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Blueprints of Nazi death camp Auschwitz go on display in Jerusalem

Blueprints of Auschwitz, the largest of the Nazi concentration camps, were displayed yesterday in Jerusalem. Blueprints of Auschwitz, the largest of the Nazi concentration camps, were displayed yesterday in Jerusalem. (Dan Balilty/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / January 25, 2010

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JERUSALEM - The neat lines and red rectangular sketches look like any typical architectural design. But the handwritten initials H.H. - belonging to Heinrich Himmler, the infamous Nazi SS chief - indicate what the drawings represent: wooden barracks, gas chambers, and crematoria.

Just ahead of the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem is displaying the blueprints of the notorious camp in Nazi-occupied Poland that has become a symbol of the Nazi genocide of European Jewry. It is the first time the plans will be on display for a wide audience.

Auschwitz was the largest of the Nazi camps where millions of Jews and other minorities were forced to work as slaves. Many died of starvation or exposure. Also, many Jews were herded on arrival into gas chambers, the bodies burned in crematoria, and their ashes buried in pits. In all, about 6 million Jews were killed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was expected to attend the exhibition’s opening today shortly before flying to Poland to participate in the official commemorations at Auschwitz. A traveling version of the exhibition will open at the UN headquarters in New York tomorrow.