Germany plans Holocaust museum at firm that made crematoriums

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A factory in Germany, where the crematoriums for Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps were built, is to be turned into a Holocaust museum, the city of Erfurt said Saturday. The company, Topf und Soehne of Erfurt, also provided a ventilation system for the Auschwitz gas chambers. Topf was mainly a builder of brewery plants with crematoriums as a sideline. It will provide a permanent home for an exhibition that began earlier this year at the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

The exhibition, which includes company records, photographs, writings of concentration camp inmates and remnants of the crematoriums, is to open Sunday in Erfurt's civic museum.

Topf did not have to take orders from the SS. It pursued the business and took the initiative in "improving" the devices, said the head of the Buchenwald concentration camp memorial, Volkhard Knigge. The engineers were not rabid Nazis but ordinary Germans.

Work for the SS accounted for only 2 per cent of Topf's overall sales and could have been dropped without imperilling the company.

Germany's existing museums to the Holocaust include the documentation centre at the Holocaust monument in Berlin and memorials at many of the concentration camps where inmates died of disease and privation.

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