The multimedia presentations show individual prisoners and their fates, as well as selected aspects of the camp operation. The presentations show archival documents, photos, items and post-camp facilities. The classes are ended with a recapitulation and a discussion. They are intended for school youth (middle school pupils and high school pupils).
Duration: 1.5 h
Language: Polish and German
Cost: PLN 298 in foreign language.
Marta Ortman, Barbara Gębołyś-Warmbier, Katarzyna Bisaga
tel. (+48) 33 844 8096 lub (+48) 33 844 8101
This presentation is an attempt at re-creating the story of several escapes. It depicts preparations and the escapes themselves. Various camp documents record escapes. The commandant’s office sent out “wanted” messages in the form of telegrams. Escapes led to reprisals against fellow prisoners and relatives. Recaptured escapees were punished in front of the whole camp as a warning to others. This is reflected in the presentation of the individual stories of escapees.
Female SS Supervisors in the Women’s Camp
Female SS supervisors arrived in Auschwitz along with the first transport of women on March 26, 1942. A total of about 170 female supervisors were employed here. They exercised direct authority over the women prisoners. The majority of the female supervisors regarded their work as an ordinary job. Many of them took advantage of their position to inflict their sadistic proclivities on the women prisoners, one of whom remembers SS-Oberaufseherin Maria Mandel: “When Mandel beat people, she broke their jaws. Her favorite expression was, ‘Crush them to death!’” The lovely young SS-Rapportführerin Irma Grese was known as “the hyena of Auschwitz.” They were only two of the many supervisors.
The Camp Hospitals
Part of the extermination apparatus, the camp hospitals served as camouflage for the destruction of prisoners who were formally registered there as patients; the records kept in the hospital offices listed falsified causes of death. Selection began in the hospitals in mid-1941, and SS physicians passed death sentences on sick prisoners who were killed by injections of phenol to the heart. From 1942, sick prisoners were also sent to the gas chambers.
As the labor requirements of the German economy increased, the camp authorities began in mid-1942 to attempt to lower the death rate, without doing anything to provide significantly improved health care. During this period, the only prisoners who received treatment in the hospital were those with the potential to return quickly to work. For the seriously ill, the hospital remained a place of extermination.
The Fate of Young Prisoners
Young bricklayers were employed at camp building sites, including the gas chambers and the crematoria, fell victim to pseudo-medical experiments, were put to death by lethal injection, underwent confinement in the underground cells of block 11, and perished at the “Death Wall.” The presentation is based on the extant fragment of the Mauerschule (bricklayers’ school) record book, covering the period from October 3, 1942 to June 1, 1943, and containing 1,500 entries referring to 997 prisoners. The presentation goes beyond this time period to trace the subsequent fate of a selected group of prisoners whose names appear in the record book.
The Story of the Prisoners in Block 4 of the Auschwitz Main Camp
The presentation is based on the block 4 record book. Covering the period from January 20 to August 22, 1942, it contains a total of 2,100 entries referring to 2,047 male prisoners. The presentation goes beyond this time period and uses other groups of documents to trace the stories of a selected group of prisoners whose names have gone down in the history of the camp. Prisoners from this block were confined in the bunker, assigned to the penal company, or executed. Among them were members of the camp resistance movement. Clandestine meetings of the Auschwitz Fighting Group took place in block 4.
The “Death Block” at the Auschwitz I Main Camp
Absolute obedience by the prisoners guaranteed the smooth functioning of the terror and extermination apparatus in the camp. The slightest infraction of camp rules or suspicion of involvement in the camp resistance movement were published by the SS with the greatest harshness. Many penalties, including the death penalty, were carried out in block 11 or the adjacent courtyard. This made block 11 notorious. Former prisoners characterized the “Death Block” as “easy to get into but almost impossible to get out of alive.” Aside from witness reports, the extant Bunker Book is an important source for the history of block 11. The presentation covers the function of the block and the fate of the people held there.
The first story is that of an outstanding Polish athlete who was also artistically gifted; his young life ended tragically in Auschwitz.
“The Career of a Certain SS-Unterscharführer” is the story of an ordinary young German ambitious for success, and his attempt to make a career for himself in the SS.
“Edek and Mala—the Romeo and Juliet of Auschwitz” is a story showing how people reduced to being mere numbers when they passed through the camp gate remained capable of love, even within the hell of Auschwitz.
Questions about the Holocaust – classes in the Reflection Hall
Selected former camp prisoners, historians and educators, were asked relevant questions on the Holocaust period, e.g. Why is the Holocaust a unique event? Why were the Nazis bent on killing the Jews?
The classes offer the opportunity to obtain answers to selected questions, analysis and comparison of statements. The participants in the classes work under the supervision of a competent employee of the Museum, who initiates and moderates the discussion. Classes in the multimedia Reflection Hall may provide a very good summary of the study visit.
Form: workshop, presentation
Recipients: pupils of lower and upper secondary schools, students, teachers, educators
Language: Polish, English
Additional multimedia presentations
- The remains of the Nazi Past. IG Farben and KL Auschwitz III-Monowitz (Polish, German),
- Use of artistic talent and intellectual potential of prisoners in Auschwitz-Birkenau (German),
- Artists in Auschwitz (German),
- Families in Auschwitz-Birkenau (German),
- Murderous medical experiments in Auschwitz (Polish, English, German),
- The Roma in Auschwitz-Birkenau (German),
- The meticulous bureaucracy of the camp authorities on the example of surviving documents of the former KL Auschwitz-Birkenau - reconstruction of prisoners' fates (German),
- Heroic deeds in Auschwitz-Birkenau (German),
- The last days of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Evacuation transports to Mauthausen (German),
- The Liberation of KL Auschwitz (German),
- The faces of Love (German),
- Austrians in KL Auschwitz (German),
- The Resistance movement in Auschwitz-Birkenau (Polish, English, German),
- Memory and identity. The significance of Auschwitz in historical education (Polish, English),
- Fear and hope - the fate of children in occupied Europe based on selected journals (Polish, English),
- Memorial Site and the Media (Polish, English),
- Photography at the Memorial Site (Polish, English),
- The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial - symbolism and significance (Polish, English),
- The clergy in KL Auschwitz (Polish, English),
- Functionary prisoners in KL Auschwitz (Polish, English),
- German occupation of Poland - implementation of the Nazi Political and racial objectives in KL Auschwitz (Polish, English),
- Prisoners of KL Auschwitz (Polish, English),
- Memoire demain - the fate of former prisoners of the Auschwitz camp deported from France (French).