The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac
THE BAULEITUNG PHOTOGRAPHS
OF KREMATORIEN II AND III
All the photographs presented here were taken by the same man, SS Sergeant Kamann, but they come from two different sources: those “organized” by the former prisoner Lawin Ludwik and those found to theBauleitung Album, now held by the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

Lawin Ludwik handed 52 photographs to the Polish judiciary and made the following first deposition, which appears of page 31 of Volume 15 of the Hoess Trial:
First deposition by Lawin Ludwik
(summary made from the Polish original)
“During the war, the Polish prisoner Lawin Ludwik was employed in the little Zentralbauleitung (Auschwitz Waffen SS and Police Central Construction Management] photographic laboratory. SS Unterscharführer Kamann, employed by this service and in charge of the laboratory, had a “Retina” [Kodak “Retina"?] camera and could take photographs in the camp to document the building work in progress.

Ludwik noticed that among the developed rolls of film there were pictures of the buildings at Birkenau and realized that these photos could provide useful historical documentation on the camp.

While the SS man was absent, he made some very small prints in the dark room. In this way he personally “organized” fifty three prints covering different periods at Auschwitz [main camp] and Birkenau. He then enclosed them in two metal capsules which were in turn put in a bottle which was buried in August 1944 near to the third Bauleitung barrack block [outside the main camp].

At 12 o'clock on 25th September 1946, Lucas dug up the bottle in the presence of a member of the Auschwitz State Museum [a body different from the present one, whose role, from the spring of 1946, was to protect and preserve the premises with a view to organizing future exhibition], Tadeusz Mynkowski. The prints were in good condition and are listed below:”
This list in fact contains only fifty photographs, no. 28 being a duplicate of 17, and no. 39 having been forgotten. One of the missing photographs (since visible in theBauleitung Album, showing the south side of Krematorium II and classified by the PMO under neg. no, 20995/504) is to be found in the Archives of the Warsaw Central Commission for research into Hitlerian crimes in Poland.

Ludwig's list includes fifteen photographs of Birkenau Krematorien II, III and IV, and three others showing the building of a section of the “Ringstraße / Ring road” passing between Krematorien IV and V.

Ludwik subsequently completed his first deposition with a second, also to be found in Volume 15 of the Hoess Trial:
Second deposition by Lawin Ludwik
(summary made from the Polish original)
Ludwig testified as follows:
“During the winter of 1941-42, SS Sergeant Kamann was worried about what was happening on the Eastern Front [?] At first, Kamann was employed on the gardens and the transport of horses, then he took over the little photographic laboratory belonging to the Bauleitung. Lawin Ludwik worked there for two months, then was replaced by a professional photographer, called Kubiak, but still retained some influence, because he could speak German and the new man could not. Ludwik and his fellow prisoner Kubiak decided that they should “organize” some copies of the photographs, simply by making contact prints [underlined by the author; this simple process explains the small size of the prints and the poor quality of the enlargements made after the war]. Two sets of prints were produced in this way. The first set was given to a certain Dubiel, but it is not known whether the prisoner survived or not. This set was buried in Hoess' [the Camp Commandant] garden, because Dubiel was a gardener there. It was put in a sealed tube, but there was an accident and the tube was broken and the contents taken by another prisoner. The second set was also buried.

This second set was dug up near the Bauleitung barracks. These photos were then enlarged and used as incriminating evidence. Some of them had been exhibited on the walls of the Bauleitung building and appeared in several Albums of photographs which were given as presents to various high-ranking SS visitors.”
This second deposition by Ludwik, which differs from the first in that he no longer claims to have acted alone in “organizing” the prints, gives two pieces of information that were subsequently corroborated:
1. The exhibition on the walls of the Bauleitung of photographs showing its achievements in the field of cremation facilities;
2. The production of several Albums of photographs of the buildings erected in the Auschwitz area, which were given as souvenirs to high ranking SS visitors, no doubt to show off the"good work” being done by the members of the Bauleitung.
The first point was confirmed by SS Corporal Pery Broad of the Political Section of the camp in his affidavit of 20th October 1947, Document NI 11984 [Paris CDJC reference CLXVI-37]. Here is the seventh paragraph, translated from the German:
7. “About January 1944, a panel carrying about 30 photographs was hung in the vestibule of the Auschwitz Waffen SS and Police Central Construction Management offices. These photos showed the different phases of construction of the Birkenau Krematorien. Among others, there were views of long lines of cremation furnaces. On one which I can remember exactly, there was a row of 15 furnaces [actually the 15 muffles of the five three-muffle furnaces of Krematorium II]. It was obvious that more than one corpse at a time could be burned in a single furnace (muffle). As I heard later, it was 5 to 7 corpses [actually 2 or 3] that were burned at a time. I would say these photographs were on show for about a week, during which time they were seen by many civilians from the construction firms dealing with the Bauleitung. I would imagine that the sight of so many cremation furnaces would convince any visitor that Auschwitz was an extermination camp. Although epidemics had broken out secretively they were limited in duration and such great expenditure, so carefully planned, had never been made for them. After about a week the photos were removed by order of the Camp Commandant, because going on like the would have compromised the secrecy.”
Broad's account gives an idea of the number of photographs that had been taken of the four Krematorien, “about thirty”.

The second point was confirmed quite recently, at the beginning of 1982, when the Auschwitz Museum received from the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem a copy of an Album containing 397 photographs, which they had just bought from a German in Berlin, who had himself negotiated it just after the war from a Russian officer who had spent some time at Auschwitz. This Album, since known as the Bauleitung Album, shows all the buildings constructed by the Bauleitung in the Auschwitz region. There are nineteen photos that concern the Birkenau Krematorien. They are grouped together in four sheets; one introductory with one photograph and the legend “Krematorien KGL”, two sheets each with six photos and one with six remaining out of the original eight, two having been torn out, and one of which is a duplicate of that on the introductory sheet.
The Bauleitung Album contains eighteen photos of the four Birkenau Krematorien, eight of which appear on Ludwik's list, while ten are new. In addition, the Bauleitung Album contains a photo of the south side of Krematorium II, furnaces working, under the heading “Prov. Erdklaranlage im KGL / Provisional earth purification basins in the POW camp”, while under the heading “Entwesungsanlage mit Effektenbaracken im KGL / Disinfestation facility and effects barracks in the POW camp” [known as the “Zentral Sauna"] a view of the southwest corners of the gas chambers of Krematorien IV and V can be obtained by enlarging a photo of the foundations.

In all, we now possess 15+10+2 =27 different photos of the four Birkenau Krematorien and 3 of the building of the road between Kr IV and V (of no great interest except for the location, and, on two of them, the presence of Bischoff and Dejaco).

Of Broad's “about thirty” photos, twenty five have been found. The arrangement of the prints on the pages of the Bauleitung Album, which are in the order in which they were taken, makes it possible to say that in fact ONLY ONE photo of the Krematorien is missing. This would be a view of the northwest corner of Krematorium II at the time it was officially handed over by the Bauleitung to the camp authorities.

The following sheets contain the nineteen known photos of Krematorien II and III, arranged chronologically from late summer 1942 to summer 1943, supplemented by two prints from Serge Klarsfeld's Auschwitz Album taken during the extermination of the Hungarian Jews in May/June 1944.

The Leichenkeller of Krematorien II and III were excavated and built right at the beginning of the work in order to get them damp-proofed before the winter. This was managed just in time, but the roofs were not prepared and concreted until January 1943 for Krematorium II and later for Krematorium III. In the meantime a temporary roof was installed over the incomplete Leichenkeller 2 of Krematorium III, so that work could continue without being interrupted by rain or snow falls. This temporary roof did not cover the whole Leichenkeller, however, and it had to be dried out when completed.
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