The Auschwitz I concentration camp is part of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. It is the best-preserved part of the entire concentration camps complex in Oświęcim, a place that is a symbol of war, terror, genocide and the Holocaust. Visitors are able to visit both the museal part of the permanent exhibition and most of the facilities on the premises of the former Auschwitz I main camp.
History and role of a concentration camp
The Auschwitz I concentration camp was established as a result of the formal division of Auschwitz in 1943. It is located on the premises of pre-war military barracks, adapted by the Nazis to new functions. Initially, it served as a concentration camp and extermination site, where prisoners died due to the lack of elementary living conditions. However, with the construction of the gas chamber and crematorium, it also became a center of immediate extermination.
The administrative part with the offices of the commander of the local garrison and the commandant of KL Auschwitz I, as well as the central offices of the political and employment departments, were located in Auschwitz I. Moreover, on the camp grounds there were main supply warehouses, workshops and SS enterprises where prisoners were forced to work.
Visiting Auschwitz I.
Visitors have access to a large part of the area and original or partially reconstructed buildings, as well as the permanent exhibition at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. In the outer part you can visit, among others the “Arbeit macht frei” gate, assembly square, gas chamber and crematorium, and individual blocks where the Nazis committed harrowing crimes. In addition, the part of the permanent exhibition contains documentary photographs, photocopies of documents and historical exhibits, including: prisoners’ clothes, bunks and other equipment of the barracks, private belongings taken from deported prisoners.
A minimum of 1.5 hours should be allocated to visit the Auschwitz I camp.
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
20 Więźniów Oświęcimia Street
+48 33 844 8000