MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

Selection in the camp

Beginning in the second half of 1941, mostly among the prisoners in the “rewir” or camp hospital, SS doctors began carrying out the selection of Auschwitz prisoners, during which they put to death those prisoners they regarded as unfit for labor because of terminal exhaustion or sickness. They killed these prisoners by lethal injection of phenol to the heart, or sent them to the gas chamber. This practice was halted in the spring of 1943. Shortly afterwards, it was revived—but only for Jewish prisoners.

Extant camp documents (Zugangslisten Juden) indicate that, of the 973 Jews from Slovakia admitted to Auschwitz on April 17, 1942, only 88 remained alive less than 4 months later. The majority of Jewish prisoners met a similar fate; as noted previously, they constituted the lowest category within the multiethnic camp population. Surviving prisoners remembered as particularly drastic the high mortality rate in Auschwitz of Jews from Greece and Italy, who were accustomed to a warm climate, or the killing of newborn Jewish infants.