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Sauna Building open to Visitors. New permanent exhibition


The so-called Central Sauna building, the biggest object on the grounds of the former Birkenau camp, was rendered accessible to visitors. It will also comprise the permanent exposition with family photographs of Jews, who were deported to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. In this building, which went into use in late 1943, newly arrived prisoners, mainly Jews, were registered and subjected to disinfection before being exploited as slave laborers. In fact, these prisoners were deprived of their own identities and transformed from people into numbers. This was where the Nazis began what can be defined as an attempt at dehumanization. Visitors can learn about the function and history of the object by walking through the rooms in the same order as the victims were forced to do.

This building was located in the camp sector that contained the magazines where the property of the victims was stored, and in the vicinity of the gas chambers and crematoria. For this reason, photographs carried in their luggage by Jewish deportees to Auschwitz, and discovered after the liberation of the camp, have been placed in the last of the rooms through which visitors pass.

Apart from the Auschwitz survivors the participants, among others, included: Marek Siwiec, Secretary of State, Head of the National Security Bureau; Stanisław Żurowski, Under-Secretary of State - Government's Plenipotentiary for Polish Heritage Abroad; representatives of German States: Götttrig Wewer (Minister of Culture of Lower Saxony) and Angelika Büter (Lower Saxony Chancellery); Wather Rotschild, Berlin rabbi; Szewach Weiss, ambassador of Israel to Poland; and local and province authorities.

The opening of the camp bathhouse building to visitors and the arrangement of its interior were possible thanks to financial assistance for these projects from the governments of the German Federal States. These projects are also supported by sales of the historical study The Architecture of Crime: The "Central Sauna" in the Auschwitz II-Birkenau Concentration Camp and the album Before They Perished..., which contains all the photographs in the Museum collections from which the pictures in the exhibition were chosen. These titles are available for purchase in English, German, and Polish at all sales outlets on the Museum grounds.