26 August 2009

Auschwitz: Yad Vashem receives original plans

Yad Vashem (Jerusalem) will receive the original plans for Auschwitz in Berlin on Thursday.

The German newspaper, Bild, acquired the architectural plans and decided to donate them to Yad Vashem.

The blueprints were discovered in 2008, and Bild editor-in-chief Kai Diekmann decided that Yad Vashem was the most appropriate place to safeguard them. In January 2010, the plans will be displayed, marking 65 years since the camp's liberation.

There are 29 documents in the collection. The plans show details for expanding the camp, including the addition of a crematorium and a gas chamber.
They are dated between 1941 and 1943, and have been authenticated by experts from Germany's Federal Archives. Discovered last year in Berlin, and acquired by the German newspaper Bild, the sketches include plans for a purification building, with a gas chamber, dated 8 November 1941 (the building was never built); Crematorium II + III from November 1941; a plan for a building to contain corpses; a two-dimensional sketch of the now-iconic entry way to the Birkenau death camp; a sketch from 30 April 1942 for plans to expand Auschwitz I (plans which were partially completed); an initial plan for Birkenau from October 1941; and a plan for a huge headquarters building (dated 17 December 1941), that was never carried out. Some of the documents bear notes in the margins, or signatures by senior Nazis, including Himmler. Copies of some of these documents exist in other archives, and were previously known, but as a whole these are significant historical records.
Yad Vashem's archives currently hold more than 125 million pages of Holocaust documentation.

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