Richard Glücks, the concentration camp inspector, tells Hitler that the former employment agency and Polish Army barracks in Zasole are suitable to be reconstructed as a concentration camp. At present, the barracks consist of eight two-storey and fourteen one-storey brick buildings.
Forty-year-old SS-Hauptsturmführer Rudolf Höss receives a building permit to construct a new camp for ten thousand prisoners after visiting Auschwitz (Oswiecim).
Rudolf Höss is officially named the commandant of the new concentration camp at Auschwitz. He receives 2 million marks to prepare the 22 buildings already standing, as well as for further construction.
The first 30 prisoners arrive; they are German criminals meant to assume the positions of camp functionaries.
Local inhabitants living in the environs of the camp are forced to move from the area of interest, which turns out to have an area of 40 square kilometres.
The first transport carrying 728 Polish people arrives; their task is to begin the construction of the concentration camp. The construction of the camp, occurring under inhumane conditions, is carried out by mostly Polish prisoners of war, comprised of the intelligentsia, arrested members of the resistance, and Catholic priests. Most of the men from this first transport eventually survive Auschwitz, as they gradually assume the positions of camp functionaries or of work commandos.
The tattooing of prisoners is introduced. Until then, prisoners have numbers only on their clothing. When they are stripped bare before execution, their numbers are written on them with a permanent marker to enable their identification in the morgue.
The first female prisoners arrive, 999 healthy Slovakian Jews. Since the camp at Birkenau is not yet completely finished, they are quartered in a part of the main camp of Auschwitz I. The female and male sectors are separated by a hastily constructed wall. The rest of the Soviet prisoners of war, as well as twelve hundred sick prisoners, are housed in Birkenau.
Himmler visits Auschwitz, and spends two days there. In this time, he witnesses the gassing of a transport from the Netherlands in the “White House”, as well as the beating of female prisoners. Primarily, however, he discusses the future construction of the main and of the smaller satellite camps. By the end of the war, several tens of them are established.
Fifty-nine-year-old Dr. Johann Kremer arrives at the camp. This university pedagogue not only takes part of selections, but also searches for extremely emaciated prisoners in order to study their organs during autopsies, as he is interested in how extreme emaciation affects the body. Sometimes, he does not wait for them to die, but has them killed by phenol injections.
From September to November 1942, Kremer is present as a physician at 15 gassings in Bunker I and Bunker II. He keeps a very detailed journal about everything, which later is used as evidence in court. He is sentenced to death, but receives amnesty and is released after ten years.
Female prisoners are transferred from Auschwitz I to Auschwitz II – Birkenau. Here, they are placed into sector BIa, as sector BIb is inhabited by male inmates. The wall separating the women’s sector in Auschwitz I is demolished, and the entire camp serves for the imprisonment of men
The decision for a radical solution to the typhus epidemic is made. After returning from work, selections take place with all commandos long into the night. Prisoners must stand at attention in front of their dormitory, strip bare and run in front of a Nazi physician. Whoever he finds to be weak or sick is sent to the group of death. Several thousand prisoners are chosen this way, some sources indicate up to four thousand, and they are led to special blocks where they wait for death. They now know their fate and experience extreme mental anguish. They are gradually taken to Birkenau and murdered there in gas chambers.
Some of the victims include Jewish doctors. Sometimes a mere pustule on the body or a saggy backside is enough to be sent to death, and in some cases, an appendectomy scar suffices.
The Nazi physician Entress sends almost all inmates who are hospitalised in the hospital blocks of Auschwitz I to the gas chambers.
Those prisoners who are sent back to work are thoroughly cleaned and held naked in the disinfected blocks emptied by the transferred women until their own blocks are also disinfected.
Female criminals from the camp in Ravensbrück arrive. They are meant to start working in the women’s camp as functionaries. Their task is to keep order in the camp. Many of them are sadistic, and sometimes the female prisoners suffer sexual abuse.
The same can be said for the men’s camp. Here, also, the positions of Kapo and other functionaries are filled primarily by criminals. They often choose young and handsome youths from the prisoners to become their personal servants, known as pipels. Some pipels are fairly well-off, since they receive food and are spared from hard labour, but they pay a high price for such favours, since they must provide sexual services.
There are also some cases when the prison functionaries, both men and women, organise various perverted games, and for which they choose handsome youths and pretty girls. Often, such sadistic orgies end in the deaths of the inmates.
The Polish prisoners that have been in the camp for a longer time form the administrative infrastructure of the camp; they work in offices as scribes. Thanks to this, they can significantly help place prisoners into better commandos, such as Canada or the commando of craftsmen. Here, the prisoners receive larger food portions so that they do not starve to death within three months, as is the case of normal work commandos. To get into a better commando, one either needs good luck, or, as it is usual, through connections. The chosen ones are desperately few, and most of the prisoners perish or are selected to die within three months of their arrival.
Many prisoners are beaten to death or shot while working, in their blocks, or during roll call. Sometimes, the Kapo murders an inmate only to gain a gold tooth, sometimes only for entertainment. The conditions are truly atrocious, and human life has absolutely no value. Not just the Nazis, but any prison functionary can kill anyone at any time, and are praised for their zeal, to boot.
In the period between May and December 1942, 183,270 deported Jews from Poland, France, Slovakia, Belgium, Germany, Bohemia, Moravia, Norway, and Yugoslavia arrive at the camp. About 120,000 of them are murdered shortly upon arriving, usually older men, women, and children.
SS-Obersturmführer Franz Hössler stands guard during the so-called “special events” in Bunker I and Bunker II.
The illegal organisation “Combat Group Auschwitz” is formed. Its main place of operations is the Auschwitz I camp, but its contacts reach not only to the Auschwitz II – Birkenau camp, but to the other satellite camps, as well. Polish prisoners play a significant role in this group. Gradually, they also begin to cooperate with the Jewish inmates, of which there is already a great number of at Auschwitz.
At first, there are tensions, to say the least, between the Polish and the Jewish prisoners. In addition, the Poles accept the fact that the Jews have arrived to the camp primarily to die, whereas they have hope in surviving the war. Also, many Poles hold a hostile, almost unfriendly attitude to the Jews. However, as the number of Jewish prisoners increases, they also begin to assume the positions of camp functionaries, and the Poles comprehend the need to begin cooperating with them.
Thirty-two-year-old Nazi physician SS-Hauptsturmführer Josef Mengele arrives at the camp. He has a five-year career in the army behind him, but he was wounded in battle and deemed as unfit for further fighting. He received medals of valour four times, including two Iron Crosses of the first and second classes.
Several years after the war, he becomes legendary by personifying the horrors of the Auschwitz inferno. His infamous legend was born with the book of his camp pathologist and with the media, yet he is not intensively searched for immediately after the war, when some of his colleagues are found guilty, sentenced to death, and executed.
A brothel for privileged prisoners is opened in Block 24 of the Auschwitz I camp. Prisoners of German and Polish nationality are allowed in, but Jewish inmates are forbidden entry.
The difference between the privileged prisoners and the others is illustrated by another example. The first group can use the fire tank located in Auschwitz I for swimming and bathing.
The opening of the brothel should, in the eyes of the SS officers, fulfil several goals. For one, it is a certain job offer, but its establishment serves also to face the rampant homosexual affairs between the prisoners. The SS officers could not but notice that many prison functionaries use handsome boys or youths in the roles of pipels for their physical gratification. The brothel also serves a third function, and that to disclose any homosexual prisoners.
If someone is labelled as a homosexual, their life in the camp becomes hell. They are constantly bullied, usually leading up to their death.
Twelve non-Jewish prostitutes work in the brothel, predominantly Germans, Poles, and Russians; they are housed in Block 10, where their health is continuously controlled
Conflicts between the Nazi physicians, led by Eduard Wirths, and the members of the Gestapo from Block 11 in Auschwitz I arise. But also between Wirths and some of his colleagues, amongst which is Dr. Entress.
It is questionable whether the initiation of the investigation on corruption in the camp, ordered by Himmler, is not tipped off by Wirths. He is also not pleased by the fact that inmates are murdered and their causes of death are then falsified, sometimes claiming natural causes.
In any case, the investigating judge SS-Obersturmführer Konrad Morgan arrives to the camp; his task is to reveal any corruption and enriching of SS officers. Immediately at the beginning of the investigation, he finds inappropriate items in the lockers of two guards, and he has them arrested. In other searches of lockers, he finds gold, pearls, rings, and money of various currencies.
The judge also investigates the sexual behaviour of the SS officers in the camp, or the establishment of entirely unacceptable and forbidden sexual relations with Jewish women, respectively. Even the very commandant Höss is implicated in one affair.
The commissioner of the camp Gestapo, Maximilian Grabner, is arrested. The reason for his internment is corruption, and during the investigation, the arbitrary murdering of prisoners, especially of Polish prisoners, is revealed. Perhaps in order to get rid of unwanted witnesses. Perhaps because they did not keep up their side of the bargain. Grabner goes to trial, but eventually, his case is shelved.
The executioner Bernard Palitzsch is also incriminated with enrichment and corruption, and he is transferred to Brno.
In connection with the investigations, a new camp commandant is named, and that Artur Liebenhenschel. After he begins working here, accounts say that the life of inmates slightly improves. Some of the prisoners from Block 11 are released and returned to their work units.
However, if the conditions for the inmates are improved, they are not improved for long. Soon, thirty-seven-year-old Wilhelm Boger is named as commissioner of the camp Gestapo. He was wounded on the front in 1942, and was transferred to Auschwitz nine months later. His job description is to oversee prisoners, to keep the peace in the camp, to fight against the resistance, and to lead interrogations. His brutal methods last until January 1945.
He invents the so-called “Boger Swing”, which is a torture instrument. It is a long iron rod that hangs horizontally from the ceiling. The prisoner is brought to the interrogation naked, and then they bind their wrists to their ankles and hang them from the rod. Boger places questions, at first gently, but later, he yells. The guard beats the prisoner’s buttocks with a crowbar until skin hangs from the victim. Some of the interrogated die during the torture. Afterwards, pieces of skin and meat lay on the floor. Sometimes, the blow is so strong that the tortured prisoner spins around the rod. Some of the blows are aimed at the genital area.
Rudolf Höss, who must be at least minimally involved in the activities of Grabner and his companions, or is, at least, responsible for them as the camp commandant, is promoted and transferred to the Concentration Camps Inspectorate.
It is interesting that even after being recalled, Höss leaves his family in his commandant’s villa on the edge of the Auschwitz I camp. Perhaps he believes that they are safer there than in Berlin, which could be targeted for bombing by the Allies.
Changes in the structures of the complex of camps in Auschwitz is made. On the orders of SS-Obergruppenführer (translated as “Senior Group Commandant”) Oswald Pohl, it is divided into three administrative units. Arthur Liebehenschel , who is also the commandant of the entire complex, heads Auschwitz I, SS-Obersturmführer Freiddrich Harjenstein heads Auschwitz II – Birkenau, and Heinrich Schwarz heads Auschwitz III – Monowitz.