Auschwitz Concentration Camp - Timeline of Auschwitz

Timeline of Auschwitz

The timeline of events at the Auschwitz concentration camp began in January 1940 when the location was first visited by Arpad Wigand an aid to the Higher SS and Police Leader for Silesia Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski. The original intent of the camp was to intern Polish political prisoners. The original uses of the camp were added to and the capacity expanded over the course of the next four years, which reflected the political and economic decisions of the Third Reich, including the implementation of the Final Solution.

Timeline of Auschwitz
February 21, 1940 In January Arpad Wigand aide to Höhere SS- und Polizeiführer for Silesia Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski suggests the Polish military barracks at Oświęcim as a site for a concentration camp for Polish prisoners. Inspector of concentration camps Richard Glücks sends Sachenhausen commandant Walter Eisfeld to inspect the site. On February 21 Glücks informs Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler that the site will be developed into a concentration camp.
May 20, 1940 The first prisoners, 30 German career criminals from Sachsenhausen, arrive. Most will be made kapos, prisoner no. 1 is a German of Polish descent Bruno Brodniewicz. Among this group is Kurt Pachala from Breslau (prisoner no. 24) who was tortured and then sent to a "standing cell" in the basement of Block 11 where he died of thirst and hunger on January 14, 1943 as punishment for the June 20, 1942 escape of four prisoners.

June 14, 1940 First mass transport, consisting of 728 Polish political prisoners from Tarnow. They are held in the building which housed the Polish Tobacco Monopoly, until the camp is ready. Among the prisoners is Edward Galinski who would later make an escape with his girlfriend.
March 1, 1941 Reichsführer SS and Chief of German Police Heinrich Himmler inspects the camp. Because nearby factories use prisoners for forced labor, Himmler is concerned about the camp's capacity. On this visit, he orders both the expansion of Auschwitz I camp facilities to hold 30,000 prisoners and the building of a camp near Birkenau for an expected influx of 100,000 Soviet prisoners of war. Himmler also orders that the camp supply 10,000 prisoners for forced labor to construct an IG Farben factory complex at Dwory, about a mile away. Himmler made additional visits to Auschwitz in 1942, when he witnessed the killing of prisoners in the gas chambers.
September 3, 1941
The first gassings of prisoners occur in Auschwitz I. The SS tests Zyklon B gas by killing 600 Soviet prisoners of war and 250 other ill or weak prisoners. Testing takes place in a makeshift gas chamber in the cellar of Block 11 in Auschwitz I. The success of these experiments leads to the adoption of Zyklon B as the killing agent for Auschwitz II-Birkenau.
January 25, 1942 Himmler informs Richard Glücks, the Inspector of Concentration Camps, that 100,000 Jewish men and 50,000 Jewish women are to be deported from Germany to Auschwitz as forced laborers.
March 27, 1942 Deportations of Jews from France commence, primarily from Drancy internment camp. In total, approximately 75,000 French Jews are transported to Auschwitz (see Timeline of deportations of French Jews to death camps).
February 15, 1942
The first transport of Jews from Bytom (Beuthen) in German-annexed Upper Silesia arrives in Auschwitz I. The SS camp authorities kill all those on the transport immediately upon arrival with Zyklon B gas. German SS and police authorities deport around 175,000 Jews to Auschwitz in 1942.
April 29, 1942 First transport of Slovakian Jews arrives.
June 20, 1942
Polish political prisoner Kazimierz Piechowski (prisoner 918), and three other prisoners, Stanisław Gustaw Jaster, Józef Lempart, and Eugeniusz Bendera, escaped from Auschwitz I. They dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, fully armed. They stole an SS staff car, a Steyr 220 belonging to Rudolf Höss, from the motor pool and drove out the main gate. The escape was facilitated by Piechowski's fluent command of German. As they drove toward the gate he told the guards to hurry up and open it. None of the four were recaptured.
August 4, 1942 First transport of Jews from Belgium are deported to Auschwitz. Due to rescue efforts by resistance groups in Belgium, approximately 25,000 of the country's 57,000 registered Jews find hiding within the country and survive the war.
January 1, 1943 – March 31, 1943 German SS and police authorities deport approximately 105,000 Jews to Auschwitz
January 29, 1943
The Reich Central Office for Security orders all designated Roma residing in Germany, Austria, and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia to be deported to Auschwitz.
February 26, 1943 The first transport of Roma from Germany arrives. The SS authorities house them in Section B-IIe of Auschwitz-Birkenau, which becomes known as the "Zigeunerlager or the Roma family camp." By the end of 1943 more than 18,000 Roma were incarcerated there, and 23,000 deported to other parts of the camp complex.
March 13, 1943
Out of a transport of 2,000 Jews from the Kraków Ghetto, 1,492 are gassed in the basement gas chamber of Crematorium II at Birkenau in the evening. This operation tests the gas chamber's ventilation and air extraction equipment installed by J.A. Topf engineer Heinrich Messing, who declared it operational earlier that day.
March 22, 1943 Crematorium IV is ready for use.
March 31, 1943
Crematorium II is handed over to the Auschwitz authorities. Holocaust scholar Robert Jan van Pelt comments that more people lost their lives in this room than in any other room on Earth: 500,000 people.
April 4, 1943 Crematorium V is ready for use.
April 22, 1943
Transport 20 from the transit camp in Mechelen, Belgium arrives in Auschwitz. A Jewish doctor Youra Livschitz and his two non-Jewish high school friends Robert Maistriau and Jean Franklemon managed to stop the train on the tracks with only a lantern and a handgun when it rounded a curve in Boortmeerbeek, Belgium and open the doors on some of the rail cars. Some prisoners managed to escape then, over 200 more jumped from the train en route.
April 26–27, 1943 Witold Pilecki escapes during the night. He would later take part in the Warsaw Uprising, get captured and spend the remainder of the war in P.O.W. camps.
May 30, 1943 Josef Mengele arrives at Auschwitz. He often took part in "selections" of incoming prisoners on the ramp at Birkenau. During his time at Aushwitz he engaged in pseudoscientific experiments on camp inmates. He had a special fascination with twins. Mengele was known as "the Angel of Death". He escaped to South America after the war and was never brought to justice.
June 24, 1943
Crematorium III is ready for use.
July 19, 1943
Largest mass hanging at Aushwitz, public gallows constructed of train rails and railroad ties, specifically constructed to simultaneously hang 12 Polish prisoners, part of the Survey Kommando, for helping three prisoners escape. Two of the hanged are Boguslaw Ohrt: and Janusz Pogonowskino
February 21, 1944 Primo Levi arrives in the camp from Italy.
April 7, 1944 Two Jewish prisoners, Rudolf Vrba and Alfréd Wetzler, escape and pass a 32-page report of what is happening in the camp to Jewish officials in Slovakia. Their information becomes known as the Vrba-Wetzler report.
May 2, 1944
The first two transports of Hungarian Jews arrive in Auschwitz. Throughout May and June 1944, Hungarian Jews are deported to the camp at a rate of 12,000 a day.
May 16, 1944
Elie Wiesel arrives with his family on or around this date. His mother and youngest sister are immediately sent to be gassed.
May 22, 1944 Romani-Sinti, deported from the Netherlands arrive in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Settela Steinbach an eleven year old Sinti girl is caught on film peering out from the transport on May 19, by Jewish prisoner Rudolf Breslauer, who was ordered to film the deportation by the commandant of the Westerbork transit camp. Settela would die in the gas chamber.
June 6, 1944 The Allies land in Normandy, France to begin the liberation of Western Europe.
June 15 and 20, 1944 The first reports regarded as credible that describe the mass murder taking place in the camp are published by the BBC and The New York Times respectively, based on the Vrba-Wetzler report
June 24, 1944 Polish born Jewish girl Mala Zimetbaum (prison no.19880) and her Polish boyfriend Edward "Edek" Galinski (prison no. 518) escape from Birkenau. Galinski, one of the first deportees to Auschwitz, was wearing an SS uniform provided to him by SS-Rottenfuehrer Edward Lubusch, an ethnic German raised in Poland. They were caught on July 6, 1944 and returned to Auschwitz. They were imprisoned in separate cells in Block 11; both were sentenced to death. On September 15, 1944, Galinski was hung. Mala slit her wrists with a razor blade interrupting her execution. She was, according to various accounts taken to the crematorium to be burned alive. It's not known whether that occurred or she was shot in the crematorium.
July 7, 1944
In response to the publication of the Vrba-Wetzler Report, governments around the world put pressure on Regent Miklós Horthy of Hungary to halt the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz, which he does on July 7, 1944
August 2–3, 1944
The Zigeunerlager family is liquidated during the night; 2,897 men women and children perish in the gas chamber, 1,400 surviving men and women are transferred to Buchenwald and Ravensbruck for slave labor. An estimated 20,000 Roma were killed there in Aushwitz. Among the murdered are Romani mischlinge, used by Nazi race scientist Eva Justin in her pseudoscientific race research.
August 12–13, 1944
Almost 6,000 residents of Warsaw are transported to Auschwitz in response to the Warsaw Uprising (approximately twice as many females as males, including over a thousand children).
September 3, 1944 Anne Frank is transported to Auschwitz along with her mother Edith and sister Margot; on October 28, 1944 Anne and Margot were chosen in a selection to be transferred to Bergen-Belsen. Edith was left behind where it was reported she died of starvation. Anne and Margot would both die in March 1945 in the typhus epidemic at Bergen-Belsen only weeks before the camp's liberation by the British on April 15, 1945.
September 4, 1944 A transport of 3,087 predominantly Polish men, women, and children from Warsaw arrive in Auschwitz in retribution for Warsaw uprising
September 13 and 17, 1944 Another 4,000 predominantly Polish men and boys from Warsaw arrive in Auschwitz as retribution for the uprising.
October 7, 1944
Members of the Jewish prisoner "special detachment" (Sonderkommando) that was forced to remove bodies from the gas chambers and operate the crematoria stage an uprising. They successfully blow up Crematorium IV and kill several guards. Women prisoners had smuggled gunpowder out of nearby factories to members of the Sonderkommando. The SS quickly suppresses the revolt and kills all the Sonderkommando members.
October 30, 1944
The last selections take place on the Jewish ramp at Birkenau; 1,689 people from a transport from Theresienstadt concentration camp are sent to the gas chambers. After this, only individuals are gassed after selection within the camp. The last 13 people to be killed this way were women, gassed or shot in crematorium II on November 25.
November 25, 1944 As Soviet forces approach, SS chief Heinrich Himmler orders the destruction of the Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chambers and crematoria. During this attempt to destroy the evidence of mass killings, prisoners are forced to dismantle and dynamite the structures.
November 27, 1944
Twenty Jewish children, 10 boys and 10 girls ages 5–12, are selected from Block 10, by Josef Mengele at the behest of Kurt Heissmeyer. The children are sent to Neuengamme concentration camp. There they are infected with tuberculosis and subjected to medical experimentation. They are ultimately murdered by being hanged in the basement of the Bullenhuser Damm school in Hamburg.
January 12, 1945
The Red Army launches the Vistula-Oder Offensive; Soviet troops liberate Lodz on January 17, only 877 Jews remain in the ghetto out of a high of 163,177 people in 1941; Warsaw and Kraków are both liberated on January 19. The advance heads toward Oświęcim.
January 18–27, 1945 As Soviet units approach the camp, the SS evacuates prisoners to the west. Tens of thousands, mostly Jews, are forced to march to the cities of Loslau and Gleiwitz in Upper Silesia. During the march, SS guards shoot anyone who cannot continue. In Loslau and Gleiwitz, the prisoners are placed on unheated freight trains and deported to concentration camps in Germany, particularly to Flossenbürg, Sachsenhausen, Gross-Rosen, Buchenwald, and Dachau, and to Mauthausen in Austria. Nearly 60,000 prisoners are forced on death marches from the Auschwitz camp system. As many as 15,000 die. Thousands more are killed in the days before the evacuation.
January 27, 1945
Soviet troops enter the Auschwitz camp complex and liberate 7,000 prisoners, including children.
March 11, 1946 British troops capture the camp's first commandant, Rudolf Höss, who is living as a farmer called Franz Lang.
April 16, 1947 Poland sentences Rudolf Höss to death on April 2, 1947 and he is hanged on April 16.

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