British newspapers reported about abuses in Nazi camps from 1933 onwards, drawing on information from released or escaped prisoners and from German resisters. During the Second World War, the media also received detailed reports from other sources. The Polish government-in-exile, for example, collected and circulated information about Nazi terror in occupied Poland, including the new camp at Auschwitz.
A description of the conditions prevailing in the dreaded Oswiecim [Auschwitz] concentration camp in southern Poland has just come to hand.
“The Polish prisoners (it states) work in groups in stone quarries, shackled together, and common criminals are in charge of the working squads.[…] Hitting and knocking about is the order of the day. Some of the overzealous gaolers are using knuckledusters, with which they beat the Poles, and the rate of mortality among the Poles is very high.” […]
The report adds that the work in the camp starts at 6 AM and goes on without a stop till 4 PM. The prisoners receive a quarter of a pound of bread a day for four men, and a little cabbage soup. Invalids are kept in sick rooms without any medical attention, and are allowed to die. One prisoner who escaped to tell this story lost all his teeth and had broken hands and ribs, and later died in consequence. Several thousand Poles are still kept in this notorious detention camp.
Source: “Tortured Poles – German Brutality in Prison Camp”, The Times, 11 June 1941