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The number of victims
Until the end of its existence, the Auschwitz camp was above all a place of extermination. In other camps, the death rate was lowered from 1943 in an effort to conserve the labor force. In Auschwitz, however, where new transports, mostly of Jews, arrived continuously and kept the camp supplied with laborers, human life never had any great significance.
Historians estimate that between 1 and 1.5 million people perished in Auschwitz during the less than 5 years of its existence. The majority, from 1 to 1.35 million people, were Jews. The second most numerous group, from 70 to 75 thousand, was the Poles, and the third most numerous, about 20 thousand, the Gypsies. About 15 thousand Soviet POWs and 10 to 15 thousand prisoners of other ethnic backgrounds (including Czechs, Byelorussians, Yugoslavians, French, Germans, and Austrians) also died there.
In view of the role that it played in the realization of the Nazi extermination plans, Auschwitz is known around the world as a symbol of Nazi genocide, and especially of the destruction of the Jews.