Oświęcim, Lesser Poland Voivodeship (German: Auschwitz, Yiddish Oshpitsin אָשפּיצין, Romany: Aushvitsa, Osvyenchim, Czech: Osvětim, Slovak: Osvienčim, Russian: Освенцим) is a town in southern Poland, situated 50 kilometres (31 mi) west of Kraków, near the confluence of the rivers Vistula (Wisła) and Soła.
The town became part of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship in 1998 after previously being in the Bielsko-Biała Voivodeship since 1975.
The three main camps were Auschwitz I, II (Birkenau), and III (Monowitz).
Auschwitz I, the original concentration camp, served as the administrative center for the whole complex, and was the site of the deaths of roughly 70,000 people, mostly ethnic Poles and Soviet prisoners of war.
Auschwitz-Birkenau (Konzentrationslager Auschwitz) was the largest of Nazi Germany’s concentration camps, established in Nazi German occupied Poland.
The camp took its German name from the nearby Polish town of Oświęcim.
Birkenau, the German translation of pol. Brzezinka (birch tree), refers to a small village nearby, mostly destroyed by the Germans.
Following the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, Oświęcim was annexed by Nazi Germany and renamed Auschwitz, the town’s German name.
The surrounding work camps, of which there were approximately forty, were closely connected to German industry and were associated with arms factories, foundries and mines. The largest work camp was Auschwitz III Monowitz, named after the Polish village of Monowice.