Auschwitz death camp (Auschwitz I) opened on 14 June 1940. It was founded in former Polish military barracks outside the town of Oswiecim. In 1942 development began on a second, larger extermination camp, two miles away in Brzezinka, which became Auschwitz II (Birkenau).
Auschwitz I was set up as a concentration camp to provide slave labour, although it quickly became a death camp (2 and 4). Prisoners were housed in brick-built barracks, which together with other camp buildings, such as the Commandant's office (1), remain largely intact. Even the gate (3) still bears its original infamous inscription "Arbeit Macht Frei" - work makes you free.
Prisoners in Auschwitz II were housed in brick or wooden barracks, which have mostly disintegrated, in some cases leaving only the chimney stacks standing (3) although the main gate is intact (4). Trains brought inmates into the camp (2) and many were sent straight to the gas chambers (1). Bodies were disposed of in the crematoria or in the open air. The gas chambers were destroyed by the Nazis in 1945 to conceal evidence of their crimes.