Page 51 AUSCHWITZ:
                        Technique and Operation
                            of the Gas Chambers ©
 
 
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LOCATION OF BIRKENAU DELOUSING, DISINFESTATION
AND DISINFECTION INSTALLATIONS STUDIED
IN CHAPTERS 5,6 AND 7 

Bauleitung drawing 3764
 
General plan of KGL Birkenau with its "sanitary" equipment: the delousing, disinfestation and disinfection installations (in red), the sewage treatment plants (in yellow) and the four Krematorien (in black and grey).

LAGEPLAN DES KRIEGSGEFANGGENENLAGERS.
AUSCHWITZ O/S
MASSSTAB 1:5000 General plan of the Auschwitz prisoner of war camp. Upper SilesIa.
Drawing 3764 , scale 1:5000
Drawn by prisoner 63003 on 25/3/44
checked by ZA (Zivil Arbeiter / civilian employee ) Teichmann
on 25/3/44
and approved the same day by SS Lieutenant Jothann.

This was the basic drawing for the projected development in Birkenau. With respect to the original, the following have been highlighted for this study: 
 
In black:  Krematorien II, III, IV, and V 
In red:   The positions of delousing, disinfestation and disinfection installations known and realized: BW 5a and 5b, the ZentraI Sauna the "Entwesungsanlage / disinfestation installation" of B.a.IIe (Gypsy camp) 
In yellow:  The sewage treatment plants: Kläranlage I, Kläranlage II, and the Provisiorische Erdbechen of B.a.III [these last, provisional decantation basins, dug in the ground, are very often wrongly taken to be cremation pits for corpses. However, those associated with Bunker I were dug 300-500 meters to the west of the Bunker. This error of interpretation is found above all in German works on KL. Auschwitz]. 
Black arrows indicate the entrances to the different sectors of Birkenau.  
The areas roughly ringed in pencil contain ruins, buildings, and installations that were preserved by the Polish authorities after the war. All the accommodation huts were dismantled and reinstalled near big urban centers that had been destroyed during the fighting, in order to accommodate the homeless Poles.

The network of drains and sewers, that criss-crossed the camp is not shown. In the case of B.a.I these drained to Kläranlage 1, Ba.II to Kläranlage II and B.a.III, under construction, to the provisional decantation basins, a stop-gap measure installed while awaiting the building of a sewage plant which would have been, according to the project drawing, made, either the mirror image of Kläranlage II or of a different type, more concentrated and directly connected to the four provisional sedimentation basins which would then become sludge putrification basins.

While Kläranlage I became operational after various transformations, Kläranlage II never did despite the advanced state of its construction . Virtually the only sewage treatment at Birkenau was primary decantation in the open air, in long basins where the water circulated slowly at a fixed rate. The secondary stage, biological purification, was never completed. Despite the efforts of the SS, the waste waters designated "gereinigten / purified" after treatment in the three plants, I, II and provisional, and released into the "Königsgraben / King's ditch" which flowed into the Vistula, had in fact been only very partially treated.

It may sound surprising that an extermination camp like Birkenau had any sewage treatment plants at all, even incomplete. After the screening of the human mass sent to Auschwitz, the disposal of the "waste" (children, women and old men) by means of gas chambers and incineration furnaces, the recuperation of the elements that could be exploited (men) by the Reich war machine, the three completed construction stages of the camp would have contained 140,000 prisoners, if not more – the population of a moderately sized town. Crowded together on an area of about 1.2 km², this swarm of people needed for its survival some sanitation and health arrangements apart from Krematorien. Without a certain minimum, no collective life would have been possible on the marshy land of Birkenau, where it was already necessary to fight for survival in a pitiless selective environment against the weather conditions, famine and typhous diseases.

Former prisoners often speak of the pestilential odour that they breathed in Birkenau, implicitly accusing the smoke belching forth from the chimneys of the four Krematorien. This picture needs slight modification, however, for there were many periods when the furnaces were not working. The sewage plants treating waste water and excrement must have been responsible for a good deal of the unpleasant smell.  
  
Drawing 3764
 
AUSCHWITZ:
Technique and operation
of the gas chambers

Jean-Claude Pressac
© 1989, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
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