In mid-August 1940, Auschwitz concentration camp authorities put into operation a crematorium adjacent to a morgue. This building was located just outside the boundaries of the Auschwitz main camp. In September 1941, the morgue was converted to a gas chamber for mass murder where several hundred people could be killed at a time. This gas chamber was used until December 1942, though the crematorium remained in operation as late as July 1943. In 1944, camp authorities dismantled the crematory furnaces and transformed the building into an air raid shelter for the SS hospital and for SS officers working in camp administration buildings nearby. During the creation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in 1947, two crematory furnaces were reconstructed using original parts and the crematory chimney was rebuilt. Around this time, the air raid shelter walls were demolished to allow visitors to the museum and memorial to view the reconstructed gas chamber and crematorium space.
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