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The Auschwitz concentration camp complex was the largest of its kind established by the Nazi regime. It included three main camps. All three camps used prisoners for forced labor. One of them also functioned for an extended period as a killing center. The camps were located approximately 37 miles west of Krakow. They were near the prewar German-Polish border in Upper Silesia, an area that Nazi Germany annexed in 1939 after invading and conquering Poland.
The SS authorities established three main camps near the Polish city of Oswiecim: Auschwitz I in April 1940; Auschwitz II (also called Auschwitz-Birkenau) in October 1941; and Auschwitz III (also called Auschwitz-Monowitz) in October 1942.
Number of Victims
The best estimates of the number of victims at the Auschwitz concentration camp complex, including the killing center at Auschwitz-Birkenau, between 1940 and 1945 are: Jews (1,095,000 deported to Auschwitz, of whom 960,000 died); Poles (147,000 deported, of whom 74,000 died); Roma (23,000 deported, of whom 21,000 died); Soviet prisoners of war (15,000 deported and died); and other nationalities (25,000 deported, of whom 12,000 died).
It is estimated that the SS and police deported at least 1.3 million people to the Auschwitz complex between 1940 and 1945. Of these, the camp authorities murdered approximately 1.1 million.
Auschwitz in the Camp System
The Auschwitz concentration camp complex was subordinate to the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps. Originally subordinate to the SS Main Office, the Inspectorate was transferred to the SS Operations Main Office after World War II began. In March 1942, the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps was incorporated into the SS Economic-Administrative Main Office and remained subordinate to that agency until the end of World War II.
In November 1943, the SS decreed that Auschwitz-Birkenau and Auschwitz-Monowitz would become independent concentration camps. The commandant of Auschwitz I remained the SS garrison commander of all SS units assigned to Auschwitz and was considered the senior officer of the three commandants. SS offices for maintaining prisoner records and managing prisoner labor deployment continued to be located and centrally run from Auschwitz I. In November 1944, Auschwitz II was reunified with Auschwitz I. Auschwitz III was renamed Monowitz concentration camp.