Interactive Map Places of memory related
to serious human rights violations

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Theme: Genocide and/or Mass Crimes


Więźniów Oświęcimia 20







Theme: Genocide and/or Mass Crimes

Purpose of Memory

To honor the memory of the victims of the crimes committed by the Nazi regime in the concentration and extermination camp.

Institutional Designation

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Date of creation / identification / declaration


Public Access

Access to some areas and buildings on the Museum grounds may be restricted.

UNESCO Connection

1979: Registered in the UNESCO's World Heritage List.

Location description

The site consists of two parts of the old camp: Auschwitz and Birkenau (Auschwitz I, the former original concentration camp in Oświęcim; and Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the former concentration and extermination camp in Brzezinka).

Auschwitz I holds a permanent exhibition, the “national pavilions”, where each country presents a small exhibition about its history, the “wall of death” where prisoners were executed and the gas chamber and crematorium No. I.

In Auschwitz II-Birkenau, people can visit the barracks, ruins of gas chambers, crematoria and the International Monument to the Victims, among others.

The Nazi regime, led by Adolf Hitler, ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945. The first concentration camp, Dachau, was opened in 1933. Prisoners in the camps were political prisoners, people considered “undesirable elements” and, as from 1938, Jewish people started being taken to the camps. World War II (1939-1945) had already begun and Germany started to set up these camps in its occupied territories. The Polish city of Oświęcim, when annexed to the Nazi territory, acquired the German name of “Auschwitz”, where the concentration camp bearing the same name was built in the mid-’40s. At the end of 1941 and beginning of 1942, when the Nazi regime decided to systematically eliminate European Jewish people, they established extermination camps in Chelmno, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Majdanek and Auschwitz. After 1942, the Auschwitz camp became the largest center of mass extermination of Jewish people. The camp consisted of three main parts: the first and oldest one was Auschwitz I; the second part was the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp, the largest within the Auschwitz camps where the gas chambers and crematoria were located. The third part was Auschwitz III-Monowitz camp. It is estimated that at least one million three hundred thousand people were deported to Auschwitz by the Nazi regime. One million one hundred thousand prisoners, most of which were Jewish people, were killed in the gas chambers and their remains were taken to the camp’s crematoria.

In January 1945, approximately sixty thousand prisoners were taken from Auschwitz to railway junctions and then to different concentration camps. About fifteen thousand lost their lives during that “Death March”.

The intention of turning the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration and extermination camps into a museum materialized by the end of 1945 by means of a proposal made by former inmate Alfred Fiderkiewicz and approved by Polish authorities. The museum officially opened on June 14th, 1947, in commemoration of the arrival of the first convoy, in the presence of tens of thousands of people, including former prisoners and foreign delegations. The ceremony ended with a silent march. The Polish Parliament supported the act by declaring, one month later, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum a state museum. As from the ’60s, the internationalization of the site started with the conversion of buildings into “national pavilions”, where each country presented an exhibition of its own history. In 1967, an international monument for official ceremonies was inaugurated. The structure dedicated “to the victims of fascism” placed emphasis on political deportation.

In the early ’90s, two elements started a debate in relation to the future of Auschwitz-Birkenau: on the one hand, the genocide of Jewish people started to become an important matter of public debate; on the other, the communist regime came to an end in Poland in September 1989. At that moment, the Auschwitz International Council was created for the purpose of supervising the site’s development. In collaboration with the Israeli Museum Yad Vashem, the museum was redesigned and expanded to integrate the Birkenau site. In 1994, a new text was engraved on the international monument to highlight the Jewish identity of most of the victims.

Since 1988, the “March for Life” has been taking place every year, and hundreds of young people arrive from other countries to walk the three kilometers that separate Auschwitz from Birkenau to commemorate the death marches and honor the victims of the Holocaust.

Organization in Charge - Main Referent