Auschwitz's walls, barracks, and chambers tell the powerful story of the Holocaust. It was the largest Nazi extermination camp and has become a potent symbol of the terror.
We take a look through the panoramic film photographs of Associated Press's Markus Schreiber, taken ahead of Auschwitz liberation 75th anniversary. On Monday hundreds of survivors from across the world will come back to visit Auschwitz for the official commemorations.
Prisoners arrived in cramped, windowless cattle trains. At the infamous ramp at Auschwitz, the Nazis selected those they could use as forced labourers. The others — old people, many women and especially children and babies, were gassed to death soon after their arrival.
Gas chambers and crematoria were found blown up by the Nazis before fleeing in an attempt to hide evidence of their mass killings. The watchtowers and some of the barracks where prisoners slept in cold, cramped conditions, are still intact.
In fact, Auschwitz is not one camp, but two. Auschwitz I, built in an abandoned Polish military base, operated as a camp for Polish prisoners, including Catholic priests and members of the nation's underground resistance again the German occupation. Auschwitz II, or Birkenau, a much bigger complex that was built later about three kilometres away to expedite the Nazis' Final Solution - a plan for the mass killing of Jews who were transported there from across Europe during World War II.
Auschwitz today is many things at once: an emblem of evil, a site of historical remembrance and a vast cemetery. It is a place where Jews make pilgrimages to pay tribute to ancestors whose ashes and bones remain part of the earth.