The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac
Photo 3:
[PMO neg. no. 286, Ludwik series]
Photo 3

Southeast/northwest view of Leichenkeller 2 of Krematorium III, Birkenau worksite “BW 30a”, probably taken on the same day as Photos 1 and 2 in the second half of October 1942. The bituminous damp-proofing is being applied as in the Krematorium II Leichenkeller 2, but the south wall is not completed while the north wall is. Visible in the bottom right of the picture are the narrow gauge rails running from the future furnace room to the bottom of the excavation, towards which an SS man is proceeding. No western access stairway has been allowed for. It will not be built until March/April 1943.

The trees in the background, still there today, make it possible to identify this as being Krematorium III The small hut under the trees is present on other photos and enables them to be situated with certainty.

In the publication KL Auschwitz: Photographic documents(Warsaw 1980), this photo, no. 61 in the book, has a caption that is wrong on two counts: “Birkenau. Prisoners working on the construction of the gas chamber of Krematorium IV or V (Photo: SS Kamann 1942)”. Any historical research based on such interpretation is doubly useless. Furthermore, this kind of error can only confuse the visitor who is trying to understand.

Photo 4:
[PMO neg. no. 290, Ludwik series]
Photo 4

Southwest/northeast view of the almost completed furnace room of Krematorium II in the first half of January 1943. From left to right: furnaces 1, 2, 3 and 5 [the near end of 5 is visible on an identical photograph held in the Archives of the STATNI ZIDOVSKE MUSEUM PRAZE / State Jewish Museum of Prague, Osvetim / Oswiecim Section, neg. no. 24, 754 (below]

It is possible to distinguish between the furnace rooms of Krematorien II and III, absolutely identical, but mirror images, thanks to the position of the sun, which can shine into the furnace front (corpse charging) side of the furnace room of Krematorium II only, through the double windows of its southern façade.

A comparison of the two prints shows that the PMO version has been retouched to emphasize the bark (bluish) stripes on the “zebra” uniforms of the prisoners on the left and, for some unknown reason, to streak the pools of sunlight.

In the bottom right hand corner are the rails laid temporarrily to facilitate the transport of materials to Leichenkeller 2. They were removed shortly af ter the photograph was taken.

Photo 4a Photo 4a