MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

The beginning of construction

Trucks began ferrying the first prisoner labor detail (known as Buna from the German trade name for synthetic rubber) to work at the plant construction site in mid-April 1941. From the beginning of May, the prisoners had to walk from the camp (6 to 7 km.) to labor at the factory. At the end of July, the labor detail, now numbering about a thousand, began taking the train to Dwory station. They had to do hard physical labor: leveling the ground, digging drainage ditches, laying cables, and building roads.

The prisoners returned to the construction site in the spring of 1942 and worked there until July 21, when an outbreak of typhus in the main camp and Birkenau halted their trips to work. Anxious over the prospect of losing the labor force, factory management decided to turn a barracks camp being built for civilian workers near Monowice over to the SS, as quarters for prisoners. Delays in the supply of barbed wire led to several postponements in the opening of the new camp. The first prisoners arrived there on October 26, and by early November the camp population was 2 thousand.