Auschwitz III - Monowitz

From 1942, the Monowitz concentration camp and 40 other subcamps were referred to as Auschwitz III. The concentration camp was initially called “Buna Camp”, then “Monowitz Labor Camp”, and from November 1943 it was known as “Auschwitz III Concentration Camp”. It was not until the end of 1944 that it was given a certain degree of internal independence within the SS administration under the name “Monowitz concentration camp”. The purpose of the Monowitz camp and its satellite camps was to “supply” the surrounding industrial plants with forced laborers. The “main customer” was the Buna and fuel plant of IG Farben.

Photo: Memorial on the west side of the company premises

On July 17, 1942, Himmler and Höss visit the Auschwitz III-Monowitz construction site together with representatives of IG Farben.

Image source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The camp was built on the site of the Polish village of Monowice, whose inhabitants had been expelled, about six kilometers east of the main Auschwitz I camp. It was 500 meters long and 270 meters wide and was surrounded by a three-part fence and twelve watchtowers. Initially, there were six barracks, each originally intended to house 55 civilian workers. These barracks were soon occupied by 190 prisoners, and later by an average of 250.

Photo: One-man bunker

By the spring of 1943, 20 barracks had been erected, 14 of which initially served as living quarters for 3,800 prisoners. By the end of 1943, there were 7,000 forced laborers in the camp. As further expansion did not keep pace, two large tents for 700 prisoners were erected in the summer of 1944. In July 1944, the number of forced laborers in the camp peaked at 11,000, most of whom were Jewish. The camp was “evacuated” on January 18, 1945. Those prisoners who were able to walk were sent on death marches to camps further west. On January 27, 1945, the camp was liberated by the Red Army; around 650 prisoners were found.

Monowitz was the largest forced labor camp in the area of the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp.

Auschwitz III - Monowitz


Danuta Czech
Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzen- trationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939–1945. Rowohlt, Hamburg, 1989.

Robert-Jan van Pelt, Deborah Dwork
Auschwitz, Von 1270 bis heute, Verlag: Pendo


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