Nazi officials planned to move the Auschwitz gas chambers to Mauthausen as the Germans retreated westward from the Soviet army near the end
of World War II.
While SS chief Heinrich Himmler gave orders to raze the gas chambers and crematoriums at Auschwitz in the fall of 1944 to erase evidence of the Nazis' crimes, new historical research shows
that officials sent at least some of the equipment to the Mauthausen camp for reuse.
Two Austrian historians, Bertrand Perz and Florian
Freund discovered a February 10, 1945, letter to Mauthausen officials from from J.A. Topf and Sons, an Erfurt, Germany-based company
that made many of the incinerators for Nazi
camps, that talked about sharply expanding the Austrian camp's gas
chamber on the assumption that "all the parts from the Auschwitz
Concentration Camp will be used again."
Though accounts by camp survivors have indicated that
some equipment from Auschwitz arrived, the war's turn against Germany prevented the Nazis from building the large-scale gas
chambers they apparently envisioned for Mauthausen.