AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

The number of victims

Auschwitz Concentration Camp was set up for Poles, and Poles were the first political prisoners there. The number of prisoners grew steadily as a result of the constant arrival of new transports. In 1940, nearly 8 thousand people were registered in the camp. Almost all of them were Poles. There were also small numbers of Jews and Germans in the camp. At that time, the latter usually held supervisory functions as capos and block supervisors.

In 1941, over 26 thousand people were registered in Auschwitz (about 15 thousand Poles, 10 thousand Soviet POWs, and more than 1 thousand Jews).

As a result of the inclusion of Auschwitz in the process of the mass extermination of the Jews, the number of deportees began to soar. About 197 thousand Jews were deported there in 1942, about 270 thousand the following year, and over 600 thousand in 1944, for a total of almost 1.1 million. Among them, about 200 thousand people were selected as capable of labor and registered as prisoners in the camp.

In this same period, from 1942 to 1944, about 160 thousand Poles, Gypsies, Byelorussians, Ukrainians, French, and others were registered as prisoners and given numbers. There were also more than 10 thousand people, mostly Poles, Soviet POWs, and Gypsies, not entered in the camp records or given numbers.

The mass deportation of Jews to Auschwitz that began in 1942 radically changed the makeup of the prisoner population. After three months of deportation, in mid-1942, Jews already made up the most numerous ethnic group, and their share of the population rose steadily from about 46% in June 1942 to about 68% at the peak of the camp’s population, in August 1944. A total of about 400 thousand prisoners were registered: 195 thousand non-Jews and 205 thousand Jews.