Blueprints for Auschwitz camp found in Germany

BERLIN Sat Nov 8, 2008 10:12am EST

1 of 3. Hair which belonged to prisoners is seen in the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz in Oswiecim, Poland, January 12, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Katarina Stoltz

BERLIN (Reuters) - The original construction plans believed used for a major expansion of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in 1941 have been found in a Berlin flat, Germany's Bild newspaper reported on Saturday.

The daily printed three architect's drawings on yellowing paper from the batch of 28 pages of blueprints it obtained. One has an 11.66 meter by 11.20 meter room marked "Gaskammer" (gas chamber) that was part of a "delousing facility."

No one from the federal government's archives was immediately available for comment on the authenticity or importance of the documents.

The plans, published ahead of the 70th anniversary of the "Kristallnacht" or the Nazi pogrom that was a harbinger of the Holocaust, also include a crematorium and a "L. Keller" -- an abbreviation for "Leichenkeller" or corpse cellar.

A drawing of the building for Auschwitz's main gate was also found in the documents that Bild said were believed to have been discovered when a Berlin flat was cleaned out.

The mass-circulation newspaper quoted Hans-Dieter Kreikamp, head of the federal archives office in Berlin, as saying the blueprints offered "authentic evidence of the systematically planned genocide of European Jews."

There were mass killings of about one million Jews before the Nazi's "Final Solution" was formulated in late 1941. The decision to kill Europe's 11 million Jews was made at the Wannsee Conference in January 1942.

A copy of the minutes, known as the "Wannsee Protocol," is one of the most important documents from the war.

The newly found Auschwitz blueprints are dated October 23 1941 and could offer historians earlier evidence of Nazi plans to kill Jews on a mass scale, Bild said.

"These documents reveal that everyone who had even anything remotely to do with the planning and construction of the concentration camp must have know that people were to be gassed to death in assembly-line fashion," Bild wrote.

"The documents refute once and for all claims by those who deny the Holocaust even took place," it added.

The concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland was the largest -- at least 1.1 million Jews were killed there.

Auschwitz I was set up in May 1940 in an old Polish army barracks. The first victims were gassed in September 1941. Auschwitz II, or Birkenau, opened in October 1941. Four large gas chambers were added to the camp in January 1942.

(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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