The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac
1. [ BW 30/34, p. 97]
A request for missing equipment emanating from Messing and sent to Topf by SS Second Lieutenant Kirschneck 3rd February 1943 indicates:
· Leichenkeller 1 / gas chamber: 1 fresh air fan No. 450;
· Leichenkeller 2 / undressing room: 1 extractor fan No. 550;
· Ofenraum / furnace room: 1 extractor fan No. 550:
· Sezier-. Wash-u. Aufbahrungsraum / dissecting, washing and laying out room: 1 extractor fan No. 375.
2. [BW 30/27, p. 55]
The telegram sent by Kirschneck on 3rd February 1943 repeats the same designations for this equipment [Document 35].
[The above two documents mention only the types of fans without any information on the type or size of motor used].
3. [BW 30/34, p. 84 and BW 30/27 p. 61]
Mention of a telegram of 11th February 1943 sent by the Bauleitung in a letter of reply from Topf dated 12th February 1943 and concerning the immediate dispatch of:
· Leichenkeller 1 / gas chamber: I No. 450 fan with 3.5 HP motor:
· Leichenkeller 2 / undressing room: 1 No. 550 fan with 7.5 HP motor.
4. [BW 30/34 p. 85 and verso]
A Bauleitung letter of 11th February 1943 to Topf confirming the lack of the following fans and motors:
· Leichenkeller 1 / gas chamber: 1 No. 450 fan with 3.5 HP motor:
· Leichenkeller 2 / undressing room: 1 No. 550 fan with 7.5 HP motor.
5. [BW 30/34, p. 84 and BW 30/27, p.61]
A Topf letter of 11th February 1943 received by the Baulietung on 14th February 1943 confirming the dispatch of:
· One No. 450 fan [for Leichenkeller 1 / gas chamber];
· A wooden No. 450 fan [probably an error: should be 5501, whose 7.5 HP motor is missing and will be temporarily replaced by a 10 HP Motor with the same speed of rotation.
6. [BW 30/25, p.7 (microfilm N° 1322)]
A Bauleitung letter of 6th March 1943 to Topf indicate [Document 36]:
· the air extraction installation of undressing room [Leichenkeller 2]
7. [BW 30/43, p. 19 (a). p. 22 (b)]
Two inventory forms filled in for the official handover of the building indicate:
(a) In the roof space of Krematorium II [Document 37]:
· 1 fan with 1.5 HP electric motor [difficult to read];
· 2 fans with 3.5 HP electric motor;
· 1 fan with 4.5 HP electric motor [difficult to read]
· 1 10 HP electric motor with lift gear, on loan!
(b) In the roof space of Krematorium III [Document 38]:
· 1 2.5 kW electric motor;
· 2 2.6 kW electric motors:
· 2 5.6 kW electric motors;
· 1 1.1 kW electric motor.

The emplacement for the lift and ventilation motors are confirmed by the testimony of a former prisoner, Porebski, who was a member of the electrician commando from spring 1942 to the beginning of 1945 ["Le Procès d'Auschwitz" by H. Langbein, p. 92 ff]:
“In Krematorien I [II] and II [III], there were electric extractor fans to evacuate the gas and blowers by the furnaces to improve the fire…”

”… in the roof space there was a room for the Sonderkommando (summer 19441. There there was also a lift and the installation for the ventilator fans and an electrical safety installation” [room si [sic] of the roof space in the western part of drawing 980]
None of these documents gives a COMPLETE description of the ventilated rooms together with the fans and motors SPECIFIC to each.
The synthesis of these sources can be summarised in a table where the motor sizes are expressed in kW/HP to harmonize the data with two suggested distributions, the only ones LOGICALLY possible in the light of the information available [Document 39].
Distribution l is based on:
· Reserving the most powerful motor for the lift;
· Distributing the motors of equal power to rooms with fans of the same type (550 for the furnace room and the undressing room);
· Allocating the most powerful remaining motor, or one of equal power to those driving the type 550 fans, to the gas chamber.
Distribution 2 is based on:
· Distributing the motors according to the volume of the rooms [the letters exchanged between the Bauleitung and Topf between 3rd and 12th February 1943 shows that the power required depended on the size of the room:
Ofenraum = Leichenkeller 2 > Leichenkeller I > Sezier-, Wasch- u. Aufbahrungsraum:
· Allocation of the gas chamber motor in accordance with Messing’s request;
· The most powerful motor given to the lift then the next to the furnace room.
It would seem that distribution 2 is the more likely one with motors of equal powers being attributed to each of the main large rooms. The difference between what was ordered and what was supplied shows the difficulties and delays that Topf were experiencing in obtaining electric motors of given sizes at the beginning of 1943 and illustrates the already critical situation of the Reich economy.
Other motors were also installed.
1. 5 pulsed air blower motors, one on one the side of each furnace [to accelerate incineration], with a unit power of 2.2 kW or 3.0 HP. or a total of I I kW or 15 HP per Krematorium of type II/III.
2. 3 motors for the forced draught installations, each of 11 kW or 15 HP, or a total for Krematorium lI of 33 kW or 45 HP. These were rapidly removed as a result of faults and a small fire. Those of Krematorium III were never even installed.
The total electric motor power requirement was:
Krematorium II: 60.9 kW or 83 HP. then after removal of the forced draught installations, 27.9 kW or 38 HP;
Krematorium III: 31 kW or 42.2 HP
The Archives of the Warsaw Central Commission possess a general plan of the PWO camp, Bauleitung drawing 2503 of 18th June 1943, showing the electric motors installed:
Krematorium II: 11 motors totalling 40.30 kW or 55 HP:
Krematorium III: 12 motors totalling 35.06 kW or 47.8 HP.
The discrepancy between the number of motors known (10 and 11) and those of the drawing (12 and 13), between my findings on the total power and those of the drawing, are due to unknown factors. A motor may perhaps have been used for pumping or evacuating waste water from the Krematorien. In order to carry corpses up to the ground floor, a provisional hoist was first installed, then a permanent Demag goods lift, with different powers. Such factors mean that the study of motor sizes for the ventilation systems of Krematorium II and III cannot give absolutely precise results.