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March 28, 2012

Nazi Mass Murder … the gas chamber at Mauthausen

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 10:50 am

A reader of my blog has reccomended a book entitled Nazi Mass Murder, A Documentary History of the Use of Poison Gas which is available from here.  One of the “contributors” to this book was Pierre Serge Choumoff, a former concentration camp prisoner, who supplied information for the book about the Mauthausen gas chamber.

I have written on my website here about the trial testimony given in the Mauthausen case.

Gas Chamber in the former Mauthausen concentration camp

Pierre Serge Choumoff was a “Nacht und Nebel” prisoner at Gusen, a sub-camp of Mauthausen. He wrote in one of his books that the gas chamber at Mauthausen was put into operation in either March or May of 1942 and that 3,455 prisoners were gassed in it. He also wrote that the SS guards had removed the gassing equipment from the chamber on April 29, 1945, the day that Commandant Franz Ziereis turned the camp over to the Vienna police. A sign in the Mauthausen gas chamber confirms that the gassing apparatus was removed on April 29, 1945.

The following quote is from the website:

Book Description
Publication Date: February 23, 1994
In the years after World War II, personal accounts and judicial evidence documented how the Nazis used poison gas to murder Jews and other persecuted groups. Yet revisionist historians have recently attempted to deny the Nazi’s systematic gassing of millions. This remarkable book refutes these revisionists by confirming indisputably the grim historical truth about gassings. The volume was written by twenty-four authors from six countries (including Germany and Israel), most of them historians or jurists and many of them survivors of concentration camps. The authors set out the historical situation, provide new details about the dimensions of the gassings, and consider how it was possible for the Holocaust to have happened. Maps of extermination centres, plans of gas chambers and crematoria, and facsimile reproductions of secret Nazi documents are also included. Previously published in German and French, the book has now been translated and revised for English-speaking readers.

I  probably will not buy this book because I have done a lot of research on the Nazi gas chambers and have personally seen and photographed most of them.  I am familiar with the testimony of Pierre Serge Choumoff.  I have written extensively on my website about the testimony regarding the Mauthausen gas chamber.  I will now quote from my own website on a page where I have included the testimony of Choumoff.

In his book “The 186 Steps,” Christian Bernadac includes the statements of several former prisoners which were gathered by Pierre-Serge Choumoff, a former prisoner at Gusen, after revisionists began to deny that there was a gas chamber at Mauthausen. Choumoff was an engineer who had post-graduate degrees in mathematics; he was the author of numerous scientific articles. While he was a prisoner at Gusen, Choumoff was assigned to work in the arms factories of Rüstung Steyr, Daimler and Puch, which were in the immediate vicinity of the Gusen camp. He also served as an interpreter and a secretary at the Gusen camp. In the last week of the war, Choumoff was one of the Gusen prisoners who were evacuated to the main camp where the gas chamber is located.

In his book about the gas chambers, Choumoff quoted the testimony of the SS officers in Mauthausen, which he obtained from the trial testimony that was published in Rome in 1970. Dr. Krebsbach and Dr. Wasicky were among the 61 accused who were convicted by an American Military Tribunal at Dachau in 1946 after they confessed to their part in the gassing operation. Choumoff included in his book the following trial testimony from Dr. Krebsbach, the chief doctor at Mauthausen until June 1943, which is quoted by Bernadac in his book:

It was on the order of Ziereis, the Kommandant of Mauthausen that Doctor Wasicky, the SS pharmacist, proceeded to organize the installation of a gas chamber. It was he who provided the necessary gas. The first gassing, which I attended in my capacity as doctor, took place early in 1942. From two hundred to three hundred prisoners were gassed. I particularly remember the gassing of about one hundred thirty Czechs who were implicated in the Heydrich affair. Ziereis was present….

Note that Dr. Krebsbach names Dr. Wasicky as the man who was in charge of the gas chamber at Mauthausen. Commandant Ziereis, in his deathbed confession, said that it was Dr. Krebsbach who was responsible for the gas chamber, although Dr. Wasicky provided the gas. According to the testimony of some of the prisoners, the Mauthausen chamber did not use Zyklon B pellets. However, a sign in the gas chamber today says that gassing was accomplished by the use of Zyklon B pellets. The Museum at Mauthausen includes a glass display case in which there is an open can of Zyklon B pellets.

The statement of SS Oberscharführer Josef Niedemayer, the Kommandant of the bunker, which was the prison inside the camp, and also the officer in charge of the infamous Block 20, was included in Choumoff’s book and is quoted in Bernadac’s book, as follows:

There was a gas chamber in the camp. About four thousand prisoners were gassed there. When a transport arrived for the gas chamber, I informed the S.S. officers Bachmayer, Zutter or Altfuldisch. The men to be gassed were taken to the bunker where I, personally, with my assistants, S.S. officers Rommel and Proksch, verified the list of names and removed articles of value and documents. Then S.S. guards Roth and Gerber accompanied the condemned men to the gas chamber. After the execution, the S.S. dentists, Henkel and Franz Jutmann, removed the gold teeth. During March and April 1945, one thousand four hundred sick prisoners were gassed, selected by Doctor Wolter, the chief doctor (from August 1944).

This quote, from the same page on my own website, is the most interesting testimony about the Mauthausen gas chamber:

According to Bernadac’s book, Wilhelm Ornstein was a Polish prisoner at Mauthausen who was assigned to work in the crematorium on August 19, 1944 after he had arrived in the camp on August 10, 1944 and had been assigned prison Number 85224. He remained in this job until May 2, 1945 when he managed to hide himself in the infirmary. After the war, Ornstein became an American citizen.

When Zyklon B is used in pellet form, it must be heated in order to release the gas. Regarding the method of heating the pellets, Bernadac wrote the following, which he obtained from a deposition made by Ornstein before the General Consulate of the German Federal Republic in New York on March 6, 1969:

Ornstein further stated that, for the gassings, he had to bring a very hot brick, heated in the Krematorium, and place it in the box in the “gas cell,” in the presence of the S.S. Kommandoführer Roth. He then gave a detailed description of the “gas cell”: table, piping, gas masks, etc., as well as a description of the gassing procedure. When the chamber was not in use, it always remained closed.

Bernadac met with Ornstein in New York in 1971. At that time Ornstein “personally authenticated the preceding text concerning him.” He also gave Bernadac more information about the gas chamber which I have quoted from Bernadac’s book:

Among other matters, he mentioned that the men and women were gassed separately. The gas chamber could hold up to sixty-five to seventy persons, tightly crowded. He and his comrades of the kommando (with the exception of Kapo Kanduth who was housed in the camp) slept in one of the small rooms adjoining the Krematorium under the bunker, in order to be available day and night. They were never permitted to go into the camp itself. Kommandoführer M. Roth also slept in a tiny room close by.

Bernadac says in a footnote in his book that Ornstein acted as a Schreiber (secretary) and was able to take notes on the executions. On January 26, 1945, he noted down that 14 American aviators were executed by a shot to the neck (Genickschuss).

According to the testimony of other prisoners at Mauthausen, the gas used at Mauthausen was not in the form of pellets, but instead flowed through a tube placed low on the wall.

In his book, Bernadac quoted the testimony of Werner Reinsdorf, a prisoner who came to Mauthausen in 1941 and was assigned Prison Number 535 which had previously been assigned to another man who died. Reinsdorf  “took part in the construction of the gas chamber,” according to Bernadac. The follow quote is the words of Werner Reinsdorf:

There was a tube that led into the gas chamber, eighty centimeters above the floor, with its opening turned toward the wall so as to escape notice. The gas flowed through this tube…I, myself, saw Jews being led to the gas chamber….

The tube which Reinsdorf described is no longer in the gas chamber at Mauthausen. According to Choumoff, it was removed by the SS guards before they escaped from the camp.