Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial & Museum
Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial & Museum is the former Nazi concentration and extermination camp. The museum exhibition contains original documents, suitcases, shoes and other belongings of murdered prisoners. Original fences, wooden watchtowers and railway ramps have been preserved. The first and oldest was the so-called 'main camp', later also known as 'Auschwitz I', which was established on the grounds and in the buildings of prewar Polish barracks. The number of its prisoners fluctuated around 15,000, sometimes rising above 20,000.
The second part was the Birkenau camp, known as 'Auschwitz II'. This was the largest part of the Auschwitz complex. It functioned as a war camp, extermination camp and place from where people were sent to labour in Nazi Germany. The Nazis began building the camp in 1941 on the site of Brzezinka village, three kilometers away from Oswiecim. The Polish civilian population was evicted and their houses were confiscated and demolished. The largest part of the apparatus of mass extermination was built in Birkenau. More than 90 percent of the prisoners, mostly Jews, were killed there. Birkenau was mostly destroyed by the retreating Germans.