The photo above shows what the gatehouse originally looked like.
The original gate house was later remodeled with additions on each side of the gate, including a new pedestrian gate. The photo above, taken outside the camp, shows the pedestrian gate which is on the left-hand side, as you face the gate house on the outside of the camp.
I am not sure about this, but I don’t think that cars were allowed to drive on the road up to the Auschwitz-Birkenu camp in 2005, when I last visited the memorial site.
My photo above shows the gate house which is the main entrance into the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, also known as the Auschwitz II concentration camp.
Beginning around the middle of May 1944, freight trains that were 40 to 50 cars long rolled through this gate, day and night, bringing thousands of Hungarian Jews to be gassed in the four Birkenau gas chambers. The prisoners called this gate the “Gate of Death.”
The gate house, which is shown in the photos above, was built in 1943, long after the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp was first opened.
The first inmates, who were Soviet Prisoners of War, arrived at Auschitz-Birkenau on October 7, 1941. At first, the gate shown in the photo above was for trucks and pedestrians.
Railroad tracks were not laid through the gate until the Spring of 1944, just before transports of Hungarian Jews began to arrive. According to the Auschwitz Museum, 434,351 of these Hungarian Jews were not registered at Birkenau; instead, they were gassed immediately upon arrival. At the height of the deportation of the Hungarian Jews, during a 10 week period, up to 12,000 Jews were gassed and burned each day, according to the True Believer version of the Holocaust.
Both sides of the Auschwitz-Birkenau gate house are identical. When Stephen Spielberg made the movie, Schindler’s List, he filmed scenes of actors exiting from a train which was outside the camp, but it looked as if the train were inside the camp.
The gate house at Auschwitz-Birkeanu is located three kilometers, or about two miles, from the main Auschwitz camp, known as Auschwitz I.
To get to the Birkenau camp from the main camp, turn right after exiting from the parking lot at the main camp. The road curves to the left and goes over the railroad overpass where Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler stood on March 1, 1941 when he selected the village of Birkenau to be the location of a new addition to the Auschwitz camp. At that time, the invasion of the Soviet Union and the alleged plan to exterminate all the Jews in Europe was only months away.
From the overpass, the road leads directly to the famous Gate of Death shown in the photos above. The railroad spur line that goes through the gate house begins on the left side of the gate, about a quarter of a mile away, and curves around until it forms a straight line in front of the gate. Trains coming from the west entered the Birkenau camp from tracks on the left side of the gate, as you are facing it, and did not pass the railroad station in the town of Auschwitz.
Trains coming from the opposite direction passed the train station in Auschwitz and then entered the camp on the spur line. The train tracks end only a few yards from two of the gas chambers inside the Birkenau camp.
In the old days, the town of Auschwitz was a major railroad hub, with many train tracks coming into it, and there was a large marshaling yard near the Auschwitz station. Standing on the railroad overpass in 1941, Himmler realized that Birkenau was an ideal location for transporting people by rail from all over Europe, although the plans for exterminating the Jews were not finalized until the Nazis were confident that they would win their war against the Soviet Union.