History of the Memorial
From liberation to the opening of the Memorial
From January 17 to 21, 1945, the Auschwitz administration evacuated about 58 thousand prisoners into the depths of the Reich. At the same time, the SS were burning the camp records. On January 20, they blew up crematoria and gas chambers II and III in Birkenau. Just after the end of the evacuation, on January 23, they set fire to Kanada II, the warehouse full of property plundered from the Jews. Three days later, they blew up gas chamber and crematorium V. When Red Army troops entered the grounds of the camp on the 27th, they found about 7 thousand prisoners there, most of them sick and at the limits of physical exhaustion.
The first years of the Memorial
In April 1946, the Ministry of Culture and Art (Ministerstwo Kultury i Sztuki – MKiS) sent a group of former prisoners, led by Tadeusz Wąsowicz, to Oświęcim to protect the site of the Auschwitz camp and set up a museum there.At the beginning of 1947, Ludwik Rajewski, the head of the Department of Museums and Monuments in the MKiS, presented an organizational plan according to which the Museum would be a “historical document.”
The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum was created by an act of the Polish parliament on July 2, 1947, and includes the grounds of two extant parts of the Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camps.