The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac
Drawing D58,173, probably dating from January or February 1941, represented the very latest thing (at the time!) in Topf coke-fired single muffle furnaces, using a minimum of metal parts in its construction [Photo 3]. The muffle door was now of the “guillotine” type. This drawing was sent to KL Mauthausen, probably in connection with a project for one of the subcamps. It is not known whether the furnace was actually installed or not. The furnace characteristics were similar to those of a Kori single muffle furnace already installed in Mauthausen in May 1940 [Photos 3a, 3b and 3c].

Historically, D58,173, which has nothing to do with Birkenau, makes it possible to understand the structure of the twinned four muffle furnace ["Doppel-Vieormuffelofen"] created by Prüfer to increase the capacity of his “conventional” furnaces in order to meet the demands of the SS (the final stage of evolution was to be the combination of Prüfer’s science and the SS’s experience: a circular open air furnace based on the principle of the cremation pits). Composed of two four-muffle furnaces constructed as a unit, this furnace, known as the “eight muffle furnace”, was to inspire the building of Krematorien IV and V. The recesses for the guillotine doors are visible on Bauleitung drawings 1678 and 2036 of the future Krematorium IV (and V). While no survivor from the Sonderkommando had thought to describe these muffle doors, which differed from those of the three muffle furnaces in Krematorien II and III, the longitudinal section shows the mechanism.

Technically, this drawing makes it possible to reconstitute the arrangement of one half of a four muffle furnace (in fact invariably twinned to give an eight muffle furnace), which was just like two single muffle furnace, mounted side by side. However, the location of this firebox (es) [one or two for the four muffle unit] remains to be determined (somewhere at the rear and to the side, on a lower level than the muffles and accessed by a stoking pit ["Heizgrube"]. It should be noted that neither this drawing nor the two others show the paths of the secondary draught channels. It could be that these were deliberately omitted by the Topf D division drawing office, who did not want to reveal all the details of their cremation techniques, designed essentially by Prüfer.

Photo 3
[Bundesarchiv Koblenz, NS 4 Mauthausen/54]

Betr. SS Neubauleitung KL Mauthausen /
Re: SS Construction Management, KL Mauthausen
Topf Drawing, Scale 1:25, No. D57 173
Drawn [January or February] 1941 Einmuffel Einäscherungsofen /
Single-muffle crematorium furnace

Translation of inscriptions:
[Longitudinal section]:
· Absperrschieber / Sliding ["guillotine"] door
· Ascheentnahme / [Human] ash removal
· Rauchkanal / Smoke flue
· Einäschennngsraum / Cremation chamber [muffle]
· Druckluftleitung / Pulsed air duct
· Generator / [Coke fired] hearth
· Rauchkanalschieber / Flue damper
· Rauchkanal / Smoke flue
[Horizontal section]
· Druckluft-Gebläse / Pulsed-air blower