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Monday, April 23, 2012

Block 11, Auswitch

Block 11, Auswitch by Della en Islandia
Block 11, Auswitch, a photo by Della en Islandia on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
Block 11 was known as the "Death Block". It served several functions, of which the most important was its role as camp jail. Male and female prisoners from all parts of the camp complex were held in this building. Most of these people were suspected by the camp Gestapo of involvement in clandestine activities: attempting to escape, organizing mutinies, and maintaining contacts with the outside world.
Poles from outside the camp who had been arrested for rendering aid to prisoners were imprisoned there too. Followingbrutal interrogations, they were in most cases sentenced to death by shooting. In the early years of the camp The Strafkompanie (penal unit) and Erziehungskompanie (re-education unit) were also held in this block. The prisoners of the penal unit, to which alms all the Jewish men and Polis priests held in the camp at that time were sent on arrival, were assigned to the most back-breaking work; most of them died.
For some time the block also held the Sonderkommando, the special unit of prisoners employed to burn the bodies of the dead.
From 1943 on, Polizeihäftlinge (police detainees) were also held there. These were Poles from the area under the jurisdiction of the Gestapo in Katowice who were suspected of involvement in the resistance movement. They would be held in the block awaiting sentence from a special German summary court. Usually the penalty was death.
In the basement, known as the bunker, were punishment cells where the SS confined pioneers regarded as guilty violating camp regulations. In 1941 prisoners sentenced to eat by starvation were held in the block.
Over the period 3 - 5 september 1941, the SS carried out experiment in the basement with Zyklon B in preparation for the mass murder of Jews: 600 Soviet POWs and 250 Polish political prisoners, selected from the camp infirmary as human guinea-pigs for this experiments were murdered in the block in this way.