MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

Transit camps

From May to October 1944, tens of thousands of Jews, mostly from Hungary and Poland, were held in separate parts of Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp defined as transit camps (Durchgangslager) without being registered individually. Referred to as “transit Jews” (Durchgangs-Juden), or “deposit,” they were held by the SS leadership as a labor reserve to be “distributed” on a gradual basis. They waited days, weeks, or months for the SS to arrive at a decision as to their fate—whether they would be assigned to work or sent to the gas chamber. Their situation was in fact worse than that of prisoners with camp numbers assigned to them. After a certain time, some of these “transit Jews” were registered in the camp (that is, tattooed with camp numbers on their left forearms) and sent to work in the various Auschwitz Concentration Camp labor details or sub-camps; thousands of others were transferred to camps in the depths of the Third Reich, to labor for the sake of the German war machine.