MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

Jewish children

Jewish children made up the largest group of those deported to the camp. They were usually sent there along with adults, beginning in early 1942, as part of the “final solution of the Jewish question”—the total destruction of the Jewish population of Europe. As incapable of labor, these children were sent from the unloading ramp to the gas chambers and put to death there. At times, small numbers of boys and girls were selected for labor. In 1944, because of the grave labor shortage, even children of 13 or 14 were registered in the camp and employed at places like the refinery in Trzebinia or the coal mine in Jawiszowice. From the middle of 1943, children suitable for criminal pseudomedical experiments by SS doctors, including Dr. Josef Mengele, were also selected from Jewish transports.

The fate of the children in the Jewish transports to Auschwitz from the ghetto-camp in Terezin, from September 1943 to May 1944, was somewhat different. They were placed in a special family camp in Birkenau (BIIb), along with their parents. The temporary operation of this family camp over a period of 11 months, like that of a similar facility for Gypsies, was a propaganda ploy intended to mislead both public opinion and the victims themselves as to the true purpose of “deportation to the East.”