Poland puts Auschwitz-Birkenau staff database online

The head of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), Jaroslaw Szarek (left) with the director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum, Piotr Cywinski

Poland has published the first online database featuring the names and personal details of nearly 10,000 staff who ran the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp.

The state-run Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) said that the SS KL Auschwitz Garrison list was based on data from archives in Poland, Germany, Austria, the US and, to a limited extent, Russia, where archives remain mostly inaccessible.

The database, which the IPN said contained 9,686 names, is part of a wide-ranging project that will cover the staff of other death and concentration camps that Nazi Germany set up in occupied Poland during the second world war, the IPN chairman, Jarosław Szarek, told reporters in Kraków.

The work of historian Aleksander Lasik, the institute and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, it is based on a list that Lasik built during more than 30 years of archival research.

“The world justice system has failed and I’m doing what a historian should do: expose the responsible individuals as war criminals,” Lasik said.

Up to 200 former guards at the German death camp could still be living, he claimed.

The online list of Auschwitz guards and commanders is available in Polish, English and German. Most entries include date and place of birth, nationality, education, military service and party affiliation. Some have a photograph attached. Judicial documents are included when the person stood trial in Poland.

“Nazi hunter” Efraim Zuroff said the publication of the names was “very important and the right thing to do” and could have “practical implications” if criminal investigators in Germany were unaware of some of the names on the list.

About 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, were killed at the camp, which was built in 1940 in the southern city of Oświęcim in occupied Poland. An estimated 232,000 of Auschwitz’s victims were children.

The launch of the database came days after the museum at the former Auschwitz-Birkenau camp urged Germans and Austrians to hand over any material that could shed light on the “motivations and mentality” of its wartime staff.

The museum’s director, Piotr Cywiński, said it was seeking more information about the death camp’s staff as part of efforts to “better understand the influence of populist mechanisms of hatred for human beings”.

The database also presents 350 verdicts against camp staff in war crimes trials after the war, but the documents are yet to be translated.

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