Abstract

After the collapse of communism in the satellite states of the Soviet Union, global cigarette makers began acquiring factories throughout Eastern Europe to capitalize on this new market opportunity. Drawing on victims’ accounts of the Holocaust, this article rediscovers the Philip Morris cigarette factory at Auschwitz—a manufacturing plant once used by the SS to torture and execute prisoners from the first transports to the killing center. Confidential tobacco industry documents disgorged through litigation show that the world's largest cigarette maker was aware of this heritage prior to purchasing these factories, and made efforts to control the fallout from this potential PR blunder. During these same years, cigarette makers were publicly equating cigarettes with liberty, airing advertisements comparing smokers to the persecuted Jews of Nazi Europe. Exposing these trespasses both physical and rhetorical, this article reflects on one site where two very different atrocities collide.

VENI—VIDI—VICI

—Boast on billions of packs of Marlboro cigarettes

In February 1996, Philip Morris purchased a tobacco factory on the grounds of a former extermination camp. Here, inside three of the same buildings used by the SS to torture and execute prisoners from the first transports to Auschwitz, the world's largest tobacco company manufactured billions of cigarettes.1 Sales were beginning to falter in the United States, and this new acquisition was intended to secure a way for the Marlboro maker to capitalize on the collapse of the Soviet Union.2 Global alcohol, cigarette, and food conglomerates had started volleying capital into Russia and its former satellites, and Philip Morris, too, drew up a $3.4 billion “Five Year Plan” in 1996, including detailed maps of territory to be conquered with the lifting of the Iron Curtain.3 The firm would eventually spend hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire cigarette brands and manufacturing facilities in Poland, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic,4 all as part of an effort to find “replacement smokers” to make up for those lost in wealthier parts of the world.

But even before what one trade journal dubbed the “tobacco plant shopping spree,”5 researchers at Philip Morris had been scouting out tobacco factories in Poland, identifying a promising partner in the territories of the former Generalgouvernement. A state-owned company by the name of ZPT–Kraków, makers of Caro, Carmen, and Kapitan cigarettes, was already generating twenty-eight billion smokes per year, making it Poland's largest cigarette manufacturer.6 ZPT–Kraków had been rolling “American-style” Marlboros since signing a 1973 licensing agreement,7 but in 1996 Philip Morris's $227 million bid for a controlling share in the Polish enterprise caused some within the company to ponder one possible complication: ZPT–Kraków's four manufacturing centers were located in Kraków (two factories), Oświęcim (a city Germans knew as Auschwitz), and Leżajsk, all more or less notorious for having been sites of Nazi atrocities.

In March 1943, for example, the SS had transformed Kraków-Płaszów, already a forced labor camp, into a site of mass execution of Jews from the recently liquidated Kraków Ghetto. SS officers shot to death thousands of prisoners on the Hujowa Górka hillside there. Leżajsk, too, in the autumn of 1939, had been the site of mass murders and arrests, euphemized as a “special operation” (Spezialauftrag) by members of Einsatzgruppe von Woyrsch.8 And Auschwitz was, well, Auschwitz. Philip Morris executives, including the company's top lawyer Steven C. Parrish, known within the industry's powerful Committee of Counsel as “the God King,” reckoned with this heritage as a potential public relations blunder prior even to completing the purchase, labeling it in secret corporate correspondence the “Oswiecim Issue.”9

Flipping the Gestalt Switch

How do we memorialize multiple atrocities taking place within the very same walls, or even right before our eyes? And how has it come to pass that, despite more than six million dying annually from the burning and inhaling of cigarettes,10 one infrastructure of death can become so starkly visible while another remains virtually overlooked? How should we think about violence that is soft, or slow, or not even recognized as violence?

Understanding how and why Philip Morris came to make cigarettes at Auschwitz requires a kind of gestalt switch, from death camp to cigarette factory. Flipping such a switch, however, enables us to better understand how, as deadly regimes come and go, infrastructures of mass death can persist and become reignited to serve different sets of masters. But it also allows us to understand two very different kinds of atrocity. If the Aktion Reinhard extermination camps were designed to concentrate and destroy human life—men, women, and children transported from throughout Europe for the purpose of murdering them—then cigarette factories reveal an inverse kinetics and a contrary geometry. Philip Morris manufactures and transports billions of cigarettes every day to the ends of the earth, radiating death from strategically located centers at the threshold of visibility.11

Contrasting these consumers of life and producers of death, we also find two very different remedies from critical historiography. Whereas the work of critical tobacco historians has been to refocus attention onto those scattered manufacturing centers so often hidden by our myopic focus on the cigarette and its consumer—Matthew Kohrman calls these “cigarette citadels”—the work of Holocaust historians has been interestingly opposite.12 Holocaust historians have explored the crucial role of capillary supports far beyond the peripheries of the camps, including the Third Reich's murderous bureaucracy, academic accomplices, and commercial entanglements. Historians (the best ones anyway) use novel sources and methods to understand how the Holocaust was made possible—and how different people must have experienced it—by reimagining killing centers and their surrounds as “zones of sensory witnessing,” for example.13 Through this expanded lens, we find that neither of our two atrocities is confined to a single site of action: both can be understood as operating far beyond their presumptive boundaries, and by seemingly boundless instrumentalities.

How do we make sense of these radically different kinds of atrocity, operating with radically different goals and methods? And how should we go about memorializing these vast networks of death and suffering, operating on such different temporal and spatial scales, in such radically different contexts?

Questions such as these can sometimes be approached by exploring the history of the physical structures within which acts of violence are made possible. Here we endeavor to work archaeologically, excavating the “living floors” inside and around the three Tobacco Monopoly Buildings of Auschwitz, to better understand how factories of death can be made and remade to suit fundamentally different purposes. To examine these structures is a task of revealing superimpositions, the many-layered horrors beneath our feet. Doing so entails working parenthetically, breaking the text repeatedly in order to reconnect seemingly disparate spaces divided by time and selective inattention. Working in this way reveals a paradox one could call “the pitchblende problem,” given that ores once tossed for dross will often profitably yield to reexamination.14 This is particularly important, given that the simultaneity of distant (in space) historical events is often invisible to inhabitants of any given temporal present,15 and that events separated from one another in time may be difficult to resolve if they take place in the very same space. It follows that reconstructing history requires reevaluating what others have thrown away (or overlooked), but also deciding where to dig and what to preserve or cast aside. All digging involves a certain measure of destruction, and the preservation of one kind of memory can easily crowd out others.16

This is a nontrivial problem. At sites where violent histories superimpose, how should we determine which living (or killing) floors to memorialize and which to forget?17 Especially at sites of tremendous gravity, it is easy for “soft” or “banal” atrocities to be overlooked—much like Philip Morris's tenure at Auschwitz. Here we explore one striking example, hoping that readers will take up our call to reexamine the many other contested hillsides, airfields, factories, and prisons which so often change hands amid the fog of war (or peace). We need to develop an eye for infrastructural continuities assembled and dismantled—enlarging our vision by novel instruments and reframings. As at Treblinka, this means digging beneath the lupine to discover the ashes hidden beneath the soil.18

The Tobacco Monopoly Buildings at Auschwitz allow us to explore certain overlooked aspects of atrocity at scale, but also to deepen our understanding of the ethics of eponymy and memorialization. Here we have a site where one murderous regime sent more than a million people to their deaths in the name of racial hygiene, and where fifty years later a very different regime has helped cause death on a global scale. Our story therefore pivots between two periods—the 1940s and the 1990s—to enable a deeper understanding of two very different atrocities operating with distinct ideologies and paths of action. Drawing from tobacco industry documents revealed as part of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, along with those smuggled out of Brown & Williamson by Merrell Williams—tobacco's Witold Pilecki19—this article examines one site wherein two very different kinds of atrocity quietly, and heretofore invisibly, collide.

But first a note on the legitimacy of incendiary analogies.

Of Death Camps and Death Sticks

In the 1990s, it was not uncommon for cigarette makers to compare smokers to victims of the Holocaust. In these analogies, put forward in ads but also in political tirades, smokers were compared to persecuted Jews, while health advocates were cast as Nazi-like oppressors. Million-dollar marketing campaigns leveraged these analogies to counter what cigarette makers regarded as a threat to the social acceptability of smoking. In 1993, British American Tobacco's German division (Reemtsma Cigarettenfabriken) advertised its John Player Special cigarettes with a billboard featuring a black-gloved hand defiantly breaking from a conformist crowd of white-sleeved hands raised in the Sieg Heil salute (see fig. 1). Two years later, as Philip Morris was quietly preparing its bid to purchase Poland's largest tobacco conglomerate, the firm's Corporate Affairs Department introduced a $2.9 million Pan-European Advocacy Campaign featuring maps outlining the Jewish Quarter in Amsterdam (Jodenbuurt) as the “Smoking Section” with the provocative caption: “Where will they draw the line?”20 Grotesquely, the ad suggested that the smokers of today were being forced into ghettos like the Jews of Nazi Germany. Ads such as these echoed sociologist Peter L. Berger's 1977 claim on behalf of the industry that “anti-smoking is the new anti-Semitism.”21 (Berger was the celebrated founder of social constructionism but also a paid operative of Tobacco's lawyerly Special Account Number 4.)22 Each of these campaigns claimed victimhood for the industry, much as Senator Samuel Ervin (of Watergate fame) had once argued that federal limits on cigarette tar and nicotine would require “a police state far beyond that envisioned by Hitler.”23

The sympathetic magic of these analogies works bidirectionally. On the one hand, Big Tobacco's political allies mobilize such analogies to defend the industry against the threefold threats of adverse litigation, public health legislation, and ordinary people learning the truth.24 But Nazi comparisons also appear in many of the letters sent to the companies by disgruntled consumers. Dozens of facetious birthday cards sent to Reynolds’ headquarters in 1997 contain passages such as “Congratulations! For 113 years you've killed more people than alcohol, automobiles, gang members and Adolf Hitler combined!” In one such letter, we hear this query: “Hitler is going to Hell, where are you going”?25 Another asks, “What in God's name is actually the difference between you and Hitler?”26 Phone calls to Philip Morris's half-a-million-square-foot “fulfillment facility” in Indiana (and to other cigarette makers) followed suit, with one caller declaring “you guys are worse than Hitler.”27 Lawyers squaring off against the cartel in court have added a poetic flourish, defining the cigarette as “a portable gas chamber.”28

Big Tobacco's decision to play the “Nazi card” was part of a larger effort to frame smokers and their allies as “active adults who support freedom of choice and are not willing to let smokers be treated as second-class citizens.”29 To fulfill this fantasy, especially after proof emerged that secondhand smoke was killing innocent bystanders, cigarette makers tried to turn smoking into protected speech—and financed a $60 million cross-country tour of the original Bill of Rights.30 Clean air advocates through this new lens were “lifestyle Nazis,” and any effort to rein in advertising or where one could smoke was said to constitute a tyrannical prohibition.31 In Poland, where in 1992 the smoking rate was among the world's highest, Philip Morris dubbed threats to smoking a “civil rights issue.”32 Horace Kornegay, president of the DC-based Tobacco Institute, a stone's throw from the White House, likewise claimed that smokers needed “anti-lynch protection” from forces “which would like to destroy the industry.”33 Israel's leading anti-tobacco activist Amos Hausner, whose father prosecuted Eichmann in Jerusalem, in 2000 countered the industry's denunciation of “health Nazis” by pointing out that “denying the harmful consequences of smoking brings to mind the sad phenomenon of Holocaust denial.”34

Tobacco's insistence on the Nazi analogy fits oddly, and perhaps uncomfortably, with the fact that Hitler's aggressive war on cancer—Staatsfeind Nummer Eins—had included efforts to curtail cigarette consumption. Nazi medical professionals regarded tobacco as a threat to the German “germ plasm,” much as they'd sought a “final solution” to the bread question (Endlösung der Brotfrage) and many other “problems,” real or imaginary.35 They even set up an Institute for Tobacco Hazards Research (in Jena) and financed the world's first epidemiological studies proving that cigarettes cause lung cancer.36 None of this stopped the regime from operating tobacco plantations in Lublin and Lubartów to generate tax revenue.37 Nor did it stop Hitler from appointing Philipp Fürchtegott Reemtsma—head of Germany's largest tobacco syndicate—the de facto Führer of a network of slave labor camps in tobacco fields and factories throughout the occupied East.38

Cigarette makers cried “Nazi” throughout the 1990s, which raises an interesting question. How could such masters of symbolism—with PR wizards who'd brought us the Marlboro Man—be so tone-deaf as not to recognize the corporate moral hazard of making death sticks in a death camp? Cigarette makers had long employed psychologists of diverse stripes (behaviorist, gestalt, psychoanalytic) to invent tricks to sell cigarettes. They had studied the rhetorical power of colors and fonts on sticks and packs and how the myriad terroirs of “pack aroma” could be used to seduce the novice or embolden the addict. Cigarette makers knew that horse iconography could help coax children away from their parents, and from Clotaire Rapaille's Project Archetype they had confirmed that age limits and warning labels could make cigarettes more attractive to kids—as forbidden fruit.39 Given that we're talking about a corporation whose PR Svengalis spent billions perfecting the arts of image making and maintenance, how did Philip Morris executives blunder into such potentially perilous territory?

Consider first the context for this decision. During the same month that seven cigarette CEOs were swearing before Congress that nicotine was not addictive (in the April 1994 Waxman Hearings), Philip Morris executives were pressing ZPT to sign a letter of intent allowing them to buy the Polish enterprise—and had already recognized that the purchase could become an “issue” for them.40 In May of that year, when the New York Times began reporting on the damning documents leaked from the baggy pants of Merrell Williams, the firm was negotiating its purchase of the Auschwitz plant, maintaining “lobbying pressures on all parties to move the process along.”41 After weathering two years of delays in the dismantling of Poland's state monopolies, Philip Morris finally sealed the deal to acquire the four-hectare Tobacco Monopoly Buildings on February 23, 1996.42

Things were going swimmingly until June 1996, when Philip Morris's PR team got wind of a BBC camera crew coming perilously close to revealing the corporate giant's presence at Auschwitz. BBC missed the story—more on that in a moment—but the Park Avenue cigarettier nonetheless began gearing up to defend itself against a potential PR catastrophe. Executives at the company started frantically sending draft press statements to one another—never to be released—seeking to control any fallout from their presence at the site.

Philip Morris at the time was consulting its former president, Clifford H. Goldsmith, on the matter. Goldsmith (né Goldschmidt) was a German Jewish refugee and a lifelong servant of the cigarette industry.43 While serving in the US Army, “Goldy,” as he was called, was captured by German forces and sent to the Nazis’ largest POW camp, Stalag VII-A, which at the time was funneling prisoners into the Aktion Reinhard camps. He would later recall that as prisoner number 142092 he had encountered concentration camp inmates during his five-month internment, which raises some interesting questions. Was he somehow blind to the genocidal legacies of Auschwitz?44 Or had he so thoroughly internalized the industry's equation of cigarettes with liberty that he failed to see any contradiction? We can ask similar questions about Philip Morris CEO Geoffrey C. Bible, who presided over the Auschwitz acquisition and one whom the American Jewish Congress bestowed its Hillel Community Service Award in 1999.45 Was it simply myopia that led him and others at the company not to appreciate this questionable cohabitation? Or perhaps hubris?

Tobacco Factories as Infrastructures of Atrocity

To understand Philip Morris's decision to start manufacturing cigarettes at Auschwitz, we first have to reckon with an older legacy of the site predating its Nazi occupation. Here, the crucial fact is that prior to hosting a concentration camp, the town of Oświęcim was already home to a tobacco manufacturing facility run by the Polish government's Tobacco Monopoly, established in 1922.46 The site of the now-infamous death camp includes several buildings seized from the Tobacco Monopoly, buildings the monopoly itself had expropriated in 1923 from a 2,800-acre settlement originally built (in 1918) to house Polish soldiers at the confluence of the Sola and Vistula Rivers.47 Three buildings in particular, state-owned “warehouses of tobacco raw materials”48 known for nearly a century now as the Tobacco Monopoly Buildings, were instrumental in the functioning of Auschwitz I, the main camp. But they were also a part of Heinrich Himmler's broader plan to create a model industrial city in the surrounding area, a plan that called for the confiscation of twenty-five square miles (including the future death camp) christened the Auschwitz Interessengebiet.

To be located inside this commercial “Interest Zone” was to be part of the slave labor economy of Nazi Germany, and several industrial firms petitioned Himmler to construct factories and even satellite camps of their own inside this area. (The most notorious was IG Farben's Auschwitz-Monowitz camp, which used Jewish slave labor to produce rubber and synthetic oils from 1942 to 1945.)49 Forty slave labor subcamps surrounding Auschwitz served this frenetic SS economy—incorporating farms, fisheries, and slaughterhouses—but the SS also had plans for the other tobacco factories scattered throughout the occupied territories. Himmler's soldiers, and in several cases their Soviet counterparts, used many of these factories as transit camps to warehouse prisoners destined for internment (or murder) in full-fledged concentration camps.

The wartime role of these Polish Tobacco Monopoly plants remains underexamined and undertheorized. As we shall see, at every stage of Aktion Reinhard (and even beforehand, beginning in 1939), Poland's invaders transformed numerous tobacco manufacturing facilities into transit camps for prisoners en route to labor and death camps. This was no coincidence: the size of these prewar factories, their defensibility, their location in urban centers, and in many cases their proximity to preexisting railroad connections made them ideal for storing and distributing human subjects.

The conversion of cigarette factories into transit camps began in the first weeks of World War II, with the Soviets taking the lead. On September 18, 1939, for example, the Soviet Red Army marched thousands of defeated Polish soldiers—those not killed outright in the prisons of Kalinin or Kharkiv—to the cigarette factory in Monasterzyska, 150 kilometers southeast of Lwów, where the vanquished were confined en route to Równe and then to Starobielsk, the infamous labor camps.50 Four days later, following the German victory at the Battle of Lwów (again under siege in 2023), the Red Army marched thousands more Polish soldiers eight kilometers to Vynnyky, where, as prisoners of war, they were confined in the Tobacco Monopoly's local plant51—a six-hectare factory built atop an eighteenth-century castle that R.J. Reynolds would later purchase (in 1992) to manufacture its Arsenal, Diana, and Antrakt brand cigarettes.52 One Polish soldier recalls his 1939 confinement inside the Monasterzyska factory: “It was our first camp. As for food, it was very difficult here, because we did not get any, and you lived only by your own cleverness. There was only smoking, because they put us in a monopoly building, so that you could sit and sleep in tobacco. Unfortunately, it cannot be eaten.”53

Poland is not the only place where tobacco factories were repurposed for other deadly ends. From September 12 to September 20, 1941, members of Einsatzkommando 12 marched over a thousand Jewish men, women, and children to a tobacco factory in Dubăsari—in today's Transnistria—where they were shot and then rolled into pits dug into the factory's courtyard.54 In March 1943, the Bulgarian Commissariat of Jewish Affairs turned a tobacco factory in Gorna Dzhumaya (today's Blagoevgrad) into a transit camp for warehousing more than four thousand “Aegean” Jews from the so-called Belomorie region of Bulgarian-occupied Greece on their way to Treblinka. After twelve days of internment, these deportees were forced along a tortuous path to the gas chambers, after transfers in Lom and Vienna via freight cars and riverboats.55 That same month, Bulgarian authorities rounded up 7,000 Jews from Thrace and Macedonia and forced them into the Monopol Tobacco Factory in Skopje, while another 538 Jewish men, women, and children were imprisoned inside a tobacco storehouse in Bulgarian-occupied Xanthi (in Thracian Greece).56

From June 1944, the Léva Tobacco Factory in Hungary served as an “entrainment” center for assembling and deporting 24,000 Jews from Verebély—one of six such centers in the country's Gendarmerie District II. June 13 alone saw the deportation of 3,000 Jews to Auschwitz from the tobacco warehouses there, and on June 14 another 1,695.57 There are at least eight other tobacco-factories-turned-transit-camps throughout Europe,58 but historians often exclude the Tobacco Monopoly Buildings at Auschwitz from maps of the main camp, because they stand two hundred meters outside the barbed wire surrounding the more iconic Blocks 1–28. It is only through retroactive “footprint analysis” of these structures, combined with “forensic architecture,” that we learn about the Holocaust that took place inside and around these tobacco factory walls.59

The Holocaust inside the Tobacco Monopoly Buildings

On June 14, 1940, the SS began confining and cataloging (with numbers, but not yet tattoos) Polish prisoners inside the three Tobacco Monopoly Buildings at Auschwitz. The first Polish inmates, 728 men, were “given Nos. 31–758” and quarantined in one “building of the former Polish tobacco monopoly” while the Auschwitz main camp blocks were being readied to receive them.60 This was in the era before the death camps, before the gas chambers, at a time when the nascent Lager was mostly an idea stretched between the orders of Heinrich Himmler and the put-upon persistence of Commandant Rudolf Höss, who bemoaned shortly before his execution, “I had to ‘organize’ the trucks and lorries I needed, and the fuel for them. I had to drive as far as Zakopane and Rabka to acquire cooking utensils for the prisoners’ kitchen, and to the Sudetenland for bedsteads. . . . I still could not lay my hands on a hundred yards of barbed wire.”61

Railroads were key to this transformation from one deadly regime to another. The railway siding the SS used to bring in the first 728 prisoners from Tarnów—mainly students and resistance fighters—was the same track the Polish Tobacco Monopoly had constructed in 1931 to transport unfinished “Kentucky fire-cured” tobacco to the three warehouses there.62 Until the camp's liberation in 1945, the SS used these same railroad tracks to transport the belongings and human hair they stole from their victims, following storage in the SS-Unterkunftsgebäude and in the warehouse they called “Canada I.” (This is not to be confused with “Mexico I,” another of the oddly Americanized circumlocutions used by SS officers and prisoners to refer to human depots at Auschwitz.)63

Wiesław Kielar, a twenty-year-old member of the Polish Resistance who arrived in this first transport and against all odds survived the camp, tells us that he and other prisoners were forced off this railroad siding and down into the basement of the central Tobacco Monopoly Building (a “quarantine” depot) where they were beaten, stripped, cold-showered, and deloused after being shorn of hair “from every part of our body” with electric razors.64 Jerzy Hronowski, a Jewish man from Lwów who arrived on this first transport to become Prisoner no. 227, writes in his memoir that “the haircutter wasn't particularly squeamish about it, so he pulled out more hair than he cut off. Our genitals and armpits were disinfected with a soaked rag.”65 Both men were then marched to the second floor of this warehouse into two large rooms, each filled with three to four hundred other prisoners. There they slept on their sides, on floors littered with lice-infested straw and dust, where typhus, scabies, and syphilis spread among them. The German NCO, Rapportführer Gerhard Palitzsch, would kick their ribs if they were caught making a sound in the night.

As Commandant Höss himself noted, “Small transports of prisoners were continually arriving in Auschwitz and they were shot in the gravel pit near the Tobacco Monopoly Buildings or in the courtyard of Block 11.”66 It was here, between two of the monopoly buildings, that Kapos—in this case Polish prisoners brought from Sachsenhausen to police the arriving inmates—forced starving deportees to endure a collective torture they called Sport, commanding them “Up!” “Down!” and “Bend your knees!” in exercises which consisted of “rollen” (lying down on the ground and rolling) and “drehen” (raising one's hands up and spinning) for up to twelve hours a day, causing many prisoners to collapse or even die.67 From time to time, SS officers would execute those who could not keep up with this farcical exercise.68 If a prisoner managed to escape, Ludwig Plagge, the quarantine SS-Kommandoführer, would torture inmates for information; prisoners called him “Fajeczka” (the Pipe) on account of his tobacco habit.69

The Tobacco Monopoly Buildings served as the stage for these sinister operations until Commandant Höss repurposed them into the administrative headquarters for the Waffen–SS stationed there. One became a store of military provisions and materiel (SS-Truppenwirtschaftslager; see fig. 3), while another became the living quarters and administrative center (SS-Stabsgebäude) for several thousand male SS officers and female overseers, outfitted with a laundry, an SS beauty parlor, a tailor shop, and banks of female bookkeepers and typists.70 The third building in this set, the SS-Unterkunftsgebäude (see fig. 4), housed a printing facility and a granary. Photographs that survived the camp depict SS officers lining up outside the SS-Stabsgebäude to stand on parade (see fig. 2). As a compound, these former tobacco factories became, in the words of the architect and historian Marek Rawecki, “the storing, service, and residential base of the SS troops” at Auschwitz until the war's end.71 Together the buildings formed the life support system for the world's most notorious factory of death—that is, before they became the property of Philip Morris some fifty-odd years later.72

A “Sacred Place” or “Normal Life”? How Philip Morris Entered and then Escaped Auschwitz

So why, then, did Philip Morris stop making cigarettes at Auschwitz? To answer this, we must first inquire into why they started. Recall that in the 1920s, the Polish Tobacco Monopoly had carved out territory from a 2,800-acre settlement in Oświęcim to construct a tobacco plant and railroad siding there. Keep in mind also that in 1940, SS officers had commandeered all three of these Tobacco Monopoly Buildings and tortured prisoners inside them, and then used these same facilities to aid and abet a host of additional crimes, including confinement, torture, and execution. Fifty years after the end of World War II, after the three buildings had once again become the property of the Polish state, Philip Morris acquired these prewar freeholds with the ambition of using them to manufacture Sport, Klubowe, and Popularne cigarettes. We don't yet know the exact price paid for these structures, but we do know that for all four of ZPT–Kraków's manufacturing centers (and rights to sell several of Poland's leading cigarette brands) the Marlboro maker paid on the order of $500 million, the largest privatization in Poland's history up to that point.73

As for broader context, recall that the buildings bought by Philip Morris—the three tallest and most manicured at KL Auschwitz—were Americanized in the mid-1990s, during a period of energetic globalization following the collapse of state monopolies during the Reagan era and the fall of the Soviet Union. It was also a period marked by threats to the sale of cigarettes as a result of new litigation, the looming specter of FDA regulation, and clean air laws limiting where one could smoke. Cigarette makers formed elaborate global networks to combat such threats: the International Committee on Smoking Issues, the International Tobacco Information Center, the Center for Indoor Air Research, the Associates for Research into the Science of Enjoyment, the Environmental Tobacco Smoke Consultancy, and numerous others. Cigarette makers were no longer running the College of Tobacco Knowledge, but they were still sponsoring multiday conferences headlined by Ivy League academics—the 1993 event was on Ash Wednesday—where “risk communication” strategies were developed to defend against adverse legislation.74 Faced with threats at home and (to a lesser extent) abroad, the prospect of new lungs to recruit beyond the newly lifted Iron Curtain was clearly enticing. Philip Morris in its Five Year Plan from 1996 described the fall of the Berlin Wall and the opening of Eastern Europe as “bursts that lift our base volumes to new levels.”75

PM was leading the pack, but was not the only tobacco company vying for dominance in the region. R. J. Reynolds had started rolling cigarettes in Poland in 1991, and by May 1994 had finished construction of a $33 million factory in Warsaw with the capacity to produce twelve billion cigarettes per year.76 The Camel maker had also purchased a controlling stake in the Yelets Experimental Tobacco Factory, a reconstituted tobacco sheet manufacturing plant in the Lipetsk region of central Russia producing ten thousand metric tons of recon sheet per annum.77 At Yelets, until the 1990s owned by Russia's state tobacco monopoly, Reynolds manufactured cigarettes in the American way, using a “Yankee Dryer”78 to meet the demand for American-blend cigarettes in the former Soviet Union (in Reynolds's documents abbreviated as “FSU”).79 British American Tobacco, makers of Lucky Strike, Pall Mall, and Dunhill cigarettes, was in the process of purchasing majority positions in both the Saratov Tobacco Factory on the Volga and Uzbekistan's state-owned industry, with plans to invest another $200 million in the region over the next five years.80 By the summer of 1994 Philip Morris's new “1 billion unit make-pack facility” in St. Petersburg, its newly purchased Krasnodar Tobacco Factory, and its Almaty Tobacco Factory in Kazakhstan were all up and running.81

In February 1996, when Philip Morris bought a 33 percent stake of ZPT–Kraków “with the right to acquire an additional 32%,” as part of this deal it acquired the three Tobacco Monopoly Buildings and shortly thereafter drew up plans for how to handle any unpleasant blowback.82 A confidential “CEO Issues Book” drafted in January 1997 for use during the company's annual meeting instructed Philip Morris executives on how best to respond to journalists who might inquire into the company's Auschwitz acquisition. The Q&A on how to respond began as follows:

Is it true that PM now owns a factory in “Auschwitz?” and if so, what are the plans for this factory?

  • When we purchased the Polish cigarette company ZPT–Krakow last year, 1 of the 4 factories we acquired was located in the town of Oswiecim (Auschwitz.) This factory has existed since the 1920’s.83

While this was technically accurate, it omits the crucial interim history of the factory. Philip Morris's “CEO Issues Book” omits any reference to the brutalities that took place in and around its newly acquired buildings, or the megadeath one could expect from the manufacture of cigarettes at the former camp.

The only real public notice of Philip Morris's Auschwitz acquisition appears in a tobacco trade newsletter citing a brief Reuters report from July 1996.84 And if the Polish retail developer (and later disgraced mayor of Oświęcim) Janusz Marszałek had not announced plans to build the Maja shopping center and hamburger stand across the street from the camp, coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of its liberation, the transaction might never have even gotten local media attention.85 In fact, Philip Morris's transaction was hardly brought to light at all. (It didn't reach the pages of the New York Post, for example, unlike the discotheque that opened in the camp's former slave labor tannery in October 1999.)86 One handwritten note by Wendy Burrell, Philip Morris's director of public affairs and communications, observes that in June 1996 the firm's factory at Auschwitz was “not [a] media issue in Poland except locally.” Burrell was also pleased to report that there had been “no calls” and, so far, no plans for future media coverage.87 If plans for grilling meat a couple hundred meters from a death camp could turn one's stomach, one might also wonder why local officials allowed Philip Morris to continue cranking out “coffin nails” at the site for two years.

The proverbial shit should have hit the fan on June 23, 1996, when BBC Television broadcast a story on the Maja retail development featuring a reporter standing in front of Philip Morris's Auschwitz factory for all of twenty seconds. (Even today, there is a great deal more online on Maja's fast-food ambitions and the discotheque than can be found on the tobacco factory.) And the BBC might never have sent its camera team to the camps if not for Pope John Paul II's tour in Germany that week, part of his beatification of two Roman Catholic priests who'd spoken out against Nazism and were sent to die in Dachau. The following morning, Philip Morris's PR chief, Michael Parsons, sent a telex from Switzerland to Wendy Burrell but also Steve Parrish (the aforementioned “God King”) at corporate headquarters on Park Avenue in New York, updating them on the “Oswiecim Issue”:

BBC Television carried reports on the issue during last night's news shows. The item was linked to a report on the Pope's visit to Germany. The theme of the report was “should the area around the Auschwitz camp be a sacred place or should local people be able to carry on with normal life.” The reporter was filmed in front of the factory which she described as being “now owned by Philip Morris, maker of MARLBORO cigarettes.” She said we have “no plans to change the use of the site and had given workers a two year employment guarantee.” The report also said that the Polish government would discuss the issue of land use around the camp “during the next few days.”88

One can imagine a world in which this would have been a sensational news story, and one can imagine the headlines—“Dying for a Smoke?” or “Ashes to Ashes”—but the reality has been quite different. Memos disgorged through litigation offer a glimpse into how Philip Morris planned to handle its “Oswiecim Issue.” In one telex sent from Switzerland on June 24, 1996, Michael Parsons wrote to Wendy Burrell and Steve Parrish, the regal deity, seeking approval for his “Draft Press Statement—Auschwitz Factory.” This never-released draft anticipates the “CEO Issues Book,” stating that “this plan also involves the closure, in 1998, of one of the ZPT–Krakow factories located in the town of Oswiecim—known as Auschwitz in English.”89 The following afternoon Parsons telexed Ellis Woodward, Philip Morris's manager of communications, a message titled simply “Auschwitz,” instructing him that the draft release “should be shown to Mr. Goldsmith by Steve Parrish—with the understanding that it has not yet been used and our employees in Oswiecim have not yet been briefed.”90

Parsons's press release is littered with marginalia in Wendy Burrell's hasty handwriting, offering insights into the firm's concerns. “Cliff Goldsmith,” one note reads, “advises statement along these lines—partner plans.” Another suggests a negotiation with the government of Poland by way of Philip Morris's VP of government affairs, Kathleen “Buffy” Linehan, with corporate affairs VP Ellen Merlo looped in on the conversation. Another asks, “BBC—Run piece??” Yet another adds “Ernest Michelle,” a misspelling of Ernest Michel, the name of an outspoken Jewish survivor of Auschwitz-Monowitz and the son of Otto Michel (a victim of Auschwitz), whose cigar factory near Mannheim the Nazis had seized in 1939.91 Remarkably, Philip Morris was exploring different ways to enlist Jewish community leaders who might be sympathetic to the company buying a tobacco factory at Auschwitz. Call logs kept by Parrish's secretary, a woman we know only as Melissa, show that “Mr. Mike Parsons of Switzerland” phoned Steve Parrish that same morning “to speak to you about the note he sent you.”92

The trail of interoffice correspondences runs cold at this point, and no further attention seems to have been necessary—from a corporate PR point of view at any rate. Philip Morris had successfully dodged a bullet, and with cigarettes no longer being fabricated at the camp, the Tobacco Monopoly Buildings assumed more and more the semblance of a quaint anachronism—a powder keg that never went off. Public records currently held at the Regional Prosecutor of Wadowice show that from June 1998, Philip Morris Polska sought to rid itself of the property but encountered a problem. Before returning the buildings to the State Treasury, the company first tried to evict three people living inside the buildings “without legal title” (the treasury could not receive buildings with living tenants inside). PM Polska's associate president wrote to the town's district officials on August 5, 1998, announcing his refusal to rehouse these tenants, with the justification that “by providing free of charge the high-value real estate of the plants at Kolbego Street #8, this already significantly reduces the assets of ZPTK SA.”93 Perhaps the price was right, because just weeks later Philip Morris relented and provided funds to the Association for the Support of Oświęcim, a philanthropic entity, to purchase a “lifetime free service of three apartments” and transport services to remove these three people.94 On December 13, 1999, the cigarette maker quietly initiated handing over the Tobacco Monopoly Buildings to the State Treasury “free of charge” in a fire sale. The Philip Morris name was deleted from the land and mortgage registry and replaced with that of the State Treasury, which now holds the right of perpetual usufruct to these four hectares of the former death camp until December 5, 2089.

The Differential Kinetics of Life and Death

There is no banality of evil, only those who would seek to clothe evil in the security and soporifics of the ordinary. Cigarettes remain the world's leading preventable cause of death, but cigarette makers have managed to disguise this catastrophe by radically individualizing the epidemic: as if cigarettes are consumed but not produced, with smokers having only themselves to blame for whatever maladies ensue. Philip Morris became the most profitable corporation in America (in 1993) by successfully trivializing the cigarette as an unremarkable extension of the human hand, if not a fundamental expression of human liberty. Marlboro's makers had worked hard to create this illusion of smoking as an innocent expression of “the good life,” and the company entered Auschwitz with all the arrogance one might expect from a corporation blinded by greed and a devil-may-care attitude with regard to both historical symbolism and the health of its customers. Investing in Auschwitz was part of that hubris: Philip Morris hoped to tap into the veins of thirty-eight million potential smokers, to capture the profits already flowing from Poles inhaling smoke from one hundred billion cigarettes every year.95

Profits from such a market were apparently too tempting to pass up, even if it meant buying real estate inside a former concentration camp. Geoffrey C. Bible, Joseph F. Cullman III, and Steven C. Parrish may well have felt that their company had achieved such remarkable success that it had “the right not to hear anymore about Auschwitz.”96 Perhaps they even believed their own PR, thinking that by delivering the best of American consumerism they were helping to liberate the communist East? (Philip Morris still owned Kool-Aid, which might help explain why they were so willing to drink their own.) Either way, these machers of cigarette mortality brought Marlboros to the awakening satellites of the former Soviet Union, assuming (initially) that no one would notice their renovation of some of the buildings used by the Nazi regime to commit genocide. It was only after realizing there was a danger of getting caught, that they stopped making cigarettes at Auschwitz.

So what should be done with these three Tobacco Monopoly Buildings? And more broadly, how do we memorialize two radically different kinds of atrocity—one of which is still ongoing and, indeed, lies mostly in the future?

Consider what we have here in the form of two different kinetic geometries of life and death: one where life is dragged from the peripheries to death-dealing centers, another where colossal factories crank out “goods” that cause death in the vascular peripheries of the planet. Himmler transformed his dendritic network of Konzentrationslager into an efficient and elaborate pipeline, a Schlauch (feeder tube) from ghetto to gas chamber to concentrate and snuff out life from all over Europe. This is very different from the “tubularization of the world” achieved by cigarette makers.97 Today, highly automated cigarette factories ship “little white slavers” to the ends of the earth, causing half of all users—decades later—to suffer a quiet and often lonely death, a “slow death” claiming millions year after year.98

These different kinetics of life and death mean that in order to properly commemorate the atrocities explored here, we have to invent new forms of remembrance. The work for scholars seeking to better understand the “concentration” camps has been to trace the roots of that violence far beyond the walls of the camps and to reenvision its brutal phenomenology, for example by reconstructing sites of atrocity as expanded zones of “sensory witnessing.”99 For victims of the Nazis, the KL camp “experience” often began with a knock on the door at home or on some doorstep, followed by victims being torn from their lives and brought to a remote and torturous end.100 Death camps released smells, sonic landscapes, and fettered letters far beyond their electrified barriers, yielding “sensory contaminations” felt kilometers away. Acts of decentralized remembrance—for example, Stolpersteine (stumbling stones),101 or even graphic novels like Art Spiegelman's Maus or board games like Brenda Romero's Train—aim to reframe the Holocaust to include the Reichsbahn railroad network, along with the pedagogy of those Nazi professors who wrote scholarly treatises on the merits of racial hygiene. A proper memorialization of the Holocaust requires that we see its violence as so far-reaching that it is not enough to make individual sites sacred by mounting plaques or by erecting monuments inside car factories.102 Philip Morris's trespass at Auschwitz likewise points to the insufficiency of establishing what UNESCO calls “protective” and “buffer zones” around the former camp, one-hundred-meter boundaries designed to enable a Regional Monuments Inspector to manage the site.103 The three buildings we have highlighted here, where the camp's first prisoners were tortured, pose a challenge to the memorial capacities of UNESCO's quasi-arbitrary zone of interest.

If the work of this new wave of Holocaust historiography has been to elucidate the key role of accomplices all the way to the peripheries, then the work of critical tobacco historians has been interestingly opposite: to focus away from the innocent user to the culpable producer, recognizing that cigarettes are not just consumed but produced—defective on arrival—in highly mechanized factories largely hidden from public view. Crucial here to appreciate, though, is (again) how different are these two forms of killing. First and foremost is that while Nazi killing was deliberate, cigarette killing is inadvertent, more negligence than homicide. This obscenity is explicit in the industry's secret archives, where one powerful member of the Committee of Counsel talks about lung cancer and emphysema as “unattractive side effects” of the quest for nicotine satisfaction.104 A second crucial difference is that while death at Auschwitz was often sudden, cigarette death is delayed, typically by decades, obscuring causal links and enabling apathy. A third significant difference is that the cigarette atrocity is ongoing. This makes memorialization difficult, perhaps even an unaffordable luxury. Memory work, by definition, takes place after the fact, and here the house is still on fire. Understanding this helps us grasp why there has never been a proper monument to the hundred million people who perished from tobacco in the twentieth century—or the hundreds of millions still to come. And what might such a memorial look like? The grisly fact is that in all the world's tobacco museums and memorials, we find only celebrations of the golden leaf, with no mention of the victims of the vast and humming machine.

So this is yet another difference in our two kinds of atrocity. Whereas institutional remembrance of the Holocaust is uniformly damning, tobacco is almost always remembered, from an institutional point of view at least, as uniformly positive (if at all). And that is perhaps because the Holocaust is in remission—most of its perpetrators were vanquished—while the tobacco death stream is still churning. Of the half dozen or so tobacco museums in the world (the Chinese Tobacco Museum is the most grandiose), all glorify tobacco.105 Countless academic and cultural institutions even today still honor the names of those who have profited from the distribution of tobacco “goods.” New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, for example, immortalizes Preston and Laurence Tisch, makers of Newport, the most popular menthol cigarette smoked by African Americans.106 Duke University is named for James Buchanan “Buck” Duke who, as head of the American Tobacco Company, controlled most of the world's cigarette production until the first decade of the twentieth century. Duke (the school) still retains an R. J. Reynolds Professor of Business Administration, an R. J. Reynolds Professor of Chemistry, an R. J. Reynolds Professor of Medicine, and several other Reynolds professorships. Baruch College's Weissman School of Arts and Science honors the name of a former CEO of Philip Morris, and CUNY Baruch's website makes no mention of the fact that George Weissman's $10 million gift in 1998 derived from the fortune he made from marketing Marlboros. The Joseph F. Cullman III Library of Natural History in Washington, DC, honors the former president and CEO of Philip Morris, notorious for his cavalier comment on national television (in 1971) that there's nothing wrong with pregnant women smoking, because “some women prefer having smaller babies.”107

Such examples could be multiplied ad nauseam. The Cullman name even infects the halls of Mount Sinai medical centers in Manhattan, where we also find Clifford Goldsmith prominently honored. There is a Clifford H. Goldsmith Award for Outstanding Service at the hospital there, and NYU's website still today extols him as “an exceptional leader and humanitarian.”108 Remarkably, there is even a Geoffrey C. Bible and Murray H. Bring Professorship of Constitutional Law at Tulane University, immortalizing two of the top executives of Philip Morris.109 And while universities have begun to decommemorate the names of prominent eugenicists, slave owners, and opioid tycoons, the steersmen of the cigarette industry have remained largely unscathed by this deplatforming of the dishonorable.

As scholars—as humans—we should learn from these entanglements how easy it is for such crimes to take place and how easy they are to forget (or overlook). Of course it could well be that Auschwitz is the perfect place to memorialize the birth and death of the cigarette and its untold victims. Is it too much to ask that the three Tobacco Monopoly Buildings—born in monopoly, repurposed in racial hatred, and refurbished for pulmonary criminality—be remodeled into the world's first honest tobacco museum, honoring the dead in this sacred place of mortal transgression? This wouldn't be the first such reconfiguration: the Virginia Holocaust Museum today inhabits the warehouses of the former American Tobacco Company, once the world's largest producer of cigarettes.110 Better yet, why not turn all the world's tobacco factories into life-giving educational centers or hospitals or memorials to the ongoing atrocity?

The genius of the cigarette industry has been to transform the world's leading cause of death into a global symbol of glamour, rebellion, and individual liberty. While playing the Nazi card in ads, Philip Morris was quietly refurbishing some of the same chambers used to manufacture death on an industrial scale. One measure of the company's success—and enduring power—is that it was able to occupy Auschwitz without the wider world even noticing. Philip Morris only stopped making cigarettes at the camp because it feared exposing its own conflation of slavery and freedom.

Notes

1.

Between 1996 and 1998, Philip Morris produced 80 billion cigarettes in its four Polish factories. Prior to its purchase, the Oświęcim factory and its 235 employees rolled 1.82 billion cigarettes per year; see Philip Morris Companies Inc., “1996 Five Year Plan,” February 1996, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/ghnv0170, 289; see also Philip Morris Poland, “Poland—Strategy Review,” www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=skmy0110, 17–23.

2.

Alexandra Ourusoff, “When the Smoke Clears,” Financial World, June 21, 1994, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/hsgm0194, 41.

3.

Philip Morris Companies Inc., “Five Year Plan: 1998–2002 Draft,” March 1998, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/rgxd0218, 8, 10, 34.

4.

Philip Morris, “PM-U.S.A. Morning Newsbriefs,” February 22, 1999, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/fhkk0067.

5.

“No Substitute for Tobacco in the East” Business Central Europe, June 6, 1994, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/jnlc0197, 23.

6.

Philip Morris International (PMI), “Poland,” December 1992, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/hrjd0116, 3, 6; ZPT–Kraków is Zakłady Przemysłu Tytoniowego w Krakowie S.A. (ZPTK), or the “Tobacco Industry Factories in Krakow.”

7.

“Philip Morris History,” March 1985, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/kmcl0043, 12.

8.

Maria Wardzyńska, Byl Rok 1939: Operacja niemieckiej policji bezpieczeństwa w Polsce (Warsaw: IPN, 2009), 258. Hujowa Górka in Polish is a play on the surname of SS-Unterscharführer Albert Hujar, who supervised these killings; the name roughly translates to “Dick Hill.” The word special holds a place in the lexicon of atrocity: think of Big Tobacco's “special projects” or Putin's “special operation” in Ukraine. On Nazi euphemism, see Daniel Akselrad, “Euphemism in the Architecture and Language of Treblinka,” in Agnotology: The New Science of Creating and Preventing Ignorance, ed. Robert N. Proctor and Londa Schiebinger (forthcoming).

9.

Steven C. Parrish, “Committee of Counsel Draft Agenda: February 9, 1994,” February 4, 1994, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/#id=lmbx0223, 1–2; PMI, “Poland,” 11. Cigarette makers often exclude diacritics from Polish names; we have been faithful to the original in each case.

10.

Total cigarette deaths is over eight million per year worldwide; see World Health Organization Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2023 (Geneva: World Health Organization, 2023), 34, https://escholarship.org/uc/item/7x18m7f9.

11.

Matthew Kohrman, “Cloaks and Veils: Countervisualizing Cigarette Factories In and Outside of China,” Anthropological Quarterly 88 (2015): 907–39.

12.

On the invisibility of global cigarette production, see Matthew Kohrman, “Cigarette Citadels,” cigarette citadels.stanford.edu/map/. At the time of writing, this interactive map identifies Philip Morris's factories in Kraków and in Leżajsk but not in Oświęcim.

13.

Jacob Flaws, “Sensory Witnessing at Treblinka,” Journal of Holocaust Research 35 (2021): 41–65.

14.

“Pitchblende” was part of the tailings cast aside by nineteenth-century miners during their hunt for silver; miners unknowingly discarded this uranium-rich earth because they did not yet know about its financial value, its radiologic danger, or its utility within nuclear economies to come.

15.

Robert N. Proctor, “God Is Watching: History in the Age of Near-Infinite Digital Archives,” Journal of Public Health Policy 39 (2018): 24–26.

16.

On the Israeli use of bulldozers at Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) to reach older, “nationally significant” strata, see Nadia L. Abu El-Haj, “Translating Truths: Nationalism, the Practice of Archaeology, and the Remaking of Past and Present in Jerusalem,” American Ethnologist 25 (1998): 166–88. On “negative heritage,” see Lynn Meskell, “Negative Heritage and Past Mastering in Archaeology,” Anthropological Quarterly 75 (2002): 557–74.

17.

On Holocaust commemoration, see Eran Neuman, Shoah Presence: Architectural Representations of the Holocaust (New York: Routledge, 2016).

18.

Yankiel Wiernik, A Year in Treblinka (New York: American Representation of the General Jewish Workers’ Union of Poland, 1945), 39. In 1943, prisoners at Treblinka were forced to build pyres out of railroad tracks to carry out mass cremations; they were then forced to spread the ashes and plant lupine in the soil.

19.

Witold Pilecki was the cavalry captain who, in 1940, allowed himself to be captured by the Germans in order to infiltrate the Auschwitz concentration camp, from where he smuggled out graphic accounts of Nazi brutalities. The three Tobacco Monopoly Buildings now house the Witold Pilecki State University of Małopolska.

20.

Philip Morris Europe, “Philip Morris Corporate Affairs Pan European Advocacy Campaign,” 1995, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/fryb0096; see also Nick K. Schneider and Stanton A. Glantz, “ ‘Nicotine Nazis Strike Again’: A Brief Analysis of the Use of Nazi Rhetoric in Attacking Tobacco Control Advocacy,” Tobacco Control 17 (2008): 292.

21.

Peter L. Berger, “Gilgamesh on the Washington Shuttle,” Worldview, November 1977, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/ltjm0032, 43–45, bizarrely illustrated with a cigarette imprisoned in barbed wire.

22.

Berger and Luckmann's 1966 Social Construction of Reality commands over eighty thousand citations on Google Scholar. Cigarette makers financed Berger as a Special Account #4 operative in 1982; see “Amended Final Opinion,” USA vs. Philip Morris, August 17, 2006, www.publichealthlawcenter.org/sites/default/files/resources/doj-final-opinion.pdf, 144.

23.

Robert N. Proctor, Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition (University of California Press, 2011): 330.

24.

Fred Panzer to Horace R. Kornegay (President, Tobacco Institute), “The Roper Proposal,” May 1, 1972, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=ltfn0108.

25.

“Happy Birthday to RJ Reynolds,” April 1997, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/hylp0096, 12.

26.

Robertson Associates, “Letter to Reynolds, April 29, 1985,” www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/jyvg0082.

27.

Proctor, Golden Holocaust, 335–37.

28.

Scott P. Schlesinger, closing argument for Calloway v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. et al., May 15, 2012, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/ptnk0191, 8327.

29.

Robert N. Proctor, “On Playing the Nazi Card,” Tobacco Control 17 (2008), 289–90; Philip Morris Inc., “CEO Issues Book,” January 1997, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=jjwn0010.

30.

See, for example, Philip Morris's 1999 “Find Your Voice” campaign for Virginia Slims, reproduced online at tobacco.stanford.edu/cigarette/img10412/. On Philip Morris's “Bill of Rights” campaign, see Advocacy Institute, “SCARC Action Alert,” February 22, 1991, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=zjjw0132.

31.

Walter Williams, “ ‘Lifestyle Nazis’ Use Government Power to Persecute Citizens,” Herald Sun, May 1998, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/fqjw0088; Ruth E. Malone and Robert N. Proctor, “Prohibition No, Abolition Yes! Rethinking How We Talk about Ending the Cigarette Epidemic,” Tobacco Control 37 (2022): 376–81.

32.

“TMA–ITG: Volume II–A,” International Tobacco Guide, November 1992, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu /tobacco/docs/#id=stkl0212, 360; see also Philip Morris, “Poland Marketing Plan,” 1993, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=qfwc0073, 19.

33.

“Remarks of Horace Kornegay, Sales and Marketing Executives Club, Richmond, Virginia,” April 20, 1970, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=lyvk0191.

34.

Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, “ ‘Distortion’ of Passive Smoking Evidence Provokes Controversy in Israel,” BMJ 320 (2000): 826.

35.

For “final solutions” as a rhetorical form, see Robert N. Proctor, The Nazi War on Cancer (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), 47.

36.

Proctor, The Nazi War on Cancer, 207.

37.

For a photograph of Nazi governor Hans Frank inspecting a tobacco plantation in Lublin in August 1940, see www.szukajwarchiwach.gov.pl/skan/-/skan/188b691cceba7314ae51370bbd31937fa56a577dfb077420f74b20c37304e2e4.

38.

Karl Heinz Roth and Jan-Peter Abraham, Reemtsma auf der Krim: Tabakproduktion und Zwangsarbeit unter der deutschen Besatzungsherrschaft 1941–1944 (Hamburg: Edition Nautilus, 2011).

39.

Philip Morris, “Archetype Project Summary,” August 1991, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/tqjm0065.

40.

Philip Morris drew up this letter of intent in 1992; see BAT Group Poland, “Note from Jacek Siwek to David Pearce,” February 1994, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/rljp0201, 5–19; see also Philip Morris, “1994–1998 Five Year Plan,” 1994, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/fppv0035. Issue is a key word in the tobacco industry's lexicon of deception, disguising the gravity of the cigarette catastrophe. In the industry's private archives, for example, lung cancer is often called “the main issue,” and threats to health are often euphemized as “health issues.”

41.

Philip Morris, “1994 Budget Review and Three Year Plan,” 1994, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/npjy0002, 71.

42.

Philip Morris, “1994 Budget Review,” 165; see also Philip Morris Companies Inc., “1996 Five Year Plan,” 289.

43.

From 1989 to 1999, Philip Morris Companies Inc. retained Goldsmith as a paid consultant, likely because as executive vice president of operations he had presided over the earlier 1973 licensing agreement with ZPT–Kraków. See Geoffrey C. Bible, “PMI Marketing Meeting: June 18–22,” May 10, 1989, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=nybj0111. For signed renewal of the agreement, see Larry A. Gates, “Consultant Agreement with Mr. Clifford H. Goldsmith,” May 30, 1996, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=ljgw0165.

44.

Goldsmith tells this story in his self-produced DVD, Smokin’: The Clifford Goldsmith Story, in the Center for Jewish History. In the 1990s, he was still litigating the restitution of his family's Nazi-confiscated home in Leipzig. On this, see his eponymous archive at the Center for Jewish History in New York, online at archives.cjh.org/repositories/5/resources/13907.

45.

Geoffrey C. Bible, “Remarks at the American Jewish Congress Dinner,” December 2, 1999, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=jpdv0057.

46.

Polski Monopol Tytoniowi: 1919–1925 (Warsaw: Polskiego Monopolu Tytoniowego, 1926), 18.

47.

Marek Rawecki, Auschwitz-Birkenau Zone (Gliwice, Poland: Wydawnictwo Politechniki Śląskiej, 2003), 12.

48.

“Magazyny Surowców Tytoniowych” (Warsaw: Odbitka z Wydawnictwa Zbiorowego, 1928), 18, 48, 168 in PDF.

49.

Helen J. Whatmore-Thomson, Nazi Camps and their Neighbouring Communities: History, Memory, and Memorialization (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).

50.

Tadeusz Skiba, “The Epilogue to September 1939—Polish Soldiers in Soviet Captivity,” 800/1/0/-/47, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, CA.

51.

Danuta Kohman, “The Katyń Massacre—Reclaimed Memory,” MK R. 361, Katyń Museum, Warsaw, Poland.

52.

Oleg Penduik, “Open Legal Questions Hinder Investments in Lviv Factory,” April 1993, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=ljgk0194, 20–22.

53.

Skiba, “The Epilogue to September 1939.”

54.

Geoffrey P. Megargee, Joseph R. White, and Mel Hecker, eds., The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945, vol. 3, Camps and Ghettos under European Regimes Aligned with Nazi Germany (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2018), 1821.

55.

Natan Grinberg, Dokumenti (Sofia: Centralna Konsistorya na Evreite v Bŭlgaria, 1945).

56.

For a photograph of Monopol, see “Jews Outside the Monopol Tobacco Factory Transit Camp,” March 1943, encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/photo/jews-outside-the-monopol-tobacco-factory-transit-camp. For a photograph of the Xanthi tobacco storehouse taken October 1996, see photos.yadvashem.org/photo-details.html?language=en&item_id=73304&ind=15.

57.

Randolph L. Braham, Geographical Encyclopedia of the Holocaust in Hungary, vol. 1 (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2013), 110–30; see also Megargee, White, and Hecker, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 3: 957.

58.

The list includes, at a minimum, Sforzacosta, the Saim Tobacco Factory in Boiano, Città Sant'Angelo, the Grosulovo Tobacco Depot, Békéscsaba, Dupnitsa, Illéspuszta, and the Dessewffy Estate in Varjúlapos.

59.

Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017); for “footprint analysis,” see Lisa Parks, “Signals and Oil: Satellite Footprints and Post-communist Territories in Central Asia,” European Journal of Cultural Studies 12 (2009): 137–56.

60.

Danuta Czech, Auschwitz Chronicle 1939–1945 (New York: H. Holt, 1990), 13. See also Wanda Michalak, Oświęcim: Hitlerowski obóz masowej zagłady (Warsaw: Interpress, 1977), 16–17.

61.

Rudolf Höss, Commandant of Auschwitz: The Autobiography of Rudolf Hoess (Cleveland: World Publishing Company, 1959).

62.

John B. Hutson, Consumption and Production of Tobacco in Europe, USDA No. 1488–2016–124245 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1937), 85; see also British American Tobacco, “Arrangement and Classification of Tobacco Types,” 1982, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/hmlb0210, 98.

63.

Rawecki, Auschwitz-Birkenau Zone, 13, 87.

64.

Wiesław Kielar, Anus Mundi (New York: Times Books, 1980), 5.

65.

Jerzy Hronowski, Leben Erinnerungen (Oświęcim: Mie˛dzynarodowy Dom Spotkań Młodzieży w Oświęcimiu, 2008), 20.

66.

Czech, Auschwitz Chronicle 1939–1945, 85, where we find notes from the 1947 trial of Rudolf Höss.

67.

Kielar, Anus Mundi; see also Hronowski, Leben Erinnerungen, 21; and Artur Rablin, testimony before Judge Jan Sehn, August 12, 1947, IPN GK 196/147, Institute of National Remembrance (hereafter IPN), Warsaw, Poland.

68.

Feliks Myłyk, testimony at the Supreme National Tribunal against Rudolf Höss, March 13, 1947, IPN GK 196/106, IPN, Warsaw, Poland; see also Jan Chlebowski, testimony at the Supreme National Tribunal, December 5, 1947, IPN GK 196/164, IPN, Warsaw, Poland.

69.

Kielar, Anus Mundi, 8–10.

70.

Lore Shelley, ed., Auschwitz–The Nazi Civilization: Twenty-Three Women Prisoners’ Accounts (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1992), 20.

71.

Rawecki, Auschwitz-Birkenau Zone, 87.

72.

Philip Morris Europe S.A., “a Delaware (USA) corporation,” bought the Tobacco Monopoly Buildings at Auschwitz on February 23, 1996. In the 1990s, Philip Morris Europe was a subsidiary of Philip Morris International, which until March 28, 2008, was a subsidiary of Philip Morris Inc., a global conglomerate known since January 27, 2003, as Altria Group Inc. PMI today is a separate corporate entity from Altria, but the two still share common brands and, occasionally, common personnel, legal representation, and legal tactics. For an organization chart of Philip Morris at the time of its Auschwitz acquisition, see “Philip Morris International Legal Entity Organization Chart,” March 1998, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=snnv0013, 32. Among the key figures in this transfer, Geoffrey Bible and Steven Parrish were executives of Philip Morris Inc.; Clifford Goldsmith was the former president and, by the 1990s, a paid consultant of Philip Morris Companies Inc. The Marlboro red roof design, one of the most famous symbols in the history of advertising, was in 1996 emblazoned on the facade of the Auschwitz building formerly known as the SS-Unterkunftsgebäude.

73.

Philip Morris, “1996 Five Year Plan,” 352; see also Al Rainnie and Jane Hardy, “Global Strategies, Local Firms, Working Lives: Restructuring of Polish State Owned Enterprises,” in The State and “Globalization, ed. Martin Upchurch (London: Routledge, 2019), 143–67.

74.

Philip Morris, “ETS World Conference at the Macklowe Hotel & Conference Center, New York,” February 24, 1993, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/zxmm0000, 53.

75.

Philip Morris, “1996 Five Year Plan,” 298.

76.

“Plan for Tobacco Monopoly Divides Industry in Poland,” Wall Street Journal, June 27, 1994, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/gsjc0192.

77.

Reuters, “RJR Buys Russia Plant.” New York Times, May 3, 1994, nyti.ms/3vDOU9Z.

78.

William Boger, “Meeting Notice: Yelets Plant G7 Operation,” June 20, 1994, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/kgyd0095, 6.

79.

“Draft Articles for RJR Profile . . . Executive Overview,” RJRI, February 23, 1997, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/gsxl0221, 11; see also R. J. Reynolds, “RJRTI Q&A's for Annual Meeting Notebook,” April 7, 1995, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=ykbb0001, 2.

80.

“No Substitute for Tobacco in the East,” Business Central Europe, 14; see also “BAT Pushes up the Volga with Second Factory Stake,” Independent, May 20, 1994, www.independent.co.uk/news/business/bat-pushes-up-the-volga-with-second-factory-stake-1437488.html.

81.

Philip Morris, “Briefing Book: Annual Meeting, 1994,” April 21, 1994, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/mgbc0084, 166–67.

82.

Philip Morris, “Morning Newsbriefs, February 22, 1999,” 7.

83.

Philip Morris Inc., “CEO Issues Book,” 56. For the distribution of the “CEO Issues Book,” see George L. Knox, “Subject: CEO Issues Book,” March 10, 1997, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=tnlm0061, 2. Three editions of the 1997 “CEO Issues Book” were sent to a who's who of executives at Philip Morris, including Geoffrey Bible, Murray Bring, Steven Parrish, and a couple dozen others.

84.

“Auschwitz Plan Sees Philip Morris Plant Remaining,” RJRI News Report, July 8, 1996, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=fmcd0016, 5–6.

85.

Andrew Charlesworth, Alison Stenning, Robert Guzik, and Michal Paszkowski, “ ‘Out of Place’ in Auschwitz? Contested Development in Post-war and Post-socialist Oświęcim,” Ethics, Place, and Environment 9 (2006): 149–72.

86.

It is perhaps worth noting that in 1998 Rupert Murdoch, the Australian American CEO of News Corp and owner of the New York Post, was nearing the end of his decade-long tenure on the Philip Morris Board of Directors.

87.

Wendy G. Burrell, “File—Poland,” June 1996, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/sxcd0071.

88.

Michael Parsons to Wendy Burrell, “Poland,” June 24, 1996, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=kxcd0071.

89.

Michael Parsons, “Draft Press Statement—Auschwitz Factory,” June 24, 1996, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/txcd0071.

90.

Michael Parsons to Ellis Woodward, “Auschwitz,” June 25, 1996, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/mxcd0071.

91.

“Oral History Interview of Ernest W. Michel,” Fritz Bauer Institute, Norbert Wollheim Memorial, July 5, 2007, www.wollheim-memorial.de/en/ernest_w_michel.

92.

Melissa, “Phone Call Log, Michael Parsons to Steve Parrish,” June 24, 1996, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/pxcd0071.

93.

Tadeusz Magier, “Letter to District Office in Oświęcim,” August 5, 1998, UR GNG 7224c / 264/98, Court Public Record, Archives of the Regional Prosecutor of Wadowice.

94.

Andrzej Czarnik, “Letter to Philip Morris Polska S.A. from the Association for the Support of Oświęcim Development Initiatives,” November 30, 2000, 332/00, Court Public Record, Archives of the Regional Prosecutor of Wadowice.

95.

World Health Organization, The Current Status of the Tobacco Epidemic in Poland (Copenhagen: World Health Organization, 2009), 10.

96.

Franz Josef Strauss, the conservative president of Bavaria, notoriously claimed for Germany in the 1960s that “a people that has achieved such remarkable economic success has the right not to have to hear anymore about Auschwitz.” See Tony Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 (New York: Penguin, 2005): 820.

97.

Gary S. Cross and Robert N. Proctor, Packaged Pleasures: How Technology and Marketing Revolutionized Desire (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014).

98.

Henry Ford, The Case against the Little White Slaver (Detroit: Henry Ford, 1914); Lauren Berlant, “Slow Death (Sovereignty, Obesity, Lateral Agency),” Critical Inquiry 33 (2007): 754–78. On “slow violence,” see Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011).

99.

Flaws, “Sensory Witnessing at Treblinka,” 45.

100.

Simone Gigliotti, The Train Journey: Transit, Captivity, and Witnessing in the Holocaust (New York: Berghahn Books, 2009), 129.

101.

Stolpersteine, literally “stumbling stones,” are part of a decentralized memorial designed by the artist Gunter Demnig in 1995: three thousand cobblestones engraved with the names of victims of the Holocaust have been cemented into the streets of European cities near where Jews were taken from their homes and, in some cases, killed in the street. See Kirsten Harjes, “Stumbling Stones: Holocaust Memorials, National Identity, and Democratic Inclusion in Berlin,” German Politics and Society 23 (2005): 138–51.

102.

Mercedes-Benz has erected a “monument to forced laborers on Mercedes-Jellinek-Straße in Stuttgart Bad-Cannstatt”; see Christian Scholz, “Our History. Our Responsibility,” Magazine for Mobility and Society, May 2020, group.mercedes-benz.com/magazine/culture/75th-anniversary-of-the-end-of-world-war-ii.html#anchor_1922473.

103.

Oliver Martin and Giovanna Piatti, eds., World Heritage and Buffer Zones (Paris: UNESCO World Heritage Centre, 2009), 29, whc.unesco.org/document/101967; UNESCO World Heritage Convention, “State of Conservation: Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration and Extermination Camp: 1940–1945,” 1999, whc.unesco.org/en/list/31/%20%20http:/www.auschwitz.org/en/museum/unesco/.

104.

Addison Yeaman, “Implications of Battelle Hippo I & II and the Griffith Filter,” July 17, 1963, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/hrwh0097.

105.

Matthew Kohrman, Gan Quan, Liu Wennan, and Robert N. Proctor, eds., Poisonous Pandas: Chinese Cigarette Manufacturing in Critical Historical Perspectives (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2018).

106.

The Sackler name (of Purdue Pharma infamy) has been scrubbed from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but the museum still shelters the Tisch Galleries, honoring the tobacco magnates’ $10 million gift (in 1987).

107.

Joseph F. Cullman III interviewed on “CBS Face the Nation,” January 3, 1971, www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/yrgp0190.

108.

NYU Tandon School of Engineering, “In Memoriam: Clifford H. Goldsmith,” July 1, 2014, beta.poly.edu/news/memoriam-clifford-h-goldsmith-hon-06.

109.

Alina Hernandez, “Major Gift Launches First Amendment Clinic at Tulane,” Tulane News, September 6, 2019, news.tulane.edu/pr/major-gift-launches-first-amendment-clinic-tulane.

110.

Virginia Holocaust Museum, “History of the Museum,” n.d., www.vaholocaust.org/visiting-the-museum/history-of-the-museum/.