Holocaust Survivors and Remembrance Project: "Forget You Not"™

Historic 1941 Photographs:
Birkenau (Auschwitz II) Under Construction
Forward (from Yad Vashem):

Birkenau under construction by the Auschwitz inmates.

In March 1941, Himmler issued orders for the construction of a second wing at the Auschwitz camp, a much larger facility three kilometers away from the original camp known as Auschwitz I. The new division would be called Auschwitz II-Birkenau. To make room for the new camp, 2,000 residents of several Polish villages, including Brzezinka, known in German as Birkenau, were evicted from their homes. The villagers' homes were razed and a vast area of 40 square kilometers was declared off-limits.

Intensive construction of barracks and other facilities at Auschwitz II began in October 1941. In its final stage, Auschwitz II was composed of nine sub-units, separated from each other by electrified barbed-wire fences.

Auschwitz II (Birkenau) was the most populous of the concentration camps at Auschwitz, and the most brutal and inhuman in its conditions. Most of its prisoners were Jews, followed by Poles, Germans and Gypsies. It was Auschwitz II that became the extermination center containing all gas chambers and crematoria, except for the first which had been built in Auschwitz I.


Birkenau construction, 1941
Birkenau under construction in 1941:
We can see (top of picture in background and zoomed in a detail below) Birkenau with only one wing completed.

Birkenau detail, 1941
.Photo Credit: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Poland