Chilling drone video reveals Auschwitz concentration camp frozen in time

Main entrance to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. (Shutterstock)

Chilling drone footage has been released show the massive scale of the largest and most notorious Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, as it stands 70 years after the Holocaust.

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Posted by the BBC in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the camp's liberation, the drone video shows an aerial view of the vast network of Auschwitz. The footage displays the camp now as quiet and empty, yet maintaining its eerie stillness of the location where Nazi forces systematically murdered more than one million people during World War II. In just one day, the video has massed more than 1 million views.

Since its liberation, Auschwitz has been maintained by the Polish Culture Ministry as a World Heritage Site, a place designated by the United Nations as being of special cultural or physical significance. Thousands of tourists, survivors, and descendants of survivors visit the camp every year to pay their respects and learn more about one of the most tragic events in recorded history.

"Arbeit Macht Frei," reads the iron sign still hanging over the entrance to Auschwitz I translates to "Work sets you free." Auschwitz I was mostly dedicated to slave labor, while Auschwitz II (or Birkenau) existed solely a death camp.

The victims, the majority of them Jews, arrived via train from all over German-occupied Europe as the camp served as the major site where Nazi's executed their "Final Solution" plan to exterminate all living Jews.

Before being annexed by Germany and repurposed as a concentration camp, the brick buildings at Auschwitz I were formerly used as a calvary barracks for the Polish Army.

The video moves on to feature the courtyard between blocks 10 and 11, where victims were executed and prisoners strung up by their wrists along the yard posts. Block 11, which served as a prison with the prison, confined camp violators to such small spaces, they could do nothing but stand. These violators would be worked during the day with the rest of the population, and locked away at night. Those sentenced to death were confined to a dark cell, given neither food or water until they were dead. Block 11 earned the name "the block of Death."

In November of 1944, top Nazi official Heinrich Himmler ordered the gassing of victims across Germany to cease, and to begin covering up the evidence.

In January 1945, Auschwitz evacuated more than 60,000 of its prisoners, on foot, to other surrounding camps as the Soviet Army was approaching. When the Soviet troops arrived on Jan. 27, about 7,500 survivors were left at the camp to die, deemed too weak and sickly to evacuate.

Immediately following the camp's liberation, Auschwitz was repurposed again as a hospital for its survivors as Polish and Soviet investigators gathered evidence of the war crimes.

Roughly 15 percent of the 6,500 German staff working at the camps were convicted of war crimes. In 1946, camp commandant Rudolf Hoess was captured in Germany, with confessions to his participation in the mass killings being documented in his memoirs. Following his trial, Hoess was brought back to Auschwitz in April, 1947 where he was hanged.


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