Barracks Buildings at Auschwitz I

Street inside Auschwitz I, lined with poplar trees and brick buildings

If the name Auschwitz were not forever associated with the execution of Polish heroes, and the systematic gassing of the Jews, most people would consider the Auschwitz I camp to be a pleasant, tree-lined, campus-like setting with mellow brick buildings reminiscent of Harvard. In the 1998 photo above, students who are in tour groups walk down the broad streets of the camp, as though they were on their way to class. Only the wooden guard tower at the end of the street reminds us that this is a more sinister place.

Guard tower and barbed wire fence indicate that this is a prison

There were 22 buildings in the original Auschwitz farm labor camp, which was built in 1916; 14 of them were only one story high. The Nazis remodeled them into two story buildings with attic space. In the photo below, you can see a slight difference in the color of the bricks on the upper floors.

Remodeled barrack building in main Auschwitz camp

According to one of the tour guides, the trees which line the streets of Auschwitz I were planted by the Nazis "because they loved nature." The picture below shows a dead poplar tree which had not yet been removed in 1998. It was a silent reminder of the many deaths that occurred here. According to a book from the Auschwitz Museum, there were 150,000 Polish political prisoners incarcerated here, and at least half of them died. This is not counting the political prisoners, who were shot by the Gestapo at the black Wall of Death, who were not registered in the camp.

Even some of the trees didn't survive at Auschwitz

Auschwitz barracks in winter 2006

Photo Credit: José Ángel López

Not all of the buildings in the Auschwitz I camp are made of brick, as the photograph below shows. Wedged between two brick buildings is a prefabricated wooden horse barn of the kind used at Birkenau and Majdanek for barracks. A sign on the building in 2005 said that this barracks was used to house Dutch prisoners.

Wooden prefabricated horse barn between brick buildings at Auschwitz I

In the photo above, the building to the left of the wooden horse barn is Block 26. In the book entitled "Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp," Andrzej Strzelecki wrote "Initially, all the prisoners' clothes and hand luggage was stored in a warehouse (Block 26) in the main Auschwitz camp."

The second picture below is a close-up of the electrified barbed wire fence surrounding the barracks buildings, with a guard tower in the background. These wooden guard towers were prefabricated buildings which were shipped to the camp, ready for assembly.

Standard concentration camp fence with concrete posts and porcelain insulators

Roller used to level camp street

Close-up of camp street

The streets of the Auschwitz I camp are made of crushed brick, covered with decomposed granite. I was reminded of the Capitol Mall in Washington, DC which has streets covered with decomposed granite.

Old Sentry Box and camp kitchen

Commandant's house & old theater

Gas Chamber

Introduction to Auschwitz I

Entrance to Auschwitz I

Inside the Visitor's Center

Exit from the Visitor's Center

Entrance through "Arbeit Macht Frei" Gate

Auschwitz Museum Exhibits

Swimming Pool

Block 11 - the camp prison

Prison Cells Inside Block 11

Standing Cells in Block 11

The Black Wall

Back to Photo Gallery 1


This page was last updated on July 28, 2009