History of The Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum 

Auschwitz Birkenau Museum in Oswiecim Brzezinka tour visit

Soon after the liberation of the KL Auschwitz camp and the complete end of the war, the
Polish Ministry of Culture and Art decided to set up a museum on the site of the
extermination camp, commemorating the tragic fate of millions of people. Thus, on July 2nd,
1947, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum was officially opened with the consent
of the communist authorities.

When it was already known that the Third Reich was losing World War II, the Nazis
successively began to relocate camp prisoners deep into the Reich, and then destroy some
of the buildings in the camp. „Kanada II” was demolished – the place of storing properties
taken from Jews, the gas chamber, crematoria, and burning pits. Unfortunately,
documentation was also burned and destroyed.

When the Red Army entered the camp, only a handful of prisoners remained – the sick and
the weakest. The remaining camp property was also partially transported by the Red Army
and stolen by the returning population.

A year later, a group of surviving prisoners was sent to the site of the former camp to help
create the museum. The plan assumed that the memorial site should be a well-thought-out
structure, a historical document, telling not only the fate of the prisoners but the entire history
of the camp. It quickly became clear, that warning future generations against the tragedy of
war is extremely important.

The main camp, Auschwitz, was to be designated as a memorial site. Birkenau was to be a
„park-cemetery” where a mausoleum was to be erected in honour of the fallen. The plans did
not include Auschwitz III Monowitz, where factories were located. Ultimately, part of
Auschwitz covers 20 ha, while Auschwitz II and Birkenau, 191 ha. The following were to be
presented in individual blocks: the history and origins of the camps, the attitude of the Nazis
to other nations, the women’s bloc, the so-called „death block”, the issue of extermination or
the resistance movement. 12 prison blocks were selected for this purpose. The rest were to
be intended for the representatives of the nations of prisoners who died in the camps.
An important person in this story is Tadeusz Wąsowicz. He was a survivor not only of
Auschwitz, but also of Montelupich, Gross-Rosen, and Buchenwald. Wąsowicz was the first
manager of the museum after its opening.

The museum finally opened on June 14th, 1947. A large part of the plans had not been
executed then. The museum was still in construction. Auschwitz-Birkenau, as the only one of
the concentration camps, was put in 1979 on the UNESCO World Heritage List as
Auschwitz-Birkenau German Nazi concentration and extermination camp (1940–1945).

Book the tour to Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum

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