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Photographs of two Topf double muffle ovens in Auschwitz I.  

The crematoria in Auschwitz I and Birkenau had been dismantled prior to the camp being liberated by the Russians. Parts of these crematoria were sent to Mauthausen and others remained in the camp.  Auschwitz I had 3 double muffle Topf permanent ovens.  Post liberation two of the double muffle Topf ovens were reconstructed in the crematoria building in Auschwitz I. This reconstruction was done from memory  and not  from plans or the crematoria in Mauthausen. Incorrect reconstruction was made of the rear part with an increase of one third of the length of the muffle. 

Also can be seen the corpse delivery trolleys built by Topf. They were found in storage post liberation of the camp. These are the same design as the ones used in Buchenwald. 

Source: Pressac, Jean Claude: Technique and operation of the gas chambers. Beate Klarsfeld Foundation 1989


At its inception, as in other camps, Auschwitz used the local registry office in Bielitz (Bielsko) for all matters pertaining to the civil status of the prisoners. This included births, marriages and deaths not only for prisoners but for SS stationed in the camp.

In 1941 as the number of prisoners and death rate increased Auschwitz set up its own registry office. This came under the control of the Political Department in the camp and became known as "Standesamt in Auschwitz Kreis Bielitz". The registry office was headed by a non commissioned SS officer with the title of civil registry officer (Der Standesbeamte). He also had a number of deputies who were non commissioned SS officers and enlisted men employed by the political department.

The camp registry office was responsible not only for deaths but also marriages and births and not only for prisoners but for SS. So for example marriages of SS, and notarised applications from SS to change their surnames. Also theoretically marriages of prisoners. Although there is only one recorded case of a prisoner being married in the camp. The Standesamt was split into three sections: Births, deaths and marriages.

Obviously the busiest section was recording of deaths.  This section kept the official death books in chronological order. They also maintained files on each deceased prisoner which were used to draw up for example death notices and other official documents to be sent to families, the church, and other civil administrative and government offices as required by the law. The registry office had to be seen to take over the responsibilites of the civil office and undertake its functions in a proper and efficient manner. This was intended to prevent unwanted interference in the operations of the camp by other authorities of the Third Reich.

Deaths were divided into the different categories as required by the law: cases of death by natural causes, death by shooting, accidental death and suicide cases.

In the case of death by natural causes the death notices sent to the families, church and state administration were the final stage in the process beginning with the SS physician completing a death certificate and the prisoners file being brought up to date for his/her death. Deaths by shooting, suicide or accident were more complicated. Photographs, sketches of the death scene and witness statements needed to be taken and added to the file. In addition, an autopsy report had to be completed by the SS Physician and attached to the death certificate. Each of the cases of death by shooting, suicide and accident had additionally to be reported to: the local police station that had issued the orders for the prisoners arrest, the personal staff of the Reichsfuhrer-SS, and the SS judicial officer in the camp commandants office.

Source: Dlugoborski, Waclaw and Piper, Franciszek: Auschwitz 1940-1945 Volume I. Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum 2000.  



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