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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.

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