'Construction Plans of True Hell': Auschwitz Blueprints Go on Display in Berlin

Original blueprints of the Auschwitz death camp, discovered by chance in a Berlin apartment last year, have gone on display in the German capital. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, an Auschwitz survivor, said they give a glimpse of "true hell".

Original blueprints showing construction plans for the Auschwitz death camp have gone on display in Berlin in an exhibition opened on Monday evening by a survivor, 86-year-old former Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski.

"The exhibition gives a shocking insight into the abyss," Bartoszewski said in a speech, "even if the objects on display seem harmless. Or maybe precisely because of that. There are blueprints, building instructions. Technical drawings. Calculations and maps."

"The horrific thing about them lies in their systematic nature. In their cold perfectionism. In their professional quality. The plans of Auschwitz shake the soul of every thinking and feeling individual because they're the expression of an inhumanity created by humans. They are the construction plans of true hell."

The exhibition is being shown at the Berlin headquarters of German publishing group Axel Springer, publisher of the mass-circulation Bild newspaper, until February 28.

Bartoszewski was imprisoned by the Nazis in Auschwitz in 1940, before it had been converted from a concentration camp into a death camp. He was released after he became seriously ill.

The construction plans are dated 1941 and 1942 and include a gas chamber and a crematorium. More than a million people were murdered in Auschwitz. An estimated 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

This is the first time the blueprints are being displayed. They were found by chance in an apartment in Berlin last year. Historical experts from the German government archive and the Auschwitz memorial site confirmed their authenticity.

The owner's asking price for the blueprints was so high that the Federal Archive refused to purchase them. Bild bought the blueprints instead.

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