Escapes from KL Auschwitz - new online lesson
"Escapes from KL Auschwitz" is the new online lesson, prepared by the International Center For Education About Auschwitz and the Holocaust. The author is Dr. Jacek Lachendro of the Museum’s Research Centre.
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‘The lesson is divided into several chapters. It describes among others, the geographical location of the Auschwitz camp, its security system, alarm system, repressions faced by captured escapees, the collective revolts and finally tells the stories of 25 selected escapes’, said Agnieszka Juskowiak-Sawicka, head of E-learning in ICEAH.
‘This includes among others, the first escape from Auschwitz by Tadeusz Wiejowski, the escape of Kazimierz Piechowski, Eugeniusz Bendera, Stanisław Jaster and Józef Lempart, the escape of Calvary Captain Witold Pilecki, Jan Redzej and Edward Ciesielski, the escape of Mala Zimetbaum and Edek Galiński, as well as the escape of Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler. All this is enriched with photographs, diagrams, accounts and maps, wherever it was possible to reconstruct the route of the escapes’, added Agnieszka Juskowiak-Sawicka.
Most of the escapees from Auschwitz were Polish prisoners. ‘This was related to the fact that Germans initially founded Auschwitz for the Poles, and only from mid-1941 they started transferring prisoners of other nationalities to the camp, among which the Jews outnumbered other nations in spring the following year. The Poles had a greater chance of success, because they knew the language and were familiar with the terrain. The second largest group of escapees were citizens of the Soviet Union, and then the Jews, among whom Polish Jews prevailed,’ said Dr. Jacek Lachendro.
The highest number of escapes were recorded from the work groups employed in Birkenau (381 persons) and its vicinity. Then, from the Auschwitz I camp and its neighbourhood (203 persons), as well as from the sub-camps (167), and Monowitz (75).
Approximately 200 prisoners successfully escaped from the camp, most of whom survived the war. For 25 prisoners, the escape ended in success, but after some time (a few weeks or months, sometimes even years) they were captured, sometimes accidentally, and sent to prison or to the camp. For more than 400 persons, the escape was unsuccessful – or they were caught and sent to the camp, where most of them died or were shot during a chase.
There is no information to date regarding the fate of over 200 people after leaving the camp. One can, however, assume that since their capture was not recorded in German documents, the escape ended successfully. Finally, data is missing on the escape attempts of 20 persons.
‘It is worth noting that these escapes would not have been possible but for the support of part of the inhabitants of the surrounding areas who risked their lives providing the escapees with shelter, clothes or food’, added Dr. Lachendro.
The lesson is available in English and Polish. On the website of www.auschwitz.org you will also find the following online lessons: