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October 31, 2011

An engineer’s explanation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chambers

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:17 pm

A couple of months ago, I blogged here about the fact that the engineers who designed the Nazi gas chambers are unknown.  All of the Holocaust gas chambers were designed differently, as I showed in another blog post here.  Actually, they weren’t designed at all. I blogged about the Natzweiler gas chamber, which was a special case, here.

When I went to Auschwitz-Birkenau in the fall of 2005, I took photos of everything, even when I didn’t realize the significance of what I was photographing.  It seems that a couple of my photographs were useful in explaining the gas chambers from an engineer’s viewpoint, which you can read here.  Also, check out the claim by this blogger that Krema II and Krema III were bakeries.

I also took photos of the water treatment plant at Birkenau.  I didn’t have the right kind of lighting for better photos at the time, so the photos below will have to do.

The photo above shows the water treatment plant at Birkenau. On the right side are four round brick structures in which the drinking water was purified at Birkenau; on the left side is a deep hole that was part of the water treatment facility. This photo was taken at the west end of the camp, north of the Krema II and Krema III gas chambers.

In the background of the photo above, you can see the round brick structures of the water treatment plant for the Birkenau camp. Just behind the black markers, you can see a dried up ash pond, which looks like a small bog garden.  When I visited Birkenau in 1998, this was an actual bog garden with plants in it, and the markers were not there. The dried up ash pond for Krema V looked very similar in 1998. In the foreground are the black markers in four languages that identify this as the ash pond for Krema III.

What is the importance of all this?  I don’t know — I’m not an engineer.  But now that we have some real engineers working on the case, these photos might have some meaning.  The water was too close to the surface at Birkenau, which caused a huge problem.  I do know something about gardening, and the whole place looks like a bog garden where plants that love water grow.

Please check out an engineer’s explanation for the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau here.

October 30, 2011

Japanese-American veterans to receive Congressional Gold Medal

Filed under: Dachau, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 12:39 pm

Today, there were 23 news stories on Google News about the Japanese-American veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, who will receive the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington, DC next week.  Curiously, only one of these news articles mentioned that the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team liberated a sub-camp of Dachau near the end of World War II.

Here is a quote from this newspaper which I found in my google search:

The 100th was the first combat unit to be comprised exclusively of Japanese-Americans from Hawaii, according to the National Veterans Network, a coalition of Japanese-American veteran and civic organizations. The men had been drafted for the Hawaii National Guard before the Pearl Harbor attack, and in the weeks that followed they guarded Hawaii’s beaches and coastlines, the organization said. The 442nd was organized in March 1943, after a call for volunteers from the War Department.

“Today, the 100th and 442nd, known as the Go for Broke regiment, still stand as the most highly decorated units in United States Army history for size and length of service in battle,” the veterans network said in a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

“It was these men who rescued the Lost Battalion, fought in the Battle of Monte Cassino, broke through the Gothic Line, liberated a Dachau subcamp … ,” the letter continued.

I learned from the many news articles that 39 members of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service will receive a Bronze Medal next week in Washington, D.C., for their service. The 100th Infantry Battalion will receive the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor next Wednesday at Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.

I also read in the news that the 442nd was an all Japanese-American unit that fought in Europe during World War II, beginning in 1944. Many of these soldiers’ families were in internment camps in America. The 442nd was a self-sufficient fighting force and fought with uncommon distinction in Italy, southern France and Germany, according to the news. The unit became the most highly decorated regiment in the history of the U.S. armed forces. Its roster included 21 Medal of Honor recipients.  But what about the liberation of one of the sub-camps of Dachau?  Why was this left out of the news?

(more…)

World War II veteran recalls “pilots mistakenly bombing and strafing their own troops”

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 8:22 am

Curtis Peters, a 93-year-old American veteran of World War II, recently gave an interview to a newspaper reporter, which you can read here.  He told the usual stories about the atrocities that he witnessed when he was taken to see the Dachau concentration camp in May 1945.

This quote from his interview caught my attention:

The Army at the time was suffering heavy casualties from pilots mistakenly bombing and strafing their own troops.  Peters was put to work marking the army unit locations on maps to  pilot briefings.

The major I was working for said “These pilots killed a whole bunch more of our men than the enemy, and we’ve got to do something to stop the slaughter,” Peters said.  “I like to think I helped save a few of our guys.”

Peters arrived at Dachau too late to see the train with open gondola cars filled with bodies of prisoners that had been killed when American planes strafed the train. (One of the survivors of the train testified at the trial of the SS man in charge of the train that American planes had strafed the train.) He only saw the bodies of the prisoners who had died from typhus and were being taken by horse-drawn wagons to Leitenberg hill for burial.  Photos of these events are shown below.

Bodies of typhus victims were hauled out of Dachau camp in horse-drawn wagons

Bodies found on the "death train" at Dachau by the American liberators on April 29, 1945

October 29, 2011

selections for the gas chamber at the Majdanek death camp

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:43 am

Building #41 at Majdanek death camp had 3 gas chambers

Entrance to gas chamber building #41 at Majdanek Photo Credit: http://misja21.blox.pl/2011/06/Majdanek.html

The photo at the top of the page shows a field of gravel with a roller that was used to roll the field smooth.  This field of gravel was called “die Rose Feld” which is German for the Rose Field.  This is where selections were made for the Majdanek gas chamber.

The sign on the building in the second photo above reads “Bad und Desinfektion” which is German for Bath and Disinfection. Building #42 is shown on the far left in the photo above.

At Majdanek, there were a total of four gas chambers, according to the Museum guidebook, which I purchased at the camp in 1998. The guidebook says that the gas chamber, right next to the shower room in the building shown above, was “a makeshift chamber which presumably had begun functioning before the other three were opened.”

The fourth gas chamber, which is disguised as a shower room, is in the reconstructed crematorium at the other end of the Majdanek camp.

Remarkably, Building #41 was used both for showers and disinfection — and for gassing the Jews.  An identical building (#42) next door to Building #41 was used to disinfect the clothing with Zyklon-B, the same poison gas which was used to gas the Jews in Building #41.  Building #42 is off limits to tourists.

At Majdanek, prisoners who were selected to work took a shower after being disinfected in one of the two concrete bath tubs used for that purpose.  Some excellent photos of the undressing room and the shower room in Building #41 can be seen here on this blog.

The prisoners who were selected to be gassed also took a shower and were dipped in the tub of disinfectant before going into the gas chamber. The door into the three gas chambers in Barrack # 41 is located in the shower room. When I visited in 1998, a sign in the shower room said that the prisoners were given a shower before gassing to “quite (sic) them down.” The tour guide explained that the victims were given a hot shower so they would die more quickly in the gas chamber because the Nazis found that the heat of the bodies caused the gas to work faster.

Zyklon-B comes in crystal form, like tiny rocks, and the pellets must be heated before they release the poison gas which kills lice or people. The Majdanek gas chamber building has a heating unit outside the chambers which blew hot air into the chamber to activate the poison gas, so a hot shower, before the victims entered the gas chamber, was not really necessary.

Upon entering Barrack No. 41, the gas chamber building, you first come to the bare, unfurnished undressing room which has narrow wooden boards over the concrete floor. Then you enter the shower room, a large room with rows of exposed water pipes and sprinkler-type shower heads on the ceiling; this room also has a wooden floor over concrete. At one end of the shower room, there are two large concrete bathtubs. My tour guide told me that the prisoners were not allowed to loll in the bathtub, but had to get in and out in a few seconds. The bathtubs were probably filled with disinfectant, as was the case at other camps such as Buchenwald. This shower room was also used by incoming prisoners who were selected to work at Majdanek, which was a labor camp as well as an extermination camp for the Jews.

The first of three gas chamber rooms at Majdanek

There are two doors into this first gas chamber room, which is shown in the photo above. When I toured the gas chambers at Majdanek, neither door had a lock on it and no marks where a lock might have been removed. Each of the doors had a glass peephole which is protected by tiny metal bars to prevent anyone on the outside of the room from breaking the glass. On my visit, I observed that the glass in one of the peepholes had been broken, probably from the inside, and had not yet been replaced.

Door into the first gas chamber in Building #41

On the blueprints for the Majdanek gas chamber building, the gas chambers are called “Entlausungsanlage,” which means “delousing station” in English. The Nazis used Zyklon-B, an insecticide, for gassing the Jews, the same poison they used in the disinfection building, right next door to the gas chamber, to kill body lice on the prisoner clothing in an effort to stop typhus epidemics.

The gas chamber next to the shower is the largest of the three rooms and it has the heaviest blue stains, caused by repeated use of Zyklon-B.

Hole in ceiling of Majdanek gas chamber

There are two holes in the ceiling through which the Zyklon-B pellets could be dropped into the room and openings in the wall through which hot air was blown in, according to the guidebook. The photo above shows one of the holes through which the gas pellets were poured.

October 28, 2011

What tour guides at Auschwitz-Birkenau won’t show you…

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 8:36 am

Gate into section where disinfection buildings are located

The building shown in the photo above is one of the two buildings located on the south side of the Birkenau camp, near the ruins of Crematorium II.  On the far right hand side of the picture is the gate into sections B1a and B1b which are on either side of the road that bisects the entire Birkenau camp, going from this spot all the way to the Mexico section on the north side of the camp. Tour guides pass this gate and walk on to the nearby International Monument which is located between the ruins of Gas Chamber II and Gas Chamber III.

Old photo shows gate into the section of Auschwitz-Birkenau where disinfection chambers were located

Old photo shows gate into the section of Auschwitz-Birkenau where disinfection chambers were located

Two buildings in sections B1a and B1b were used to delouse the prisoners’ clothing with Zyklon-B, the same gas that was used to kill the Jews in the gas chambers. The two buildings are shaped like the letter T and are mirror images of each other. The color photo above shows building BW5b which is located in the B1b section of Birkenau. These buildings are on the left side of the camp as you are standing at the entrance gate into the camp. The east wing of the building in the color photo above was used for delousing.

The second delousing building at Birkenau is BW5a in the B1a section, which is on the other side of the fence on the right in the photo below. The west wing of the BW5a building was used for delousing. Both of these brick buildings also had shower rooms for the prisoners.

Disinfection building at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The photo above shows the blue stains on the east wing of the BW5a building. These stains, called “Prussian Blue,” are the result of heavy use of Zyklon-B.  Both of the disinfection buildings at Birkenau had a chamber that used Zyklon-B and also a hot air apparatus which was used to kill lice. On the blueprint of the building, the disinfection chamber was labeled “Gaskammer,” which is the German word for gas chamber.

The two disinfection buildings at Birkenau were not open to visitors when I visited Birkenau in October 2005; a sign on the door of one of the buildings said “Conservation Works.” I looked through a window of one of the buildings and I could see standing water inside the building.

Sign inside the Gaskammer building at Birkenau

The photo above shows a sign on the wall inside one of the disinfection buildings; it reads “Eine Laus dein Tod,” which means “One louse your death.”

In July 1942, a typhus epidemic got started at Birkenau when lice were brought into the camp by civilian workers. Three hundred inmates were dying each day before it could be brought under control. In November 1942, disinfection began in these two brick buildings in the women’s camp in an attempt to stop the epidemic.

According to Gerald Reitlinger who wrote a book entitled The Final Solution, the head of the concentration camps, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, issued an order on December 28, 1942 which stated: “The death rate in the camps must be reduced at all costs.”

The delousing of the clothing was a continuous operation, according to Franciszek Piper, the former director of the Auschwitz Museum. After the clothing was hung up in the delousing chamber, Zyklon-B pellets were put on the floor and left for a period of 24 hours before the doors were opened. In contrast, the gassing of the Jews took only 20 minutes, according to Piper.

Hot air oven used for delousing clothes

In the Summer of 1943, two small hot air chambers were put in the BW5a disinfection chamber. The photo above, taken in the Central Sauna, shows what the hot air chambers looked like. (Keep this in mind if you ever want to get rid of head lice. Just use a hair dryer to kill the lice.)

On the blueprints of these buildings, the delousing room was called a Gaskammer which means gas chamber in English. In November 2008, some blueprints of the Birkenau disinfection buildings were found in an apartment in Berlin. A close-up of the blueprints is shown in the photo below.

Gaskammer shown on blueprint of disinfection building at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Close-up of delousing building door shows blue stains

So why are the disinfection buildings not shown to tourists at Auschwitz-Birkenau?  Why are these buildings being allowed to rot away with standing water inside?  It could be because these buildings have the power to turn people into Holocaust deniers.  The photo below shows famous Holocaust denier Germar Rudolf taking samples from the southwest wall of building BW5b.  The second photo below shows Germar taking samples from a room in BW5a. He also took samples from Gas Chamber II and found no signs of Zyklon-B use.

Germar Rudolf taking samples from the blue stains on the wall of a disinfection chamber at Birkenau

Heavy blue stains caused by use of Zyklon-B in disinfection chamber at Birkenau

Caution:  Don’t go wandering around the buildings that are off limits at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  You could wind up in prison in Germany for 5 years or more.  Just remember that it takes more Zyklon-B to kill a louse than it does to kill a human, and you’ll be in no danger of going to prison.

October 27, 2011

The shrinking death statistics at the Majdanek death camp

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 8:59 am

Of all the former Nazi concentration camps that I have visited, the creepiest one, by far, is the Majdanek camp in Poland.  Majdanek was a “death camp” where Jews were gassed with Zyklon-B, but carbon monoxide was also used for gassing — in the same building.  There was also a gas chamber, disguised as a shower, in the crematorium building which the Nazis allegedly burned down before they fled the scene.  The gas chamber room in the reconstructed crematorium is very small; it has a hole in the ceiling for pouring in the poison gas crystals, and there is a floor drain directly below the hole. The door to this gas chamber is missing, and may have been taken to another museum for display.

It is hard to figure out just how many gas chambers there were at Majdanek: there are a number of gas chamber rooms, all in one building, along with a small room within a room where an SS man could watch the victims die.  (I assume that the observer was protected by a gas-proof suit and a gas mask, and that he was compensated with extra pay.)

Now Jürgen Graf has written an article on the Inconvenient History blog entitled Defending the Faith: Tomasz Kranz’s “Mass Killings by Means of Toxic Gases in the Majdanek Concentration Camp.” You can read the article in full here.

I am quoting this paragraph from Jürgen Graf’s article:

[Tomasz] Kranz, who is the head of the research department of the Majdanek Memorial Institution, caused a minor sensation in late 2005 when he set the number of victims of the [Majdanek] camp at 78,000—something that amounted to a major reduction of previous figures: shortly after the Soviet capture of the Majdanek camp, a Polish-Soviet commission spoke of 1.5 million people who allegedly died there; later on, official Polish history brought this figure down to 360,000 in 1948 and to 235,000 in 1992. As I have shown in an article published in 2008, Kranz’s figure is still too high by at least 28,000 deaths.

Wow!  Jürgen Graf is now saying that there were only 50,000 deaths at Majdanek?

Out of the 78,000 deaths claimed by Kranz in 2005, there were only 59,000 Jewish deaths. Assuming that some people died from disease, starvation and over-work, how many Jews were actually gassed at Majdanek?

Why so many gas chambers for so few deaths at Majdanek?  In fact, why were there any gas chambers at all at Majdanek when the Belzec and Sobibor death camps were very close to Lublin where the former Majdanek death camp is now located within the city limits?

October 25, 2011

Forsythia mentioned in new movie “Contagion”

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 4:06 pm

I went to see the new movie “Contagion” today.  It was a bit boring until I heard the word Forsythia, which caused me to perk up and pay attention. Unless you are an avid gardener, you have probably never heard of Forsythia which is a tall bush which blooms with yellow flowers in the early spring.  You see a lot of it along the roadside in Germany.

In the movie, the word Forsythia is used in connection with homeopathic medicine.  What was not mentioned in the movie is that Forsythia is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Here is a quote about the medicinal use of Forsythia from this website:

Uses of Forsythia
Forsythia has been used for treatment of bacterial infections and upper respiratory tract infections, although the clinical evidence supporting its use is limited.

History
Forsythia fruits are widely used in Chinese traditional medicine for antipyretic and anti-inflammatory activity in the treatment of bacterial infections and upper respiratory ailments. They are commonly combined with honeysuckle flower  (Lonicera ) and other ingredients. Forsythia fruits are also reputedly used as a diuretic and as a cardiovascular tonic.

Prisoner who was tattooed at Dachau

Filed under: Dachau, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:33 am

Max Kaufmann shows his Dachau tattoo --- Palm Beach Daily News photo by Chris Salata

I know that some tour guides tell visitors to the Dachau Memorial Site that Jews were tattooed at Dachau, but I always thought that they were mistaken. I have checked with Wikipedia here and verified that prisoners were tattooed at Auschwitz, but Dachau is not mentioned.

Then I saw the photo above in today’s Palm Beach Daily News online, which you can read here.

The caption under the photo reads:

Max Kaufmann shows his numerical tattoo given to him at Dachau. He had been shot in the right arm toward the end of the war by a soldier who was aiming for his back and carries part of that bullet in a chain around his neck.

(more…)

October 24, 2011

Did Steve Jobs really try to cure cancer “macrobiotically”?

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:44 am

In his interview on “60 minutes” last night, Walter Isaacson said that Steve Jobs tried various alternative ways of healing cancer, including “spiritually and macrobiotically.”  While he was discussing Steve Jobs and his battle with cancer, a photo of Steve Jobs was shown.  In the photo, his right eyebrow was slanted upward and the hair was darker than in his left eyebrow.  I’ve seen pictures of eyebrows like that before.  But where?

Oh yes, now I remember: In the book entitled “The Book of Macrobiotics” by Michio Kushi, on page 144, there are two sketches:  one of a normal healthy face and one of the face of a person who has not been eating macrobiotically.  The description of the unhealthy face shown on that page includes this sentence:  “raised and shortened eyebrows (tight nervous system and shorter digestive vessels from excessive animal food).  In other words, the photo of Steve Jobs showed that he was not on a macrobiotic diet.

What's up with the eyebrow?

Steve Jobs was allegedly on a vegan diet which means a vegetarian diet with no animal food at all.  So how did he get the raised and shortened eyebrow of a person who has been eating excessive animal food?

In a previous blog post, I questioned whether Isaacson was using the term macrobiotically to mean a macrobiotic diet.  Maybe Steve Jobs tried a macrobiotic diet for awhile, but was then convinced by Western doctors to eat animal food.  In all of the news coverage, the term “special macrobiotic diet” was used.  It would be helpful to know how this “special macrobiotic diet” differed from the standard macrobiotic diet. (more…)

October 23, 2011

How the Nazis perfected their method of gassing the Jews

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:28 am

The most important thing, as far as Hitler was concerned, was to exterminate all the Jews in Europe, more so than winning the war.  That’s why the Nazis went to a great deal of trouble to perfect their method of gassing.  I find this whole subject to be fascinating, so bear with me, dear reader.

Here is a quote from this blog about the gassing of prisoners at Dachau :

The Dachau camp was the prototype for other concentration camps.  Although they did not carry out any mass killings here, a gas chamber, masked as a shower, was built on the site.  It is believed that it was used to conducted (sic) trials, to prefect the method, so the chambers could be introduced at other death camps.

Another quote about the Dachau gas chamber is from this travel blog:

The S.S. had a gas chamber built within the new building [at Dachau], and included the now familiar fake sign indicating it was “showers.” In spite of the gas chamber’s presence, however, there are no mass murders documented here, as there were in the death camps. Some survivors, however, have said there were small groups or individuals killed in the gas chamber, presumably to test its effectiveness.

The Nazis left nothing to chance.  They started testing gassing methods even before the “Final Solution” was planned at the Wannsee Conference in January 1942.

According to my private tour guide, on my trip to Auschwitz in 1998, the Nazis conducted the first mass killing of people using Zyklon-B in prison cell number 27 in Block 11 in the main camp on Sept. 3, 1941. Adolf Eichmann was visiting the Auschwitz camp on that day, although Commandant Rudolf Höss was away on business, according to the Auschwitz Museum guidebook. Since 1939, Adolf Eichmann had been the head of Department IV, B4 in the Reich Central Security Office (RSHA); Eichmann’s department was in charge of getting rid of the Jews in Europe. Karl Fritzsch, the camp commander and the deputy of Rudolf Höss, took it upon himself to carry out this first gassing, while his superior officer, Rudolf Höss, was away that day.

Cell #27 where first gassing test was done at Auschwitz

The subjects of this first mass killing on September 3, 1941 at Auschwitz were 600 Russian POWs and 250 sick prisoners. According to my tour guide, testing done in the previous months had determined the right amount of Zyklon-B needed to kill a room full of people. In a book entitled Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, edited by Israel Gutman and Michael Berenbaum, it was stated that the murder of 600 Soviet Prisoners of War and about 250 sick prisoners took place in Block 11 between September 3rd and September 5th. The authors also quoted from a report by the prisoner underground which said that 600 Soviet prisoners and 200 Poles were gassed in Block 11 on the night of September 5th and 6th.

Block 11 at Auschwitz where gas testing was first done

Baracke X at Dachau was the location of the gas chamber

Beginning in February 1942, following the Wannsee conference, Jews in Germany and in the German-occupied countries were rounded up by the Nazis and deported to the East.  In spite of this, the decision was made in April 1942 to build a new crematorium with four ovens at Dachau. Four disinfection chambers and a homicidal gas chamber were to be included in the new building which was to be called Baracke X.

On the blueprints for Baracke X, the homicidal gas chamber was called a shower room, but each of the four disinfection chambers was called a Gaskammer, the German word for gas chamber. An order was issued from Berlin on July 23, 1942 to begin construction of Baracke X at a cost of 150,000 Reichsmark.

By the time that Baracke X was finished in 1943, millions of European Jews had already been killed in the gas chambers at Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor after being transported to the East, and millions more were destined to be sent to the death camps at Auschwitz and Majdanek. Dachau was mainly a camp for Communist political prisoners, anti-Fascist resistance fighters, Catholic priests, and Soviet POWs.

Tour guides at Dachau now tell visitors that the gas chamber at Dachau was not used for “mass gassing,” but it was used for testing gases and gassing methods.

It is now known that the Zyklon-B was put into pellets, the size of peas, which could not go through shower heads. Besides that, the pellets must be heated in order to release the poison gas.  The Nazis were not able to figure that out, even though they used the Dachau gas chamber for testing for two years (1943 – 1945).

Finally, long after World War II was over, the American military figured it out.  That’s why there are now two little windows on the outside wall of the Dachau gas chamber: the correct way to gas human beings is to throw the gas pellets through little windows and heat them with a heater placed on the other side of the room.

I previously blogged about the construction of the Dachau gas chamber here and here.


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