Scrapbookpages Blog

October 18, 2011

The gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau…

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:22 am

The two gas chambers (Crematorium 2 and Crematorium 3) at the end of the main camp road at Auschwitz-Birkenau are famous because many of the Auschwitz survivors mention them in their memoirs. Less well known are Crematorium 4 and Crematorium 5.  Filip Müller wrote about Crematorium 5 in his book Eyewitness Auschwitz, Three Years in the Gas Chambers.  Müller worked for awhile as a Sonderkommando in Crematorium 5, which was built outside the barbed wire enclosure of the barracks and across an interior camp road from Crematorium 4.

Ruins of Crematorium 5 at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Crematorium 5 was located on the right side of the road that begins at the SS administration building that is now a Catholic Church. On the left side of this road was Crematorium 4, which was blown up in a prisoner’s revolt in October 1944. Crematorium 5 was blown up by the Nazis on Jan. 26, 1945, only the day before the 60th Army of the First Ukrainian Front arrived to liberate the remaining prisoners.

Ruins of Crematorium 5, blown up by the Germans

On pages 80 and 81 of his book Eyewitness Auschwitz, Three Years in the Gas Chambers, Filip Müller describes the scene when a transport of Jews from Greece was brought to Auschwitz-Birkenau to be gassed in the three gas chambers in Crematorium 5.

Regarding the gassing of the Greek Jews, Müller wrote:

What rational grounds were there for transporting more than 1,000 people from Salonika to Birkenau only to murder them? Surely it would have been simpler to do away with them in Greece.  And besides, it was, after all, wartime and the Germans had urgent need for each and every railway engine and truck in order to transport their war materials to the wastes of Russia.

The above quote sounds like something that a Holocaust denier would write.  But never fear: Filip Müller is one of the foremost Holocaust survivors who proved the Holocaust through his eye-witness testimony.  Müller worked for three years, as a Sonderkommando, both at the Auschwitz main camp and at Birkenau, dragging dead bodies from the gas chambers to the incineration ovens for burning.

Filip Müller’s gas chamber testimony was, by no means, unique.  According to the book entitled Nazi Death Camp, there were around 100 members of the Sonderkommando, who worked in the gas chamber buildings at Birkenau, and they were among the 60,000 prisoners who were marched out of the camp, under SS escort, on January 18, 1945. Apparently, the Nazis didn’t anticipate that some of these Sonderkommando workers would survive and testify against them in war crimes trials after the war.

Henryk Tauber, Szlama Dragon and Alter Feinsilber (aka Stanislaw Jankowski) were Sonderkommandos who testified about the gassing of the Jews at the trial of Rudolf Höss in Poland after the war. Three other members of the Sonderkommando, who were murdered after a few months on the job, had managed to hide their diaries, containing accounts of the gassing of prisoners at Birkenau, in containers which they buried in the ground to be discovered later by survivors.

Gassing in Crematorium 5 began in the summer of 1943. Before that, “the little red house” was used as a gas chamber at Birkenau, beginning in March 1942. The gas chambers in Crematorium 5 were disguised as shower rooms, just like the gas chambers in Crematorium 4.

The one and only shower room at Birkenau was this room in the Sauna building which had 50 shower heads

There was only one shower room for the prisoners at the Birkenau camp; it was in the Central Sauna building, which was across the road from Crematorium 4.

A display board near the water treatment plant at Birkenau says that there were 90,000 prisoners at Birkenau. With only one shower room for 90,000 people, the prisoners had to wait for weeks for a shower.  The German people are noted for being obsessively clean, but they couldn’t provide more than one shower room for 90,000 prisoners?  How cruel was that?

In his book, Filip Müller wrote on page 81 that the Greek Jews, who were brought all the way from Greece to Auschwitz-Birkenau to be killed, were given soap and towels before they entered the three gas chambers in Crematorium 5. After bringing them all the way from Greece to Auschwitz, the Nazis didn’t have the decency to tell these Jews that they were going to be gassed and burned.  No, they wasted a thousand towels and bars of soap to make the Greek Jews think they were going to take a shower.

In his description of Crematorium 5, Müller wrote on page 81 of his book that “two SS men took the so-called disinfectants, several canisters of Zyklon B and poured their contents into the openings above the gas chamber.”  The deathcamps.org website says that Crematorium 4 and Crematorium 5 were identical and that the gas was put into the gas chambers through openings on the wall:   “None of the gas chambers had windows, there were only openings through which the gas was poured. These openings, about 30 x 40 cm, were high in the wall so that the responsible “SS disinfector” had to climb up on a chair or ladder to pour the gas into the rooms.”

The deathcamps.org website also says that there were four gas chambers in Crematorium 4 and Crematorium 5:  “On the right the first of four gas chambers (all in all 236 m2) was located. Two gas chambers were rather large, nearly 100 m2 each, while the two other gas chambers were much smaller.”  How could Müller have made a mistake in the number of gas chambers in Crematorium 5?

On page 147, Müller wrote that he lived in “the changing room” of Crematorium 4, which was identical to Crematorium 5, so he certainly should have known how many gas chambers were in the building.

Holocaust deniers, please take note: the gassing of the Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau was proved at the Nuremberg IMT.

The following is a quote from the Judgment handed down at the Nuremberg IMT:

German missions were sent to such satellite countries as Hungary and Bulgaria, to arrange for the shipment of Jews to extermination camps and it is known that by the end of 1944, 400,000 Jews from Hungary had been murdered at Auschwitz. Evidence has also been given of the evacuation of 110,000 Jews from part of Romania for “liquidation.” Adolf Eichmann, who had been put in charge of this programme by Hitler, has estimated that the policy pursued resulted in the killing of 6,000,000 Jews, of which 4,000,000 were killed in the extermination institutions.

Adolf Eichmann did not testify at the Nuremberg IMT. The Judgment at Nuremberg, with regard to the killing of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, was mostly based on hearsay testimony given in an affidavit, dated 26 November 1945, by former SS officer Wilhelm Höttl. Höttl stated that Adolf Eichmann, the head of the Jewish section of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), had told him in August 1944 that four million Jews had been killed in the extermination camps, and another two million had been killed by the Einsatzgruppen on the Eastern front. After the German surrender in May 1945, Höttl had been recruited to work with American intelligence.

Rudolf Höss, the Commandant of Auschwitz, testified at the Nuremberg IMT as a defense witness for Ernst Kaltenbrunner, and this “opened the door” for cross-examination by the prosecution.  Rudolf Höss mentioned in his sworn affidavit, entered into the proceedings at Nuremberg, that he had personally received an order from Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, the SS general in charge of all the concentration camps, to exterminate the Jews who were deported to Auschwitz.

Höss wrote in his autobiography that Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler ordered the extermination of all the Jews in the summer of 1941, six months before the Final Solution was planned at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942.

The following quote is from the autobiography of Höss:

The sub-section (of RSHA) concerned with the Jews, controlled by Eichmann and Gunther, had no doubts about its objective. In accordance with the orders given by the Reichsführer SS in the summer of 1941, all Jews were to be exterminated. The Reich Security Head Office raised the strongest objections when the Reichsführer SS, on (Oswald) Pohl’s suggestion, directed that the able-bodied Jews were to be sorted out from the rest.

Rudolf Höss testified at his trial in 1947 before the Supreme National Tribunal in Warsaw that Adolf Eichmann had told him a number of times that 400,000 Hungarian Jews were exterminated at Auschwitz. Based on the testimony of members of the Sonderkommando who had removed the bodies from the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Tribunal found him guilty of the murder of 300,000 non-Jews who were registered and at least 2.5 million Jews who were brought to the camp for immediate extermination and were never registered.

So why is the Auschwitz Museum telling tourists that only 1.1 million Jews were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau when Rudolf Höss himself testified that 2.5 million Jews were killed there?

Photo of the confession of Rudolf Höss hangs in US Holocaust Memorial Museum

9 Comments »

  1. The mere fact that, the germans transported these 1000 jews ,to aushwitz , ,from greece , to aushwitz WORK camp ,and were NOT just SHOT ,on the SPOT , does not make ANY logistical sense at all fullstop !.
    The holocaust is just that ……HOLO- as in hollow ! full of empty lies !

    Comment by Robert Schmidt — October 18, 2011 @ 10:49 pm

  2. You could mention Shlomo Venezia as well; he somehow remembered in the 90’s that he had worked as a Sonderkommando 50 years earlier.

    I could not find his book, but some chilling extracts are here; it looks like a “Best Of Nyizsli” remixed with “Hoess, The Hits”. His descriptions run the gamut from implausible to impossible.

    His brother or friend Morris Venezia is a nice fellow too.

    Comment by Eager for Answers — October 18, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

    • Shlomo Venezia is Dario Gabbai’s cousin. Gabbai has a brother who also claimed to have been a sonderkomando. Shlomo’s brother also claims to have been a sonderkomando.

      What are the odds four related sonderkomando survived to tell their stories, but kept silent until the early 1990’s?

      Comment by Eric Hunt — October 20, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

      • It is very unusual that four Jews who had family connections were all Sonderkommandos who survived. But it is not unusual that they kept quiet for years. It was in 1948 that the immigration laws changed in the United States, which allowed an unlimited number of Jews to come here. The Jews kept quiet because they didn’t want to get kicked out of yet another country. In the 1950s, no one wanted to hear about the Holocaust, at least not in America. Life was so good in America in the 1950s that no one wanted to hear about the war. I was your age in the 1950s and I recall it as a very happy time. I don’t remember any discussions about the war and World War II was not taught in any college classes in the 1950s. The Holocaust was certainly not taught. There were very few Holocaust survivor books and I had never even heard of “Night” or Elie Wiesel back then. Nobody in America knew the word Sonderkommando back then and if they did, they couldn’t have cared less. That could explain the silence of the survivors who are just now writing their books.

        Comment by furtherglory — October 21, 2011 @ 10:02 am

    • Morris Venezia admitted to murdering a fellow prisoner because he wanted to sit down and the guy was in his way.

      Comment by Chad Weber — March 11, 2013 @ 11:54 am

  3. Sorry! Correct linking this time:

    and watch Mr. Death: The Rise And Fall Of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. – by Errol Morris (1999) there.

    Comment by Eager for Answers — October 18, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

  4. You can read Rudolf Hoess, “Commandant of Auschwitz : The Autobiography of Rudolf Hoess”
    here,
    and watch Mr. Death: The Rise And Fall Of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. – by Errol Morris (1999) there.

    Comment by Eager for Answers — October 18, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

  5. At the end of Mr. Death, Erroll Morris’ documentary film about Fred Leuchter, Robert Van Pelt stands at Birkenau with a vista of farmland behind him describing how the neighboring farmers dismantled “the little red house” and carried off its cyanide saturated bricks sometime after the liberation of the camp. He says that those bricks were used in various building and repair projects. The inference is that they have the cyanide traces Leuchter didn’t find and a forensics examination of them now is impossible.

    “Three other members of the Sonderkommando, who were murdered after a few months on the job, had managed to hide their diaries, containing accounts of the gassing of prisoners at Birkenau, in containers which they buried in the ground to be discovered later by survivors.”

    Where are these diaries today?

    Comment by who+dares+wings — October 18, 2011 @ 10:47 am

    • When I visited Birkenau in 1998, I was told that the location of the “little red house” was unknown. According to the official website for Auschwitz-Birkenau, the location has now been identified. I was also told in 1998 that the location of the “little white house” was unknown. In 2005, I found the ruins of “the little white house” while I was wandering around alone. The ruins look like a reconstruction to me. It is admitted by the Auschwitz Museum that the ruins of Krema IV is a reconstruction. Apparently, the Polish people living near Auschwitz took the bricks from Krema IV and maybe some from Krema V and used them to build houses.

      I don’t know where the diaries are now, but my guess is that they are stored under lock and key at Yad Vashem in Israel.

      I remember seeing “Dr. Death” many years ago. In the film, Fred Leuchter was made to look like an idiot. I think that he is actually a very nice person who is completely sincere. Too bad that his life was destroyed.

      Comment by furtherglory — October 18, 2011 @ 12:13 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: