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November 17, 2015

Was Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau a homicidal gas chamber?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 11:31 am
Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau

One of the regular readers of my blog wrote the following in a comment:

Begin quote:

I’ve always been intrigued by the structures inside Birkenau called Krema 4 and Krema 5. Does anyone know what these facilities were really used for? The idea that they were homicidal gas chambers and crematorium ovens doesn’t make a lot of sense. After studying the blueprints for their design and viewing the available photographs – and then trying to match these to the holocausters accounts, it is clear that they are all at sea in trying to give a plausible story-line.

Could they have been small factories or workshops making component parts for munitions, such as detonators etc.?

End quote

After visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau twice, and seeing the former locations of Krema IV and Krema V, I came to the conclusion that these buildings had gas chambers for the disinfection of the prisoner’s clothing. It was the location of these gas chambers which caused me to believe that they were used to disinfect the clothing of the prisoners, not as homicidal gas chambers.

Krema IV was located near the building called Canada where prisoner's clothing was stored

Krema IV was located near the building called Canada where prisoner’s clothing was stored

My photo above shows the location of the building called Canada and the location of Krema IV right next to it.

Krema IV was located just north of the clothing warehouses, which were in a section that the prisoners called Canada. Across the road from Canada was the Central Sauna which had a shower room and disinfection chambers where the prisoners’ clothing was deloused. Krema IV had a shower room which was alleged, by the Holocaustians, to have been a gas chamber.

What a strange location for a homicidal gas chamber — right next to the clothing warehouse called Canada.

The ruins of Krema IV right next to the location of the clothing warehouse

The ruins of Krema IV, right next to the location of the clothing warehouse

According to Michael J. Neufeld and Michael Berenbaum, in their book entitled The Bombing of Auschwitz: Should the Allies Have Attempted It? the Krema IV and Krema V buildings were each 220 feet long by 42 feet wide.

The Krema IV building was completely demolished, blown up with dynamite which several women prisoners stole from the factory where they were working. All the bricks were removed by Polish civilians after the war, and the ruins that visitors see today are a reconstruction, according to the Auschwitz Museum.

The prisoners who worked in the crematory buildings, removing the bodies of the victims who had allegedly been gassed, were members of a special group called the Sonderkommando. According to Dr. Miklos Nyiszli,  who was allegedly a prisoner who did autopsies at Birkenau, each Sonderkommando group was killed after a few months and replaced by a new crew.

Knowing that they were soon going to be killed, the members of the next-to-last Sonderkommando revolted and blew up the Krema IV building. A sign at Krema IV says that there were 450 prisoners who were killed by the SS during the revolt or afterwards in retaliation.

Strangely, the men in the last Sonderkommando group were not exterminated. Around 100 of them were marched out of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp when it was abandoned by the Nazis on January 18, 1945.

Several members of this Sonderkommando group survived and three of them gave eye-witness testimony at the 1947 trial of Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Hoess, about how the prisoners were gassed at Birkenau.

Ruins of Krema IV with the ruins of Krema V in the background behind the trees

Ruins of Krema IV with the ruins of Krema V in the background behind the trees


The building called Canada was allegely burned by the Germans as they left Birkenau

The building called Canada was allegedly burned by the Germans as they left Auschwitz-Birkenau before the Soviet soldiers arrived

Why would the SS men at Birkenau have burned up the clothing warehouses?  I don’t think that they did.

The photo above is a still photo from a movie made by Henryk Makarewicz, a soldier in the Polish Berlin Army, shortly after the Birkenau camp was liberated. The clothing warehouses were still burning, and in the background can be seen two chimneys. The chimneys of Crematorium IV or Crematorium V might have been still standing after the buildings were blown up.

Samuel Pisar, a survivor of Majdanek, Auschwitz and Dachau, was a prisoner in the Birkenau camp at the time that Crematorium IV was destroyed.

In an article in the Washington Post, published on January 23, 2005, Pisar wrote that Crematorium IV was set on fire. The following quote is from his article:

I also witnessed an extraordinary act of heroism. The Sonderkommando — inmates coerced to dispose of bodies — attacked their SS guards, threw them into the furnaces, set fire to buildings and escaped. They were rapidly captured and executed, but their courage boosted our morale.

Crematorium IV was across the road from the beautiful red brick building, called “die zentrale Sauna” which was used for disinfecting the clothing and for processing the incoming prisoners. Crematorium IV was also near “the little white house,” where gassing operations took place, starting in June 1942, before Crematorium IV and the Sauna were completed.

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 Crematorium IV, which is across the road from the Sauna. The gas chambers in Crematorium IV and Crematorium V were above ground, although in the movie, the prisoners are shown going down steps into an underground undressing room.