Jews in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp

Among the victims of the extermination in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, the
Jews suffered the most. From the first days of the war, they were forced into ghettos and
treated horribly, and then sent to various concentration camps. What was the life of Jews like
in KL Auschwitz?

The followers of Judaism were present in the very first transport to Auschwitz. From the
moment they crossed the gate of death it was known that their life in the camp would be
difficult. They were marked first with a red and yellow triangle forming the Star of David, and
then red triangles with a yellow stripe above triangles. In the first years of the camp’s
existence, the rations of food for the prisoners were supposed to last for six weeks, while for
the Jews it was only for two.

Prisoners of this origin were much more often beaten and humiliated. They were sent to the
heaviest camp work or to a penal company where, as a rule, prisoners were sent for serious
offenses, such as contacts with civilians or attempts to escape. In the case of Jews, merely
theri origin was a sufficient pretext to send them to this commando. That is why their
mortality in the first year was around 90% and as it appears from calculations based on
transport cards and death certificates, the actual life expectancy of Jews in the camp was
just about two weeks.

This situation changed in 1942 when, due to the high mortality rate of Soviet prisoners of war
in the newly built Birkenau sub-camp, the Jews were seen as a free workforce. They were
assigned to more tasks, some even got to the “good” commandos. Some were even capos
in various commandos. The capo itself had to appear brutal in order not to lose its function
right away. Jewish kapos had to try even harder and were even more ferocious.
The situation in the women’s block was slightly different. When it was opened, one of the
first transports was the transport of Jewish women. Therefore they occupied more significant
positions in the block.

Jewish prisoners were less likely to receive packages. They could send and receive fewer
letters. Also, attempts to resist the oppressors had a chance of success: they were mainly
attempting to escape from the camp and small, quickly suppressed rebellions. They died like
everyone else: in gas chambers, while working, shot dead, with phenol injection, from
diseases or on wires.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to estimate how many Jews were on land in Auschwitz-
Birkenau and how many died in the camp. The files and documentation on which we can rely
are incomplete. They were not properly replenished, some Jews went straight to the gas
chambers, and some were just not recorded. It is estimated that at least one million Jews
died in the camp, of which only 100,000 were registered prisoners.

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