The Inconvenient History blog has a new article entitled Reexamining the “gas chamber” of Dachau. The article, which was written by Thomas Dalton, can be read in full here. In the article, Dalton points out several things about the Dachau “gas chamber” that I never noticed, but he also missed a couple of things that I saw on several visits to Dachau.
One thing that I noticed in the Dachau “gas chamber” is shown in the photo below, taken by Thomas Dalton, and included in his article.
On the far right in the photo above, you can see the faint outline of what looks like a column that is about one foot wide and extends about six inches from the wall. I have no idea what is inside this brick column, but it could have something to do with the “compressor” which was mentioned in the Chavez Report. I had been inside the Dachau gas chamber several times before I noticed the column; unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of it.
On April 30, 1945, the day after the Dachau concentration camp was liberated, the 40th Combat Engineer Regiment, which was supporting the 45th Thunderbird Division, arrived to take over. The photo above shows Eldon Patterson of E Company, 40th Combat Engineers standing in front of Baracke X. The door into the “wooden shed” was blocked by a pile of corpses and it may even have been nailed shut which would have discouraged anyone from looking behind it.
Before the first proceedings of the American Military Tribunal at Dachau began in November 1945, a War Crimes Investigation Team had summarized its findings in the Report of the Atrocities Committed at Dachau Concentration Camp, signed by JAGD Col. David Chavez Jr. on 7 May 1945.
The Chavez Report stated on page 56 that the wooden structure, shown against the east wall of the crematorium in the photo above, was a “Wooden shed believed to contain a pump or compressor.” The wording of the Report implies that no one went into the “wooden shed” to see if the pump or compressor “believed” to be hidden there was actually there.
This wooden shed, which was against the exterior eastern wall of the gas chamber, has long since been removed. Today tourists are told that gas pellets were poured into the Dachau gas chamber through two bins on the outside wall. These bins were hidden by the wooden shed when the American liberators arrived. An undated addendum, which mentioned the bins, was added to the Chavez Report at a later date.
In the official story of the Holocaust, it is said that the purpose of the wooden screen was to hide the activity of the SS men as they poured the Zyklon-B pellets into the gas chamber. Could the “compressor” have been an air compressor that was used to blow hot air inside the gas chamber to heat the pellets? The Zyklon-B pellets had to be heated, or it would have taken hours for the body heat of the victims to activate the gas. There is a heater on the other side of the room which one tour guide at Dachau tells visitors was used to heat the pellets.
The Chavez Report was entered into the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal as Documents 159L and 2430-PS. On November 29, 1945, a film was shown at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal which included footage of the gas chamber, but the east wall of the homicidal gas chamber where the openings for the bins are located was not shown. Instead, the film showed the shower heads and the “top vents” through which the gas was put into the chamber and then vented outside.
This quote is from the Report of the Atrocities Committed at Dachau Concentration Camp, signed by Col. David Chavez, Jr., JAGD, 7 May 1945:
“The new building had a gas chamber for executions… the gas chamber was labeled “shower room” over the entrance and was a large room with airtight doors and double glassed lights, sealed and gas proof. The ceiling was studded with dummy shower heads. A small observation peephole, double glassed and hermetically sealed was used to observe the conditions of the victims. There were grates in the floor. Hydrogen cyanide was mixed in the room below, and rose into the gas chamber and out the top vents.”
On the left, in the photo above, is the “small observation peephole” with a water pipe in another box below it. The peephole in the gas chamber is not at eye level for a man six feet tall. Note the bricks on the left side of the peephole which do not match the rest of the bricks; the frame around the peephole does not match the frame around the water pipe.
The previous photo above also shows two light fixture boxes on the north wall, just below the ceiling in the gas chamber. These are the “top vents” described in the Army Report. On the ceiling are empty holes from which the “dummy shower heads” were stolen by souvenir hunters. On the far right in the photo is the door into the morgue which is conveniently next to the gas chamber. In the center of the previous photo above is one of the six “grates in the floor.” These “grates” look like floor drains that have been closed up.
Thomas Dalton wrote on his blog that the ceiling of the Dachau gas chamber has been lowered. The photo above shows one of the empty light fixture boxes which still has the wiring inside it. Note the construction around the vent. Anyone who has spent in time in Germany or has been around German people would know that this sloppy construction looks un-German.
The photo above shows a light fixture box which appears to have been moved to a lower spot on the wall when the ceiling was lowered. I have often wondered whether the original shower pipes are still on the ceiling of the Dachau gas chamber, but now hidden by a new ceiling that was constructed by the American liberators.
Thomas Dalton wrote this on his blog post:
During my visit I came prepared to do a unique bit of analysis: I brought along a hand-held wall metal detector.13 I cannot claim any astounding new discoveries, but I did a fairly careful scan of all four interior walls and the ceiling. The walls had virtually no metal at all, at least to the scanning depth of three inches. The ceiling, by contrast, showed extensive metal content, almost throughout the entire extent. There was no evident pattern, just a more or less continuous positive reading. This would suggest some kind of heavy wire mesh, perhaps associated with the poured concrete.14 It was not possible to detect the presence or absence of individual pipes in the ceiling.
Here is another quote from Thomas Dalton’s blog post:
And one further oddity: The Zyklon chutes show clear signs of being installed after the original building construction. In close-up views of the chutes, we can see that the concrete mortar is clearly different than that used for the remainder of the wall—finer quality, more viscous, and of different composition.
I never noticed that the concrete mortar between the bricks does not match, as Dalton pointed out. However, I did notice that the placement of the two bins on the outside wall is some very un-German construction. Notice in my photo below that the bins and the pipe are not placed the way a German person would have done this construction.
On my first trip to Dachau in 1997, the wall shown in the photo above was the first thing that I noticed, even before I went inside the building. My first thought was that this was not part of the original construction. Baracke X is a beautiful building, except for the eyesore shown above.
I previously blogged about the small hole in the wall of the gas chamber here.
I have compiled a list of descriptions of the Dachau gas chamber written by people who saw the room immediately after the liberation of the camp. Curiously, none of these people noticed the openings on the east wall of the room.