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September 17, 2013

Holocaust survivor who “got the water, not the gas”

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 7:21 am

The title of my blog post today comes from a news article about the Holocaust on ABC News, which has the headline shown below:

Holocaust Survivor, Daughter Offer Business Advice Tips From Auschwitz

Jill Klein, the daughter of Holocaust survivor, Gene Klein, has written a new book about Auschwitz. You can read the full article, about her book, on the ABC News website here.

This quote is from the news article:

Her book, “We got the Water: Tracing My Family’s Path Through Auschwitz,” takes its title from an entry in a diary kept by Gene Klein’s sister Lilly, who also was interned in the infamous Nazi death camp. Lilly wrote in her diary of being sent to Auschwitz’s showers. In her case, she was sent to a real bathhouse, not to the gas chamber:

“Then we went into the showers, and we were the lucky ones. We got the water. Millions of others got the gas, but we knew nothing about that then.”  […]

She says she and her dad started doing the presentations a year ago and have done about a dozen so far. They speak for free to not-for-profit groups. For-profit clients pay between $6,000 and $10,000. Further information about their presentations can be found at

I haven’t read Jill’s book, but it sounds very misleading to me. Her book implies that some of the prisoners got water and others got gas — from the same source.

Did the shower rooms at Auschwitz have faucets that dispensed water sometimes, and gas other times?  No, the gas chambers in Krema II and Krema III at Auschwitz-Birkenau, did not have shower faucets.

Krema IV and Krema V at Auschwitz-Birkenau had gas chambers that were disguised as showers, so presumably they had shower faucets. However, water and gas could not have come out of the same faucet.  The gas was in the form of pellets; it could not have been put into the gas chambers through shower faucets.

Jill Klein may have gotten the idea for her book from the movie Schindler’s List, which shows Jewish women inside what they think is a gas chamber, but then water comes out of the faucets.  After the women leave the building where they have taken a shower, they look across the road and see Jews descending some stairs into a gas chamber building.  This scene is pure fiction.  The Sauna building at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which had a shower room, was NOT directly across from a gas chamber building that had stairs going down into the undressing room.  If the women in the movie were in a shower room in Krema IV or Krema V, the gas chambers with steps going down into the undressing room were about a mile away, so they could not have seen the steps.

I am guessing that Jill’s Aunt Lilly was sent to either Crematorium IV or Crematorium V, which had ovens to burn the bodies and also shower rooms for the prisoners. She “got the water” because she was NOT sent to Crematorium II or Crematorium III, which did not have shower faucets.

Photo of Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau, taken in 1943

Photo of Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau, taken in 1943

The photograph above, taken in the Summer of 1943, shows Krema IV (Crematorium IV) just after it first became operational.  The gas chamber, disguised as a shower room, was located above ground in the wing of the building which is to the left in the picture. Note that the roof line of the gas chamber is lower than the roof of the main part of the building.  According to official Holocaust history, Zyklon-B poison gas pellets were thrown into a fake shower room through windows on the outside wall of the Krema IV gas chamber. This building was blown up by Jewish inmates in a camp rebellion on October 7, 1944. Krema V was a mirror image of Krema IV.  There is nothing left of these buildings, except the reconstructed ruins.

The Sauna Building at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The Sauna Building at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Krema IV was across the road from the beautiful red brick building, called “die zentrale Sauna” which was the place where incoming prisoners were processed and the prisoner’s clothing was disinfected.  There was a shower room for the prisoners in the Sauna building.

In the movie Schindler’s List, women prisoners are shown exiting from the shower room in the Sauna building; they see the high brick chimney of Krema IV, which is across the road from the Sauna. The gas chambers in Krema IV and Krema V were above ground, although in Schindler’s List, the prisoners are shown going down steps into an underground undressing room.

The photo below is from the Auschwitz Album, a book of photos taken by an SS man at Birkenau on May 26, 1944. It shows a group of Hungarian Jews waiting at the western end of the camp; the Central Sauna, where the main shower room was located, is across the road from where the Jews are waiting.  Krema IV and Krema V are behind them and to the left.

Prisoners waiting for a shower in the Krema IV building at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Hungarian Prisoners waiting for a shower at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The building plans for Krema IV and Krema V show shower rooms, but according to official Holocaust history, these rooms were actually gas chambers. Even the Red Cross inspectors were fooled by these showers; they thought that these were real showers, not gas chambers.

Between April 29, 1944 and July 8, 1944, there was a total of 437,402 Hungarian Jews transported by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau, including Jill Klein’s relatives.  The photo below shows the entrance gate into the Birkenau camp.

Entrance into Birkenau camp was called the Gate of Death by the prisoners

Entrance into Birkenau camp was called the Gate of Death by the prisoners

In May 1944, the train tracks were extended, through the gate house, to the inside of the Birkenau camp.  Just inside the camp, there was a switch which divided the tracks, as shown in the photo below.


Train tracks were extended into the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in the Spring of 1944

Train tracks were extended into the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in the Spring of 1944

The train tracks to Auschwitz were extended inside the camp in May 1944, so that the Hungarian Jews could be brought into the camp, instead of being brought from the trains by truck into the camp. The single track that entered through the “Gate of Death” was divided into two tracks inside the camp.

Prisoners getting off the train inside the Birkenau camp

Prisoners getting off the train inside the Birkenau camp

The photo above shows the tall chimneys of Krema II on the left and Krema III on the right.  Some of the prisoners who got off the train went directly to Krema II or Krema III, according to official Holocaust history.

Some of the Hungarian Jews were allegedly gassed immediately without going through a selection process. The next day, the survivors were told by the other prisoners that their relatives had gone “durch den Kamin,” which means “through the chimney.” This was an expression, used by the prisoners in the camp, which meant that the victims had been immediately gassed upon arrival and then burned in a crematorium at Birkenau.

Jill Klein’s relatives were the lucky ones, who “got the water, not the gas.”

At the end of October 1944, Heinrich Himmler ordered the gassing of the prisoners with Zyklon-B to be stopped, according to a guide book which I purchased at the Auschwitz Memorial Site in 1998; the last “selection” of prisoners was on October 30, 1944. This decision, according to the guidebook, was prompted by the liberation of the Majdanek death camp and the discovery, by soldiers of the Soviet Union, of the incriminating evidence of 500 empty Zyklon-B cans and several remaining gas chambers with blue stains on the walls, left by the gas. His decision was also influenced by the camp uprising when Krema IV was blown up. The prisoners had used dynamite, that had been smuggled in by women inmates, who worked in factories outside the camp.