners of the concentration camp. Listen to the interview with Dr. Piotr Cywiński about the book in the podcast. Buy the book “Auschwitz. A Monograph on the Human” in our online bookstore. Read more about the book.
During the time of operation of Auschwitz, some 8,100-8,200 SS men worked there as part of the camp garrison. In our podcast Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz, the head of Research Center of the Auschwitz Memorial, talks about functioning of the SS garrison in the Auschwitz camp complex, its organizational structure and everyday work in the management, functioning, and isolation of the camp. We also recommend our online lesson: http://lekcja.auschwitz.org/2021-zaloga-en/
In the thousands of preserved registration photographs of Auschwitz prisoners, we can see faces of the men and women imprisoned in the camp. Dr Wojciech Płosa, the head of Auschwitz Memorial Archives, talks about the history of these photographs.
The Auschwitz concentration camp had almost 50 sub‑camps. The largest of them had extensive administrative structures, separate hospital barracks, showers and even small crematoria. In the smaller ones, prisoners were locked up for the night in rooms or cellars—there were no fences or guard towers there and meals were delivered from the main camp. The majority of prisoners were employed in the armaments and extractive industries, or agriculture. At the beginning of 1945, they held 35,000 men and women prisoners, more than Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau combined (31,000). Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz, the head of the Memorial research center talks about the history of Auschwitz sub-camps. (in the picture: Trzebinia sub-camp)
Activities by the Jehovah’s Witnesses were banned in the Third Reich in 1933 because of the Witnesses’ religious principles and pacifistic views, as well as their organization’s international connections. As a result, many of them were imprisoned in concentration camps. Teresa Wontor-Cichy from the Auschwitz Memorial Research Center talks about the history and fate of some 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses incarcerated in the camp. --- In the picture: A German Jehovah’s Witness Marta Proppe born on 26 December 1899 In #Auschwitz from 12 November 1942 No. 24418 She was transferred to KL Gross-Rosen. She survived.
The historians of the Memorial today estimate, that the Germans murdered around 1,1 million out of 1,3 million people deported to Auschwitz. Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz, the head of the Museum Research Centre, talks about the history of research on the number of Auschwitz victims.
The fate children who were registered in Auschwitz as prisoners was no different in principle from that of adults. Just like them, they suffered from hunger and cold, were used as laborers, and were punished, put to death, and used as subjects in criminal experiments by SS doctors. Dr. Wanda Witek-Malicka from Memorial’s Research Center talks about the Auschwitz camp through the eyes of a child. --- Listen also to the podcast "Children in Auschwitz": https://anchor.fm/auschwitz-memorial/episodes/On-Auschwitz-8-Children-at-Auschwitz-e16t4gh
Two extremely important factors in the exhaustion, deprivation and destruction of prisoners at Auschwitz were hunger and hard slave labour. Dr. Jacek Lachendro of the Auschwitz Memorial Research Centre talks in our podcast about this aspect of the camp's functioning. --- Listen also to the podcast about living and sanitary conditions as well as camp clothing: https://anchor.fm/auschwitz-memorial/episodes/On-Auschwitz-10-Living-and-sanitary-conditions-as-well-as-camp-clothing-at-Auschwitz-e18dcik
One of the darkest chapters of the history of Auschwitz is undoubtedly the story of the Sonderkommando - a group of prisoners, mainly Jews - forced by the Germans to work in gas chambers and crematoria of the camp. Prisoners assigned to this unit, employed in places of mass extermination, could not refuse to do their work or ask to be transferred to perform other tasks in the camp. Failure to carry out the instructions of the SS would result in immediate death. Dr. Igor Bartosik from the Research Center of the Memorial talks about the fate of Sonderkommando prisoners. --- Listen also to our podcast about the first crematorium and the beginnings of the Sonderkommando: https://anchor.fm/auschwitz-memorial/episodes/On-Auschwitz-6-the-first-crematorium-and-the-Sonderkommando-in-Auschwitz-e14rnsj
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