The main phase of the project for comprehensive conservation of two brick prisoner barracks, which are in a very bad state has commenced on the site of the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp. The project is implemented as part of the Master Plan for Preservation – the multi-annual program of conservation works at the Auschwitz Memorial funded by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.
The barracks numbered 7 and 8 are located in the oldest part of the Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz II-Birkenau – BIb sector. Its construction began in October 1941, and in March the following year the first prisoners were located there.
The commencement of conservation works at the historic post-camp building was preceded by thorough documentation of the preservation state including photogrammetric photos and laser scanning, as well as the over two years research that served to develop an overall conservation program of the brick barracks in Birkenau.
‘We are primarily concerned about strengthening the structure of the barracks while fully maintaining the authenticity of the historic buildings and with minimal interference in the fragile historical materials. These works are unprecedented on a global scale, since such type of objects have never undergone a full preservation program. Every element of the structure and equipment will undergo conservation treatment, so that they can be available in the future to visitors to the Memorial Site,' said Anna Łopuska, the head of the Master Plan for Preservation.
The first phase of work covers conservation protection of the falling plaster, whitewash and layers of paint in one of the barracks, as well as execution of drainage connections designed to drain rainwater from the roofs, which were never equipped with gutters.
‘This will be followed among others by conservation of the foundations and structures, straightening and stabilization of the walls, drainage, insulation, as well as conservation works covering all materials in the buildinsg i.e. brick, wood, concrete, mineral mortars, metal and accumulated layers of paint on the these surfaces,' added Łopuska.
In subsequent years, all brick barracks located on the grounds of the former Birkenau camp will undergo the conservation process. The money for conservation works within the Master Plan for Preservation come from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.
In total, the sector defined by the Germans as “BIb" housed 15 brick barracks, 12 wooden barracks and a kitchen, bath house, washbasins, latrines and a barrack where the prisoners belongings the were stored. Until July 1943, male prisoners were kept there, but afterwards the section was incorporated into the women's camp. It existed until November 1944, when the prisoners were transferred to other parts of the camp.