Firstly, until mid-1943, the main death camps were camps similar to Sobibor, Belzec, and Treblinka. However, when all of the ‘non desirables’ had been liquidated, these camps shut down. Death camps were only meant to be a temporary place, and once their job was completed, they would quickly be dismantled. Auschwitz was different. It incorporated a Labour camp – so was designed for a much longer use than its’ contenders. The fact that it was one of the few camps that wasn’t temporary, meant that Jews from other areas of Europe – not just from nearby districts – were sent to Auschwitz to be dealt with accordingly. This made Auschwitz’s population grow to way beyond the amount it was originally designed to hold around 11,000. However, in August 1944, the population was a massive 105,168.
Secondly, the camp also had other uses, apart from a death camp. Auschwitz I was the base camp, in which the whole of Auschwitz-Birkenau was operated from, which also incorporated a few gas chambers, and prison cells. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the main death camp, where the majority of the 1.5-2 million Jews were killed. Auschwitz II also incorporated a separate camp for Roma and Ukrainian Gypsies, where Gypsies were sent from Ghettos such as Lodz, and from countries in the Nazi Empire.
Auschwitz III was the main Labour camp, where Jews and other ‘less desirables’ were held and worked for the Reich. Auschwitz also had 45 sub-camps, in the surrounding areas. These sub-camps were concentration camps, where ‘non desirables’ were held until they were moved to Auschwitz itself. The vast array of camps in Auschwitz made it the main extermination camp, as it was a lot easier sending the ‘non desirables’ to Auschwitz via train, that to build several hundred temporary Extermination camps.
Lastly, Himmler ordered for the camp to increase in size, saying ‘the existing extermination centres in the east are not sufficient to cope with an operation on such a scale’. The war emphasised the quickly progressed the killings in the Death camps, and Himmler knew that there were no camps big enough to ‘deal’ with the ‘undesirables’ on an industrial level. Auschwitz by this time was quite a small camp, with good railway links to Germany and the rest of Poland. During this time, Himmler also, said that Auschwitz should be the main camp for the proposed “Final Solutions”.
In conclusion, the main reason why Auschwitz was the main Death Camp was due to the fact that Auschwitz was one of the few permanent ‘killing stations’. This meant that ‘undesirables’ were sent there from all over Europe, and overpopulated the camp. This resulted in the camp increasing in size, and overall, having over seven gas chambers and crematoriums.
Courtney from Study Moose
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