Documents from Moscow Archives describe building of air-raid shelters in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943-44

The imperfect translations prepared by Samuel Crowell which follow convey clearly enough the meaning of three documents recently forwarded by an anonymous source from Russian archives of captured German WWII documents to Samuel Crowell. They give details of logistical problems encountered in the building of hundreds of air-raid shelters at Auschwitz-Birkenau in April through November of 1944. This effort being expended on the slave laborers at Auschwitz at this stage of the war, when German field operations had faltered and the supply situation was in increasingly desperate straits, the Russian Army less than 90 days away from overrunning the camp, is quite at odds with allegations of a death camp whose sole purpose was the murder of those held there. To the contrary, Germany needed arms workers to survive and camp commanders were responding to central orders to take greater measures to insure the health of those workers.

David Thomas, 3/21/98


Auschwitz, October 25, 1943

[Bftgb. Nr.] 39289 [?] 43/Dej/Go

Report for Record

[Betr.]: Luftschutzdeckungsgräben [Air-Raid Shelter Trench-Covers]

  On Oct. 19, 1943 ZBL was informed by GB-Construction, Kattowitz, through Herrn Ing.Andre, via telephone call as I understand, that when the group of 7 carloads of the air-raid shelter trench-covers arrived, 60% showed cracking or fracturing.

  On the side ZBL learned it was recorded that on Oct. 11 the first 3 carloads and on the following days the remaining carloads with altogether 176 (curved covers), per ZBL, came in normally and without damage to the (routing official, switching official) at Kattowitz, where they were then stored according to standard procedures. This was also Mr. Ing. Andre's information from some other of the GB-Construction reports.

  On his following visit to ZBL on Oct. 23, Mr. Ing. Andre stated otherwise and feels that the breakage of the (curved covers) was due to storage/handling by other than normal procedures at Kattowitz.

  There's a problem about the unpaid bills and there's a written contract/job outline that needs to be discussed with GB but there wasn't any gas to send someone to the "possession" (worksite or materials storage location). Plus again somebody is asking about the written work instruction, and ZBL wants the matter to be discussed by Dr. Fiebingel of GB-Construction and SS Ustuf. (F) Kiruchneck.

SS Untersturrmführer (F)

(Distribution list)


Auschwitz, November 5, 1943

Bftgb. Nr. 39499[1 or ,] 43

Report for Record

[Betr.]: Luftschutzdeckungsgraben [Air-raid shelter trench covers]

  On November 4 1943, in the department of ZBL, a cleanup meeting was held between Ing.Andre from GB-Construction, Kattowitz, and SS-Ustuf. (F) Dejaco of ZBL, concerning all open questions about the previous manufacture of the L. S. Trench-Covers. Seitens of ZBL. was made aware that as of today, still:

1. the written report is missing,
2. the promise of the provision of 10% contingents, that senior administrators regarded as a basis for the overall-job, and the position of the authorities at FS, communicated on August 23 became [instead],
3. the agreement that breakage due to loading is charged to the customer [?],
4. the agreement that the decrease in number of the pre-formed concrete parts, per Bauhof of ZBL, is as follows,
5. the confirmation that the first 500 LFDM [meters] of concrete parts shall be mixed in a ratio of 1: 3 for swift setting and transport,
6. that a statement of the grounds for the actual costs of claimed adjustments including that of the price-fixing instruction allowable surcharge follow.

  ZBL pointed out that the delivery of L.S. Trench-Covers can only happen if the prior purchase of concrete, gravel and cement, plus Diesel oil or gas or motor oil requisite to the apparent needs are received at the required location. For the first 500 lfdm L.S. Trench-Covers, per the ZBL letter of August 9 1943, Brtgb.Nr.3587o/ 43/ [Jäg]/ [Go] and the GB-Construction [estimates]: 450 liters gasoline, 40 liters oil; or 350 kg diesel and 40 liters of oil are required. ZBL has gotten for GB-Construction Kattowitz up to now 150 kg diesel power substance assigns. Since only a little more than 250 lfdm good prefabricated L.S. Trench-Covers are held by ZBL the fuel allotment is spent for a long time. For ZBL to get the upper hand it must make Ing.Andre aware of how urgent and necessary a gas or diesel allotment is, otherwise the manufacture of the L.S. Trench Covers will have to close down.

  On November 4, 1943 at ZBL more molds came in and to be sure a form for half bow, 2 for foundation-stones and 2 for floor plates.

  Mister Ing. Andre viewed the concrete workshops of ZBL and was convinced that taking the works to the site would allow successful parts to be made there. Furthermore he received a concrete-piece with manufacturing (capability?).

(Signature) [Dejaco]
This Information Goes To:
[Reg]. Act [Aktenvermerk]
[Bauleitung K.L]. and [Landw].


Copy of Transcription 1
Kattowitz, November 16/ [Ho].
Receipt: 13.11.44 [Tgb Nr]. 14155
Berlin, November 9, 1944
[Land-Planning West]
Under the Standards of 126-135
SS Economic Administration Main Office
Telephone: 76 51 01
[Copy Certification]: C V/ 1-So-2/ 2/ b-670 [Müh]/ [Ke].
[Re]: Construction of Air-Raid Shelter/Trench-Covers in KGL-Auschwitz BW 14 k.
[Vouched by]: [Messages from there:] 12.10.44- [Az].: [BI-Sch]/ [AU]/ [KGL]/ 84/ 12971/ 44/ pi/ [Ho].

[Enclosed]: 1 Construction Proposal, 3 Copies

To: Construction Supervision, Waffen-SS and Police "[Schlesien]"
Kattowitz O/ S.
Verl. Kochlowitzer street.
Construction Order Nr. 1486

Based on the submitted records I hereby give the order for the construction of air-raid-shelter/covered-trenches in KGL-Auschwitz-BW 14 K.
Concerning this I note the following:
1.) The construction plan is viable per the Drawings Nr. [VII]/ [VIII] b [Gd] of 99 (M)
2.) The [fair wages/pricing] records were examined by [Construction Police] and [Construction Economic Planning]. Objections against the cost estimate were not raised. The examination notes on the records signify compliance. LS Trench-Cover [shelters] are for 50 persons only in the maximum case for test/appraisal. It is therefore a considerable number to safely arrange on that terrain. The ventilation pipes and chimneys are put on the outside and provided with drainage.
1 ground plan was made for [each] individual use [named].
3.) The required construction means comes to the amount of [RM] 110 of 000.
([i.W]. One hundred and ten thousand and 00/ 100 Federal-marks)
held at the ready at Section 21/ 7b Building 65, to be paid out.
The disbursement instructions inform the construction administration department that construction supervision must maintain an in-house payment-total watch list. The head of the construction supervision is liable for outpayments or liabilities over the allotted amount. Before use of the residual 10 v. H. of the allocated means [there] is a duty to notify U V that the assigned construction monies to the cover all upcoming distributions is enough, or that a well-founded proposition for more is put forth [if this is not the case].
4.) The required construction material contingents shall be readily arranged through the appropriate OT-employment-group-leader.
5.) The work has already begun. Before departure, verify that operations are up to date in accordance with instructions.

  The transfer for the recipient is on record at the foregoing construction order number for notification.

The Head of the Office C V
[gez]. [Noell]


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