Documents show Air-Raid-Shelters were built for Auschwitz-Birkenau Prisoners in 1943-44

Auschwitz LS-DG MemoThree WWII German documents captured by the Red Army which were obtained in 1998 from the former Soviet special state “trophy” archives in Moscow. These memos describe the building of poison-gas proof Air-Raid-Shelters in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943-44 and  provide details of logistical problems which were being encountered in the building of hundreds of air-raid shelters shelters fitted with” gas-tight doors” at Auschwitz-Birkenau in April through November of 1944, in anticipation of Allied poison-gas attacks; a plan which Churchill had indeed intended to implement, as I have previously covered.

The full report (link below) was compiled by a ‘Samuel Crowell’,  which was a  pseudonym used by an American researcher who was specializing in the design and construction of wartime gas-tight air-raid shelters, as had been installed in German public administrative buildings and prison installations. He collected much documentation, and written several essays on the subject.

Two of the documents consist of memoranda signed by SS-Unterstürmfuhrer, dated October 25 and November 5, 1943, concerning the construction of “Luftschutz- deckungsgräben”  at Auschwitz-Birkenau, while  the third memo consists of either the final order, or a further order for “LS-Deckungsgräben” construction from November, 1944, signed by Nöll.  (NOTE: Luftschutz = Air Defence and is abbreviated as “LS”.  Deckungsgräben = Air-Raid Shelter and is abbreviated as “DG”)

A ‘DG’ trench shelter (as defined by the LS-building codes) was an air-raid shelter, providing protection against debris, splinters, shrapnel and gas exposure. Under favorable conditions, a trench cover shelter could provide protection against various types of bombs, but not provide the same level of protection of a deep underground air-raid shelter.


DG example 1

Example of WWII DG air-raid shelter in northern Germany Varrelbusch / State Forests

Covered trench shelters were basically designed and built without bombproof foundations , thereby they could be completed in a relatively short time. The development of this type of shelter began with the experiences of the First World War when explosives and gases were first dropped from aircraft. These types of shelters were also constructed in towns throughout Germany for civilian use.

DG type air-raid shelter in Emden


Cover digging on the site of a former slave labor camp in Stuttgart.
This DG is on the site of a former WWII German labor camp in Stuttgart.


Cross section in accordance with the provision for the construction of LS. coverage ditch March 1943.
Cross section in accordance with the provision for the construction of LS covered trench shelter, March 1943.
Air-raid trench cover in a zig-zag shape.  The design drawings were published by the Reich Ministry with its regulations.
Air-raid trench shelter in a zig-zag shape. The design drawings were published by the Reich Ministry with its regulations.
Air-raid shelter door

Air-raid shelter door in the Hamburg Bumker Museum – “Gasschleuse” means a entrance to a secure air and gas-tight chamber

Some video clips are available on YouTube depicting the interior of such shelters.

Scans of the original captured German WWII documents are included in the report along with English translations.  These official memos were forwarded by an anonymous source from Russian archives to the aforementioned Samuel Crowell.  While they are not perfect translations, they do nonetheless clearly convey the meaning of these documents. The memos detail the logistical problems encountered in the building of hundreds of air-raid shelters at Auschwitz-Birkenau, in April through November of 1944.

The effort and resources being expended on the interned labourers at the Auschwitz camps at this late stage of the war, when German military operations on the Eastern Front were faltering and re-supply was in an increasingly desperate state, and the fact that the the Red Army was less than 90 days away from overrunning the camps, is quite at odds with allegations of a Auschwitz being a so-called “death camp” with the sole purpose of “mass  murder” and “genocide” of all of the prisoners who were held there.

Furthermore, manpower was short, and with increasing German casualties and the battle lines stretched even wider,  it was imperative for the continuation of the German war effort, and indeed for Germany’s very survival, that these internees who produced arms and munitions for the German war effort also be protected from the massive aerial bombardment, and also, as a requirement under international law.

These memos clearly show that the camp commanders were in fact responding to orders from their superiors in Berlin to take greater measures to help insure the health and safety of those workers.

The author of the report concluded: 

#1. Footnote #4 of my article “Technique” suggests that there were dozens and perhaps hundreds of air raid shelters at Auschwitz which have been hitherto ignored. These three documents prove that hundreds of such shelters were at least planned.

#2. My assessment is that the 1943 letters pertain to the cracking of some concrete shells (Bogenstucke) used for covering trench shelters, as defined in my article “Defending” Part 2.

#3 The three documents give us some idea of scope and cost. We know we are talking about trench shelters, because these usually hold about 50 people (letter of November 11, 1944) and are built for the prisoners (“Defending”, Part 2). We must be discussing at least 176 such shelters, so as I interpret the “Bogenstucke” , and we are dealing in magnitudes of shells of in excess of 500 running meters, (lfdm), I gather greater than 1600 feet. In addition, expenditures have been set at 1 10,000 RM.

#4 Prima facie, this is an extensive program to build shelters, including shelters for concentration camp inmates. The earliest reference to planning is a phone call from August 23, 1943. (letter of November 5, 1943). This is six or seven months after Himmler’s February 8, 1943, order on protecting concentration camps from mass escapes in event of a bombing raid (“Defending”, Part 2), and only just after the finished equipment of the newly built Birkenau crematoria with numerous gas-tight fixtures.

#5 The German civil defense philosophy was that Luftschutzkreisen were designed to be fully integrated; in  other words, you did not build just a few shelters for a few people, you endeavored to build shelters for everyone (“Defending”, Part 1). The presence of these trench shelters, in other words, strongly implies that fixed structures were also equipped with air raid shelters.

#6 To put it another way, the presence of these trench shelters strongly argues that the crematoria were also equipped with their own air raid/gas shelters, because that accords with German LS policy.… continues

Please read or download the full report here:

Download PDF

Please also refer to my previous post: 

Winston Churchill wanted to Drench Germany with Poison Gas

Churchill - Gas the Germans

Some external related links:

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One Response to Documents show Air-Raid-Shelters were built for Auschwitz-Birkenau Prisoners in 1943-44

  1. RickB says:

    The safest places to be in Germany during WWII must have been those “work/relocation” camps.

    Ya think Roosevelt and Churchill would target them… like they did German civilians in cities and towns throughout Germany?

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