Scrapbookpages Blog

May 16, 2014

Why Auschwitz was chosen, by the Germans, as the location of their largest camp

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 1:49 pm

One of the regular readers of my blog wrote a comment on a previous post, in which he said that “Auschwitz-Birkenau had been at first only a hard forced labour camp and then, for logistic and railway connection reasons, also an Extermination Camp.”

It is true that Auschwitz was chosen because of the “railway connection.”  You can read about the trains going into the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp on this page of my website:

The photo below was taken INSIDE the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, but it is supposed to show what the tracks going into the camp looked like.

Train tracks inside the Birkenau camp

Train tracks inside the Birkenau camp

My photo below shows what the tracks going into the camp really look like.

Tracks outside the Birkenau gatehouse.

Tracks outside the Birkenau gatehouse.

This quote is from this page of my website:

The plan to establish a concentration camp at Auschwitz was first announced by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler on April 27, 1940.

Konzentrationslager Auschwitz, the main camp, was originally opened on June 14, 1940, as just another concentration camp, in the former Polish military garrison in Zazole, a district of the town of Auschwitz. Thirty German criminals, who were prisoners in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, were brought to Auschwitz in May 1940 to convert the garrison into a prison camp. Throughout its existence, the Nazis called Auschwitz a concentration camp, not an extermination camp or Vernichtungslager. The term “extermination camp” was coined by the Allies and initially, it applied to all the Nazi camps.

At first, the Auschwitz main camp, known as the Stammlager, was only a camp for Polish political prisoners, including some Jews, and also German common criminals, who assisted the Nazis in supervising the other prisoners. The first transport to the main Auschwitz camp consisted of 728 Polish inmates of the Gestapo prison at Tarnow, Poland. They were mostly university students, including a few Jews, who had joined the Polish Resistance. The Polish Army had never surrendered to the Germans and no Armistice had ever been signed. The Poles continued to fight during World War II, but as insurgents or illegal combatants, not as soldiers on the battlefield. When captured, the Polish resistance fighters were sent to Auschwitz or other concentration camps such as Buchenwald and Dachau.

During World War II, America had “internment” camps for German-Americans and Japanese-Americans.  The prisoners, who were kept in these camps, were not sent to other locations to work. If there had been a network of work camps in America, prisoners would have been first sent to North Platte, Nebraska, which had the world’s largest railroad yard for train connections. The size of the Bailey train yard at North Platte was 2,850 acres.  Compared to North Platte, the Auschwitz train yard was tiny, but it was still the largest train yard in Europe.

This quote from the same page on my website explains the part about the railroad connections at Auschwitz:

When railroad lines were built in the 19th century, the little town of Auschwitz, at the junction of three empires, became the crossroads of Europe. There were 44 train lines coming into Auschwitz, making it at one time a larger railroad hub than Penn Station in New York City.

It was because Auschwitz was such an important railroad junction that a camp for migrant workers was built in a suburb of the town in 1916; seasonal farm workers from all over Europe were sent from Auschwitz to the large German estates. The migrant worker camp, with its beautiful brick barracks buildings, was the place that eventually became the Auschwitz I concentration camp.

In 1919, Poland became an independent country again and Auschwitz became a Polish town called Oswiecim. The former migrant worker camp was used as a garrison by the Polish Army.

The Auschwitz main camp originally had 20 brick barracks buildings; 14 of them were single story buildings and 6 were two stories high. When this camp was converted into the Auschwitz concentration camp, a second story was added to the 14 single story buildings and 8 new two-story buildings were added, making a total of 28 barracks buildings.

Between 13,000 and 16,000 concentration camp prisoners were crowded into these 28 buildings where they slept in three-tiered bunks. At one point, in 1942, there were 20,000 prisoners at the Auschwitz main camp.

Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 and the town of Oswiecim was captured on September 6th. Following the conquest of Poland, the name of the town reverted back to Auschwitz.

The city of Krakow, located 37 miles from Auschwitz, became the capital of German-occupied Poland, known as the General Government. It is important to note that, during the time that Auschwitz was a killing center, it was in the Greater German Reich, not in occupied Poland. The Polish people are incensed when Auschwitz is described as a concentration camp in Poland. Auschwitz was located literally at the junction of the Greater German Reich and occupied Poland; it was also in the heart of “The Black Triangle,” an industrial area with large coal deposits, which is why it was such an important location for the Nazis.