- “Where were you when my father and mother were slaughtered in this place?”
- ―Magneto to Apocalypsesrc
The Auschwitz Concentration Camp was originally a prison facility constructed in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany to serve as an internment camp for Polish political prisoners before being remodeled into an extermination camp for, primarily, those of Jewish heritage.
A young Erik Lehnsherr was interned at Auschwitz along with his parents, Edie Lehnsherr and Jacob Lehnsherr, and were walking along with other prisoners when Nazi officers separated them and dragged his parents away. Erik was held back by other Nazi officers, as a gate was drawn to separate him from his parents. Erik exasperatedly held his hands outstretched to his parents, screaming in anguish, when his mutation manifested and the gate began to succumb to his magnetic powers. The gate bent outwards, before a Nazi officer knocked Erik down with the butt of his gun.
Klaus Schmidt watched this debacle take place from his office quarters overlooking Auschwitz, and was fascinated by the range and potential of Erik's powers. He instructed his subordinates to bring Erik to his office, commanding him to move a coin on his desk. When Erik was unable to do so, Schmidt expressed his disappointment, and instructed his guards to deliver Erik's mother to him. He then presented Erik with an ultimatum; move the coin within 3 seconds, or he will kill his mother.
Despite the assurances of his mother, Schmidt shot her after Erik failed to move the coin. This prompted Erik to go into a full-blown rage, crushing several metallic objects around Schmidt's office and killing two Nazi officers by crushing their metal helmets. After exhausting himself, Erik began to sob as Schmidt gave him the coin he failed to move. Schmidt then continued to experiment upon Erik to unlock his powers and embrace the true potential hidden under the surface. But following the declaration of German surrender after Hitler's death, Allied and Soviet liberation of Polish concentration camps and the harsh punishments imposed on Nazi affiliates, Schmidt fled to Argentina along with two Nazi officers.
After Schmidt fled occupied Poland, Erik was liberated from Auschwitz by the Red Army in January 1945 and emigrated to America several years later.
In an effort to recruit Magneto, who has lost his family to humans, Apocalypse brings him, as well as Storm, Psylocke and Angel, to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Reminding Erik that this is where he first manifested his mutant ability, Apocalypse decides that Auschwitz shall be the place where Magneto's mutant power is augmented. With an increase in his power, now possessing the ability to control the metal poles of the Earth, Magneto destroys the camp with his newfound powers.
- In X-Men: First Class, director Matthew Vaughn re-shot the opening scene of the first film with Erik discovering his powers in a note-for-note translation of the original scene directed by Bryan Singer.