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Auschwitz-Birkenau: Nazis Planned to Move Auschwitz Gas Chambers to Mauthausen

(February 1945)

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.

Source: Der Spiegel quoted by AP, (October 10, 2004)