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Oswiecim (Auschwitz)

Poland history & facts in brief

Oswiecim (Auschwitz)
Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Auschwitz is the name loosely used to identify three main Nazi German concentration camps and 45-50 sub-camps.
The name is derived from the Germanized form of the nearby Polish town of Oswiecim, situated about 60 km southwest of Krakow.
Beginning in 1940, Nazi Germany built several concentration camps and an extermination camp in the area, which at the time had been annexed by Nazi Germany.
The camps were a major constituent of the Holocaust.

The three main camps were:
Auschwitz I, the original concentration camp which served as the administrative centre for the whole complex, and was the site of the deaths of roughly 70,000 Polish intellectuals, gay men and Soviet Prisoners of War.

Auschwitz II (Birkenau), an extermination camp and the site of the deaths of roughly 1 million Jews, 75,000 Poles, gay men and some 19,000 Roma.

Auschwitz III (Monowitz), which served as a labor camp for the IG Farben company.

After the war, Auschwitz remained in a state of disrepair for several years.
The Buna Werke were taken over by the Polish government and became the foundation for the chemical industry of the region.
The Polish government then decided to restore Auschwitz I and turn it into a museum honoring the victims of nazism; Auschwitz II, where buildings were prone to decay, was preserved but not restored.
Today, the Auschwitz I museum site combines elements from several periods into a single complex: for example the gas chamber at Auschwitz I (which did not exist by the war's end) was restored and the fence was moved (because of building being done after the war but before the establishment of the museum).
However, in most cases the departure from the historical truth is minor, and is mentioned as such.

Auschwitz II and the remains of the gas chambers there are also open to the public.

The Auschwitz concentration camp is part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

In 1979, the newly elected Polish Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass on the grounds of Auschwitz II to some 500,000 people.
After the pope had announced that Edith Stein would be beatified, some Catholics erected a cross near bunker 2 of Auschwitz II where she had been gassed. A short while later, a Star of David appeared at the site, leading to a proliferation of religious symbols there; eventually they were removed.

Carmelite nuns opened a convent near Auschwitz I in 1984.
After some Jewish groups called for the removal of the convent, representatives of the Catholic Church agreed in 1987.
One year later the Carmelites erected the 8 m (26 ft) tall cross from the 1979 mass near their site, just outside block 11 and barely visible from within the camp.
This led to protests by Jewish groups, who said that mostly Jews were killed at Auschwitz and demanded that religious symbols be kept away from the site.
Some Catholics have pointed out that the people killed in Auschwitz I were mainly Polish Catholics.
The Catholic Church told the Carmelites to move by 1989, but they stayed on until 1993, leaving the large cross behind.
In 1998, after further calls to remove the cross, some 300 smaller crosses were erected by local activists near the large one, leading to further protests and heated exchanges.
Following an agreement between the Polish Catholic Church and the Polish government, the smaller crosses were removed in 1999 but the large papal one remains. See Auschwitz cross for more details.

Being Hungarian born I could not miss the name of
Imre Kertész, Hungarian Nobel laureate in Literature, stayed in Auschwitz II for three days in the summer of 1944 before being judged fit to work and transferred to Buchenwald, also

  • Maksymilian Kolbe, Franciscan friar, imprisoned in Auschwitz I; volunteered for starvation in place of another prisoner and was killed in 1941.
  • Adam Kozlowiecki, Polish Cardinal.
  • Edith Stein, Catholic nun and philosopher of Jewish ancestry, gassed in Auschwitz II.
  • Elie Wiesel, survived Auschwitz III Monowitz and later wrote about his experiences.
  • Ruth Neray, author of To Auschwitz and Back: My Personal Journey and
  • Home Army, volunteered to go to Auschwitz, organised resistance in Auschwitz, informed Western Allies about the atrocities, later took part in the Warsaw Uprising, were amongst the list of famous people who were inprisoned here.
Here I will have to apologise to break away from further explanations of Auschwitz.
The story have been told many, many times and my main object is a travelogue kind of pages of places we have visited.
Here I will provide a direct link to the Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia's Auschwitz page for a very detailed description, links and pictures.

External links

This page was retrieved and condensed from (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oswiecim (Auschwitz)) July, 2005
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
(see Copyrights for details).

Hui Chin and I visited Oswiecim (Auschwitz) during our 2005 trip in Europe.

While in Krakow we taken time out to take a train to visit Oswiecim or as it is probably better known as Auschwitz, the infamous concentration or death camp of WWII.

Some of my photos of Oswiecim (Auschwitz).

You can click on these photos for an enlargement

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Oswiecim (Auschwitz) busess

Oswiecim (Auschwitz) trains

Oswiecim (Auschwitz) trains

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Oswiecim (Auschwitz) trains Oswiecim (Auschwitz) trains

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