I learned a new word today, as I was searching wordpress blogs: abattoir. I looked up the definition on google and learned that it means “a building where animals are butchered” or “a slaughterhouse.” The word abattoir was used on this blog by someone who had just recently visited the Dachau Memorial Site. Here is the full quote from the blog:
“Not many of the original barracks remain but the gas chamber and crematorium are very well preserved. Walking through the holding room, to the showers and then through to the crematorium is eerie – the place is laid out with deliberate efficiency as if it was an abattoir. It is hard to understand how one human being can treat another like cattle.”
Oooh, that’s cold! (as the woman on the Progressive insurance TV ad would say)
Brent, the guy who wrote the blog post, got the impression that the Nazis were “deceitful” because they put a sign that says “Brausebad” over the gas chamber, and a sign that says “Arbeit Macht Frei” over the entrance gate. Brent thinks that the Nazis sold Dachau to the public as a “work and re-education camp” but after the war, the “true purpose” of Dachau became known. He got that right! The “true purpose” of Dachau was not known until the American liberators arrived on April 29, 1945 and Albert Guérisse, a British SOE agent, escorted the soldiers to the gas chambers (plural). It was the British BBC that first told the world about the gas chambers in June 1942, long before the Dachau gas chamber was built in 1943.
The alleged homicical gas chamber at Dachau is located in Baracke X, the building shown in the photo above; it is on the far left behind the white table. The morgue where the bodies were stored is on the right, next to the gas chamber, and the next room to the right is the oven room. You can see that the building was “laid out with deliberately efficiency” like an “abattoir.”
But what about the first photo of the Dachau gas chamber, taken by T/4 Sidney Blau, that was shown to the public a few days after Dachau was surrendered to the Americans? The door that is shown in the photo below is located at the far end of the Baracke X building, so far away from the ovens that it cannot be shown in the same photo without using a wide angle lens.
The caption, which the US Army put on this photo, is as follows:
“Gas chambers (plural), conveniently located to the crematory, are examined by a soldier of the U.S. Seventh Army. These chambers were used by Nazi guards for killing prisoners of the infamous Dachau concentration camp.”
Note the word “Gaszeit” which means “Gas time,” on the door. This shows that the Nazis weren’t deceitful at all. The prisoners could very clearly see that this was a Gaskammer, which is the German word for a room where Zyklon-B poison gas was used.
There was no “deliberate efficiency” about the location of the Gaskammer shown in the photo above. It was as far away as it could get from the ovens. But there was proof of the German reputation for neatness and order; the prisoners had to take off their clothes and hang them up on hangers, as shown in the photo below, taken outside the Baracke X building.
The photo above shows the spot where the clothing was hung up at Dachau when the American soldiers arrived on April 29, 1945. The Americans assumed that the prisoners had been forced to hang up their clothes before going into one of the four rooms with the word “Gaszeit” on the door.
The photo above shows the famous door that was shown to the world as a door into a gas chamber where prisoners were gassed. It has been bolted to another door so that visitors cannot pose in front of it. The photo below shows a sign over the four doors into the disinfection chambers at Dachau. In spite of this sign, some tour guides still tell visitors that the prisoners had to take off their clothes and hang them on hangers before entering these chambers to be killed with Zyklon-B.
Note the black pipe that is to the left of the sign in the photo above. The “deliberately efficient” Nazis would put an unopened can of Zyklon-B gas pellets into this pipe and the can would automatically be opened and emptied into a wire basket; then hot air would be blown over the pellets to activate the gas. After the clothes had been disinfected, the pellets would be retrieved from the wire basket and put back into the can, to be returned to the manufacturer to be recycled.
The photos above show the “deliberate efficiency” with which the Nazis disinfected the prisoner clothing at Dachau in an attempt to stop a typhus epidemic, which killed half of the prisoners who died at Dachau. The “true purpose” of Dachau was to imprison people like British SOE agent Albert Guérisse, who was an illegal combatant during World War II, helping the French Resistance which was fighting in violation of the Armistice that the French had signed.