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December 9, 2014

Holocaust survivor who was sent to the Mauthausen gas chamber the day before the camp was liberated

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:37 am

You can read about Holocaust survivor Anneliese Nossbaum and her narrow escape from the Mauthausen gas chamber in this article in the PlanoStarCourier newspaper.

The Mauthausen gas chamber had shower heads on the ceiling to fool the victims

The Mauthausen gas chamber had shower heads on the ceiling to fool the victims (Click on photo to enlarge)

This quote is from the news article:

In 1944, 15-year-old [Anneliese] Nossbaum was taken in a railcar along with her mother and many others to Auschwitz. Lying about her age, she was sent to work in an airplane part factory in Freiberg, Germany. Her aunt, a teacher, was sent to the gas chambers because of a hip deformity.

After celebrating her 16th birthday in Freiberg with a few slices of bread her mother was able to collect and save, Nossbaum was sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp. On May 4, 1945 she was sent to the gas chambers. However, due to bombing by Allied forces in the nearby city, there was a shortage of Zyklon B – a pesticide used by the Nazis in the camps. Nossbaum was sent back to the camp, until it was resupplied. It never was. On May 5, Allied forces liberated the camp, she said.

I blogged about the liberation of Mauthausen in this blog post:

Anti-Fascist Resistance fighters greet US liberators, May 5, 1945 Photo Credit: USHMM

Anti-Fascist Resistance fighters at Mauthausen greet US liberators, May 5, 1945
Photo Credit: USHMM

When the US Third Army liberated the infamous Nazi concentration camp at Mauthausen on May 5, 1945, they found the bodies of several fully-clothed dead prisoners in the gas chamber. According to the Museum at Mauthausen, the last gassing of prisoners in the main camp was on April 28, 1945, only a week before the liberation. On April 21, 1945, the Red Cross had begun evacuating prisoners out of the Mauthausen camp, but the gassing of prisoners still continued during the time that Red Cross representative, Louis Haeflig, was staying in the camp.

When I visited the Mauthausen Memorial Site, a sign in the gas chamber said that Ludwig Haider was gassed on April 23, 1945, the same day that a Red Cross truck took selected prisoners out of the camp, with the permission of the Commandant. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, a gas chamber was built at the Mauthausen concentration camp, “probably in 1941.” Disguised as a shower room, the gas chamber was located underground beneath the prison building, which is now the Museum at the Mauthausen Memorial Site.

The following quote is from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

While most inmates were killed by shooting, hanging, beating, starvation, and disease, Mauthausen did have a gas chamber capable of killing about 120 people at a time. The gas chamber was usually used when transports of prisoners arrived. Special demonstration mass killings were organized for the benefit of visiting Nazi dignitaries, such as Heinrich Himmler, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, and Baldur von Schirach, who were able to observe the killings through a small viewing window in the entrance door.

One of the two doors into the gas chamber with water pipe on  the wall

One of the two doors into the gas chamber with water pipe on the wall

Shower heads on the ceiling of the Mauthausen gas chamber

Shower heads on the ceiling of Mauthausen gas chamber

The two photos above illustrate that the Mauthausen gas chamber was a multi-purpose room.  Prisoners could take a shower, or they could be gassed.

Let’s back up for a moment:  Anneliese Nossbaum was sent to Auschwitz at the age of 15, so she was past the age of being selected for the gas chamber.  Yet, according to her story, she had to lie about her age in order to be sent to a camp in Germany, instead of being sent to the gas chamber.

After working in a camp in Germany, she was sent to Mauthausen near the end of the war.  Why was she sent to Mauthausen?  To be gassed, of course.  As luck would have it, she barely escaped being gassed because the camp was out of Zyklon-B.

Why does Anneliese Nossbaum tell these stories?  Because her true story would constitute Holocaust denial.