MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

Utilizing camp property

At the turn of 1945/1946, the Soviets turned the grounds of the camp over to the Polish authorities. At first, they came under the control of a commission of the Voivodship Branch of the Temporary State Administration (Wojewódzki Oddział Tymczasowego Zarządu Państwowego – WOTZP), which took an inventory of the buildings and movable property there. In March 1946, the District Liquidation Bureau (Okręgowy Urząd Likwidacyjny – OUL) in Cracow took over all the prerogatives and duties of the WOTZP. A so-called “Team” (Ekipa) worked at the site in the name of the OUL, securing and warehousing property, examining it and taking inventory, or selling it in cases where there was a danger of spoilage or where the storage costs were significantly higher than the value. Under these prerogatives, the OUL decided to dispose of the vacant camp barracks, which the Central Office of the Temporary State Administration had already placed at the disposal of the Ministry of Reconstruction in February 1946. The majority of these barracks were dismantled and sold to local civilians who had lost all their property during the occupation, or were shipped along with other building materials to various cities in Poland. Many articles of everyday use from the concentration camp sites were also distributed to civilians who had suffered the greatest wartime losses.

Soviet soldiers removed some of the original camp property in 1945. Local residents coming back to their native villages also took some of the property in an attempt to compensate themselves for the material losses they had suffered during the expulsions of 1940 and 1941, when many of them lost everything they owned.