The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/auschwitz//images/kremaII-2.txt

Source: Auschwitz: 1270 to the Present; Deborah Dwork and Robert Jan Van Pelt; W.W. Norton & Co., 1996 [unless
otherwise specified, text is taken from the glossy insert between pgs. 320 and 321). 

"Building at Auschwitz both in the concentration camp and in the town was subject to normal civilian procedures as well as to
the wartime superstructure of special permissions.  Multiple copies of many documents survive with the comments and
signatures of the individual bureaucrats or businessmen to whom they were sent.  The Buildings Office generated a wide paper
trail: plans, budgets, letters, telegrams, contractors' bids, financial negotiations, work site labor reports, requests for material
allocations, and the minutes of meetings held in the Buildings Office among the architects themselves, with camp officials, and
with high ranking dignitaries from Berlin. 
     "These papers tell us a great deal.  They elucidate the thinking in the Auschwitz Kommandantur and, to some extent, at SS
headquarters.  Every decision Himmler took with regard to Auschwitz, or Hoess took about the camp over which he reigned,
had implications for the physical site.  If prisoners were to be shipped in, barracks were needed; if the deportees' goods were
to be claimed for the Reich, storehouses were required.  If masses of people were to be murdered, incinerators to burn the
bodies were essential.  The documents of the Building Office archive retrace the course in reverse, from the structure back to
the decision, the thinking, the idea.  These materials illuminate the possibilities the Germans considered and the options they
chose, their ambition as well as its outcome.  And they reveal the widespread and far-flung complicity of Germans in many
walks of life.  As we have said before, Auschwitz was neither a preordained tragedy nor a natural disaster.  The SS leaders
themselves did not anticipate in 1940 what they wrought in 1944.  Yet, step by step, blueprint by blueprint, the architects, at
the behest of their bosses, came to plan and execute the horror we call Auschwitz, and, as we have seen, they had a lot of help
from bureaucrats, technocrats and businessmen. 

Plate 16: The ground plan of Walther Dejaco's modification of Werkmann's design, January 1942.  Original blueprint,
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, box BW(B) 30/1, file BW 30/2; redrawn for publication by Mikolaj Kadlubowski. 

"The crematorium, originally designed for the main camp but ultimately erected in Auschwitz-Birkenau as crematorium II. 
Drawing by Kate Mullin.  The incineration hall with the five triple-muffle furnaces occupies the center of the building (1).  To the
right arfe the fuel storeroom (2) and the rooms for the inmates working the installation (3); to the left are the two dissection
rooms (4 and 5) and the two-door elevator (6) opening onto both the incineration hall and the first dissection room.  The
elevator descends into a vestibule that is connected to the outside by two staircases and a chute for corpses (7).  The two large
morgues (8 and 9) extend far beyond the footprint of the building.  One of the morgues is equipped with a double ventillation
system (10) to draw in fresh air and extract foul odors.  This piping made it possible to transform the morgue into a gas
chamber with little effort.  N.B.: This is an axonometric drawing; the three-dimensional effect is derived from the exact
measurements and angles of the original plan.  See plate 16."(pg. 270) 

"Section of the morgue of crematorium II.  Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, box BW (B) 30/2, file 30/19a.  The conversion
of this morgue into a gas chamber was facilitated by the double ventillation system located where the wall touches the ceiling
and in the wall itself." (pg. 325) 

Plate 17: Dejaco's accepted proposal to create a new entrance to the basement.  Auschwitz-Birkenau, December 1942. 
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, box BW (B) 30/2, file BW 30/12.  The slide, which would obstruct movement between
the morgue to the left (the undressing room) and the morgue to the right (the gas chamber), has been removed. 

"The designs in plates 14 and 15 [posted yesterday] are conceptual sketches.  The worked-out blueprint (plate 16) is more
complex and informative.  It was used to request building materials and permissions, and was given to the Huta contracting firm,
which was happy to have the business.  The plan was changed yet again in December 1942.  With a relatively simple drawing
(plate 17), Walther Dejaco transformed the basement design.  He drew in an outside staircase descending from the yard next
to the railway spur into a basement entrance to the crematorium.  There he changed one of the two underground morgues into
an undressing room and the other into a gas chamber.  He cancelled the planned corpse chute, which in the earlier plans (plates
14, 15, 16) had afforded the main access to the basement morgues.  Live human beings descend staircases.  Dead bodies are
dropped through a chute.  The victims would walk to their death." 

"Completing the roof of the underground undressing room of crematorium II, winter 1942-43.  Auschwitz-Birkenau State
Museum, neg. 20995/498." (pg.328) 

"Completing the roof of crematorium II, winter 1942-43.  Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, neg. 20995/506.  In front (right
foreground) we see the partially exposed end of the underground gas chamber." (pg.329) 

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