Auschwitz Oven Factory Reopens as a Memorial

For years, the site was left to crumble and decay. But now, following extensive renovation, the factory where the Auschwitz ovens were designed and built has reopened as a memorial. It shows the intimate involvement of German industry in the mass murder of the Holocaust.

For years, the site was little more than a typical industrial ruin -- the kind of modernist decay that became synonymous with Eastern Europe after the collapse of communism. The crumbling buildings just outside the city center of Erfurt were fenced off and left to the squatters who made the complex their home.

But ever since the company which owned the plant went bankrupt in 1994, historians have had their eyes on the location. Its history, after all, is intimately tied with the darkest chapter of Germany's past. The factory once belonged to Topf & Söhne, the company which supplied the Nazis with the ovens used at Auschwitz and other death camps to cremate Holocaust victims.

And on Thursday, after years of planning, a memorial exhibit in the former administration building opened its doors -- just in time for Jan. 27, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

"Nowhere else in Europe is the involvement of industry in the Nazis' machinery of death as visible as it is in the company in Erfurt," Rikola-Gunnar Lüttgenau told the German news agency DPA on Tuesday....

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