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Portable Material Culture and Death Factory Auschwitz
Papers from the Institute of Archaeology (2007)
  • Adrian Myers, Stanford University

Like any other factory, the death factory of Auschwitz consumed primary materials and produced secondary products. Unique to Auschwitz, though, is that the primary material consumed was human life; not just the life of the breathing human body, but also the material possessions associated with that life. The detritus of this most efficient genocide – clothing, jewellery, food, corpses – was appropriated and put to new uses by the SS and the prisoners. Others have recognised the various postwar material cultural outcomes of the camp: the writing, the film, the theatre, the art, the tourism. This article, however, demonstrates that the material culture of Auschwitz is not a phenomenon exclusive to the postwar era. It focuses on the fact that inside the camp during the war, despite the landscape of death and deprivation, intimate interaction between humans and material culture continued.

  • Auschwitz,
  • concentration camp,
  • Holocaust,
  • material culture,
  • Sonderkommando
Publication Date
Citation Information
Adrian Myers. "Portable Material Culture and Death Factory Auschwitz" Papers from the Institute of Archaeology Vol. 19 (2007)
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