78th anniversary of the first transport of Poles to KL Auschwitz - anniversary commemorations


On 14 June 2018, we will commemorate the 78th anniversary of the first transport of Poles to the Nazi German concentration camp Auschwitz created in the area of occupied Poland incorporated into the Third Reich. Subject to the Polish Parliament’s decision, this date has been adopted as the National Remembrance Day for Victims of the German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camps.


Programme of the events of 14 June in Oświęcim and Harmęże:

9.30 – Holy Mass at the St. Maximilian Centre in Harmęże (Franciscan monastery)

10.30 – Visiting the exhibition Memory Cliches. The Labyrinths (St. Maximilian Centre in Harmęże) by former Auschwitz prisoner no. 432 Marian Kołodziej

11.30 – Placing flowers at the memorial plaque commemorating the arrival of the first transport to Auschwitz at the Witold Pilecki Vocational State School of Higher Education

12.30 – Lighting candles at the wall of death in the courtyard of Block 11 on the site of the former Auschwitz I camp

13.00 – Exhibition opening in Block 11 about the resistance movement in the KL Auschwitz

Commemorations in Tarnów will take place on June 13, 2018 at 10:00 am at the Memorial of the First Transport of Prisoners to KL Auschwitz.


The organizer of the commemoration is the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum (contact: ) and the:

• St. Maximilian Centre in Harmęże
• County Office in Oświęcim
• City of Tarnów
• City of Oświęcim
• Municipality of Oświęcim
• Institute of National Remembrance, Cracow Branch
• Witold Pilecki State Higher Vocational School in Oświęcim
• Foundation of Memorial Sites Near Auschwitz-Birkenau
• Auschwitz Memento Association
• Society for the Preservation and Maintenance Oświecim
• The Memorial Foundation for the Victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau
• Diocesan Curia of Bielsko-Żywiec
• Province of St. Anthony and blessed Jakub Strzemię of The Order Of Friars Minor Conventual (Franciscans)
• Krakow Foundation for Information, Meetings, Dialogue, Education and Prayer in Oświęcim
• Jewish Centre in Oswięcim
• International Youth Meeting Centre in Oświęcim
• Association of Roma in Poland
• Foundation for the Hospice - Memorial to the City of Oświęcim
• Faith and Truth Foundation

On 14 June 1940, the Germans deported a group of 728 Poles from the prison in Tarnów to the concentration camp in Auschwitz. Among the deported prisoners were soldiers of the September campaign, members of the underground independent organizations, school pupils and students, as well as a small group of Polish Jews. They received numbers from 31 to 758 and were placed for the quarantine period in the buildings of the former Polish Tobacco Monopoly, near the site of today's Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum (today, houses the State School of Higher Education in Oświęcim).

The first camp numbers were given to German criminals brought earlier by the SS men to Auschwitz from Sachsenhausen concentration camp, who assumed the position of prisoner functionaries.

Of the 728 prisoners deported on 14 June 1940 from Tarnów to Auschwitz, 298 survived, 272 died, and the fate of 158 is unknown to date.

The story about the first weeks of the newly-founded German Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz and its first prisoners can also be found in the online lesson “First transport of Poles to Auschwitz”. It presents the history of the transports of Poles from the Cracow District of the General Government: from prisons in Tarnów (14 June 1940), Nowy Wiśnicz (20 June 1940) and Montelupich in Cracow (18 July 1940), and a group of 271 prisoners brought to Auschwitz in June and early July, 1940, from the transitional camp in Sosnowiec in the district of Katowice.