SS Küche was located by the Stabsgebaude (Polish Tobacco Monopoly building). It was constructed in 1941-1942 and was one of the largest wooden barracks in the history of concentration camps. Located inside was the kitchen for the SS, the canteen for them and performance hall with a stage and a cinema screen. It could house 1,000 people.
There was a guard point with a barrier just on the road by the kitchen.
There were a couple of prisoner work units employed in that building. One of them was Fourierstelle – it was a group which main task was to deliver the breakfast and the supper to all of the SS-men who were outside of the camp. It also had to deliver food to those who were serving in some of the sub-camps (i.e. Harmense). The Kartoffelschallereikommando was peeling the potatoes every day. Another group of prisoners was working in the kitchen itself, and serving the SS-men who would come to the canteen. However, the cooking for the SS-men was done exclusively by other SS-men. If the SS-men wanted to pick the additional food rations – Sonderverpflegung – for taking part in the special actions (by the gas chambers or on the ramp in Birkenau), they had to come to that building.
There were 250 prisoners working in the building, and the number includes 100 working at the potato peeling. Until 1944 the majority of them were Polish. There were only 2 German prisoners working in the SS kitchen.
In 1944 the kitchen was preparing meals for 3,200 SS-men every day.
The heads of the kitchen were SS-Unterscharführer Werner Paschke and then SS-Oberscharführer Hans Scheffler. The first one was very cruel towards the prisoners. The second was a bit better.
The kitchen was considered one of the best places to work. It allowed the prisoners to organise food not only for themselves but also for their friends. This is where the resistance inside the camp set up one of its headquarters. They were sending a lot of high-quality food to the camp from there. Each of the prisoners working in the kitchen received a list of people he was supposed to help. The lists consisted of the prisoners who were weak and sick but yet very important to the resistance and who needed to be helped immediately. A lot of them were saved due to the food from the SS kitchen.
One of the former Auschwitz prisoners who worked in that building described it as a ‘magnet attracting the SS-men who would organise food just like the prisoners would’.
In the evening the SS meetings would take place there – they were called Kameradenschaftsabend. The prisoners had to serve the SS-men, even those who worked every day at the potato peeling.
Information about sources we used while researching the industrial zones of Auschwitz you can find here.