(photo credit: REUTERS)
The original Auschwitz architectural plans were smuggled out of Germany by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2009 against the wishes of the German Interior Ministry, former Bild editor-in-chief Kai Diekmann said.
The original construction plans used for a major expansion of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in 1941 were found in 2008 in a Berlin flat, Germany's Bild newspaper reported.
The plans were subsequently acquired by Bild
and made available to the public.
The daily printed three architect's drawings on yellowing paper from the batch of 28 pages of blueprints it obtained. One has an 11.66 meter by 11.20 meter room marked "Gaskammer" (gas chamber) that was part of a "delousing facility."
"We had to decide what to do with the drawings. I was convinced that they need to get to Yad Vashem," Diekmann told the Berlin-based Hebrew-language magazine Spitz
The National Archives of Germany disagreed and Diekmann was warned by the German Interior Ministry that should he attempt to take the documents outside of Germany, he would be arrested.
"They and the German Interior Ministry told us that these documents belong to the government of Germany, because the German government is the legal successor of the Third Reich," Diekmann said.
"Then I had an idea: to find someone who can take them past the border, someone who would not be arrested."
Diekmann then invited Netanyahu to Berlin to attend a ceremony and handed the blueprints over to him.
"We asked him if he would come to Berlin and attend a ceremony during which we will give him the documents - and that's what happened," Diekmann explained.
He added that it was not apparent whether Netanyahu was aware of Germany's opposition to the plans being taken out of the country.
“Auschwitz, like nothing else, stands for the guilt and the blindness of an entire nation. Something so huge, it can hardly be grasped by new generations. That is why it is of the utmost importance to continue to be reminded of it. Because only those that know the past can act responsibly in the future.”
"These documents reveal that everyone who had even anything remotely to do with the planning and construction of the concentration camp must have know that people were to be gassed to death in assembly-line fashion," Bild
"The documents refute once and for all claims by those who deny the Holocaust even took place," it added.
The blueprints are currently located in the Yad Vashem archives and can be viewed in their online exhibit
. Reuters contributed to this article.