Auschwitz Concentration, Extermination and Forced Labour Camps July 1944

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Map Code: Ax02082

In 1944, allied pilots took the first aerial shots of the Auschwitz concentration camp complex near the Polish villages of Oświęcim and Brzezinski. Auschwitz I housed workshops and armaments factories, Auschwitz III was a subcamp, while Auschwitz II was the main extermination centre. From their aircraft, the pilots saw gas chambers and crematoria smoke. They had been sent on reconnaissance to find military targets and, rather than destroy the camps, three months later they bombed the IG Farben rubber and liquid fuel plant, which relied on forced labour from the camps. By July 1944, the Germans were losing the war and operated the gas chambers day and night. After the March 1944 German invasion of Hungary, Jews and Roma were arriving four times a day on the train transportations. Ninety per cent of these new arrivals were immediately exterminated and by mid-July the body count was so high, at 130,000 a month, that open fields were used for cremation.

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