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Images of War: Auschwitz Death Camp, Ian Baxter

Images of War: Auschwitz Death Camp, Ian Baxter


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Images of War: Auschwitz Death Camp, Ian Baxter

Images of War: Auschwitz Death Camp, Ian Baxter

Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives

This entry in Pen & Sword's Images of War series is a photographic history of the Auschwitz Death Camp, from its origins as a concentration camp, through its expansion into a source of slave labour and a death camp, and on to its liberation by the advancing Russians.

The photographs come from a variety of sources. Two of the most important are an album of pictures taken by SS Obersturmführer Karl Höcker, showing the SS guards of the camp relaxing, and an album found by Lili Jacob, a survivor of the camp, showing the arrival of a trainload of Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz in May 1944. The contrast between these two sets of pictures is particularly chilling, showing the SS at their retreat some way from the camp, and their Hungarian victims being divided into the living and the dead.

While we are familiar with some of the images show here - most notably the crowds of prisoners arriving at the camp, and those from the Russian liberation of the camp, many more are unfamiliar. Amongst them are the pictures showing the SS at play, and the pictures of the construction of the camp and the camp buildings, which give an idea of the massive size of the place.

This is a very valuable piece of work, showing in a way that words alone can not equal, the calculated nature of the evil that took place at Auschwitz.

Chapters
1 Evolution of Auschwitz
2 Auschwitz-Birkenau: Arrival & Selection
3 The Extermination Centre: Construction of the Crematoria; Extermination
4 The End: SS of Auschwitz; Liberation; Auschwitz-Birkenau today

Author: Ian Baxter
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 128
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2009



Auschwitz and Birkenau: Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives

Auschwitz and Birkenau were separate from each other,by about a 45 minute walk. Auschwitz was adapted to hold political prisoners in 1940 and evolved into a killing machine in 1941. Later that year a new site called Birkenau was found to extend the Auschwitz complex. Here a vast complex of buildings were constructed to hold initially Russian POWs and later Jews as a labour Auschwitz and Birkenau were separate from each other,by about a 45 minute walk. Auschwitz was adapted to hold political prisoners in 1940 and evolved into a killing machine in 1941. Later that year a new site called Birkenau was found to extend the Auschwitz complex. Here a vast complex of buildings were constructed to hold initially Russian POWs and later Jews as a labour pool for the surrounding industries including IG Farben. Following the January 1943 Wannsee Conference, Birkenau evolved into a murder factory using makeshift houses which were adapted to kill Jews and Russian POWs. Later due to sheer volume Birkenau evolved into a mass killing machine using gas chambers and crematoria, while Auschwitz, which still held prisoners, became the administrative centre.

The images show first Auschwitz main camp and then Birkenau and are carefully chosen to illustrate specific areas, like the Women’s Camp, Gypsy Camp, SS quarters, Commandant’s House, railway disembarkation, the ‘sauna’, disinfection area and the Crematoria. Maps covering Auschwitz and Birkenau explain the layout

This book is shocking proof of the scale of the Holocaust. . more


Chilling black and white photos show women and children herded to their deaths in the gas chambers at Auschwitz

CHILLING rare images showing Jewish children walking to their deaths and men being forced to carry out back-breaking labour at Auschwitz have been revealed in a new book.

The series of black and white images show the horrors of the Nazi death camp where millions of Jews were sent to to be killed.

Among them is an eerie snap showing women and children being herded towards a gas chamber as well as men being forced to build a brick entrance to the camp.

Other images show the house of Lieutenant Colonel Rudolph Hoss overlooking the SS sick bay with trees planted in front to hide the house from the rest of the camp.

One photo even shows a Sunday concert conducted by Franciszek Nierychlo and attended by prisoners and SS men together.

The images have been revealed in the book, Images of War: Auschwitz and Birkenau, Rare Photographs From Wartime Archives by military historian Ian Baxter.

In the book's introduction, Ian said: "The book shows in great detail the sheer size and scope of Auschwitz and the nearby Birkenau complex.

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“It reveals how the buildings were constructed and then tells of the private firms that were employed by the SS to build them.

“The book shows the step-by-step transformation of the buildings including the crematoria and how these buildings aided the largest killing factory of all time."

Auschwitz was built near the town of Oswiecim, outside Krakow in modern-day Poland after Hitler's forces invaded the country in 1939.

In 1940 he ordered the construction of Auschwitz-Birkenau in the Polish countryside for political prisoners.

Millions of Jews from across Europe were then sent there to their deaths during the Holocaust.

Between 1940 and 1945, 1.1million people were killed in the gas chambers or through starvation.

One in six of the Jews killed during the Second World War died at Auschwitz in what the Nazis called Hitler's Final Solution to create an Aryan race.

Ian added: “The pictures show just how many civilian companies were involved professionally in co-operating in genocide and reveals just how eager they were to produce the goods for the SS for financial reward.

“The reader will quickly learn how pivotal the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex was and how it became the Nazi centrepiece for forced labour and genocide.”

Published by Pen & Sword, Images of War: Auschwitz and Birkenau, Rare Photographs From Wartime Archives by Ian Baxter is available to buy on Amazon.

The new book comes just weeks after Holocaust Memorial Day was marked around the world as Auschwitz survivors visited the former death camp wearing striped scarves as symbol of prison uniforms.


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But despite the horrors taking place, the Hoess family lived in relative seclusion behind the walls of their home.

Detailing in his research his tour of the house, Mr Baxter writes: 'In the attic, which was converted in 1942 for the servant quarters, I inspected this roomy living space with its small windows overlooking the commandant's office building and camp administration offices.

'Descending the wooden stairs to the next floor was the Hoess's and children's bedrooms.'

He then says he was most interested in one of the children's bedrooms which overlooked the camp's administration buildings.

Mr Baxter wondered if it would have been possible to see the tall chimney of the camp's crematorium from the windows.

Bednarska described how the living room comprised of 'black furniture, a sofa, two armchairs, a table, two stools, and a standing lamp' when Hoess and his family lived there. Pictured: Another photo of the home's interior which was taken by Mr Baxter

The view of part of Auschwitz from one of the home's windows. However, Mr Baxter said that, during the family's time there, Hoess ensured that the chimney of the camp's crematorium was not visible from the home

Another Auschwitz prisoner, Stanislaw Dubiel, worked as the Hoess family gardener. In his testimony, he described one moment where he was saved from execution by Hoess and his wife, adding that they were 'strongly opposed' to it and 'got their own way'. Pictured: One of the 2007 photos of the garden taken by Mr Baxter

The front door of the home is seen in one of the photos taken by Mr Baxter. Mr Baxter also detailed in his research how Hoess would sometimes take his family down to the local river to have picnics

But he writes, 'I was immediately told by the friendly owner that Hoess had in fact built an earth mound in front of the concrete walled garden and planted trees in order to camouflage parts of the camp including the crematorium from the villa.

'To me this was perhaps proof that Hoess from the very beginning was resolute in concealing as much of the camp as possible from his family, in particular the crematorium.'

RUDOLF HOESS: THE DEATH DEALER OF THE HOLOCAUST

Rudolf Hoess, born in Baden-Baden to a Catholic family in 1901, a lonely child with no playmates of his age, went on to become an architect of one of the most horrifying episodes of human history as the commandant of the concentration and extermination camp, Auschwitz.

However, his history of violence under the Nazis stretched back to his first year as a member of the SS, the Nazi's paramilitary wing, when he was found guilty of beating to death a local schoolteacher under orders in 1923.

On May 1, 1940 Hoess was appointed commandant of Auschwitz, in which more than a million people died, either murdered in the gas chambers, or from disease and starvation.

In June 1941, Himmler gave Hoess the order to oversee the physical extermination of Europe's Jews - the Final Solution.

For three and a half years, Hoess oversaw daily mass murder, going home at the end of the day to his wife and five children - just 150 metres from the crematorium's chimney, which pumped out ash and smoke day and night.

In a signed affadavit read aloud at his trial at Nuremberg, Hoess confessed to studying the most efficient means of mass killing, concluding that methods in Treblinka - where 80,000 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto were murdered in one year - could be improved upon.

The coldness with which he describes the mass murder is chilling.

'So when I set up the extermination building at Auschwitz, I used Cyklon B, which was crystallized prussic acid which we dropped into the death chamber form a small opening.

'It took from three to 15 minutes to kill the people in the death chamber, depending upon climatic conditions.

'We knew when the people were dead because their screaming stopped.'

Hoess left his post in November, 1943, but returned in May, 1944, to supervise the transport and mass murder of 430,000 Hungarian Jews during 56 days between May and July, and the burning thousands of bodies in huge open pits.

Towards the end of the war, Hoess disguised himself as a German soldier and went on the run, only being captured by British troops after his wife tipped them off on 11 March, 1946.

After his appearance at Nuremberg, he was handed to the Polish authorities where he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. He was hanged on 16 April, 1947, on a specially constructed gallows next to the crematorium of Auschwitz I camp.

Days before he was executed, he sent a message to the state prosecutor:

'My conscience compels me to make the following declaration. In the solitude of my prison cell I have come to the bitter recognition that I have sinned gravely against humanity.

'As Commandant of Auschwitz I was responsible for carrying out part of the cruel plans of the 'Third Reich' for human destruction. In so doing I have inflicted terrible wounds on humanity.

'I caused unspeakable suffering for the Polish people in particular. I am to pay for this with my life. May the Lord God forgive one day what I have done.'

The original interior of the house is described vividly by housekeeper Bednarska in her diary, which also details how some of the furniture in the home was made by camp prisoners.

She writes that the living room comprised of 'black furniture, a sofa, two armchairs, a table, two stools, and a standing lamp.

'There was Hoess's study, which you could enter either from the living room or the dining room.

'The room was furnished with a big desk covered with a transparent plastic board under which he kept family pictures, two leather armchairs, a long narrow bookcase covering two walls and filled with books.

'One of its sections was locked. Hoess kept cigarettes and Vodka there.

'The furniture was matt nut-brown, made by camp prisoners.

'The dining room was decorated with dark nut-brown furniture made in the camp, an unfolding table, six leather chairs, a glazed cupboard for glassware, a sideboard and a beautiful plant stand.

'The furniture was solid and tasteful,' she adds.

Describing Hoess's and his wife's bedroom, she writes: 'The room had two dark nut-brown beds, a four-winged wardrobe made in the camp and used by Hoess, a lighter wardrobe with glass doors used by Mrs Hoess.

'There was also a sort of couch – hollowed and leather. Above the beds there was a big colourful oil painting depicting a bunch of field flowers.'

Mr Baxter also details how Hoess would sometimes take his family down to the local river to have picnics.

Highlighting the great lengths which Hoess went to to ensure his family were not exposed to the camp's horrors, Mr Baxter said a motorcyclist was placed outside the gas chamber and ordered to rev his engine to obscure the sound of faint screams coming from dying victims.

The housekeeper of another member of the SS who worked at the camp described in her testimony – detailed by Mr Baxter - how Klaus, the eldest child, was 'naughty and malicious'.

She described how he used to carry a 'small horsewhip' which he used to beat prisoners who worked at the house.

'He always sought the opportunity to kick or hit a prisoner,' she added.

Bednarska said of Klaus that he was a 'great ignoramus, he had no interests. He went to schools in Auschwitz, Pszczyna, Katowice, but was expelled from all of them.

'His father gave him an accordion to arouse his interests, but Klaus wasn`t interested even in music.

'He was the type of a future SS man. The rest of the children were calm, they used to hang around the prisoners and watch them work.'

Another Auschwitz prisoner, Stanislaw Dubiel, worked as the Hoess family gardener.

In his testimony, he described one moment where he was saved from execution by Hoess and his wife, adding that they were 'strongly opposed' to it and 'got their own way'.

But he said, 'Frau Hoess often reminded me about the incident thus forcing me to be zealous in doing whatever she asked me to do.'

He said that the couple were 'both fierce enemies of Poles and Jews.

'They hated everything that was Polish. Frau Hoess often used to say to me that all Jews had to disappear from the globe, and there would even come a time for English Jews.'

Among all the staff who worked at the house, Mr Baxter claims in his published work that Jehovah's Witnesses they employed 'were the most trustworthy and caring'.

'They were particularly touched by the love and consideration they gave the children, and Hoess could quite easily see how much the family adored them,' he adds.

Mr Baxter even describes how Hoess became romantically involved with an Austrian political prisoner at Auschwitz, Eleonore Hodys.

After working in his family's villa, she described in testimony given in 1944 how Hoess became 'strikingly interested' in her.

'He did all he could to favour me and make my detention much easier,' she adds.

After Nazi Germany's defeat in the Second World War in 1945, Hoess evaded capture for nearly a year before being arrested. Hoess testified at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremburg. When he was accused of murdering three and a half million people, he replied, 'No. Only two and one half million—the rest died from disease and starvation'

He was sentenced to death in 1947 and was hanged outside next to the crematorium at Auschwitz I

She then describes how Hoess then kissed her when they were alone.

'The commandant expressed his particular feelings for me for the first time in May 1942. His wife was out and I was in his villa, sitting by the radio,' she explained.

'Without a word, he came over and kissed me. I was so surprised and frightened and ran away and locked myself in the toilet.

She then added: 'From then on, I did not come to the commandant`s house anymore. I reported myself as sick and tried to hide from him whenever he asked for me.

'Though he succeeded time and again in finding me, he never spoke about the kiss. I only ever visited the house twice more, by order.'

The family left Auschwitz in November 1944, when Hoess moved to Ravensbrück women's concentration camp north of Germany's capital Berlin, to oversee further extermination of political prisoners and Jews.

After Nazi Germany's defeat in the Second World War in 1945, Hoess evaded capture for nearly a year before being arrested.

The view of part of the camp from one of the home's windows, as seen by Mr Baxter during his 2007 visit

Hoess testified at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremburg. When he was accused of murdering three and a half million people, he replied, 'No. Only two and one half million—the rest died from disease and starvation.'

He was sentenced to death in 1947 and was hanged outside next to the crematorium at Auschwitz I - the original camp which was later extended.

Mr Baxter told MailOnline he could not remember anything about the person who showed him around the Hoess villa in 2007.

However, in 2015, the home was lived in by couple Pawel and Sylvia Jurczak. Mr Jurczak, who was born there, said his great-grandfather bought the property in the 1970s.

Ms Jurczak said: 'If it weren't for the history it would be ideal. But then the whole of this town lives in the shadow of its history. You can't escape it you can only learn to deal with it, to come to terms with it.'

She added: 'There's one place I don't like going - and that's into the cellar.

'Not much has changed down here. I don't believe in ghosts, but when it's dark and the door closes it makes my skin crawl and my hair stand on end. You can almost imagine hearing the wailing of the dead.'

The Nazis' concentration and extermination camps: The factories of death used to slaughter millions

Auschwitz-Birkenau, near the town of Oswiecim, in what was then occupied Poland

Auschwitz-Birkenau was a concentration and extermination camp used by the Nazis during World War Two.

The camp, which was located in Nazi-occupied Poland, was made up of three main sites.

Auschwitz I, the original concentration camp, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, a combined concentration and extermination camp and Auschwitz III–Monowitz, a labour camp, with a further 45 satellite sites.

Auschwitz, pictured in 1945, was liberated by Soviet troops 76 years ago on Wednesday after around 1.1million people were murdered at the Nazi extermination camp

Auschwitz was an extermination camp used by the Nazis in Poland to murder more than 1.1 million Jews

Birkenau became a major part of the Nazis' 'Final Solution', where they sought to rid Europe of Jews.

An estimated 1.3 million people were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, of whom at least 1.1 million died – around 90 percent of which were Jews.

Since 1947, it has operated as Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, which in 1979 was named a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

Treblinka, near a village of the same name, outside Warsaw in Nazi-occupied Poland

Unlike at other camps, where some Jews were assigned to forced labour before being killed, nearly all Jews brought to Treblinka were immediately gassed to death.

Only a select few - mostly young, strong men, were spared from immediate death and assigned to maintenance work instead.

Unlike at other camps, where some Jews were assigned to forced labor before being killed, nearly all Jews brought to Treblinka were immediately gassed to death

The death toll at Treblinka was second only to Auschwitz. In just 15 months of operation - between July 1942 and October 1943 - between 700,000 and 900,000 Jews were murdered in its gas chambers.

Exterminations stopped at the camp after an uprising which saw around 200 prisoners escape. Around half of them were killed shortly afterwards, but 70 are known to have survived until the end of the war

Belzec, near t he station of the same name in Nazi-occupied Poland

Belzec operated from March 1942 until the end of June 1943. It was built specifically as an extermination camp as part of Operation Reinhard.

Polish, German, Ukrainian and Austrian Jews were all killed there. In total, around 600,000 people were murdered.

The camp was dismantled in 1943 and the site was disguised as a fake farm.

Belzec operated from March 1942 until the end of June 1943. It was built specifically as an extermination camp as part of Operation Reinhard

Sobibor, near the village of the same name in Nazi-occupied Poland

Sobibor was named after its closest train station, at which Jews disembarked from extremely crowded carriages, unsure of their fate.

Jews from Poland, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the Soviet Union were killed in three gas chambers fed by the deadly fumes of a large petrol engine taken from a tank.

An estimated 200,000 people were killed in the camp. Some estimations put the figure at 250,000.

This would place Sobibor as the fourth worst extermination camp - in terms of number of deaths - after Belzec, Treblinka and Auschwitz.

Sobibor was named after its closest train station, at which Jews disembarked from extremely crowded carriages, unsure of their fate

The camp was located about 50 miles from the provincial Polish capital of Brest-on-the-Bug. Its official German name was SS-Sonderkommando Sobibor.

Prisoners launched a heroic escape on October 14 1943 in which 600 men, women and children succeeded in crossing the camp's perimeter fence.

Of those, only 50 managed to evade capture. It is unclear how many crossed into allied territory.

Chelmno (also known as Kulmhof), in Nazi-occupied Poland

Chelmno was the first of Nazi Germany's camps built specifically for extermination.

It operated from December 1941 until April 1943 and then again from June 1944 until January 1945.

Between 152,000 and 200,000 people, nearly all of whom were Jews, were killed there.

Chelmno was the first of Nazi Germany's camps built specifically for extermination. It operated from December 1941 until April 1943 and then again from June 1944 until January 1945

Majdanek (also known simply as Lublin), built on outskirts of city of Lublin in Nazi-occupied Poland

Majdanek was initially intended for forced labour but was converted into an extermination camp in 1942.

It had seven gas chambers as well as wooden gallows where some victims were hanged.

In total, it is believed that as many as 130,000 people were killed there.

Majdanek (pictured in 2005) was initially intended for forced labour but was converted into an extermination camp in 1942


Photos show the horrors of Auschwitz, 75 years after its liberation

It was the greatest tragedy of the Holocaust. In just five years, over one million people were murdered at Auschwitz, the largest and deadliest Nazi concentration camp.

Auschwitz was established in 1940 and located in the suburbs of Oswiecim, a Polish city the Germans annexed. Between 1940 and 1945, it grew to include three main camp centers and a slew of subcamps — each of which were used for forced labor, torture, and mass killing.

An estimated 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz during its five-year operation, and approximately 1.1 million were killed.

The terror of Auschwitz finally subsided on January 27, 1945, when the Soviet Army liberated the remaining 7,000 prisoners from the camps.

On the 75th anniversary of this liberation, these photos exhibit the horror and history of Auschwitz.


'We can be the light that ensures the darkness can never return': Prince Charles leads royal family in tribute to victims on Holocaust Memorial Day as Kate Middleton and Prince William honour survivors

By Harriet Johnston for MailOnline

The Prince of Wales has urged people to remember Holocaust Memorial Day today as he lead the royal family in tributes to victims and survivors.

In a video shared on the Clarence House Twitter page, Charles, 71, asked people to ensure survivors' stories are remembered forever amid the dwindling number of people able to bear first-hand witness to the horrors of the genocide, which saw millions of Jews and other minorities executed during the Second World War at the hands of the Nazis.

The royal, who is patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: 'This is our time when we can, each in our own way, be the light that ensures the darkness can never return.'

Meanwhile Prince William, 38, and Kate Middleton, 39, also marked the day by sharing a poignant message alongside photographs as they met survivors Zigi Shipper and Manfred Goldberg in Poland in 2017.

The tributes reflected on one of the darkest periods in human history, when 11million victims - including six million Jews - were gassed, shot and starved in Nazi death camps.

The notorious train-track entrance to Auschwitz, through which over a million were taken to their deaths, was stormed by the Red Army on January 27, 1945.


A World War II pictorial history detailing Nazi Germany’s Auschwitz concentration camp, its monstrous creators, and what went on inside.

The concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau was the site of the single largest mass murder in history. Over one million mainly Jewish men, women, and children were murdered in its gas chambers. Countless more died as a result of disease and starvation. Auschwitz Death Camp is a chilling pictorial record of this infamous establishment. Using some 250 photographs together with detailed captions and accompanying text, it describes how Auschwitz evolved from a brutal labor camp at the beginning of the war into what was literally a factory of death. The images show how people lived, worked, and died at Auschwitz.

The book covers the men who conceived and constructed this killing machine, and how the camp provided a vast labor pool for various industrial complexes erected in the vicinity. Auschwitz Death Camp is shocking proof of the magnitude of horror inflicted by the Nazis on innocent men, women, and children. Such evil should not be forgotten lest it reappear.


A World War II pictorial history detailing Nazi Germany’s Auschwitz concentration camp, its monstrous creators, and what went on inside.

The concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau was the site of the single largest mass murder in history. Over one million mainly Jewish men, women, and children were murdered in its gas chambers. Countless more died as a result of disease and starvation. Auschwitz Death Camp is a chilling pictorial record of this infamous establishment. Using some 250 photographs together with detailed captions and accompanying text, it describes how Auschwitz evolved from a brutal labor camp at the beginning of the war into what was literally a factory of death. The images show how people lived, worked, and died at Auschwitz.

The book covers the men who conceived and constructed this killing machine, and how the camp provided a vast labor pool for various industrial complexes erected in the vicinity. Auschwitz Death Camp is shocking proof of the magnitude of horror inflicted by the Nazis on innocent men, women, and children. Such evil should not be forgotten lest it reappear.


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Later, in 1942, death camps with purpose-built gas chambers were established as part of Operation Reinhard – the codename for the plan to exterminate Polish Jews.

The most notorious facility, Auschwitz-Birkenau, had existed as a concentration camp since May 1940 before it was extended to house killing facilities and crematoria.

An estimated 1.2million men, women and children were murdered there.

The Chelmno site was based on the estate of an empty manor house in northern Poland.

Killing operations began in December 1941. Jews were stripped of their possessions before being herded into mobile gas vans.

The van driver would then connect the exhaust pipe to the van's chamber. Once the occupants were dead, the driver took their bodies to be burnt and buried in the nearby Rzuchow Forest.

The camp commandant was SS-Sturmbannführer Herbert Lange

Mr Baxter writes: 'The camp got through six to nine van-loads per day and over a few weeks 3,830 Koło Jews and 4,000 Romani people were killed this way.

'One of the largest communities to be murdered at the Chełmno killing centre were the residents of the Łodz ghetto.

'Deportations began on 16 January 1942 and proceeded in phases until 15 May 1942. Some 55,000 Jews from the Łodz ghetto were gassed at Chełmno.'

Chelmno operated until it was closed in March 1943, when it was decided that other camps, such as Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec had more efficient ways of killing people and disposing of their remains.

The SS sent an order for peoples' remains at Chelmno to be exhumed and burned in open-air crematoria.

Their bones were then crushed by a machine before being dumped in a river. The manor house at the site was demolished.

In June 1944, after the remainder of the Lodz ghetto was liquidated, a small camp was set up once more at the site to kill ghetto inhabitants using mobile gas vans.

Mr Baxter says around 25,000 victims were murdered before it was decided that the remaining Jews would be taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau to be killed.

SS official Heinrich Unverhau (left) is seen playing the violin on the terrace of the officers' dining room at Sobibor in the early summer of 1943. Playing the accordion is Willi Wendland. Sobibor was located about 50 miles from the provincial Polish capital of Brest-on-the-Bug. Its official German name was SS-Sonderkommando Sobibor

SS officials Arthur Dachsel (left), Johann Niemann, Franz Reichleitner, and Erich Bauer are seen enjoying the summer day on the terrace of the new officers dining room at Sobibor. Prisoners launched a heroic escape at the camp on October 14, 1943 in which 600 men, women and children succeeded in crossing the camp's perimeter fence. Of those, only 50 managed to evade capture. It is unclear how many crossed into allied territory

Johann Niemann (left) stands with SS-Unterscharführer Adolf Müller in front of a well at the farm at Sobibor in the summer of 1943. On the farm, Jewish prisoners were forced to raise chickens, pigs and geese and grow fruit and vegetables, all of which were enjoyed by the SS men

SS officers at Sobibor are seen grouped together as they discuss camp operations. After the revolt at Sobibor, the Nazis demolished the camp and planted pine trees on the site. The above image was most likely taken in 1942

Belzec was one of the three death camps – along with Sobibor and Treblinka – which was set up after the Wannsee conference in January 1942.

The conference saw Nazi officials discuss the implementation of the plan to kill the Jews.

They decided that, rather than transporting Jewish people to Russia to kill them, it would be more practical to send German and Polish Jews to new death camps in Poland.

Belzec, the first of the Reinhard camps, was located in the Lublin district of occupied Poland.

The first part of the camp – Camp 1 – was the site of barracks where new inmates undressed and women had their hair shorn.

The second part – Camp II – was where the gas chambers were based, along with a large area for mass graves.

The camp was guarded by Ukrainian guards – known as Trawniki Men - who had formerly been prisoners of war.

They were all trained at Trawniki, a camp set up for that specific purpose.

Camp commandant Christian Wirth had arrived in 1941 with ‘euthanasia’ specialists who were tasked with building the gassing facility.

Gassing tests were then carried out with Zyklon B (cyanide) gas, as well as with bottled carbon monoxide.

A unit of deportation police pose at the Lodz ghetto in occupied Poland. They were preparing to send Jews from the ghetto to Chelmno death camp. The ghetto housed Polish Jews and Roma people after Poland was invaded by the Nazis. It was the second-largest ghetto after the better-known Warsaw Ghetto

Seen left is SS official Rudolf 'Rudi' Kamm outside the barracks at Belzec death camp. after he has emerged from the administration office at Belzec. Belzec operated from March 1942 until the end of June 1943. It was built specifically as an extermination camp as part of Operation Reinhard - the plan to exterminate the Jews. Right: An SS man poses at Belzec in front of the flour mill

A Soviet tank engine was also installed to produce carbon monoxide and was deemed a ‘complete success’.

The camp began operations in March 1942 and by the end of April, thousands of Jews had been murdered.

Mr Baxter writes: 'Himmler sent his congratulations to Wirth who had finally built a killing factory capable of murdering many hundreds of thousands of people in one place.

The images of are revealed in upcoming book Hitler's Death Camps in Occupied Poland - Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives, written by military historian Ian Baxter and published by Pen & Sword

'Wirth looked upon the operation as a factory to which raw goods were delivered, processed and then stored.

'Wirth was helping to realize his Fu¨hrer’s dream of the annihilation of the Jewish race.'

The commandant of Sobibor was SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain) Franz Stangl.

The camp became operational in mid-May 1942. Within the first two months, 100,000 people were killed there.

Mr Baxter says that Stangl would often appear at the ramps where Jews were being unloaded.

Dressed in white riding clothes, he would watch as 'Ukrainian guards flung open the doors and chased the people out of the wagons with their leather whips.

'Instructions came from a loudspeaker: "undress completely, including artificial limbs and spectacles. Give your valuables up at the counter. Tie your shoes together carefully."

Women and girls were then taken to have their heads shaved. Deportees were then sent to their deaths.

After they had been murdered, their bodies were driven to the pit at the camp and dumped.

Before they were covered with soil, powdered lime was thrown over the bodies to break them down.

However, Mr Baxter describes in horrifying detail how the summer of 1942 was 'particularly hot and dry', making the smell of rotting bodies spread across the camp.

But he adds: 'By the summer of 1942, both Sobibor and Belzec were in operation, and despite the problems, the 'Reinhard' camps were achieving what they had been intended for, the mass extermination of the Jews.'

The Nazis' concentration and extermination camps: The factories of death used to slaughter millions

Auschwitz-Birkenau, near the town of Oswiecim, in what was then occupied Poland

Auschwitz-Birkenau was a concentration and extermination camp used by the Nazis during World War Two.

The camp, which was located in Nazi-occupied Poland, was made up of three main sites.

Auschwitz I, the original concentration camp, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, a combined concentration and extermination camp and Auschwitz III–Monowitz, a labour camp, with a further 45 satellite sites.

Auschwitz, pictured in 1945, was liberated by Soviet troops 76 years ago on Wednesday after around 1.1million people were murdered at the Nazi extermination camp

Auschwitz was an extermination camp used by the Nazis in Poland to murder more than 1.1 million Jews

Birkenau became a major part of the Nazis' 'Final Solution', where they sought to rid Europe of Jews.

An estimated 1.3 million people were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, of whom at least 1.1 million died – around 90 percent of which were Jews.

Since 1947, it has operated as Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, which in 1979 was named a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

Treblinka, near a village of the same name, outside Warsaw in Nazi-occupied Poland

Unlike at other camps, where some Jews were assigned to forced labor before being killed, nearly all Jews brought to Treblinka were immediately gassed to death.

Only a select few - mostly young, strong men, were spared from immediate death and assigned to maintenance work instead.

Unlike at other camps, where some Jews were assigned to forced labor before being killed, nearly all Jews brought to Treblinka were immediately gassed to death

The death toll at Treblinka was second only to Auschwitz. In just 15 months of operation - between July 1942 and October 1943 - between 700,000 and 900,000 Jews were murdered in its gas chambers.

Exterminations stopped at the camp after an uprising which saw around 200 prisoners escape. Around half of them were killed shortly afterwards, but 70 are known to have survived until the end of the war

Belzec, near t he station of the same name in Nazi-occupied Poland

Belzec operated from March 1942 until the end of June 1943. It was built specifically as an extermination camp as part of Operation Reinhard.

Polish, German, Ukrainian and Austrian Jews were all killed there. In total, around 600,000 people were murdered.

The camp was dismantled in 1943 and the site was disguised as a fake farm.

Belzec operated from March 1942 until the end of June 1943. It was built specifically as an extermination camp as part of Operation Reinhard

Sobibor, near the village of the same name in Nazi-occupied Poland

Sobibor was named after its closest train station, at which Jews disembarked from extremely crowded carriages, unsure of their fate.

Jews from Poland, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the Soviet Union were killed in three gas chambers fed by the deadly fumes of a large petrol engine taken from a tank.

An estimated 200,000 people were killed in the camp. Some estimations put the figure at 250,000.

This would place Sobibor as the fourth worst extermination camp - in terms of number of deaths - after Belzec, Treblinka and Auschwitz.

Sobibor was named after its closest train station, at which Jews disembarked from extremely crowded carriages, unsure of their fate

The camp was located about 50 miles from the provincial Polish capital of Brest-on-the-Bug. Its official German name was SS-Sonderkommando Sobibor.

Prisoners launched a heroic escape on October 14 1943 in which 600 men, women and children succeeded in crossing the camp's perimeter fence.

Of those, only 50 managed to evade capture. It is unclear how many crossed into allied territory.

Chelmno (also known as Kulmhof), in Nazi-occupied Poland

Chelmno was the first of Nazi Germany's camps built specifically for extermination.

It operated from December 1941 until April 1943 and then again from June 1944 until January 1945.

Between 152,000 and 200,000 people, nearly all of whom were Jews, were killed there.

Chelmno was the first of Nazi Germany's camps built specifically for extermination. It operated from December 1941 until April 1943 and then again from June 1944 until January 1945

Majdanek (also known simply as Lublin), built on outskirts of city of Lublin in Nazi-occupied Poland

Majdanek was initially intended for forced labour but was converted into an extermination camp in 1942.

It had seven gas chambers as well as wooden gallows where some victims were hanged.

In total, it is believed that as many as 130,000 people were killed there.

Majdanek (pictured in 2005) was initially intended for forced labour but was converted into an extermination camp in 1942


Images of War: Auschwitz Death Camp, Ian Baxter - History

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The concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau was the site of the single largest mass murder in history. Over one million mainly Jewish men, women, and children were murdered in its gas chambers. Countless more died as a result of disease and starvation.

Auschwitz Death Camp is a chilling pictorial record of this infamous establishment. Using some 250 photographs together with detailed captions and accompanying text, it describes how Auschwitz evolved from a brutal labour camp at the beginning of the war into what was literally a factory of death.

The images how people lived, worked and died at Auschwitz. The book covers the men who conceived and constructed this killing machine, and how the camp provided a vast labour pool for various industrial complexes erected in the vicinity.

Auschwitz Death Camp is shocking proof of the magnitude of horror inflicted by the Nazis on innocent men, women and children. Such evil should not be forgotten lest it re-appear.

This was a book that will stay with me for a long time and I am glad that I read it, for me it is necessary reading and something we should never forget happened and it is a book that I would recommend too – it is 4 stars from me for this one – highly recommended!

Read the full review here

Donnas Book Blog

This is a very valuable piece of work, showing in a way that words alone can not equal, the calculated nature of the evil that took place at Auschwitz.

Read the full review here

History of War

That chilling first sentence of the description of this book might put some people off, and might enthuse others to read on. For anyone who still needs to know the full horrors of Nazi atrocities, this book will satisfy their curiosity as to the part played by Auschwitz death camp in Poland. Chilling indeed.

Books Monthly

Ian Baxter is a much-published author and photographic collector whose books draw an increasing following. Among his many previous titles in the Images of War Series are Hitler&rsquos Boy Soldiers, Nazi Concentration Camp Commandants, German Army on the Eastern Front &ndash The Advance, German Army on the Eastern Front &ndash The Retreat, The Crushing of Army Group (North) and the SS Waffen Division series including SS Leibstandarte Division, SS Totenkopf Division At War. He lives near Chelmsford, Essex.

Himmler orders construction of Auschwitz

SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler orders the construction of a concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland. Known as Auschwitz in German, the facility will play a central role in the Nazi plan to exterminate Europe's Jews.


Watch the video: Escape From A Nazi Death Camp (July 2022).


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