The two photos above show the SS headquarters building that was built in 1944 at Birkenau. This building has been converted into a Catholic church and a Catholic school. It is located about a quarter of a mile north of the red brick gate house of the Birkenau camp, which is on this same road, but on the opposite side of the road.
The road that goes past this church is used by the residents of the village of Birkenau.
In the first photo above, the road in the foreground is inside the former Birkenau camp. A barrier gate prevents cars from driving into the camp, but many people drive around the barrier and enter the former camp, which is now a memorial site. I once took a cab to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp and the cab driver, who was Jewish, took me to this gate, which is a long way from the main part of the camp, which I wanted to see. When I told him that I didn’t know my way to the main gate into the camp, he offered to sell me a guidebook which had a map of the camp. I bought the guidebook; later I found out that this book was free. He took advantage of me and made some money off my stupidity — and the Jews wonder why they were Holocausted.
The road in the foreground of the photo, leads to the gas chambers in Krema IV and Krema V. These gas chambers were put into operation in the summer of 1943. Before that, the Nazis brought the Jews from the Judenrampe, where they had gotten off the trains, down this road to the “little red house” where the gassing of the Jews first took place. The little red house was torn down long ago, and the exact location of the little red house is in dispute.
The following quote is from a news article, which you can read in full at http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.734696
It’s up to people of moral conscience to raise a voice for the sake of Holocaust memory and declare loud and clear: A church has no place at Auschwitz II.
At Birkenau, there is a large church in what once was the Nazi commandant headquarters. The church is in direct violation of a 1987 agreement signed by four European cardinals and European Jewish leaders that declares “there will be no permanent Catholic place of worship on the site of the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps.” Pope Francis must recognize this affront and ask that the church be moved.
This is not the first time that a Catholic place of worship was established at Auschwitz. In 1984, Carmelite nuns took over a building at Auschwitz I that once stored the Zyklon B gas used by the Nazis to murder Jews. With the full support of Polish Cardinal Franciszek Marcharski, local authorities granted the nuns a 99-year lease to convert the building into a convent, where the nuns sought to pray for the souls of the murdered. It was around this time that the local Catholic community established the church at Birkenau, called the Parish Church of Brzezinka.
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/jewish-world-opinions/1.734050
The Polish Catholics who attend this church are poor farmers who live in the area where the former camp is located. Where will they go now? When I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau for the first time, in 1998, these farmers were still using wagons, pulled by horses. Maybe they have cars now and they can drive to another town to attend Mass.