The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac
The three photographs al the top of page 8 of the Bauleitung Album [Photo 7] show authentic and real installations at the central camp, and they must have functioned according to the human and material possibilities. The validity of these photographs must be admitted and they cannot be dismissed as pure propaganda. Their purpose was not to mislead humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross, but simply to give a favorable image of the activity of the Auschwitz Bauleitung to ranking SS who visited the camp, to whom such albums of photographs were frequently presented.

Photos 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 concern the second stage of construction of Birkenau [KGL Bauabschnitt II]. They are presented on page 73 of the Bauleitung Album and concern in particular the organization of the health and sanitation service [PMO neg. no. 20995/420 of the disinfestation installation in the Gypsy camp, which appears on this page is reproduced in Part I. Chapter 6, “The disinfestation installation in the Gypsy camp"]. Apart from the pine branches, mats and cloths introduced to “pretty up” the scene, this was in fact the living environment, somewhat stark of SOME of the prisoners in BA.II. The floors shown are concrete, parquet or brick. In other barracks they were of bare earth. The WC bowls [Photo 19] were a rarity, unlike the wash troughs [Photo 18] that were a standard model installed all over the camp. Photos 17, 18 and 19 reflect a reality from which the great majority of prisoners were excluded.

The question of the NUMBER of prisoners with respect to the health installations of Photos 13,14, 15 and 16 arises, and reveals the pitiful inadequacy of the facilities. How many patients could he treated with the products contained in the pharmacy cupboards? Certainly the few people shown in the half-empty sick room [Photo 16]. The two pictures are in harmony. But on Photo 17 of the large ward, one may well ask where the temperature charts are that are so well in evidence in Photo 16, and whether the small pharmacy Photo 14 was adequate for such a large number of people. The sordid reality of a prisoner with diarrhoea lying on the upper bunk, unable to move and soiled by his own excrement, suffering from fever and whose treatment consisted of one suck, not two, at an aspirin attached by a string, whose drinking water was barely filtered and worsened his condition, proves that at Birkenau, these photographs with their functional titles are tragically cynical in their insignificance.

Photo 13 Photo13:
[PMO neg. no. 20995/414]

“Operating theater”

Photo 16:
[PMO neg. No. 20995/416]

“Prisoners' sick room”
Photo 16

Photo 17 Photo 17:
[PMO neg. No. 20995/419]

“Prisoners' sick room”