Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, on this day in 1945 Russian soldiers finally liberated the Nazi extermination camp of Auschwitz. To mark this anniversary here are a few interesting facts about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.
Auschwitz II – Birkenau, was built in October 1941. It held more than 100,000 prisoners and housed gas chambers capable of disposing of 2,000 people a day. By 1944 some 6,000 people a day were being killed;· Auschwitz III – Monowitz, supplied forced labour for the nearby IG Farben plant, the company which made the Zyklon-B gas used in Nazi death camps;
No one really knows how many people died during the four and a half years of Auschwitz’s existence; Estimates range from 1.1million to 1.5million people.
Only an estimated 11% of Jewish children who were alive in 1933 survived the Holocaust.
In total 90% of the Jewish population in Poland died: some 2.8 million people.
Out of a total of about 7,000 guards at Auschwitz, including 170 female staff (the most infamous was Irma Grese, the 20-year-old daughter of a dairyman), 750 were prosecuted and punished after Nazi Germany was defeated.
More people died in Auschwitz than the British and American losses of World War Two combined.
A unit in Auschwitz where valuables snatched from incoming prisoners were kept was known as Canada, because Canada was thought to be a land of untold riches.
Nazis at Auschwitz offered some non-Jewish female prisoners the option of ‘light work’. As the women soon discovered, ‘light work’ meant prostitution.
Josef Mengele’s scientific experiments at Auschwitz often involved studies of twins. If one twin died, he would immediately kill the other and carry out comparative autopsies.
Denmark was the only Nazi-occupied country that managed to save 95% of its Jewish residents. Following a tip-off by a German diplomat, thousands of Jews were evacuated to neutral Sweden.
Some Jewish prisoners secretly wrote eye-witness accounts of the atrocities of the gas chambers and hid them in bottles or metal containers buried in the ground. A number of these accounts were discovered after the war.
These facts were taken from the brilliant Holocaust Survivors and Remembrance Project: “Forget You Not”™
Some Holocaust / Auschwitz facts on Holocaust Memorial Day
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