On the 21 February 1940 Richard Glücks wrote to Himmler advising that the former Austro-Hungarian labour exchange-cum-Polish army barracks near the town of Auschwitz could be used as a concentration camp. Rudolf Hoess first visited the site on 18 April 1940.1 The first prisoners (Poles) arrived there on 14 June 1940.2 The first Jewish prisoners arrived there 15 February 1942.3 The first homicidal gassing (Russian POWs and sick Poles) happened 3 September 1941.4 The first gas chamber went into operation (900 Soviet POWs) 16 September 1941.5 The first batch of Jews were gassed in September 1941, or January 1942,6 or on 15 February 1942.7 During the summer of 1941 Himmler called Hoess to Berlin to inform him of the plan to exterminate Europe's Jews,8 or Himmler told him about it on 18 July 1942 during his visit to Auschwitz.9
1. I am 23 years of age and I was arrested at the beginning of 1940 by the Gestapo because I am a Jew. I was taken to Auschwitz concentration camp where I remained until 7th. October 1942. Since that date I have been in the following Concentration Camps, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, Gross-Rosen, Stuttouf, Talfinger and Schonberg. I moved to Belsen about the beginning of March 1945.
2. At the time of my arrest in 1940 my mother, father, brother, sister, brother-in-law and nephew were all arrested also because they were Jews. On arrival at AUSCHWITZ my mother, father, brother-in-law and nephew were all sent to the gas chamber.
1. Robert Jan van Pelt, Deborah Dwork, Auschwitz 1270 to the Present, New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1996, p.166-168.
2. Ibid., p.176.
3. Ibid., p.180.
4. Ibid., p.292.
5. Ibid., p.293.
6. Rudolf Hoess, The final solution of the Jewish Question in Auschwitz concentration camp, - statement of November 1946, cf. Rudolf Hoess, Commandant of Auschwitz, London: Pan Books, 1961, p.209.
7. Hoess, Commandant, op. cit., footnote 5, p.165.
8. Hoess, final solution, op. cit., p.206; Hoess, Commandant, opt. cit., p.161, 234.
9. Van Pelt & Dwork, op. cit., p.320.
10. June 7, 1945 affidavit found in UK NA: WO 309/1697, exhibit 102.
11. 'The Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty Four Others,' Sixteenth Day Thursday, 4th October, 1945.