Swimming Pool at Auschwitz I

Swimming Pool Repair at Auschwitz, October 2005

The photo above is an early morning shot of Block 6, one of the brick barracks buildings in the Auschwitz main camp. In the background, you can see construction workers repairing the swimming pool.

The photo below shows what the swimming pool looked like in 1996 before preservation work began. The high diving board is at the far end in the background of the photo. The diving board itself is now gone.

Swimming pool at Auschwitz main camp, 1996

In the background, on the left side of the photo above, you can see the wall around the camp, and on the right, you can see Blocks 7 and 8 in the camp.

When I visited Auschwitz in 1998, I asked to see the swimming pool, but I was told that it was not on the tour. My tour guide told me that there were two swimming pools, one for the prisoners and one for the SS men, but she would not show me either pool. When I returned in 2005, the swimming pool for the prisoners was still not included on the tour, but I found it myself as I wandered around on my own in the early morning.

The swimming pool is now called a water reservoir on a sign board that was erected some time after my visit to Auschwitz in October 2005. The words on the sign board are in Polish, English and Hebrew; the sign reads as follows: "Fire brigade reservoir built in the form of a swimming pool, probably in early 1944."

Old black and white photos of the swimming pool can be seen on this web site.

There is also a water reservoir at the Mauthausen concentration camp which is built in the form of a swimming pool. On my 1998 tour of Auschwitz Birkenau, I saw a pool of water along the main road in the Birkenau camp. My tour guide told me that this was a water reservoir; this pool was gone when I visited Birkenau in 2005.

Barbara Cherish, the daughter of Arthur Liebehenschel, wrote a book which was published in 2009, entitled "My father, the Auschwitz commandant." In her book, Barbara credits her father with building a swimming pool for the use of the prisoners. Liebehenschel was the Commandant of the Auschwitz main camp for five months, beginning on December 1, 1943. Liebehenschel is credited with other improvements at Auschwitz I, including the tearing down of the standing cells in Block 11.

In the Epilogue of the book entitled "Death Dealer," which was first published in 1992 as the autobiography of Auschwitz Kommandant Rudolf Höss, the editor of the book, Steven Paskuly wrote the following:

When Höss was promoted to Berlin, his replacement, Kommandant Arthur Liebehenschel, was put in charge of just the Auschwitz camp... [...] He had the water trough near Blocks 7 and 8 converted into a swimming pool for Kapos and prisoners who worked well.

Block 11 - the camp prison

Prison Cells Inside Block 11

Standing Cells in Block 11

The Black Wall

Kitchen & other buildings in Auschwitz I

Barracks Buildings in Auschwitz 1

Old Sentry Box and camp kitchen

Commandant's house & old theater

Gas Chamber

Introduction to Auschwitz I

Entrance to Visitor's Center

Inside the Visitor's Center

Entrance through "Arbeit Macht Frei" Gate

Auschwitz Museum Exhibits

Back to Photo Gallery 1

Back to Auschwitz I index


This page was last updated on January 17, 2010