Valuable historical objects discovered in the ruins of gas chambers in Birkenau.


The Museum's Collections Department has added several valuable historical exhibits over the last few days. They were discovered in the course of preservation work at the ruins of gas chambers and crematoria II and III at the Auschwitz II-Birkenau site.

More than a dozen objects discovered by preservation specialists carrying out work to drain and waterproof the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria include covers for the inlets of the gas chamber ventilation shafts, a shower head, and the absorption tip of a gas mask.

The objects are in far-from-ideal shape, due to the passage of time, the conditions under which they existed for decades, and damage inflicted when the SS blew up the buildings.

After being secured by specialists, the objects will be used in the research, commemorative, and educational work of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial.

Preservation Work at Gas Chambers and Crematorium II

The present work is the current phase in the preservation work that has been underway since 2004 on the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria at the behest of the preservation commission of the International Auschwitz Council.

The goal is to preserve the extant remains from further deterioration. The cost, approximately 1.5 million zlotych, is being covered by the Lauder Foundation of New York, which has been cooperating with the Museum's preservation work for many years.

Preservationists are attempting, above all, to drain and waterproof the ruins by locating the original German drainage network and restoring its functionality.

The Gas Chambers in Auschwitz

As part of the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question," the Germans set up a total of 7 gas chambers in Auschwitz from 1941 to 1944. Crematoria accompanied five of the gas chambers.

Crematoria and Gas Chambers II and III

Gas chambers and crematoria II and III were the largest. Gas chamber II functioned from March 1943 to November 1944, and gas chamber III from June 1943 to November 1944.

The Nazis exterminated several hundred thousand people, mostly Jews, in these gas chambers. The German authorities calculated that 1,440 corpses could be burned in each of these crematoria in a 24-hour period. Eyewitness accounts by former prisoners indicate that the true figures were even higher.

The Germans blew up these structures on January 20, 1945, a week before the Soviets liberated the camp.

A shower part found during the preservation work on gas chamber II
A shower part found...
Gas mask absorption tip
Gas mask absorption...
Ventilation-inlet grille