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The Auschwitz plans

Architectural plans of the Auschwitz conentration camp were found in East Berlin recently. They have just been handed over to Israel. (view plans at NPR )

This might be the time to name, shame, blame the architects guilty of designing buildings for killing, but there are not mentioned in this week's news articles. It is noted by NPR that one of the draftsmen of at least one of the drawings was a prisoner, identified by a number on the drawings, "Nr. 471."

Some background on the construction of the Auschwitz - Birkenau death camps.

Note: this information is sourced from
the compilation of essays, "Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp", available at Google Books.

The architects responsible for designing Auschwitz were Karl Bischoff and young Bauhaus graduate Fritz Ertl. They had thought they were designing a prisoner of war camp for 97,000 Russians, which was Aushwitz's initial function.

The standard
4,176 square foot hut was nominated on the drawings to hold 550 prisoners, but at the last minute, Bischoff crossed this out and replaced it with "744". The private space allotted to each prisoner was reduced to 1 square metre. The density was much tighter than the contemporary Nazi standards for concentration camps. The authors reason that the lack of latines and high density was partly due to the architects' assumption that the prisoners would be away working for most of the day. The prisoners were to reconstruct the town of Auschwitz.

Construction was a humanitarian disaster. Under pressure from Himmler to speed up the process, and with a lack of building materials, Bischoff ordered the surrounding villages to be cannabalised of their bricks, which the unhoused Russian prisoners proceeded to do, with their bare hands. 8,000 of the 10,000 early arrivals died during the first few months of construction.

In early 1942 the camps lost their reason for being, as prisoners of war were now required in armaments factories. The population had dwindled to 3,000 from a maximum 15,000. Soon after, 150,000 jews arrived to take their place. Over 1,000,000 were to die there over the next three years.

via archinect
image: AP


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