January 27 will mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz where at least 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, were murdered by the Nazis.
Set up in 1940 by occupying Nazi forces near the town of Oswiecim in what is now southern Poland, Auschwitz became the centrepiece in Adolf Hitler's "final solution" plan to exterminate the Jews.
Men, women and children, mostly Jewish, but also Gypsies, Russians, Poles and gays from all over Nazi-occupied Europe were transported to Auschwitz in overcrowded cattle trains. When they arrived at the camp, they faced a selection process. SS doctors decided which prisoners were suitable for labour and which should be killed immediately. The elderly and women with children were killed in the camp's gas chambers using the pesticide Zyklon B .
Those who survived the selection process were stripped of their clothes, belongings and identity, and had a number tattooed on their arm. They were issued with striped uniforms and marched to rows of accommodation blocks to begin their lives in the camp.
Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on 27 January 1945. About 200,000 inmates survived.
This article was first published
on January 26, 2015