30 Shocking Auschwitz Facts that YOU Should Know!
Insights into Prisoner's Everyday Life


Why should we all get to know at least some of the facts about Auschwitz? Because it’s one of the most important places in Europe’s history.

That’s the reason why Auschwitz Tours are so popular and why people from all around the world are coming to Poland to see this state.

But have you ever wondered how much you really know about Auschwitz?

Even if you’ve learned about it at school – it probably wasn’t much.

Unfortunately, the knowledge about the tragic history of Auschwitz – Birkenau amongst people gradually fades. We cannot let that happen, that’s why we prepared our article about Auschwitz facts.

Do you want to know more?

We have researched lots of unknown Auschwitz facts that will totally shock you. But it is something we all need to know to fully understand the tragedy of genocide.

So, if you want to be fully ready for participating in Auschwitz Tour, we hope our 30 Auschwitz facts will help you prepare for your visit. 

Auschwitz Facts
Road to Auschwitz

Auschwitz historical facts you have to know

Let’s start with 5 elementary Auschwitz facts, that should be obligatory for us.

30. Auschwitz was first constructed to hold Polish political prisoners, who began to arrive in May 1940. In the end, more people died in Auschwitz than the British and American losses of World War II combined.

29. The Birkenau camp was the largest of the more than 40 camps and sub-camps, that was part of the Auschwitz camp complex (if you want to know its size and location, check Where is Auschwitz post)

28.  From March 1, 1942, to November 22, 1943, the camp was subordinated to Rudolf Höss – the commandant of the entire complex of Auschwitz camps. He was arrested in 1946, convicted of murder and hanged at the camp.

Auschwitz Facts
Rudolf Höss

27.  The division of the camp into three lesser ones was created for easier management. Each of them had a different function:

  • Auschwitz I focused central offices, warehouses, and workshops.
  • Auschwitz II camp was a center for the extermination of the Jews brought into extermination.
  • The task of the Auschwitz III camp was to hire prisoners’ workforce.

26.  On January 27, 1945, the Soviet soldiers opened the gates of KL Auschwitz. Prisoners welcomed them as genuine liberators. The paradox of history caused that soldiers who were formally representatives of Stalinist totalitarianism brought freedom to the prisoners of Nazi totalitarianism.

Auschwitz Facts
Auschwitz’s main gate

Do you want to know what the daily life of the camp looked like?

Auschwitz facts that will bring you closer to prisoners’ everyday life

25.  The Auschwitz camp consisted of 28 blocks. Most of them were residential buildings for prisoners. The blocks were intended for about 700 prisoners, however, their number reached even 1,200. In the second part of the camp – Birkenau – there were two types of barracks for prisoners: brick and wooden. Each of them lacked sanitary facilities, lights, and heating

24.  For the first months, the water was available only in kitchen barracks. The prisoners did not have access to it. They went dirty for a long time. In addition, there was high humidity in the barracks, and lice and rats were a huge problem for prisoners.

23. . Prisoners had to undress before bathing in their barracks and – regardless of weather conditions – go naked to the bathhouse. For many prisoners, it ended with illness and death.

Auschwitz Facts
Auschwitz Block

22.  The prisoners received three meals during the day:

  • Half a liter of water with a substitute of coffee or tea in the morning.
  • 1 liter of soup (made of potatoes, swedes, millet, rye flour and “Avo” food extract) for dinner. Soups were disgusting, so it was hard for the new prisoners to eat them.
  • 300 grams of black bread for supper, with 25 grams of sausage, margarine, marmalade or cheese.

21. The working day began in the summer season at 4.30, and in the winter season at 5.30. At the sound of the first gong, the prisoners got up and cleaned the houses. Then they tried to wash, defecate and drink “coffee” or “tea”. At the sound of the second gong, the prisoners ran out for the roll-call, where they lined up in rows of ten.

Check more sad details of prisoners’ fate and frightening Auschwitz photos.

Auschwitz Facts
Between the blocks

It’s obvious that being a prisoner of Auschwitz was a terrible experience.

But do you know who the prisoners were?

The most popular choices

The prisoners – Auschwitz facts about victims

20. Polish nationality prevailed in the camp until March 1942. There were some Germans, Czechs, and Yugoslavs as well. From April 1942, Jews‘ transports from ghettos across occupied Europe began. It was the result of the Nazi’s “final solution“.

19. Jewish prisoners were persecuted during the procedure of admission to the camp. Authorities treated Jews most ruthlessly, often with sophisticated cruelty. According to SS the value of their life was the lowest. All of them became victims of hunger, cold, work beyond strength and constant abuse or died in gas chambers.

18. Each prisoner belonged to one of the marked categories:

  • political prisoners
  • Jehovah’s witnesses
  • expatriates
  • socialists
  • criminals
  • homosexuals

Every prisoner received a camp number. Letters denoted the nationality and the Jews had additional yellow triangles.

Auschwitz Facts
Young Auschwitz prisoners/source: thehistoryblog.com

17. There were about 232 000 of children under the age of 18 years deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. This number includes about 216,000 Jews, 11 thousand Gypsies, at least 3 thousand Poles, over 1 thousand Belarussians, Russians, Ukrainians and others.

16. At least 1 million of Jews were killed in Auschwitz (only about 100,000 as registered prisoners). Not less than 900,000 were killed immediately after transport in gas chambers (1 in 6 Jews killed in the Holocaust died at Auschwitz). There were also around 100,000 victims of other nationalities.

Fortunately, they were also some survivors and those who escaped.

Auschwitz Facts
Flowers for victims

Auschwitz survivors – testimonies of courage

15. The first escape took place on July 6, 1940, by Tadeusz Wiejowski. He got help from his countrymen, who were employed in the camp as civilian workers. Unfortunately, he was caught one year later and executed in jail. We can not omit the story of Witold Pilecki, a Polish soldier, volunteered to be imprisoned in Auschwitz in order to gather information, escaped and let the world know about the Holocaust.

14. On June 20, 1942, four Poles: Kazimierz Piechowski, Stanisław Gustaw Jaster, Józef Lempart and Eugeniusz Bender fled. They broke into SS magazines, from where they stole SS uniforms and weapons. Disguised as SS men, they left the camp by car stolen from the SS garages. They arrived at the General Government.

Other prisoners usually escaped from workplaces outside the camp.

Auschwitz Facts
Auschwitz’s survivor

13. 928 prisoners tried to escape from Auschwitz in total (including 878 men and 50 women). Among them, the largest group were Poles – 439 of them (including 11 women).

12. 196 prisoners successfully escaped from the camp. Most of them lived to see the end of the war. There were also 25 prisoners whose escape was successful, but after some time (a few weeks or months, sometimes even years) they were captured again.

11. About 230 Soviet soldiers fell in the battle for the liberation of the camp. About 7,000 prisoners received freedom. Antoni Dobrowolski, the oldest known survivor of Auschwitz, died aged 108 on October 21, 2012, in Poland.

Also, many other, unusual human stories took place in the camp.

Do you want to hear them?

Auschwitz stories the world should hear more about

10. Polish midwife Stanislawa Leszczynska helped pregnant women in Auschwitz to give birth to over 3,000 babies. She described her memories in The Report of a Midwife from Auschwitz. The book is a proof of how she risked her life to save newborns.

Auschwitz Facts
Stanislawa Leszczynska before the War

9. At the age of 86 died Auschwitz prisoner Salamo Arouch – Jewish Greek boxer. He survived concentration camp thanks to his fighting skills. Nazi soldiers used him for boxing matches organized for entertainment. He won about 200 fights, and that kept him alive.

8. There was a public house called “Puff” in the camp. The services of prostitutes were supposed to be a motivation for working prisoners. Sex was also supposed to stop homosexuality, which spread among the prisoners. In the whorehouse, Polish and German women “were employed”. They volunteered to save their lives.

Krakow to Auschwitz
Inside the block

7. A lot of prisoners were used in cruel Joseph Mengele’s pseudo-medical experiments. The use of prisoners for experiments was a part of the Nazi concept that the enemies of the state should serve the Reich either by work or death during scientific research. 

Some of the sadistic experiments based on:

  • sterilization of women and men
  • hunger disease
  • genetic tests (especially on children)
  • testing of various toxic substances
  • hypothermia
  • electroshocks

It’s hard to count how many people have been victims of that treatment.

 Bayer (famous for producing aspirin) bought prisoners from Auschwitz to use as research subjects for testing new drugs.

Did you know that?

6. The underground activity was organized in Auschwitz. It was primarily made up of Polish political prisoners. In 1942 and 1943 several resistance groups by prisoners deported from various countries were formed in the camp as well.

Several rebellions broke out in the camp however armed intervention was not denied. The prisoners knew that they were too weak to defeat SS officers.

Fortunately, the war came to an end and Auschwitz’s nightmare ended.

Come to the last 5 Auschwitz facts and get know how the Auschwitz camp changed the course of the history.

Auschwitz Facts
Auschwitz Concentration Camp

Post-War important Auschwitz facts

5. About 60 million Reichmarks, equivalent to £125m today, was generated for the Nazi state by slave labor at Auschwitz during the Holocaust.

4. The International Holocaust Remembrance Day is on 27 January. This date was chosen because of the day of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army.

3. Despite thousands of evidence, there are still people and organizations which deny that thousands of people were murdered in the camp. They are sure that there were no gas chambers in the camp and don’t believe that the crematories could burn a few thousand corpses. In other words, they negate the fact, that the camp was a place of genocide.

Auschwitz Facts
Auschwitz’s fence

2. Since the beginning of the war, the Nazis (primarily for political reasons) did everything they could to hide from the public the truth about the extermination of people in the occupied countries. 

1. After Auschwitz became a museum in 1947, exhumation work lasted for more than a decade.

You can see how Auschwitz looks like today in the pictures or by visiting it. So if you want to see that shocking place on your own, join one of the Auschwitz Tours from Krakow.

A small cheat sheet of the most important dates at the end:

Auschwitz Facts

And if you are planning your Auschwitz Tour we highly encourage you to explore our options. Focus on the tragic story and let us take care about the logistics of the tour:

Auschwitz tours

4.93 (15)


2019.01.05 17:01
Have visited Auschwitz June 2018.I think people should be made to visit so they can see the dreadful conditions these prisoners were condemned to live in, for the sake of a mad man called Hitler. There are no words to explain it's foulness and how man can do that to it's fellow man
2019.01.22 14:01
Dear John, Totally agree! People do not understand and they cannot even imagine what happened in Auschwitz unless they see it. Thank you for your comment! Best regards, Karolina
2019.01.10 15:01
Towards the end of the article, you say „So if you want to see that thrilling place on your own”. The word ‘thrilling’ is not a very appropriate word to use. It means excitement and pleasure which should not be associated with Auschwitz.
2019.01.22 14:01
Dear Darren, Thank you for pointing that out! English is not our mother tongue, so those mistakes happen sometimes. I will change this word immediately. Thank you and best regards, Karolina
2019.01.18 04:01
This is a wonderful quick fact article about the terrible things that happened in Auschwitz.
2019.01.22 14:01
Thank you, I'm glad you found it useful! Best regards, Karolina
Caprice Adler
2019.01.21 20:01
Thank you for providing so much good information. My father Albert Benrubi, an attorney who practiced law in Paris, France, died in Auschwitz after exhausting slave labor. That's all I know. I am still alive due to an amazing Catholic priest who met my father in Drancy's camp.
2019.01.22 14:01
Hello, Thank you for this comment! It is unbelievable how many families suffered because of WWII. I am very sorry about your father. But there is a lot of hope in your story as well. I really appreciate you sharing this Best regards, Karolina
Marie stewart
2019.01.26 18:01
I am sorry about your dear father and am happy you were saved by a compassionate soul. I wish I could know more about your story. It touched my heart.
2019.01.24 16:01
thanks for the info
2019.01.25 14:01
You are very welcome
Tammy Stafford
2019.01.26 21:01
This camp is not only a monument to those who died here,but also a reminder of how evil the Ss were.The Holocaust should never be forgotten. RIP THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL.
2019.01.28 14:01
Definitely, Tammy! Thank you for your comment
Amy king
2019.01.30 17:01
Such a horrible time in history, thank you for all the facts!! I’m doing a project on this
2019.01.31 08:01
You are welcome, Amy! If you need any help - let me know :) Best regards, Karolina
2019.01.31 08:01
This is an amazing fact file, about a dreadful place. This has opened my eyes even more about the place of horror and evil. Thank you so much for bringing these out into the world, they may be depressing but they are the truth.
2019.01.31 08:01
Dear Blu, Thank you for your comment and You are welcome! Best regards, Karolina
2019.02.04 20:02
Helped with my school work and it’s mad to think about that one man caused all the 6 million people to die in Auschwitz-Birkenau
2019.02.05 08:02
Thank you for your comment Elliott! I'm very glad that you fond this article useful and obviously one cannot stop thinking about how horrific this story is and how much those people suffered for no reason.
2019.02.05 10:02
thanks for you stories and facts about Auschwitz I found them very interesting its very hard to believe what the SS put these people through and did to them and for no reason really over some mad ideas that they were the root of evil when infact it was the other way round iam hoping to visit this year just to see with my own eyes how horrific this place is
2019.02.06 12:02
Thank you so much for your comment Andy! When you start planning your visit - let me know, I'll be happy to help! Best regards, Karolina
2019.02.15 05:02
I visited both camps in June 2018 and was astounded at the solid construction of Auschwitz 1. The buildings looked like a college campus at first sight until you discovered the terrible atrocities that took place here. I am pleased that I was able to go through the entire complex, though some of the sites and interiors of the buildings were too sinister and disturbing to contemplate. I am certain that if the war was not brought to an end many more people would have lost their lives. The Birkenau camp looked more like a place for internment before death. It is in a much larger area and the barracks to house the inmates look very stark and poorly constructed. Much of the camp was destroyed by the German forces when they knew the allied advance was imminent. It is a visit that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
2019.03.01 13:03
I have read so much about the Holocaust and every time I read something new, my heart breaks for the men, woman and children who died in those awful places. I cannot imagine what they must have gone through, especially the children who never knew what was happening. It must have been so scary for them. I wish I could put my arms around all those people and just hold them and let them know that 79 years later, people are still reading their stories an that what they went through, will never be forgotten.
2019.03.04 11:03
That was such a beautiful comment, Beverley! Thank you so much!
2019.03.05 17:03
I live about 80 kilometers away from Auschwitz, on the other side of the border, in the Czech Republic. I have been there several times and I encourage everyone to see that place. Children from my country often visit Auschwitz during their school trips. It is important for people to see.
2019.03.06 11:03
Dear Dana, Thank you for your comment! Definitely - Everyone should see this place to understand what had happened during WWII.
2019.03.09 20:03
just returned after visiting Auschwitz -Birkenau the tour was very informative and educational I still cannot understand how human beings( if you could call them that )could treat anyone irrespective of their race or religion .all I kept asking myself was WHY WHY ?
2019.03.11 11:03
Dear Steven, since we talk about this subject to visitors so often, we ask that question pretty much everyday :( And we do not seem to get the answer... Thank you for your comment!
Una Marron
2019.03.16 18:03
I visited Auschwitz a number of years ago as part of a tour organised by our local Jewish community. Without sounding melodramatic, it changed my life. I am returning with my sister this April 2019 who wished to see it for herself. My nephews and their partners are just back from visiting this horrific place. I wish it was mandatory for all school children to visit Auschwitz as I believe it would result in less anti-semitism and racism in our world.
2019.03.17 01:03
So sad how many people died in Auchwitz. I always feel sad about this that so many people died because of Hitler.Thanks so much for the information!
2019.03.21 07:03
We were on a tour of the Auschwitz -Birkenau complex in July of 2013. It is such a sad and eerie place knowing what happened there less than 100 years ago. Many people do not understand that there were other people killed there besides the Jewish people. Gypsies, disabled, political prisoners, and other religions were eliminated there too. The Holocaust should never be forgotten. Rest in peace.
2019.07.29 19:07
I had no idea about most of these. It's so shocking what a person could do to another human being. I've been in Auschwitz a few years ago during my European trip. Our tour guide gave us a slight glimpse of life in Auschwitz concentration camp. It still haunts me till form time to time. That hair and shoes. The scratch marks inside the gas chamber. The bone-chilling atmosphere inside the camp. It's so important for us to remember what happened, so it will never happen again.
2019.08.01 16:08
Thank you, Phoebe! It requires the courage to go through the Auschwitz gate. The truth about life in Auschwitz concentration camp shocks many people. This is one of the most important history lessons a person can experience. Even though the place is sad and shocking, we are honored to carry this legacy and educate people. We must remember what happened once, so it never happens again.
2019.09.13 07:09
I toured the Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau camps in the month of January. I remember thinking how can anyone survive the winters in this man made hell. Quote from George Santayana “The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again”.
Mary C
2019.09.25 18:09
My step-son’s grandmother was a Polish prisoner arrested for stealing a loaf of bread as a teenager. She was one of the survivors but we can’t find her on any of the lists. Was there a separate list for the women of the brothel? Maybe she was there? She made it to the USA but died in her 40s from complications of her time in Auschwitz.

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