AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

Historical collection

Collections

Glasses
Glasses

The Auschwitz Memorial is more than extensive grounds and original camp blocks, barracks, and guard towers. It is also tens of thousands of objects of a special nature, special meaning, and special symbolism. 

• Above all, it is the personal possessions brought by deportees and found at the site after liberation. They make up a unique collection of items connected with the suffering of the people deported to Auschwitz to be killed immediately, and with those forced into slave labor by the Germans.

• It is also the objects connected with the life of prisoners inthe camp, which bear testimony not only to the primitive living and hygienic conditions and starvation, but also with attempts to preserve humanity behind the barbed wire of Auschwitz. 

• The Museum collections also contain objects connected with the SS garrison, the perpetrators of the crime.  

CONTACT

The nature of the collections

The Museum collections include:

• about 110 thousand shoes;
• about 3,800 suitcases, 2,100 of which bear the names of their owners;
• over 12 thousand kitchen utensils;
• 470 prostheses and orthoses;
• 390 striped camp garments;
• 246 tallisim;
• about 4,100 works of art (including about 2 thousand of which were made by prisoners).

Personal possessions of the deportees

These are in particular personal possessions brought by deportees and found in the camp after the liberation. They constitute a unique collection of items connected with the suffering of the people, in the vast majority Jews deported to Auschwitz by the Germans to be killed immediately, as well as those forced to slave labour. These are thousands of items of everyday use, such as: kitchen utensils, shoes, eyeglasses, shoe polish containers, brushes or combs. They bear witness not only to the scale of the plunder carried out by German Nazis, but also to the suffering and death of their owners. Suitcases with names, birth dates, transport numbers and addresses have important documentary value and are often the only proof that a given person was deported to Auschwitz.

Fragment of a porcelain figure
Fragment of a...
Suitcase
Suitcase
Pocket watch
Pocket watch
Star of David patch
Star of David patch
Children’s dress
Children’s dress
Fragment of a civilian jacket with the Star of David sewn on it
Fragment of a...
Wicker basket
Wicker basket
Wicker basket
Wicker basket
Mirror
Mirror
Eyeglasses
Eyeglasses

Prisoner items

These items are directly connected with the everyday existence of prisoners in the camp. They represent primitive living conditions, humiliation of people by perpetrators, but also the attempts to remain humans behind the Auschwitz wires. They also illustrate the manifestations of resistance and mutual aid, and show how prisoners tried to inform the outside world about the crimes being committed by German Nazis in the camp.

Prisoner’s coat (with Star of David patch and camp number)
Prisoner’s coat...
Prisoner’s blouse and trousers
Prisoner’s blouse...
Coat with a red triangle patch, camp number and the letter “R” denoting a prisoner of Russian origin
Coat with a red...
Civilian jacket with a concentration camp prisoner mark (KL)
Civilian jacket...
Camp number patch
Camp number patch
A clog
A clog
Prisoner’s bowl
Prisoner’s bowl
Prisoner’s spoon made from a fragment of gutter
Prisoner’s spoon...
Signet ring made in secret in the camp by prisoner Jan Psonka who died in the camp on June 16 1942
Signet ring made in...
Doll made in the Birkenau camp
Doll made in the...

Camp items

Another group includes the items connected with the functioning of the camp: equipment from blocks and barracks that housed the prisoners, equipment from camp hospitals, as well as the items connected with camp administration and organization, among others boards with different inscriptions. 

Camp board (crossing and driving through forbidden for Poles)
Camp board...
Soup cauldron
Soup cauldron
Prisoners’ bunks
Prisoners’ bunks
Stretcher from the camp hospital
Stretcher from the...
"STÄRKEMELDUNG" camp board (Report on the number of prisoners)
"STÄRKEMELDUNG"...
Camp registry cards
Camp registry cards
Type for performing camp numbers and letters denoting the nationality on prisoners’ patches
Type for performing...
Gynecological chair
Gynecological chair
Vials with medicine
Vials with medicine

Items connected with the extermination process

The Museum collections include also the evidence of the crimes directly connected with the extermination of Jews conducted in the camp by German Nazis. These are among others Zyklon B cans, which contained the gas used as a killing tool in the gas chambers, as well as the remains of crematoria and gas chambers which were not destroyed during the evacuation of the camp. 

Board placed on trains deporting Jews from Westerbork to Auschwitz
Board placed on...
Gas chamber door
Gas chamber door
Gas chamber shower strainer
Gas chamber shower...
Zyklon B
Zyklon B
Zyklon B box label
Zyklon B box label
Ventilation duct inlet strainer from crematorium II
Ventilation duct...
Elements of crematorium oven opening system
Elements of...
Crematorium furnace door
Crematorium furnace...
Chamotte rings
Chamotte rings
Page from the sketchbook found near crematorium IV and V
Page from the...

SS items

The collections include the items connected with the perpetrators of the crime – the SS garrison. These are among others helmets and guard boots. There are also instruments used by the SS to inflict misery on the prisoners: whips and clubs used for beating, as well as the “goat” used during flogging.

SS helmet
SS helmet
Collar patch from the SS uniform
Collar patch from...
SS belt buckle
SS belt buckle
SS man’s confession of faith “Unser Glaube!”
SS man’s confession...
Chair from the camp commandant’s office
Chair from the camp...
Two-door wardrobe from the SS barracks
Two-door wardrobe...
SS motorcykle number board
SS motorcykle...
Whip
Whip
Dog tag
Dog tag
Witnter protection shoes of an SS guard with wooden soles and metal
Witnter protection...