Archives for posts with tag: Genocide

Caution High Voltage Sign (German: Vorsicht Hochspannung Lebensgefhr) on the electrified barbed wire perimeter fence surrounding the blocks at Auschwitz I Extermination Camp. Photo: Quintin Lake

Space between the two barbed wire perimeter fences overlooked by a guard tower at Auschwitz I Extermination Camp. Photo: Quintin Lake

Electrified barbed wire fence and security light reflected in the surface of the Water reservoir / Swimming pool reserved for the SS at Auschwitz I Extermination Camp. The thought of the guards swimming about and taking their recreation as a break between executions is almost incomprehensible. Photo: Quintin Lake

Auschwitz I (German name for Oświęcim) was the original camp, serving as the administrative center for the whole complex as it grew. On September 3, 1941, deputy camp commandant SS-Hauptsturmführer Fritzsch experimented on 600 Russian POWs and 250 Polish inmates by gathering them in the basement of Block 11 and gassing them with Zyklon B, a highly lethal cyanide-based pesticide. This paved the way for the use of Zyklon B as an instrument for extermination at Auschwitz, and a gas chamber and crematorium were constructed by converting a bunker. This gas chamber operated from 1941 to 1942, during which time some 60,000 people were killed therein.

Although the Auschwitz I site remains the symbol of the holocaust in popular culture with its famous “Arbeit macht frei” (Work sets you free) sign above the entrance gate and the fact that industrialised murder was developed in the camp the majority of the killing (approximately 90%) took placed in the purpose constructed extermination camp at Auschwitz II Birkenau a few miles from Auschwitz I.

VIEW MORE IMAGES of Auschwitz I here >>

Electrified barbed wire fence and wooden barracks in Auschwitz II - Birkenau. These barracks were designed as prefabricated horse stables originally made for use on the eastern Front, against the Soviet Union. The wooden bunks, or “hutches” as they are sometimes called, contained as many as six prisoners on each shelf. Originally intended to house 250 prisoners, these barracks sometimes contained as many as a thousand. Photo: Quintin Lake

Barbed wire perimeter fence with brick chimneys belonging to ruined wooden barracks behind. Auschwitz II-Birkenau Extermination Camp (Poland). Photo: Quintin Lake

Aerial view of Auschwitz II - Birkenau. Photograph captioned by the Central Intelligence Agency December 21, 1944. Source:

Birkenau was the largest of the more than 40 camps and sub-camps that made up the Auschwitz complex. The Birkenau camp is huge, covering 425 acres. The boundaries of Birkenau stretch a mile in one direction and a mile and a half in the other direction. During its three years of operation, it had a range of functions. When construction began in October 1941, it was supposed to be a camp for 125 thousand prisoners of war. It opened as a branch of Auschwitz in March 1942, and served at the same time as a center for the extermination of the Jews. In its final phase, from 1944, it also became a place where prisoners were concentrated before being transferred to labor in German industry in the depths of the Third Reich.

The majority—probably about 90%—of the victims of Auschwitz Concentration Camp died in Birkenau. This means approximately a million people. The majority, more than nine out of every ten, were Jews. A large proportion of the more than 70 thousand Poles who died or were killed in the Auschwitz complex perished in Birkenau. So did approximately 20 thousand Gypsies, in addition to Soviet POWs and prisoners of other nationalities. Source Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum link

VIEW MORE IMAGES of Auschwitz-Birkenau here >>

A man looking at photographs of those murdered at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Cambodia

Formerly the Chao Ponhea Yat High School, the five buildings of the complex were converted in August 1975, four months after the Khmer Rouge won the civil war, into a prison and interrogation center. The Khmer Rouge renamed the complex “Security Prison 21” (S-21) and construction began to adapt the prison to the inmates: the buildings were enclosed in electrified barbed wire, the classrooms converted into tiny prison and torture chambers, and all windows were covered with iron bars and barbed wire to prevent escapes.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Security Prison 21 (S-21) and former high school, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

From 1975 to 1979, an estimated 17,000 people were imprisoned at Tuol Sleng (some estimates suggest a number as high as 20,000, although the real number is unknown). At any one time, the prison held between 1,000-1,500 prisoners. They were repeatedly tortured and coerced into naming family members and close associates, who were in turn arrested, tortured and killed.

VIEW MORE IMAGES of Tuol Sleng Genocide museum and the Killing Fields, Cambodia

Photography  © Quintin Lake, 2003

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