On July 15, 1910, the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald, the City of Krakow saw the unveiling of what was originally named the King Jagiełło monument, but came to be universally known as the Grunwald monument. It was a grand occasion, a patriotic manifestation attended by 160,000 people from all the Polish lands and many places abroad, the greatest such during the period of partitions. The monument was a gift to the City and the Nation from Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the world renown pianist. Guided by patriotic impulse, he had commissioned the 60 feet tall monument, entirely at his own expense, from Polish sculptor Antoni Wiwulski, then resident in Paris.
Auschwitz - Birkenau Our Visit to the Memorial
June 14, 1940, when the first transport of Polish political prisoner deportees arrived in Auschwitz, is regarded as the date when it began to function. At first, Poles were imprisoned and died in the camp. Afterwards, Soviet prisoners of war, Gypsies, and prisoners of other nationalities were also incarcerated there. Beginning in 1942, the camp became the first of all the sites of mass murder committed against the European Jews as part of the Nazi plan for their complete destruction.
Booth where the SS man responsible for conducting the roll call and collecting reports of the number of prisoners took shelter during inclement weather. (The roll call could take up to 20 hours. The prisoners were not allowed to move)
Rudolf Höss planned, built, and commanded the Auschwitz camps. A World War I veteran, Höss became a Nazi in 1922 and joined the SS after Hitler came to power. First stationed at the Dachau concentration camp where he learned camp administration, he was later promoted to establish the camp at Auschwitz. He introduced gassing at the camp and oversaw Auschwitz's expansion. Höss was removed from Auschwitz in November 1943 because of corruption there, but he returned in March 1944. After the war, Hedwig, his wife, was imprisoned by the British until she revealed Rudolph's whereabouts. Höss was arrested and tried. He was executed on the gallows at Auschwitz.
Crematorium I operated from August 15, 1940 until July 1943. According to calculations by the German authorities, 340 corpses could be burned every 24 hours after the installation of the three furnaces. The largest room in this building was designated as a morgue. It was adapted as the first provisional gas chamber in the autumn of 1941. The SS used Zyklon B to kill thousands of Jews upon arrival, as well as several groups of Soviet prisoners of war. Prisoners selected in the hospital as unlikely to recover their health quickly were also killed in the gas chamber. Poles sentenced to death by the German summary court. After the establishment in Auschwitz II-Birkenau of two more provisional gas chambers, Bunkers No. 1 and No. 2 (the so-called "little red house" and "little white house"), the camp authorities shifted the mass murder of the Jews there and gradually stopped using the first gas chamber. After the completion of four crematoria with gas chambers in Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the burning of corpses in Crematorium I was halted. The building was used for storage, and then designated as an SS air-raid shelter. The furnaces, chimney, and some of the walls were demolished, and the openings in the roof through which the SS poured Zyklon B were plastered.