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Yad Vashem Traveling Exhibitions

Architecture of Murder: The Auschwitz-Birkenau Blueprints

Selected Panels from the Exhibition

SS officers amidst building plans in the central offices of the AuschwitzPrisoners pouring concrete for the roof of the underground undressing chamberBlueprint of the entrance building to Birkenau, dated 5 November 1941A map of the area between the Sola and Vistula rivers, where the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp complex was constructedBlueprint of the expansion of Auschwitz I, dated 30 April 1942, including the huge headquarters of the camp complex marked in red. Due to the fact that the focus of activity was shifted from Auschwitz to Birkenau, this expansion was never carried out

Blueprint of the entrance building to Birkenau, dated 5 November 1941Blueprint of the entrance building to Birkenau, dated 5 November 1941

Auschwitz-Birkenau, built by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland, was the largest and most important concentration and extermination camp complex. During its operation between June 1940 and January 1945, the German Nazis murdered approximately a million and one hundred thousand people there, the majority of whom were Jews.

The construction of the camps, a massive and lengthy process, was never actually completed. The construction was performed by a special SS Central Construction Directorate. This unit prepared the plans and blueprints, initiated and supervised the work. Among its tasks, the Central Construction Directorate was also responsible, together with a civilian firm, for planning and building the extermination facilities.

Most of the SS officers responsible for the construction of the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex were architects and construction engineers. Work at the site was carried out by a number of civilian firms and by several SS construction units. The main part of the workforce was comprised of thousands of slave laborers who worked under extremely harsh conditions and were subject to brutal treatment.