Scrapbookpages Blog

September 26, 2014

Forget Sobibor — a new gas chamber has been found at Dachau

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 12:02 pm
International monument at Dachau

International monument at Dachau in honor of the prisoners who died there

It’s been seven years since I’ve been to the Dachau Memorial Site. I was shocked to learn from this website, that there is another gas chamber in a basement underneath the International Monument at Dachau.  The door into the gas chamber is on the other side of the monument. Who knew?

My 2007 photo below shows the back side of the International Monument with what looks like a basement door. According to the author of the article, cited above, this is a door into another gas chamber at Dachau.  There was no mention of whether this was a homicidal gas chamber like the one in the Dachau shower room, or whether this was a disinfection chamber for the clothing of the prisoners.

This quote is from the article:

At the base of the [International] monument a small set of stairs lead down to a small door. There seem to be no windows in this basement building, which turned out to be one of the many gas chambers on the camp site.

Back side of International monument at Dachau

Back side of International monument at Dachau

Dachau building which is now hidden by International Monument

Dachau building which is now hidden by International Monument

Shortly after the Dachau camp was liberated, the Polish prisoners, who were mostly Catholic, put up a Catholic Cross where the International Monument now stands. This means that the gas chamber, which is allegedly under the International Monument, was not there until after the camp was liberated on April 29, 1945.

After the Dachau camp was liberated, it was immediately turned into a prison camp for German POWs who were held for several years after the war. Dachau became known as War Crimes Enclosure No. 1.

This quote is also from the article about Dachau:

Before entering the gates of the camp, we passed the track where inmates loaded ammunition and army uniforms into carriages.

Next to the railway line, I stood on the spot where thousands of political prisoners, women and children, had stood before entering the camp.

Tracks near the Dachau gate are narrow gauge tracks, not train tracks

Tracks near the Dachau gate are narrow gauge tracks. Photo Credit: Windy Wilson blog

My 2007 photo of the narrow gauge tracks near the Dachau gate

My 2007 photo of the narrow gauge tracks at Dachau gate

The tracks shown in my photo above were not the train tracks, which brought prisoners from the train station to the gate into the Dachau camp. These are narrow gauge tracks used to transport items made in the factories at Dachau, which were outside the camp gates.  The incoming prisoners had to walk to the camp from the train station.

The author of the article about Dachau took the 45 minute walk to the camp on the “Path of Remembrance.”  This is the same path that the prisoners walked from the train station to the camp.

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

January 8, 2013

Grandson of Dachau survivors takes a tour of the former camp

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 11:07 am

There has been some recent discussion in the comments on my blog about the Dachau gas chamber and what visitors are currently being told by their tour guides.  I decided to do a search to learn what other bloggers are saying about their recent visits to Dachau.  I found this blog post which you can read in full here.

This quote is from the blog cited above:

Then we came to the spot I had been dreading. The showers. I had heard the stories before. In college, I took a Holocaust history class, where everything was explained in graphic detail. Prisoners were told to take off their clothes and enter the showers to clean themselves off.

The next part refers to what he was taught in “Holocaust history class” as it does not describe the gas chamber at Dachau:

Once they got inside, the doors were slammed shut, and a gas bomb was slid though a sliding door. When people realized what was going on, they would claw and fight there way to the top, gasping for air. Eventually, they would lose control of their bowels, before they would finally succumb.

To get back to the beginning, this quote is from the start of the blog post:

On a recent trip to Germany, I met my in-laws and discovered the rustic beauty of Bavaria. […]  …hidden just miles from these beautiful sites, is a place that holds a much darker story — a history that many people would like to forget.

This is Dachau…The first Nazi Concentration Camp. And, a place both of my grandparents barely escaped with their lives. This is not another lesson in the horrors of the Holocaust. There are plenty of those. This is just my personal story…The story of a descendent of Jewish survivors…The story of my first experience visiting the site where they were robbed of their childhoods.

In the above quote, the writer reveals that he is Jewish; both of his grandparents were survivors of Dachau.  His grandparents were robbed of their childhoods, which means that they were young children when they were in Dachau. Or were they?  It sounds suspicious to me.

There were a few young boys in the Dachau camp when it was liberated, but I have never seen any photos of young girls in the camp.

Young boys at the Dachau camp when it was liberated

Young boys at the Dachau camp when it was liberated

Women at Dachau when he camp was liberated

Women at Dachau when the camp was liberated

Dachau was mainly a camp for adult men, but there were a few children there according to Paul Berben who was a member of the International Committee at Dachau, which controlled the camp near the end. He wrote the following in his book entitled Dachau: 1933 – 1945: The Official History:

As has already been mentioned, there were times when even children were imprisoned in Dachau. The International Committee saw to it that they were not abandoned. A school was organized for Russian children under a Yugoslavian teacher, and the older ones were placed in Kommandos [subsidiary work camps of Dachau] where they were looked after by prisoners who tried not only to keep them in good health but to teach them the rudiments of a trade as well.

This quote continues the story of the blogger’s visit to Dachau:

As we walked, arm and arm, down the long winding path to the camp, my wife and I were very nervous. She had been here many times in the past. But this time was different. There is a sense of guilt felt by many Germans that anyone else simply cannot understand. Her family had no involvement with the Nazi party. And, even though her parents were babies when my grandparents were here, they still apologized to me. My father-in-law told me he was embarrassed to be a German.   […]

I tried to fit everything nicely into the puzzle in my head. “Oh, there’s a barrick!, and there’s a guard tower” I nudged my wife. “This is the big open square where they marched everybody out to sounds of classical music.” She nodded. I got upset. “No, no. Don’t you understand how important this is? My grandparents stood here. This is where people were lined up, and murdered.”

Prisoners at Dachau, on their way to work, are marching to music

Prisoners at Dachau, on their way to work, are marching to music

I felt myself trying to convince her of the gravity of it all. We entered a barrick (sic) and overheard an English tour. “After the war, the rest of the barricks were burned down to kill the rampant disease. This is the only one that still stands. It was a model unit used by the SS to give visitors a false impression that inmates were treated humanely.”

“The real units had no toilets. Inmates would urinate and defecate on the ground.” “Did you hear that,” I elbowed my wife. “Yes,” she looked at me somewhat annoyed. […]

Wait a minute!  The barracks were “burned down”?  Where did the German “war criminals” live when the camp was turned into a prison for Germans after the war?  You can read about War Crimes Enclosure No. 1 on my website here.

After the American Military Tribunal trials were completed, the barracks at Dachau were used, for 17 years, to house the German expellees who had been evicted from their homes in the former Czechoslovakia and from their homes in Poland and other countries.  You can read about the ethnic Germans who were expelled here.

The expellees were kicked out of the barracks at Dachau when it was decided to make the former camp into a Memorial site in 1960.  It was at that time that the barracks were torn down.

The barracks that visitors now see at Dachau are reconstructions, built when the camp was turned into a Memorial Site.  The SS did NOT build a “model unit” to show to visitors.  When visitors came to tour the camp, while it was a concentration camp, they were shown the barracks of the Jehovah’s Witness prisoners because these prisoners kept their barracks very clean.  The original barracks had toilets, unlike the barracks in the internment camps in America, which had toilets in a separate building.

The prisoners were originally housed in old factory buildings; the grounds of the Dachau camp originally housed a munitions factory during World War I.  The factory had to be abandoned because the Germans were not allowed to have weapons, according to the Treaty of Versailles, which was imposed on the Germans at the end of World War I.

In 1938, new barracks buildings were built at Dachau.  The photo below shows the barracks that were used for the Dachau prisoners from 1938 to 1945.

barrack1

The description of Dachau from the blog post continues:

We walked up to a rather strange structure. It looked like a jumble of metal with no real purpose. We both commented on how ugly it was. Then we overheard some passersby discussing the site.

It had actually been created by an artist to depict a common occurrence at the camp. Prisoners who had given up on survival, starved and depressed, would simply walk into the electrified fence. If the voltage didn’t kill them, shots from the guard tower would. […]

My 2007 photo of the International Monument at Dachau

My 2007 photo of the International Monument at Dachau

You can read about the International Monument and see more photos of it on my website here.

The blogger who visited Dachau continues with this quote:

We stood inside the gas chamber and I felt sick. I thought I was going to throw up. I didn’t think about what happened there. I couldn’t. I just felt the raw emotions.

Looking at the way the building was set up, you could see how systematic and well organized everything was. There were two separate entrances. The prisoners would enter a waiting room with instructions and benches to hold their clothes.

Blueprint of Baracke X building at Dachau

Blueprint of Baracke X building at Dachau

The building might have been set up to be systematic and well organized, but was it originally set up as a gas chamber? The photo above shows a blueprint of the Baracke X building where the gas chamber (or shower room) is located in the space that is numbered 5.  This space was called the Brausebad (shower) on the original blueprint.

The blogger didn’t mention how the gas entered the room. However, he did take a photo inside the gas chamber — an artistic photo of someone’s legs and feet, beside one of the drain holes.

Wait a minute! Why was there a drain hole in a gas chamber?  Wouldn’t the gas have gone down the drain and poisoned everyone in the whole camp?  Of course, the six drain holes are now closed up, but if the Germans were going to close the drain holes, why put them there in the first place?  The drain holes indicate that the gas chamber was originally a shower room, which was modified to make it into a gas chamber.  I previously blogged about the floor drains in the gas chamber here.

One of six drain holes in the Dachau gas chamber

One of six drain holes in the Dachau gas chamber

This quote is from the blogger’s description of the gas chamber:

On the other side of the “shower” room was the crematorium, with a separate entrance for the SS. The bodies were literally taken out of the gas chamber and shoveled right into the ovens to be cremated.

Not quite.  The bodies were first put into the morgue room, which was right next to the gas chamber room. From there the bodies were carried to the ovens, a few at a time.  There was, in fact, an outside entrance into the oven room, as well as an entrance from the morgue room.

Why would there be a shower room in a crematorium.  I previously blogged about this here.

This is the second blog post that I have read, which was written by a blogger, who did not do any research before visiting Dachau.  Visitors should find out the facts before they go to Dachau, so they can be prepared to challenge tour guides who tell them that the barracks at Dachau had no toilets, and other lies about the former camp.

October 18, 2010

The International Monument at Dachau

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 4:41 pm

Back in August this year, a group of American imams and Muslim leaders made a trip to visit Auschwitz and Dachau, accompanied by Hannah Rosenthal who is with the U.S. government.  The trip was organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Center for Interreligious Understanding; the purpose was to combat Anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial which is rampant among Muslims who have not had the advantage of Holocaust education.

Following the trip, Ms. Rosenthal wrote a debriefing letter which you can read here.

Her letter begins with this quote:

As Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, I had the special honor of joining the delegation of the Imams and Muslim leaders to Dachau and Auschwitz last month.  I went for a very simple reason: Holocaust denial is growing in many places, especially in Muslim countries. Holocaust denial doesn’t just feed anti-Semitism; Holocaust denial is a form of anti-Semitism.

It was this part of her letter which caught my attention:

This was an historic trip. As soon as the imams decided to pray by the Dachau sculpture commemorating the 6 million Jewish lives exterminated, I knew history was being made. When they prostrated to the ground in prayer, every tourist, every passer-by, stopped in their tracks to witness the moment.

The Dachau sculpture that is referred to in the above quote is part of the International Monument.  The sculpture is shown in the photos below.

Sculpure in front of the Museum building at Dachau

The dates 1933 to 1945 are the years that Dachau was a concentration  camp for anti-Nazis

Close-up of the sculpture at Dachau

The sculpure as seen from the door of the Museum

Contrary to Ms. Rosenthal’s statement that the Dachau sculpture commemorates the 6 million Jews who were exterminated, the sculpture represents all of the prisoners at Dachau, most of whom were not Jewish.  Dachau was not a “death camp” for Jews. Remember the Rev. Niemöller’s little poem: “First they came for the Communists.”

In the photos, you can see that the sculpture is not flat, but has a depth of about four feet. Notice the hands of the skeletons which resemble the barbs on a barbed wire fence. The sculpture is approximately 48 feet wide and 19 feet tall. It symbolizes the emaciated bodies of the prisoners who died of starvation and disease in the camp, not the Jews who were killed in gas chambers in Poland.

No one was sent to Dachau, just because they were Jewish, until November 1938.  During the Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938, there were around 10,000 Jews sent to Dachau but they were released as soon as they were able to arrange to leave Germany.

The general roundup of all the Jews did not begin until after the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, and then the Jews were sent to death camps in Poland.  Of the 6 million Jews who were exterminated, very few died in the main Dachau camp where this sculpture is located.  To say that the Dachau sculpture commemorates the 6 million Jews is an insult to the Communists, British SOE agents, Polish Resistance fighters, and Catholic priests who made up most of the prisoners.  The majority of the Dachau prisoners were Catholic Resistance fighters from Poland, France, Belgium and Czechoslovakia, who were captured while fighting as illegal combatants in World War II.

Between 1945 and 1965, Dachau was first a prison camp for German war criminals who were awaiting trial, and then a refugee camp for Germans who were expelled from the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.  Prisoners from many different countries lived in the Dachau barracks for 12 years, but the German expellees lived in these same barracks for 17 years. The Dachau Memorial Site opened in 1965, after the German refugees were kicked out, and the  International Monument  was formally dedicated in September 1968.

The sculpture, which is just one part of the large International monument, was designed by Nandor Glid.  A competition to find a suitable design was announced to artists who were concentration camp survivors on New Year’s day in 1959.  Surviors from other camps besides Dachau were allowed to enter the contest.

Forty-five of the 63 entries were exhibited in November 1959 at the Ministry for Health and Family in Brussels. The final decision, to choose the entry by Nandor Glid, was made by Albert Guérisse, a Belgian Communist who was imprisoned at Dachau after he was captured while working as a spy for the British SOE. Guérisse was the President of the International Committee which planned the Memorial Site and still controls what is included in the Dachau Museum.

When the Dachau concentration camp was in operation, the area where the International Monument is located was covered with grass and there was a flower-lined path from the roll-call square up to the service building which is now the Museum.

The former path is now covered with squares of marble and the grass and flowers have been replaced by a ramp with a zig-zag border around a field of gravel. A wall in front of the museum, at the south end of the path, is the base for the sculpture done by Yugoslavian artist Nandor Glid. This wall obstructs the entrance to the Museum and visitors have to walk across a field of gravel and go around the sculpture to gain entry.

The Dachau Museum building as it looked in 1945

The German words on the roof translate into English as follows: “There is one road to freedom. Its milestones are: Obedience, Diligence, Honesty, Orderliness, Cleanliness, Sobriety, Truthfulness, Self-Sacrifice, and Love of the Fatherland.”  These words have long since been painted over and the sculpture now blocks the entrance to the building.  The sculpture itself represents the kind of art that the Nazis didn’t like, so it is an anti-Nazi sculpture which replaces the Nazi words that were formerly on the roof.