There seems to be a lot of photo evidence suggesting that there is a "fire brigade reservoir built in the form of a swimming pool" within the concentration camp at Auschwitz.

Is it a "fire brigade reservoir", which I assume has something to do with fire safety although I don't know exactly what this means or why they would need it?

On the other hand this seems to have become a rallying point for Holocaust denialism, which makes it hard for me to find trustworthy sources. So what exactly is this structure?

  • I'm not disputing the existence of this reservoir, but do you have a source that indicates when it was constructed? That looks to me like a recent photo. Was the reservoir there between 1940 and 1945?
    – Shimon bM
    Jun 10 '17 at 12:23
  • Questions here should be about notable claims, and in this case the notable claim is that it was a reservoir. The other possible explanations are speculation and not notable or exhaustive, so I've removed them.
    – Sklivvz
    Jun 10 '17 at 12:53

It seems plausible that such a "pool" did exist at Auschwitz in 1944. It probably served several purposes: A pool for swimming in by hard working prisoners, a fire reservoir tank and possible to fool the West at the same time who took aerial photos of the camp in order to see the living conditions of the prisoners.

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. - Swimming Pool at Auschwitz I

Swimming pool at Auschwitz main camp, 1996

The photo [above] 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 I

  • 1
    The link in this answer seems to lead to malware, if you click on "Old black and white photos of the swimming pool can be seen on this web site", after going to the linked site.
    – DavePhD
    Jun 10 '17 at 21:15

According to the Third Reich in Ruins, the below photo of the pool was obtained from Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. The site says:

This water tank was built as a reservoir for fire fighting purposes (there are several such fire fighting tanks around the Birkenau camp and the Auschwitz Erweiterungslager camp extension), but it was modified by the prisoner fire brigade into a swimming pool, complete with a diving board and starting blocks. Privileged Polish and other political prisoners (non-Jewish), in addition to the fire brigade, could use this pool.

enter image description here


Is it a "fire brigade reservoir", which I assume has something to do with fire safety although I don't know exactly what this means or why they would need it?

A fire brigade reservoir is a supply of water that can be pumped at a fire. They are often used in places where fire hydrants are not available or are insufficient to meet the demand. For example, where people get their water from a well rather than a municipal source.

As a practical matter, almost any water can be used (although some may be easier to use). So if that was something that collected water, it could be a fire brigade reservoir. That is true even if it was also used as a swimming pool.

My point being that it being a fire brigade reservoir would not prevent it from being a swimming pool. Or vice versa. They are not mutually exclusive uses.

In regards to whether this particular water was actually a swimming pool, I have nothing to add to the other answer.

Additional sources:

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