A complete set of original plans for construction of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz have been found in a flat in Berlin, according to a report in Bild newspaper.
The 28 yellowing blueprints show an 11.66 metre by 11.20 metre room marked “Gaskammer” (gas chamber). The plans also include a crematorium and a room marked “L. Keller” – an abbreviation for “Leichenkeller”, or corpse cellar.
Hans-Dieter Kreikamp, head of the federal archives office in Berlin, told Bild that the blueprints offered “authentic evidence of the systematically planned genocide of European Jews”.
The plans also offer evidence that the Nazis planned the Holocaust from an earlier date than previously believed.
The decision to kill Europe’s 11 million Jews has historically been dated to the Wannsee Conference in January 1942. A copy of the minutes, known as the “Wannsee Protocol”, is generally regarded as one of the most important documents from the war.
But the newly discovered Auschwitz plans, published ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Kristallnacht purge against Jews, are dated Oct 23, 1941, offering evidence that the Nazis had developed plans to kills Jews on a mass scale earlier than previously thought, the newspaper said.
The plans of the death camp, which was built near Krakow, in Poland, were drawn by SS technicians and inmates.
Dr Kreikamp said one green ink sketch on the plans appears to be in the hand of SS chief Heinrich Himmler.
Dr Kreikamp said he attached “extraordinary meaning to the documents”.
He added; “The documents reveal that everyone who was concerned with the planning and building of the extermination camp would have known that human beings were to be put to death here on an industrial scale.
“The documents disprove beyond all doubt that which Holocaust deniers claim – that Auschwitz was nothing more than a labour camp where no gassing took place.”
The planning documents are to undergo further research at the federal archive before being turned over to scholars interested in using them.