Soviet prisoners in KL Auschwitz
After the start of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 and the initial military successes of the German army on the Eastern Front, thousands of Soviet prisoners of war were taken prisoner by the Germans.
Some of them ended up in German concentration camps, including Auschwitz. The first transports arrived in July and August 1941. At the beginning of September of the same year, the first attempt to gas the prisoners using Zyklon B was carried out in the basement of Block 11. The first group of prisoners who were killed included about 600 Soviet prisoners and 250 Poles.
In October 1941, about 10,000 Soviet prisoners of war were brought to Auschwitz and imprisoned in separate blocks in the main camp. Soviet prisoners, like Polish prisoners, were brutally treated by the Germans and capos. Disease, hunger, and superhuman slave labor were the causes of high mortality among prisoners. A group of about 10,000 Soviet prisoners was delegated to build a camp in Birkenau (Brzezinka), which was initially intended mainly for prisoners from the east. By the spring of 1942, only 945 of them had survived.
According to the preserved documentation, it is estimated that at least 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war were sent to KL Auschwitz of whom 12,000 were included in the camp records. About 3,000 prisoners were murdered shortly after being brought to the camp, either by shooting or gassed with Zyklon B. Soviet prisoners were the first group of prisoners to have a number tattooed. On 1945 January 17, 96 Soviet prisoners of war participated in the last roll call before the evacuation of the camp.
Currently, on the premises of the museum in the north-western part of the Birkenau camp, in the place where the bodies of the murdered prisoners were buried, there is a monument and a mass grave of Soviet soldiers murdered in KL Auschwitz. It is estimated that about 14,000 of the 15,000 deported Soviet prisoners of war died.