Auschwitz: The North Carolina Connection*

Surrounding the six-part series Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State, UNC-TV provides teacher resources, downloadable guides and links for educating others about the Holocaust.

Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State

Between May 1940 and January 1945, a horrific evil settled over Auschwitz, Poland, as more than 1.1 million people met their death at the Nazi extermination camp — about one million of them were Jews. Other groups that the Nazis targeted included the mentally disabled, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Gypsies. Of all the camps built during the Nazi regime, Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest and the most deadly.

While survivors and documentaries have told the story of what happened, the history behind the camps has remained a mystery. With the fall of Communism, archives that held Third Reich files, diaries, and architectural plans became available for review. They reveal with startling clarity the decisions that were made and the people who made them.

These newly available research findings are revealed in the six-part series, AUSCHWITZ: Inside the Nazi State, which commemorates the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the camp. Through dramatizations, interviews with perpetrators and survivors, and the use of the latest in computer technology, the series retells the history of Auschwitz as it unfolded over four years.

Many parts of the story will be surprising:

  • Auschwitz’ beginning as a place to terrorize the local Polish population and house Russian POWs, rather than as a place to kill populations the regime found undesirable;
  • the rise of Auschwitz as an industrial center and money-making machine for the Nazis;
  • the vast web of corruption in the camp;
  • initiatives of individuals who claimed to be acting “under orders”;
  • chilling interviews with perpetrators who relate their complicity and involvement; the eloquent corroborating testimony of survivors.