Scrapbookpages Blog

April 12, 2015

What did the Dachau gas chamber look like when American soldiers first saw it?

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 6:07 pm
Gate into Dachau concentration camp, 1945

Gate into Dachau concentration camp, 1945

In reading the comments on my blog about the gas chamber in the Dachau concentration camp, I have noticed that there seems to  be a lot of confusion about what the gas chamber shower room looked like when it was first seen by the American soldiers  who accepted the surrender of the camp.

American soldier stands beside some wooden coffins stacked inside the Dachau shower room, which is claimed to have been a gas chamber

American soldier stands beside some wooden coffins stacked inside the Dachau shower room, which is claimed to have been a gas chamber

In the photo shown above, which was taken shortly after American troops accepted the surrender of the Dachau concentration camp, notice the shower heads on the ceiling.

A real shower room at the Dachau concentration camp

A real shower room at  Dachau had shower heads hanging from pipes on the ceiling

DachauE030

On my website, I have a page which gives several descriptions of the gas chamber, given by the soldiers who first saw it:

http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/GasChamber/descriptions.html

Here are a few of the descriptions:

“A distinguishing feature of the Dachau Camp was the gas chamber for the execution of prisoners and the somewhat elaborate facilities for execution by shooting. The gas chamber was located in the center of a large room in the crematory building. It was built of concrete. Its dimensions were about 20 by 20 feet, and the ceiling was some 10 feet in height. In two opposite walls of the chamber were airtight doors through which condemned prisoners could be taken into the chamber for execution and removed after execution. The supply of gas into the chamber was controlled by means of two valves on one of the outer walls, and beneath the valves was a small glass-covered peephole through which the operator could watch the victims die. The gas was let into the chamber through pipes terminating in perforated brass fixtures set into the ceiling. The chamber was of size sufficient to execute probably a hundred men at one time.” From Document No. 47 of the 79th Congress, 1st Session, Senate Report (May 15, 1945) of the Committee Requested by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to the Congress of the U.S. relative to Atrocities and other Conditions in Concentration Camps in Germany. This document was entered into the Nuremberg trial proceedings as IMT Document L-159

In 1965, twenty years after he was liberated from Dachau in 1945, Nerin E. Gun wrote a book entitled The Day of the Americans which was published in 1966. Gun was a Turkish journalist working in Berlin; he had been arrested by the Gestapo in 1940 after he was the first reporter to write about the Warsaw ghetto and the Jews being sent to extermination camps.

Turkey was an ally of Germany in World War I, but was neutral in World War II until 1945.  Gun claimed that Hitler himself ordered that Gun be removed from his job as a reporter in Berlin.

As a prisoner at Dachau, Gun’s job in 1944 was to record the names and vital information about the Hungarian Jewish women just before they were gassed at Dachau. On page 69 of his book, Gun wrote a description of how the Hungarian women were gassed along with their babies, “as the fumes of the gas issued from the floor…”

On page 70, Gun wrote that the gas was put into the chamber by “pressing the button that opened the trap door through which the gas was released…”

On page 220, Gun wrote that women prisoners were shoved into the gas chamber naked, after their head, armpits and pubic hair had been shaved clean; they had a towel and a bar of soap in their hands. Gun wrote that the gas was in the form of a “Zyklon bomb” and that the whistling of the gas could be heard as it escaped from slits in the ceiling.

Gun wrote that he was not allowed into the crematorium where the dead bodies were burned, but he knew what was going on there because he heard about it from the workers there.

At the time that Gun wrote his book, he had visited the Dachau gas chamber as recently as 1959, but he did not mention that the gas pellets were put into the chamber through the two bins on the outside wall, as was later claimed.

Gun did mention in his book that a “Zyklon bomb was thrown on the floor” of the fake shower room to gas the prisoners.

Sidney Glucksman was a prisoner at Dachau working in a factory, which made German uniforms. When he was liberated from Dachau by American troops, Glucksman told Jewish American soldier Jerome Klein that he had not had a shower for six years.

How could he take a shower when the shower room was really a gas chamber? Klein gave him a bar of soap and a clean American uniform to wear.

Contrary to Nerin E. Gun’s discription of babies being gassed along with their mothers at Dachau, Glucksman told Kim Martineau, a reporter for The Hartford, CT Courant, that he remembers mothers being separated from the babies. As the women walked naked to the “showers” to be gassed, their babies were thrown into sacks and beaten or tossed in the air for target practice.