In the South of Poland, about 60 kilometers from Krakow, stand the gates of Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration camp and extermination complex.
Auschwitz is primarily known for being the deadliest extermination site in Europe: 1,100,000 Jews were deported there from all over the continent. Eighty percent of them were murdered as soon as they arrived. During the deportation of Jews from Hungary, it’s estimated that up to 12,000 people were massacred there each day.
It was also the largest of the Nazi concentration camps. Two hundred thousand people were sent there, first and foremost Poles. With three main camps and approximately 30 subcamps, the site extended over a perimeter of 100 square kilometers!
Why such a large site? For Hitler, the territory that extended East of Germany had to meet two objectives: Reduce the local population to slavery at the service of the industrial policy of the Third Reich and serve the expansion of the "pure" Aryan race. Auschwitz was the showcase of this colonization policy. As a result, it served as a settlement site aimed at creating a model city to accommodate German settlers, but also as a gigantic industrial complex at the heart of which was Buna-Werke, an immense factory intended to produce rubber and synthetic oil for aviation.
At the end of the war, many traces of the Auschwitz camps were destroyed, notably by the Nazis themselves when they fled from the Red Army. Others did not stand the test of time or were gradually forgotten. But others still have managed to make their way to us. Thanks to the work of historians who examine them relentlessly and contextualized by the stories of the survivors, we invite you to discover exceptional documents: Drawings by former prisoners, testimonies buried in the ground at Auschwitz, and rarely seen photo albums.
Seventy-five years after the Liberation, this investigation will delve into the traces of the most dreadful concentration camp and extermination complex, a universal symbol of the Holocaust and Nazi violence.