What’s your image of Auschwitz?

Images of barbed wire, maltreatment and mass murder have turned the Polish city into the symbol of the Holocaust. But when looking behind that horror image, you can find a story with many layers. That unknown history of the city and the camp is the subject of the exhibition, from the 24th of October 2019 in Kazerne Dossin.


Aerial photograph of the ‘Auschwitz empire’ with railroads, residential areas, factories, concentration camps and extermination centres. 


The IG Farben corporate magazine with prominently Nazis on the cover. Together with the SS, the company built a gigantic biochemical factory in Auschwitz. 

An empire

Auschwitz was part of a German colonisation project and a ‘Drive to the East’. In their search for Lebensraum, the SS wanted to develop an enormous area, with Auschwitz as the central metropolis.

The company IG Farben built a gigantic industrial complex that depended on forced labour. A concentration camp provided prisoners as ‘industrial resource’.

How did a prison for forced labourers become an extermination camp with gas chambers? How did a mix of colonialism, racial ideas and politics to exterminate lead to one the most infamous episodes in modern history?

Images, maps and objects show that Interessengebiet Auschwitz was going to be more than a camp. It was a Nazi empire in full buildup.

“If we don’t fill our camps with slaves..., then we will not have enough money to create settlements that give German people the opportunity to live a life in dignity.”
Heinrich Himmler – Reichsführer SS

Victims, perpetrators and bystanders

While the detainees constantly lived in conditions that were a danger to life, the guards took time to relax and to have fun. Two exceptional photo albums show a stark contrast.

Horrid episodes show how camp doctors performed brutal medical tests, how a daily used product as Zyklon B became a weapon for mass murder and how inhumane working methods could lead to death.

Why didn’t the Allies bomb Auschwitz? Was there ever any resistance in the camp? And how was the site treated after its liberation? With a historical magnifying glass, we take a closer look at the unknown layers of this complex story.

It was forbidden to take pictures in Auschwitz. Nevertheless, two photo albums still exist. They show the living conditions of the victims and perpetrators. 


Mon-tue-thu-fri: 9.00 - 17.00
Sat-Sun: 9.30-17.00
Wednesday closed

Individual visit: €9
Youngsters -21: €4
Combi with permanent exhibition: €16
Groups (15-20 pers.): €7,5
Guide (optional & to reserve): €50

from 24 october 2019
to 6 September 2020

More information:


  • canvas.png
  • klara.png
  • knack.png
  • logo-claims-conf_r.png
  • logo-nat-bank_r.png
  • logo-nationale-loterij_r.png
  • logo-vlaanderen_r.png
  • mechelen.png
  • logo_auschwitz_r.png