This image depicts a mid-section of the razor-sharp electrified fence at the Auschwitz I labour camp at ulica Więźniów Oświęcimia 20, Oświęcim 32-600, Poland and has featured on the front cover of two Auschwitz I books.
The barbed wire was electrified with lethal voltages to kill any escapers. Additionally, the top of the fencing is deliberately designed to slope inwards, making it more difficult to climb over, even without an electrical current running through it.
The view is taken from the outside, looking into the camp. In addition to the two electrified fences there is a third “dead-line” fence just beyond, visible in the middle distance. Any prisoner stepping over the low third fence would immediately be shot dead without warning by perimeter guards or snipers.
Each fence post stood approximately four meters tall, many of which were fitted with lamps to light the perimeter at night.
Electrical current for the fence, as indeed for the Auschwitz camp, was supplied by a power line from the electrical generating plant in Siersza Wodna.
Two separate lines ran from the primary substation in Babice: to the main camp and Birkenau and a range of other destinations, including the city of Oświęcim, the train station, the tannery, etc.
The transformer station at Babice stepped the current running to the main camp up from 5,000 V to 30,000 V. There, in turn, at another substation located in the grounds of the former Tobacco Monopoly building, the voltage was stepped down to 6,000 V, and then finally to 400 V. At that point, it was connected directly to the camp fence.
This was a three-phase current (400 V, inter-phase current 231 V, and phase current 0 V). As a result, when prisoners escaping from the camp, e.g. (Jerzy Tabeau and Roman Cieliczko) attempted to short-circuit it, they managed to cut off the power to only a portion of the fence, and in places that came as quite a surprise to them. Before attempting their escape, they passed this intelligence on to the other POWs in the camp, thus resulting in several successful escapes.
Unfortunately, escapes came at a cost. For every escape, prisoners were executed come morning roll call.
Numerous POWs deliberately threw themselves onto the fence when times got tough, thus resulting in their immediate death. Anyone that tried to save comrades’ life would also be electrocuted too.
This image has been edited with an antique filter in Adobe Lightroom Classic.
Image size: 2532×4500
File size: 2.4MB
Bit: 24 bit
Colour: Yes, Antique Filter
Property/model release: No
Edited: Yes. Adobe Lightroom CC
Location: Auschwitz I, Poland
Year took: 2020
Copyright owner: J. J. Williamson