A BBC survey has suggested that almost half the adult population – 45% – claim to have never heard of Auschwitz.
Amongst women and people aged under 35 the figure is even higher – 60%. Among those who have heard of Auschwitz, 70% felt that they did not know a great deal about the subject.
Most of them – 76% – were unaware of its roots as a concentration camp for Polish political prisoners.
The majority – 74% – did not know that people other than Jews – Gypsies, homosexuals, Soviet war prisoners – were killed there and only a few recognised the name of the camp commandant – Rudolf Höß – or knew who finally liberated the camp at the end of the war – the Red Army.
Written and produced by Bafta Award-winning producer Laurence Rees and to mark the 60.th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in January 2005, «Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution'» offers a unique perspective on the camp in which more than 1,100,000 people were ruthlessly murdered.
"The research reinforced the importance of making this series and trying to ensure the atrocities that unfolded at Auschwitz are never forgotten," says series producer Laurence Rees.
The series is the result of three years of in-depth research, drawing on the close involvement of world experts on the period, including Professors Sir Ian Kershaw and David Cesarani.
It is based on nearly 100 interviews with survivors and perpetrators, many of whom are speaking in detail for the first time.
Sensitively shot drama sequences, filmed on location using German and Polish actors, bring recently discovered documents to life on screen, while specially commissioned computer images give a historically accurate view of Auschwitz-Birkenau (Polish: Oświęcim-Brzezinka) at all its many stages of development.
"The name Auschwitz is quite rightly a byword for horror," says Laurence Rees. "Our series is not only about the shocking, almost unimaginable pain of those who died, or survived, Auschwitz. It's about how the Nazis came to do what they did. I feel passionately that being horrified is not enough. We need to make an attempt to understand how and why such horrors happened if we are ever to be able to stop them occurring again."
As I said, I had already watched this magnificent series when it was first released in January 2005. Watching it a second time – one episode a day – only made me realise better how such a tremendous catastrophe occurred by human hands. If I say I realise it better now it doesn't mean, however, I understand it. Because I don't and I believe I never will.
How can one cope with the fact that "normal people" turn into monsters, act as monsters, send about 200,000 children to death according to a spectral plan, and in the end, when they know they're reaching death themselves, claim the righteousness of their acts without a blink?
"After Auschwitz poetry is no longer possible," a poet said.