Though it’s most known as the city that was home to the Auschwitz concentration camp, the Polish city of Oświęcim has a history of its own as a small industrial center with a thriving Jewish population. A new online exhibit by USC Shoah Foundation provides a rare first-person glimpse into Oświęcim, the city that became Auschwitz.
The exhibit, “Born in the City that Became Auschwitz,” includes a 28-minute video of testimony clips from the Visual History Archive of nine Holocaust survivors who were born in Oświęcim and lived and worked there in the years leading up to World War II. Some were recruited to help build the barracks that would eventually become Auschwitz, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, Auschwitz III- Monowitz, and 45 other sub-camps.
It is estimated that between 1.1 and 1.6 million predominantly Jewish men, women, and children were murdered at Auschwitz, nearly all of them in the gas chambers at Auschwitz II-Birkenau. The city of Oświęcim and the Auschwitz camp system were liberated by the Soviet Army on January 27, 1945.
The exhibit also includes biographical information about each of the interviewees and a glossary. The exhibit will be translated into other languages.
Educators are encouraged to use the exhibit to commemorate the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27.