Saturday, November 08, 2008

Auschwitz blueprints discovered: the banality of evil

The Jerusalem Post reports on an article in Bild about the discovery of original blueprints for Auschwitz that leave no doubt as to its purpose:
The German newspaper Bild published never-before-seen architectural plans of the Auschwitz extermination camp on Saturday that reveal, in their unequivocally marked sections, that everyone involved in the operation of Auschwitz knew full well that it was intended for the systematic extermination of human beings, the paper said.

The floor plans, cross-sections and maps on yellowing paper, mostly on a scale of 1:100, were reportedly found during the evacuation of an abandoned Berlin apartment. They were drawn up between 1941 and 1943.

The 28 documents include detailed blueprints of prisoner barracks, gas chambers marked clearly Gaskammer (Gas chamber) in a gothic-inspired font and a cross-section of the gate into which the rails of trains entered carrying Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, disabled persons and other people the National Socialists sent to die.

One of the maps carries the handwritten signature of Gestapo commander Heinrich Himmler.

The plans were not construction plans but were drawn after Auschwitz-Birkenau was built (on the foundations of an old military base from the Austro-Hungarian Empire).

On January 20, 1942, Nazi officials met in the resort of Wannsee east of Berlin where they devised the Final Solution, and this has traditionally been taken by historians as the beginning of the Nazis' extermination campaign.

One of the drawings, predating the Wannsee Conference by eight months, sheds new light on the chronology of the German genocide machine.

Dr. Hans-Dieter Kreikamp, chief director of the Bundesarchivs, the federal archives in Berlin, said the find was of "extraordinary importance."

"The plans are authentic certificates of a systematically planned genocide of European Jews," Bild quoted Kreikamp as saying.

As the plans show a "Laundry and shower room" leading into a "Dressing room" and then to the "Gas chamber," there could be no doubt of the purpose of the large room marked Gaskammer.

The documents rebut the last of those who would deny the Holocaust, Bild said in its report.
To understand the sheer number of people involved in and complicit with the world largest death factory, I want to concentrate on one tiny tidbit.

Here is the plan for the gas chamber:

"Vorraum" is the vestibule, "Schleuse" are locks and "Gaskammer" is the gas chamber itself. Outside the vestibule are a "dressing room" and a "laundry and shower room."

Think about how much effort went into the plans themselves. Forget the hundreds of workers who used those plans to actually build the death camp - just the anonymous architects and draftsmen who had to calculate the sizes of these "dressing rooms" and "shower rooms," and how exactly to build airlocks between deadly gas-filled room and the rest of the structure. Note the German efficiency of ensuring that there is a separate entrance and exit, to make the factory that much more effective.

Someone decided that a Gothic font would be the most appropriate one to use to describe "gas chamber." A different, meticulously hand-drawn font was used for the blueprints of the crematorium itself.

Another person thoughtfully drew some trees on each side fo the crematorium, with a chimney a little off the center.

These are utterly ordinary architectural drawings, complete with cross-hatchings to symbolize where brickwork would be. People drew up these plans, consulted with their superiors about details, asked questions about the dimensions and uses of the buildings so they could be designed more efficiently and modified the blueprints accordingly. They were meticulously drawn with pride and a sense of accomplishment.

The draftsmen went home to their families after a day of drawing exacting representations of gas chambers and crematoria, they ate hearty meals and told jokes about their workday.

These are only a small number of the many who knew quite well what was happening during the Holocaust, and they all deserve a special place in hell.