The small industrial town of Oswiecim (Auschwitz) is located in southeast Poland. In May 1940, the existing military barracks on the outskirts of Oswiecim were turned into a concentration camp by the German occupiers. The camp, which was initially established to imprison Polish opponents of the Nazi regime, expanded to an immense complex of camps.
In March 1942, the Germans began to use Birkenau (Auschwitz II), a much larger camp situated around 3 km west of Auschwitz I, for exterminating European Jews. The Monowitz camp (Auschwitz III) was established a few kilometres outside of the town as an industrial plant for and by the I.G. Farben Conglomerate. Gradually, approximately 40 smaller camps were built, spread over the entire Upper Silesian Industrial District; all were part of Auschwitz. Auschwitz-Birkenau and the many satellite camps developed into the greatest complex of concentration and extermination camps.
Men, women and children were gassed immediately upon arrival or gradually worked to death under inhuman conditions including starvation and torture. Approximately 1.5 to 2 million people were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Up until September 1944 transports from the Netherlands continued to arrive in Auschwitz. More than 60,000 Jews, 245 Sinti and Roma gypsies, and dozens of resistance fighters were deported from the Netherlands to Auschwitz. Nearly 40,000 Jews were sent to the gas chambers immediately upon arrival. Less than 900 people survived Auschwitz-Birkenau. An unknown number died during the final death marches in early 1945 or upon arrival in one of the other German concentration camps. Approximately 30 Sinti and Roma from the Dutch transport survived.