University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies
chgs@umn.edu
612-624-0256


CHGS

Auschwitz Death Camp

Auschwitz by the Numbers

The German concentration camp and later death camp of Auschwitz was established on May 20, 1940 in Upper Silesia at a Polish army barracks site taken over during the German occupation.

Photos taken by Dr. Stephen Feinstein on November 1, 1992. November 1, "All Saints Day" in the Christian Calendar is a special time for remembrance of the Polish political victims of Nazism. Thus, on this day, thousands of visitors came to Auschwitz I, while virtually no visitors were in Birkenau (Auschwitz II). At the time of these photos,all numbers of victims had been removed from the monument in Birkenau. This was because the Auschwitz State Museum had determined that the figure of 4 million victims at Auschwitz was inaccurate and had been used by th Polish Communist regime since the late 1940s as a way to demonize "Fascism" and to enhance the legitimacy of the Communist regime.

After the fall of Communism, commissions determined the death toll at the three main Auschwitz camps (Oswiecim, Birkenau and Monowitz-Buna) to be between 1.25 million and 1.5 million people, which included mainly Jews at Birkenau but also Poles, Roma and Sinti, Soviet POWS, political prisoners from other countries, priests and others.

The change in numbers killed on the memorial does not affect the overall number of Jewish victims which varies from 5.2 million as a low figure to over six million. At his trial in Warsaw in 1946, Rudolph Hoess (Höss),Commandant of the camp, said that the number killed was "only two million." The sentence for his being a war criminal was death by hanging, and was carried out in Auschwitz, Camp I.

Auschwitz has been the scene of many controversial issues because of conflicted memory in Poland about victimization and also because of the absence of Jews. Jews were 10% of the 1939 Polish population and now number less than 20,000.

Holocaust deniers have been quick to use the revised Polish figures on Auschwitz as a means of diminishing the number of victims or claiming falsification. This is an incorrect analysis as numbers based on pre-war population records and German records themselves from killing units in the field (such as Einsatgruppen in USSR) attest to figures of Jewish victimization around 6 million.

For a view of the Auschwitz-Birkenau monument, information on the competition to build it, and Sybil Milton's comment about the numbers on the plaques, see Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial.

Regarding Overall Statistics of Jewish Victimization

Below are Jewish population maps from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The numbers certainly speak for themselves in terms of the devistating loss of Jewish life.

European Jewish Population Distribution Map 1933. USHMM
European Jewish Population Distribution Map 1950. USHMM

Numbers by Country

Statistics by Israel scholar, Yehuda Bauer are considered to be the most reliable.

Polish-Soviet Area     approx.  4,565,000
Germany   125,000
Austria 65,000
Czechoslovakia        277,000
Hungary 402,000
France 83,000
Belgium/Luxembourg 24,700
Netherlands 106,000
Italy 7,500
Norway 760
Romania excluding Bessarabia, N. Bukovina and northern Transylvania 271,000 - 287,000
Yugoslavia 60,000 - 67,000
Greece 60,000 - 67,000
Totals number of Jewish victims 5,700,000 - 5,860,000
Source: Yehuda Bauer.  A History of the Holocaust. New York, Frankin Watts Revised edition 2001.

Numbers: Death Camps

Auschwitz 1,100,000 Jews and 200,000 others
Maidanek (Majdanek) 78,000 including 61,000 Jews, 12,000 Poles, 5,000 others including Soviet prisoners of war.
Chelmno 320,000
Treblinka 762,000
Sobibor 167,000
Belzec 434,000 - 500,000
Total fatalities 2,857,000 - 3,139,000
Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC.

Photos of Auschwitz 1992

Entrance Gate
Entrance
Entrance
Barracks
Barracks
Registration Barracks
Registration Barracks
Barracks
Medical Block, Camp I, Block 10 where Nazi doctors performed medical experiments on inmates.

Registration Barracks
Kaduk's Chapel built by guard Oswald Kaduk who prayed between selections. He was convicted in the 1964 Auschwitz Trial in Frankfurt.

Barracks
Electric Fences

Registration Barracks
Electric Fences
Barracks
Camp Fence
Registration Barracks
Gallows where Rudolph Hoess, Camp Commandent, was hanged in 1946 after a trial in Warsaw
Barracks
Exhibit Shoes
Registration Barracks
Exhibit Suitcases
Barracks
Gas Chamber, Auschwitz Camp I (Reconstructed)
Registration Barracks
Crematorium
Barracks
Crematorium Closeup
Registration Barracks
Crematorium
Barracks
Trial of Hoess
Registration Barracks
Exhibit showing trial of political inmates from Camp I
Barracks
Wall of Death: Block 11 (Death Block on right); Medical Block 10 on left
Registration Barracks
Wall of Death Memorial
Barracks
Wall of Death Closeup
Registration Barracks
Wall of Death Closeup
Barracks
Wall of Death
Registration Barracks
Sculpture at Museum Bozane Biskupskas

History of Auschwitz

CHGS Links: Auschwitz