Scrapbookpages Blog

December 24, 2013

Did the Nazis plant birch trees at Auschwitz to cover up their crimes?

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 6:30 am
Birch trees at Auschwitz-Birkenau, 2005

Birch trees at Auschwitz-Birkenau, 2005

The subject, of the birch trees at Auschwitz-Birkenau, came up in a comment by a regular reader of my blog.  I am answering his comment in my new post today.

The reader’s comment is quoted below:

I once had some literature that I got from Auschwitz in 1991 which unfortunately I seem to have mislaid, but anyway, it stated that the Nazis planted birch trees around Birkenau because they grew quickly and would cover up their crimes.

But Birkenau is named after the birch trees, surely. And of course they are visible in photos. They would not name a camp after some trees and then plant the trees later, would they?

Birkenau might have been named after the birch trees, which appear to have been deliberately planted at the western end of the Auschwitz II camp, which is now called Auschwitz-Birkenau. In the background of the photo above, you can see the water treatment plant, built with bricks.  The birch trees do not hide anything.

The German word Birken means birches in English. The camp was most likely named after the birch trees.

When I visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in 2005, there was a sign outside the gatehouse, which said that the seven villages of Brzezinka, Babice, Broszkowice, Rajsk, Plawy, Harmeze, and Brzeszcze-Budy were torn down to provide space for the 425-acre Birkenau camp.

Google Translate gives the German translation of Brzezinka as Birkenau but I don’t know if the Polish word Brezzinka actually means Birkenau in German.

The birch trees are at the far end of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, and do not hide anything. The location and the placement of the trees suggests that they were deliberately planted, but not to hide anything.

Birch tree grove at western end of Auschwitz II camp

Birch tree grove at western end of Auschwitz II camp, aka Auschwitz-Birkenau

I took these photos of the birch trees at Auschwitz-Birkenau, not because I thought that the trees were attractive, but because I was disappointed in the famous birch trees at Birkenau, which are not nearly as beautiful as the birch trees in California.

Hungarian Jews waiting to be gassed at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Hungarian Jews waiting to be gassed at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The Jews, shown in the photo above, are looking toward the Sauna which is across the road in front of them.  The Sauna had a shower room and disinfection chambers to kill lice in clothing in steam chambers.  The photo above is from the Auschwitz Album, a book of photos taken by the SS men at Auschwitz. However, this photo is claimed by Holocaustians to show the Jews waiting for the gas chambers in Krema IV and Krema V which are behind them.

Crematorium IV which was blown up by the prisoners

Crematorium IV which was blown up by the prisoners

The photograph above shows the gas chamber building known as Crematorium IV, or Krema IV, taken in the Summer of 1943 after it became operational. This building was blown up by Jewish inmates in a camp rebellion on October 7, 1944.

Notice the trees behind the Krema IV gas chamber, shown in the photo above.  These trees are hiding the building from the people outside the camp, but they appear to be full grown trees, that were there before Auschwitz-Birkenau was set up as a camp.

The Krema IV 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. Zyklon-B poison gas pellets were thrown into the fake shower room through windows on the outside wall of the gas chamber.

Krema IV was located just north of the clothing warehouses which were set on fire by the Germans when they abandoned the camp on January 18, 1945.

As for deliberately planting trees to hide evidence, take a look at the photo below, which shows the International Monument at the end of the railroad tracks that were extended inside the camp in May 1944.

Trees behind the International Monument at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Trees behind the International Monument at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The International Monument, shown in the photo above, was built on top of a road that went north, from the end of the main road at the western end of the camp, to the Sauna where incoming prisoners took a shower and received clean clothes that had been disinfected with steam.  On the other side of this road, beyond the monument, was farmland where Polish civilians could see everything going on inside the camp, before these trees were planted, and the road was covered by this grotesque monument.

Visitors to the camp today do not realize that the main camp road did not end at the Krema II and Krema III gas chambers.  The prisoners passed the two crematoria, then turned to the right, onto the road that is now covered by the International Monument, and continued on to the Sauna, where they took a shower.

Prisoners walking west toward the road where the International Monument now stands

Prisoners walking west toward the road where the International Monument now stands

The prisoners in the photo above are looking toward the photographer who is standing in front of Krema II.  They are passing Krema III, which is in the background. Notice that there are babies and young children in this group, and others who are too old to work, but they are not heading into the gas chambers, which were allegedly located in the crematoria.  They are headed toward the intersection of the main camp road and another road that leads to the Sauna.  That road is currently covered by the International Monument.

Hungarian Jews headed toward the Sauna at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Hungarian Jews headed toward the Sauna at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The photo above is from the Auschwitz Album, a book of photos, taken by the Germans, which also includes the previous photo of Jews walking past Krema III.  Notice the gate in the background on the far upper right hand side.  This gate opens into the enclosure around the part of the camp where the Sauna is located.

My 2005 photo of the gate into the section where the Sauna is located is shown below.

Gate, on the right hand side opens into the section where the Sauna is located

Gate, on the right hand side opens into the section where the Sauna is located

9 Comments

  1. The second last image captioned “Hungarian Jews headed toward the Sauna at Auschwitz-Birkenau” does not show the entrance to the sauna facility, but actually the gate to Krema 3. The image was taken on the same day, and on the same road as the image just above (Showing Jews with Krema 3 in the backround). The camera is positioned just to the right of the entrance gate to Krema 2, and is capturing the victims as they make that left hand turn off the road, and into the Krema 2 court yard. It’s also worth mentioning that children were always sent to the Gas Chambers.

    Comment by Christopher Erskine — February 22, 2017 @ 5:35 pm

    • You wrote: “the second last image captioned “Hungarian Jews headed toward the Sauna at Auschwitz-Birkenau” does not show the entrance to the sauna facility, but actually the gate to Krema 3.”

      On this page of my website, I have a photo of Krema 3: https://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/History/Articles/Birkenau03A.html

      Sorry, but I beg to differ. In the photo, you can see the brick gate post on the left side. The gate post on the right side is cut off in the photo.

      Also, note that the prisoners are wearing stars on their clothes. Did those cruel Nazis make the people sew these stars on before gassing them? This is a mixed group of men, women and children. Did the Nazis march families to the gas chamber — with no soldiers there to herd them along?

      After going through this gate, the prisoners still had to walk down the road to the entrance into the Sauna. Notice that they don’t appear to be worried.

      When I visited the Birkenau camp, I walked down this road — alone. At that time Tour groups did not go to the Sauna. Tourists could not go into the Sauna building. Later, on another trip to Birkenau, I went with a tour group and was allowed to see the inside of the Sauna.

      Comment by furtherglory — February 23, 2017 @ 6:17 am

  2. I don’t think it is a cover up but the remains of the woods (natural fence at the end of the camp or for weather (natural umbrella for the victims, wind screen, …). If it is meant to be a cover up, then the trees should be all around. And then again make the work for the guards in the towers more difficult (darker, people could hide behide them).

    Comment by bart — August 15, 2016 @ 8:22 am

    • You wrote: “If it is meant to be a cover up, then the trees should be all around.”

      I think that these birch trees were planted deliberately by the Nazis. They do not appear to be growing naturally. Birkenau is named after the birch trees, which I think were planted when the camp was built.The trees provide shade for the prisoners who are waiting for their turn to take a shower in the Sauna building.

      Comment by furtherglory — August 15, 2016 @ 9:36 am

  3. The last sentence perhaps could read: “Notice that in this group there are babies and children too young to work and others who are too old to work but they are not heading into the gas chambers, which were allegedly located in the crematoria.”

    Comment by Alan — December 27, 2013 @ 12:09 am

    • Thanks. I have made a correction in my post.

      At the time that the photo was taken, there was an intersection, from this road, to another road that led to the Sauna. That road is now covered by the International Monument.

      I have added another old photo, which shows what appears to be the same group of Hungarian Jews, headed toward the Sauna, where there is a shower room. I have also put up my 2005 photo of the road to the Sauna, which shows the barbed wire fence and the gate into that section of the camp. The background of the old photo shows the same fence and the gate.

      Comment by furtherglory — December 27, 2013 @ 8:55 am

  4. Thanks for the post, Merry Christmas

    Comment by DB — December 25, 2013 @ 10:09 am

  5. “The Polish name for Birkenau is Brzezinka, which comes from the Polish word brzoza, meaning a birch – a tree that is very common in central and eastern Europe.

    According to Google Translate, ‘brzoza’ translates to German as ‘birken’

    The Coat of Arms for Brzezinka has two Birch trees upon it.

    Merry Christmas to you and your regular readers FG!

    Comment by The Black Rabbit of Inlé — December 25, 2013 @ 5:48 am

    • Thanks for the information. Merry Christmas to you and all my readers.

      Comment by furtherglory — December 25, 2013 @ 6:07 am


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: