MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

Other ethnic groups

In addition to Jews, Poles, Gypsies, and Soviet POWs, about 25 thousand prisoners of other nationalities were imprisoned in Auschwitz. Research on the story of these other nationality groups is still in progress, and the statistics about them should therefore be treated as fragmentary, conservative estimates based on a limited number of cases.

Czechs

The most numerous of the other groups were the Czechs. The Czech researcher Marek Polocarz has established that between 10 and 11 thousand Czech political prisoners were deported to Auschwitz between 1941 and 1945, of whom between 8 and 9 thousand were ethnically Czech. The others were Jews, Gypsies, Poles, and Germans who were Czechoslovak citizens before the war. More than half of the Czech political prisoners died in Auschwitz; about 30% of the men and 20% of the women were transferred from Auschwitz to other camps or places of imprisonment. The fate of the remainder remains unknown. A large number of the Czech prisoners were members of the Sokol patriotic organization.

Byelorussians

The next largest group of deportees came from Byelorussia; about 6 thousand men, women, and children were detained during pacification operations directed against partisans in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions. Under an order from Himmler on January 6, 1943, people swept up in such operations were deported to Auschwitz and Lublin (Majdanek) concentration camps. They were entered in the camp records as Russians, but the great majority of them were ethnically Byelorussian. The deportees in these transports also included some ethnic Poles, such as a group of 10 to 20 policemen, and, surely, prisoners of other nationalities.

Germans

There were German prisoners in Auschwitz. Austrians were included in this category, as were some Poles from territory annexed to the Third Reich (sometimes without their being aware of the fact). For this reason, statistics on the German ethnic group do not fully reflect the actual situation and require verification, which is not always possible because of the lack of sources. Among the 38,915 prisoner mug shots (identification photos) in existence, 4,619 of the prisoners are labeled as Germans.

French

Frenchmen and Frenchwomen made up a significant group of prisoners. Over 4,100 French political prisoners were sent to Auschwitz between 1942 and 1944. The first large transport, carrying 1,100 Frenchmen, departed on July 6, 1942, and arrived in Auschwitz on July 8. There were about 70 French Jews in this transport. The men in the transport were assigned numbers 45157 to 46326. Although they were political prisoners, they were made to wear the green triangles used to designate common criminals.

Russians

Russians were a significant group in the camp. 1,579 of the extant prisoner mug shots are labeled as Russian.

Yugoslavians

The next largest group of prisoners comprised citizens of Yugoslavia, above all Slovenians. The extant mug shots include 783 photographs of Slovenian political prisoners (610 women and 173 men), labeled “Pol S,” and 7 Yugoslavians marked “Jug.” The largest transport of Slovenes, consisting of 451 people, arrived from Celje on August 10, 1942.

Ukrainians

Several hundred Ukrainians were imprisoned in Auschwitz. There are 550 camp identification photographs of Ukrainians classed as political prisoners, “asocial,” or, in a few cases, common criminals.

Other nationalities

There were prisoners in Auschwitz from almost every country in Europe, and even some non-Europeans. They included Albanians, Belgians, Danes, Dutch, Greeks, Hungarians, Italians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Luxembourgers, Norwegians, Romanians, Slovaks, Spaniards, and Swiss, with from several to several score of each nationality. There were also a lone Argentinean, a Chinese, a Bulgarian, and an Estonian.