AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

Informing the world

The German occupation authorities founded Auschwitz Concentration Camp (German:Konzentrationslager Auschwitz  – KZ Auschwitz) in the suburbs of Oświęcim. In order to isolate the prisoners held there, they removed the local Polish civilians from their homes in several operations carried out in 1940-1941. The depopulated area, referred to as the camp interest zone, covered about 40 sq. km. and was constantly patrolled by the SS.

Opportunities for contact with prisoners

Despite these security measures, contact between prisoners and the outside world remained possible. The authorities sent some prisoners outside the camp for labor, which made it possible for them to contact local Polish civilians. There were also civilian workers employed within the camp by German companies carrying out specialized construction, electrical, and plumbing work. Some of the civilian workers and people living near the camp interest zone gave aid to prisoners, despite the fact that doing so was punishable by arrest, brutal interrogation, and, usually, imprisonment in Auschwitz.