The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac
Only the smallest ventilation outlet still remained to be explained. Fortunately, the Bauleitung spelled out its requirements precisely. A letter of 22nd October 1941 [Document 24] referring to a conversation between Bischoff and Prüfer [Topf chief engineer] on the plan to build ONE new Krematorium — at the Stammlager and not at Birkenau — which was to become the prototype for the future Krematorien II and III, speaks of the “installation of air extraction systems in the TWO corpse cellars, the dissecting room and the furnace room”. The last air outlet was therefore to ventilate the dissecting room. In fact, according to Messing [Document 6 and his timesheets. Document 27], this ventilation served both the dissecting room AND the washing and laying out room, which was in practice systematically used as an additional morgue and place for “knocking people over” with small caliber pistols.

Thus all the ventilation systems of Krematorien II and III were now clearly defined. It remained only to locate the blower motors and verify that my assumptions were correct.

Two years of disjointed and difficult research can be summed up in the simple schematic diagram of Document 25. It is probably definitive. During the compilation of the French version of theAlbum d'Auschwitz, published by Editions du Seuil in November 1983, I was responsible among other things for the annexes on Krematorien II, III, IV and V. On the explanatory photograph of Krematorium III [Document 26] that I proposed there, the ventilation outlets for the gas chamber and the furnace room are inverted with respect to Document 25. I had located them like that on the basis of the proximity of the chimneys and the evacuation ducts. The hot air duct from the furnace room was attached to the closest outlet. For the diagram in Document 25, I took account of the sections of the outlets and the associated ducts in relation to the volume of the rooms to be ventilated, a principle I shall also use for the allocating the extractor fan motors of different sizes. The ranking of the volumes of the rooms concerned, from the biggest to the smallest, is as follows: furnace room; undressing room: gas chamber; dissecting, washing and laying out rooms. The outlets are all 50cm wide, but are of different lengths: 84, 80, 70, and 30 cm, and this classification shows which outlet corresponds to which room. The Leichenkeller I / gas chamber evacuation ducts are of a uniform 50 × 50 section in the underground parts and those external to the building, but change to 70 × 50 at the junction of the two lower evacuation ducts and keep this same section all the way through the Krematorium to the 70 × 50 outlet. This additional evidence reinforces the layout shown in Document 25.

Towards the end of October 1983, at the end of what I thought was to be my last study visit to the Auschwitz Museum archives, having finished my research on virtually all the known documents concerning the Krematorien, I asked the archivist Tadeusz Iwaszko, who had become a friend in the course of my different stays, to let me “really” visit his archives. Documents are normally consulted in a room next to his office and he brings them on request and takes them away once they have been studied. I wanted to see the place where they were stored. Having agreed to my request, he explained that on the first floor of Block 24 where the Archives Service was installed there had been the camp brothel in the time of the concentration camp. Favored prisoners, pre-eminent people, Capos and Vorarbeiter of all sorts had access through tickets or various gifts that they “organized.” For a few minutes they were allowed their slice of seventh heaven with women prisoner partners, forced to exercise this “profession.” The meetings took place in six small rooms whose doors had peepholes enabling the SS responsiblefor the smooth operation of this “house,” to watch what was going on.

Document 13

Document 13:
[PMO microfilm 205/44]
Sketch by David Olère dated 1946, which appeared in Le Droit de Vivre.” [The Right to Live], the LICA Journal, of 15th February 1964, 31st year, No. 316, page 3. “Undressing room of Krematorium III” [west-east view].

Above left is the air extraction duct of Leichkeller 2. The air intakes should be more numerous than shown on this drawing. The duct did not go up through the ceiling on the extreme left as shown, but extended to the west entrance of the room. At the far end it terminated in the “Vorraum” [vestibule” and then rose vertically to join the other air extraction ducts and go to the main air evacuation chimney. In Leichenkeller 2 of Krematorium II it was upper right.

The clothes hooks and the benches from along the walls and round the central pillars were found in the Bauhof in 1945 and were as drawn by David Olère.