The first transport of 728 Poles, political prisoners, was brought to the German Nazi Auschwitz camp from the Tarnów prison
[...] Frightened faces that were disappearing quickly to appear after a while again. This town bewildered with terror was doubly affected by the departure of such a large transport. Many a mother bewailed a son here, many a wife – husband, or a child – a beloved father. People were crying. Suddenly, the unseen hand threw a bouquet of red flowers, it was trodden down fiercely by a marching gendarme”.
They had been arrested in autumn 1939 or spring 1940 (many for an attempt of escape through Hungary to the Polish Armed Forces in France or Great Britain). Others were arrested for resistance activities and within the A-B (Ausserordentliche Befriedungsaktion - Extraordinary Operation of Pacification) action carried out by the General Governor Hans Frank against the Polish intelligence. Moreover, in the first transport there were also people arrested during street round-ups.
During the quarantine, working was a desire of all prisoners, because it protected them from exhausting exercises. They did not realize that labor would be one of the extermination methods. The picture: the building that before the war belonged to the Polish Tobacco Monopoly and where the first prisoners of KL Auschwitz were placed. The photograph taken in 1959.
After the quarantine period prisoners of the first transport were transferred to the actual camp, i.e. the former military barracks. As time went by, this camp was extended to become a part of the biggest extermination center created by Nazi Germans, and was marked as KL Auschwitz I (the main camp).
Written, selected, and edited by: Teresa Zbrzeska, Mirosław Obstarczyk
Graphic design: Elżbieta Pietruczuk
Translation: Beata Juszczyk