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Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/auschwitz/documents/pressac/bau-2003-commentary

c, Jean-Claude.  _Auschwitz:  Technique and operation of the gas
chambers._  The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York, 1989.
pp. 302-303:


(PMO Archives, file BW 30/12, neg. no. 20922/4)

Krematorium im KLG / Krematorium in POW camp
Deckblatt zu Zeichnung Nr 932 u. 933 /
   Correction sheet to drawings 932 and 933
Verlegung des Kellerzuganges an die Strassenseite /
   Relocation of the basement access to the side nearest the road
Kellergeschoss / Basement
Erdgeschoss / Ground floor
M. / Scale 1:100
(Krematorium II of Birkenau POW camp, BW 30)

Drawn on 19/12/42 by SS Second Lieutenant Dejaco
and approved on 5/1/43 by SS Captain Bischoff

   Translation of inscriptions:
   (left to right and top to bottom)

   [Inscriptions visible in bau-2003-keller-detail.jpg and
   bau-2003-erdgeschoss-detail.jpg are marked with "+";
   those cropped out of those images are marked with "-" -Nizkor]
   - Leichenkeller 2
   + Buero / Office
   + Tresor / Strongroom
   + W.f. u. Vorplatz / Windbreak and anteroom
   + Vorraum / Vestibule
   + Goldarbeit / Goldworking
   + Aufzug / Corpse lift
   - Leichenkeller 1
   - Nicht unterkellert / Without basement
   Ground floor:
   - Kellereingang / Access to basement
   + WC
   + W.R. / Wash room
   + Abstellraum / Store
   - Sezierraum / Dissecting room
   + Waschraum / (Corpse) washing room
   - Krem. Eingang / Krematorium entrance
   - W.F. / Windbreak
   - Flur / Corridor
   + Aufzug / Corpse lift
   - Ofen / Furnace

Bauleitung drawing 2003, _drawn by Dejaco himself_, is of the utmost
importance in the evolution of the plans for Krematorium II and marks
the transition from a "normal" crematorium fitted with a corpse chute
supplying three underground morgues to an "abnormal" complex that
cannot fit any logic other than criminal.

The new arrangement of the basement shows the following modifications as
compared with drawings 932, 933 and 1311:

   1. The double door of Leichenkeller 1 now opens outwards (it had
      been realized that it would be impossible to open the doors of
      the gas chamber if they opened inwards, as in the original
   2. The corpse chute has been eliminated (a vital point, implying
      that since this was no longer required the Leichenkeller could
      no longer be morgues in any normal sense, or else that the
      "corpses" arrived on foot!);
   3. The installation of an access stairway leading directly from
      the north yard of Krematorium II to a basement antechamber
      between the goldworking room and the associated office, and
      then to the junction between Leichenkeller 2 and 1.  The
      western access stairway direct to Leichenkeller 2 was not yet
      plannet (the first mention of it found in the PMO Bauleitung
      files being dated 26th February 1943), so that the stairs drawn
      by Dejaco _became the ONLY POSSIBLE ACCESS to the
      Leichenkeller_, through which the "corpses" had to pass. 
      Replacing a chute designed to take corpses by an ordinary
      stairway defies all logic - unless the future corpses entered
      while they were still living and could walk down the stairs. 
      But if the basement was being filled with live people, what
      could the function of the "morgues" now be?

It could possibly be argued that Dejaco, pressed by time, left out the
chute which was unimportant in this drawing, the main purpose of which
was to show the creation of a stairway from the north yard of the
Krematorium to the basements.  But the ground floor plan confirms the
abolition of the chute, for a storeroom is installed in its place. 
This drawing was made at a time when work on Krematorium II was well
advanced and the main structure was completed, so only part of the
modifications were actually realized in the building.  The stairway
was built, as can still be seen in the ruins, but the corpse chute was
also built, no doubt because it was already in place when drawing 2003
was made.  At a later date, in order to avoid the lower end of the
chute interfering with the passage of victims from Leichenkeller 2 to
Leichenkeller 1, the chute was enclosed behind a wooden wall.

Keeping the chute meant that if necessary the Krematorium could easily
return to being a "normal" facility.  By eliminating it completely,
Dejaco clearly revealed that the role of the building was no longer to
cremate people dying in the camp, but to cremate people dying on the
spot.  During the trial of Walter Dejaco and Fritz Ertl, considered to
be the "Krematorium architects," a trial held before the Vienna Assize
Court from 18th January to 10th March 1972, drawing 2003, which
formally accuses Dejaco, could have led to his being found guilty
(Dejaco alone).  The main Bauleitung drawings of Krematorium II (932,
933, 934, 936, 980, 1301, 1311, 1173-1174 and 2197) were furnished to
the court by an envoy from the Warsaw-based Central Commission for
research into Hitlerian crimes in Poland, Mr Stanislaw Kaniewski at
the 25th session on 1st March 1972, but they were studied for _only
one hour_ (between 11 and 12 o'clock), during which time there was
much quibbling about the size of the pillars supporting the
Leichenkeller roofs, which one witness claimed were hollow.  Drawing
2003, drawn by the hand of Dejaco himself, was not even cited as such.
 The designated expert, incapable of understanding these drawings,
virtually admitted defeat.  There was no correct and detailed
exploitation of this valuable historical material.  Needless to say,
the case against the two accused was dismissed for lack of evidence.

As it appears on drawing 2003, Krematorium II offered the following
poosibilities [sic -Nizkor] with regard to large-scale extermination:

1. The victims arrived on foot or were brought by truck to the
   north yard of the Krematorium, then went down the steps to the
   basement and were directed to Leichenkeller 2 where they
   undressed.  Then, naked, they were pushed into Leichenkeller 1,
   the door or doors closed on them, and they were gassed.

   However, some people, arriving at the bottom of the steps in
   the vestibule at the junction between Leichenkeller 1 and 2,
   before going into Leichenkeller 1 might have been worried by
   the disquieting aspect of the entrance to a room presented as a
   shower room.  If the doors were closed, they saw a wooden door
   with a sizeable peephole and heavy bars to close it.  If the
   doors were open they would see a forest of pillars, some
   concrete, some in very heavy wire mesh.  The famous dummy
   showers, fixed to the ceiling, would be virtually invisible
   from outside the room, being masked by the reinforced concrete
   beams supporting the roof.  Whatever they saw, these people
   might have doubts about this "shower room" and recoil, or even
   revolt, something the SS wanted to avoid at all costs.

   This would explain why, in the "War Refugee Board" report on
   the extermination camps in Upper Silesia (see Part III, Chapter
   1) published in November 1944, the witnesses, speaking of the
   earliest gassings in Krematorium II, stated that the walls of
   Leichenkeller 1 were camouflaged to give the impression of "a
   huge shower room."

2. The erection of a stable-type hut, running north/south in the
   north yard of Krematorium II made it possible to have the
   victims enter through the northern end, undress and emerge
   naked from the southern end, a few meters from the steps down
   to the basement.  Going through the antechamber and vestibule,
   they were directed straight into Leichenkeller 1, crowded in
   and gassed.  This was the route taken by the victims in the
   second half of March 1943, while the new access stairway at the
   western end of Leichenkeller 2 was being built.

   In this scenario, which was actually employed, the people
   emerging from the hut were naked, upset and completely
   defenceless, incapable of any resistance.  They obeyed
   unconsciously, like a frightened herd of animals and the SS
   treated them as such. There was no possibility of any revolt.

3. By reversing the direction in which the double doors of
   Leichenkeller 2 opened and making the undressing hut a
   permanent fixture, there was another possibility, which in the
   author's opinion must have been considered by the SS.  This was
   _using Leichenkeller 1 and 2 alternately as gas chambers_ (both
   of them having ventilation and air extraction systems).  This
   was the method planned in January 1943 for the gas chambers of
   Krematorien IV and V.

   However, the incineration capacity of the five three-muffle
   furnaces of Krematorium II was not great enough to handle the
   number of corpses that would have resulted from this system,
   and it was never used.

Lastly, it should be noted that there is a design fault in this
drawing:  when the double doors of Leichenkeller 1 are opened, the
right one interfers [sic -Nizkor] with the lower door of the lift.
This is no doubt one of the reasons why the double doors of
Leichenkeller 1 were converted to a single one opening to the left.

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