Top 10 Most Controversial Historical Sites


Auschwitz Concentration Camps: Oswiecim, Poland

Some estimate that about 500,000 people died at Auschwitz.
Some estimate that about 500,000 people died at Auschwitz.
Wojtek Laski/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The city of Oswiecim, renamed Auschwitz by the Third Reich, is home to the concentration camps established in 1940 and has become the symbol of genocide and the Holocaust. There are two camps here, the main camp known as "Auschwitz I" housed between 15,000 and 20,000 prisoners. The second camp, called Birkenau or "Auschwitz II," was the larger of the two camps and held more than 90,000 prisoners by 1944. It's difficult to know how many people died at Auschwitz. Some estimate about 500,000, while others think it's millions. But thousands of prisoners did survive and were witnesses to the crimes committed there, though some groups continue to deny the Holocaust ever happened. The camps reopened in 1955 and each year host more than a million visitors, who can bear witness to tragic events by way of photographs, artifacts and survivor stories.

Related Articles


  • American Experience. "Native Americans and Mount Rushmore." PBS (Sept. 28, 2010)
  • Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. (Sept. 28, 2010)
  • Federal Bureau of Prisons. "A Brief History of Alcatraz." (Sept. 28, 2010)
  • Frontline. "The Memory of Tiananmen." PBS. (Sept. 28, 2010)
  • Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Visitors: Preserving JFK's Legacy." (Sept. 30, 2010)
  • Harlan, Chico. "U.S. envoy among representatives from 74 countries at Hiroshima commemoration." The Washington Post. Aug. 7, 2010. (Sept. 28, 2010)
  • Hiroshima Peace Center. (Sept. 29, 2010)
  • Iyer, Pico. "Why Potala Palace Is a Wonder." ABC News. Nov. 9, 2006. (Sept. 28, 2010)
  • "History of the Texas School Book Depository." (Sept. 29, 2010)
  • "What is the Western Wall?" (Sept. 28, 2010)
  • Krausz, Tibor. "The Cu Chi Tunnels: Vietnam's Deep, Dark Past." The Washington Post. May 2, 2004. (Sept. 29, 2010)
  • Matthews, Mark. "Man took part in Tiananmen Square massacre." June 3, 2009. (Sept. 29, 2010)
  • Moya-Smith, Simon. "Of mosques, Mount Rushmore and DIA." Denver Post. Sept. 6, 2010. (Sept. 29, 2010)
  • Nahmias, Roee. "Sheikh Salah: Western Wall belongs to Muslims." YNet News. Feb. 18, 2007. (Sept. 29, 2010),7340,L-3366266,00.html
  • National Park Service. "Alcatraz Island: History & Culture." (Sept. 29, 2010)
  • National Park Service. "Mount Rushmore." (Sept. 28, 2010)
  • National Park Service. "We Hold the Rock." (Sept. 29, 2010)
  • National Park Service. "World War II in the San Francisco Bay Area." (Sept. 28, 2010)
  • Piper, Franciszek Dr. "Denial of the Holocaust and the genocide in Auschwitz." Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. June 10, 2008. (Sept. 30, 2010)
  • Rackl, Lori. "Cu Chi tunnels one of Vietnam's most popular tourist attractions." Chicago Sun Times. May 20, 2009. (Sept. 29, 2010),CST-FTR-tunnel0520.article
  • Soderlin, Barbara. "Does Native American exhibit belong at Mount Rushmore?" Rapid City Journal. Aug. 25, 2008. (Sept. 29, 2010)
  • Tribute WTC Visitor Center. (Sept. 30, 2010)
  • World Trade Center. "At the World Trade Center." (Sept. 30, 2010)
  • World Trade Center. "WTC Timeline." (Sept. 30, 2010)


How Pompeii Worked

How Pompeii Worked

The destruction of Pompeii was a disaster, but people are still fascinated with the city's remains. HowStuffWorks unearths Pompeii's history.