The Death Wall - Memory makes us free

The Death Wall

The wall of executions, also called “black wall” (the one you see has been rebuilt) was a wooden, sand wall at the end of a courtyard that separated blocks 10 and 11 of Auschwitz 1, used for the execution of prisoners. 

The blocks were masonry buildings that formed the central core of the camp. Most of them were used as the quarters for prisoners, but block 11 – isolated from the rest of the camp – had a special function. It was called “The Death Block” by the prisoners, it was isolated and always locked.

The courtyard of this block was surrounded by a high wall. Wooden baskets barred the windows to prevent the prisoners from observing the scenes of what happened in the courtyard, which was always saturated with the blood of the prisoners who were shot there. In the courtyard of block 11 were also  carried out floggings and the penalty of the stake, which consisted in hanging the prisoners by their hands tied behind their backs.

Muro della morte - Auschwitz 1
Death Wall – Auschwitz 1

Unlike the other blocks, in this block the guardian was always a man of the SS (Schutzstaffel). The ground floor housed the officials (blocky, scrivener and head comrade) and the civilian prisoners (men and women) who awaited the verdict of  direct judgement, which was held in a room in the same block, where a detachment of the Gestapo Court of Katowicka was established.

Stanza della corte
Block 11 room in which the court of the Gestapo Court detachment of Katowicka was located.

The sessions of this court were held once a month to complete proceedings against the Polish arrested for illegal activities (possession of a radio, for example) or actions of resistance. In two to three hours, the court issued two hundred summary verdicts of death. The formula that preceded the shooting and that was recited to them by an SS official was: “Following investigations by the state police, the Polish [surname and name] broke the law of the German state, so the Gestapo Court in Kattowitz sentenced him/her to death”.

The condemned had to undress in the prison bathroom and two by two arrive at “The Death Wall”, where they were killed. If there were very few sentenced to be shot, the prisoners were killed directly in the wash house located in the corridor near the courtyard.


The executions were attended by SS officers and members of the camp garrison.

The sentences handed down by the Gestapo Tribunal and executed at Block 11 were 3000-4500. Many hostages captured and found guilty of sabotage, and prisoners who had violated the rules of the camp faced the same fate. 

Probably there were at least 25000 executions in front of the black wall.


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