The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac


The unrealized future of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp

The unrealised future of K L Auschwitz-Birkenau
What the possible future of the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex could have been is a topic that has not been researched and never discussed in the literature. As far as the archivist of the Auschwitz Museum can recall, only two people have ever taken an interest in this now fictional evolution: a former prisoner and the present author.

There were three main stages in the development of KL Auschwitz:
1. Creation of the Stammlager or main camp (Auschwitz 1) in July 1940;
2. Creation of a prisoner of war camp at Birkenau (Auschwitz II) in October 1941;
3. Construction of a labour camp by IG Farbenindustrie at Monowitz (Auschwitz III) in late October 1943.
The main camp was opened as a “protective custody” [Schutzhaft] camp and was intended to receive Polish prisoners from Silesia. Its rapid development was slowed somewhat by two successive directives: the decision to build a POW camp (for Soviet prisoners) and the decision to exterminate the Jews. The result was KGL ["POW camp"- the name was not changed] Birkenau, with its four Krematorien and its numerous gas chambers. The criminal conversion of the POW camp was to be pushed even further according to 1944 plans, but these could not be implemented for lack of material resources. This last stage of homicidal activity was thus aborted and the construction of the required facilities never completed, but the instruments of extermination, absolute errors on the political and human planes, were in any case destined for demolition, whatever the outcome of the war for Germany and her satellites.

[The probable evolution of these two programmes, the extension of the main camp and reinforcement of the criminal structure of the POW camp, interrupted before they were completed, are investigated in the light of the remaining evidence from two standpoints: a future without extermination and one with extermination.]

The Monowitz camp, directly linked with German industry, represented the future “solution” for the concentration camp system: slavery in the service of a “thousand year Reich”, triumphant or in its death throes. The development of Monowitz, abandoned on 18th January 1945, prefigured the way in which post-war societies, in the West as well as in the East, would gradually come to be organized, with the labour force dependent on the factories and the prison huts or barracks being replaced by public housing. The improvement on the “Monowitz principle” was to be more perceptible in the West, where fairly complete freedom has replaced barbed wire and armed guards. As for the food and the three-tier wooden bunks, the “liberal” and “socialist” regimes have succeeded to differing extents in obtaining sufficient of the former and replacing the later by decent flats or comfortable houses