MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

Falsifying the hospital records

The prisoners assigned to work in the camp hospital offices had to keep extensive documentation that helped the SS supervise the hospitals, while also camouflaging the extermination function. On a regular basis, false causes of death, or none at all, were entered in the documentation prepared after the death of prisoners.

For example, the camp records state that the cause of death of St. Maximilian Kolbe was myocardia. The putative causes of the death of the underage prisoners Mieczysław Rycaj and Tadeusz Rycyk, killed by phenol injection on January 21, 1943, were bilateral pneumonia and septic pharyngitis.

When larger groups of prisoners were put to death, the dates of death were also falsified, so that they would be distributed over a period of 2 or 3 weeks, a dozen or so per day.

In a statement as an expert forensic witness in 1946, Dr. Jan Olbrycht, a former prisoner, characterized the Auschwitz hospital records: “If it had not been for the defeat of Nazism, a detached observer studying the history of the prisoners’ sicknesses and the protocols of the treatment they received would conclude that the Auschwitz camp was a model of good sanitary, hygienic, and medical practice, and that prisoners received care that embodied the latest achievements of science and medicine. The death certificates issued for specific registered prisoners can serve as an example of the deliberate falsification of camp records, and should be a warning to young researchers, who should use all imaginable caution in drawing conclusions from those records.”