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Kartoffellagerhallen

The Kartoffellagerhallen was a series of brick buildings built in 1942 for the storage of potatoes, and in proximity, sheds for other vegetables such as cabbage (known as the Krautsilo). In between Camp I and Auschwitz-Birkenau, and on the east side of the Bahnhof West, 10 brick buildings were built by Jewish prisoners for the storage of potatoes that were grown around the camp field areas. Once completed, prisoners would work inside the sheds managing the rotation of stock and shipment. This kind of work allowed opportunities to smuggle out food to eat or to barter in the camp for other valuable items essential for survival, such as shoes, warmer clothes and medicine. Survivors of the earlier transports arriving at the original Judenrampe remember seeing the row of potato sheds and mentioned them in their testimonies. When transports were arriving, the security around the area was heightened in a circle with a line of sentry guards, dogs and watch towers.

A view of the original Krautsilo (cabbage souring building)
A view of the original Krautsilo
(cabbage souring building)
in 2013
Photo by Michael Challoner ©

Just at the end of the row of sheds at the north tip, the so called Krautsilo was built for the purpose of souring cabbage. 2 more potato sheds were built at the south east tip of Auschwitz-Birkenau section B1 and other temporary stores were used in the large Industriehof area. At the south end of the sheds, a rail line ran parallel and beyond until it reached the Zerlegebetrieb, the Auschwitz scrap metal yard in the direction of the village Harmęże.

The row of ten sheds were still in reasonable condition including the original doors until the year 2000 when a fire ripped through complex. The roofs have mostly been destroyed but the brick frame is still intact. Since the fire, the area has succumbed to the anti social element in the town and is a prime location for fly tipping, graffiti and drinking. In 2015, Belgian journalist Thomas Van De Putte who was researching a television documentary informed the town authorities of some anti-Semitic graffiti on the larger potato sheds. Only when he revealed his involvement in a documentary on the town, he was able to persuade action. As a result, the graffiti was eventually painted over.

Unfortunately the responsibility of maintenance and respect for this location has not been taken by anyone except for the 2 barracks to the south west of Birkenau that only came under the protection and preservation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum just after they fell in ruins. In 2014, a new wooden roof support was seen at the foot of the sheds insinuating the immediate preservation was taking place to keep the structure of the building intact.

Map showing the location of the original Kartoffellagerhallen and Krautsilo
Map showing the location of the original Kartoffellagerhallen
and Krautsilo
Map designed by Michael Challoner ©
         
The remains of the Kartoffellagerhallen sheds
The remains of the Kartoffellagerhallen sheds
Photo by Michael Challoner ©

Sources

Information about sources we used while researching the industrial zones of Auschwitz you can find here.