Scrapbookpages Blog

October 2, 2016

How a 15-year-old girl was saved when gas chamber number 4 malfunctioned at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:33 am

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/true-stories/miracle-that-saved-girl-from-auschwitz-gas-chamber/news-story/e43b559c8fbd77709547cc31eccee4f2

On the website cited above, you can read the story of how 15-year-old Yvonne Engelmann was saved when gas chamber number 4 malfunctioned at Auschwitz-Birkenau — AND SHE WAS LEFT NAKED IN THE GAS CHAMBER OVERNIGHT.

Were there other naked girls who were in the gas chamber with her, and were also saved? The news story doesn’t tell us. Maybe the other girls are all dead now, and they didn’t get a book deal.

Gas chamber number 4 building

Gas chamber # 4 building

The building, shown in the old photo above, was blown up by Jewish inmates in a camp rebellion on October 7, 1944.

The photograph of Krema IV was taken in the Summer of 1943,  just after the building became operational as a gas chamber.

The gas chamber in Krema IV, which was disguised as a shower room, was located above ground in the wing of the building which is on the left side of the photo.

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 allegedly thrown into the fake shower room through windows on the outside wall of the gas chamber. [a good example of German engineering]

Crematorium IV was across the road from the beautiful brick building, called “die zentrale Sauna”. [the central sauna] This building was used for disinfecting the clothing and for processing the incoming prisoners, by giving them a shower.  The movie Schindler’s List shows incoming prisoners taking a shower in the central sauna.

Crematorium IV was also near “the little white house,” where gassing operations allegedly took place, starting in June 1942, before the Crematorium IV and Sauna buildings 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, but in the movie, the prisoners are shown going down steps into an underground undressing room.

The following quote from the news article tells Yvonne Engelmann’s story:

Begin quote

“I was 14 and a half when war broke out,” Yvonne tells news.com.au.

“I wasn’t allowed to go to school, I couldn’t walk on the street, I had to wear the yellow Star of David and couldn’t mix with any non-Jewish people. Friends I’d grown up with now totally ignored me, solely because I was born a Jew.

“My father was taken to the police station many times and we never knew if he would come back. One day he returned and his front teeth had been knocked out. We lived in fear constantly — we had no idea what would happen to us in the next hour, let alone in the next day.”

Born in Czechoslovakia to shopkeeper parents, Yvonne was an only child.

“I had the most wonderful childhood that anyone could wish for, but unfortunately it was short-lived.”

In the limbo of uncertainty, things went from bad to worse. Her parent’s shop was taken away and the family was forcibly removed from their home to a cramped Jewish ghetto.

At the approach of her 15th birthday, she and her family were taken from the ghetto — along with hundreds of others — to the railway station where they were piled into dozens of cattle wagons.

“Men, women, children, screaming babies — the journey was too horrific to even describe,” she recalls.

“There was no ventilation, it was hot, an overflowing tin bucket was the only toilet … we were stripped of our humanity.”

After five long, gruelling days, Yvonne and the rest of the human cargo had arrived at their final destination: Auschwitz. The most notorious Nazi death camp in history.

End quote

The news article includes a photo of the entrance into the Auschwitz main camp, not the entrance into the Auswitz-Birkenau camp. My photo below shows the entrance into the Birkenau camp.

Gate into Birkenau camp

My photo of the gate into Birkenau

 

 

December 31, 2015

“the Ungraspable Horrors of Auschwitz”

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 1:53 pm

“Son of Saul” and the Ungraspable Horrors of Auschwitz

The words above are in the headline of a news article which you can read at http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/son-of-saul-and-the-ungraspable-horrors-of-auschwitz

Is ungraspable even a word?

I wrote about the Sonderkommando revolt in this previous blog post:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/12/12/sonderkommando-revolt-holocaust-revenge-video-game/

Brody-Son-of-Saul-1200

Quote from the news article about the film:

In the realm of Holocaust dramas, László Nemes’s first feature, “Son of Saul,” is ambitious and provocative but nearly superfluous. Credit Photograph by Sony Pictures Classics / Courtesy Everett

The title of my blog post comes from the news article which has this quote:

While emptying the gas chamber of bodies, Saul sees a boy who is still breathing; the boy dies moments thereafter, but his body is taken by a camp doctor for autopsy—and Saul, visiting the doctor (who turns out also to be a prisoner), tells him that the boy is his son and that he wants to spend a few minutes with the body. What Saul actually wants is something more drastic and seemingly impossible: he wants to take the body and give it a proper burial. Moreover, for that burial he needs a rabbi, and, making use of his position as a Sonderkommando (which allows him to move not quite freely but at least widely throughout the concentration camp), Saul obsessively searches among Jewish deportees to find one.

But, early in his quest, he happens upon other Sonderkommando members who are organizing an armed uprising to destroy the gas chambers, and they recruit him to that cause. Though Saul never makes his reasoning clear (once, he explains, “I have to eat”), he seems to join the uprising neither from commitment nor to save himself but to win his colleagues’ aid in his efforts to bury his son, and to gain the measure of mobility, as a part of their plot, that will help him to do so.

I wrote about the Sonderkommando revolt on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/Tour/Birkenau/RuinsIV.html

The revolt was the occasion when the Sonderkommando Jews blew up the Krema IV gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The ruins of Krema IV are a reconstruction

The ruins of Krema IV are a reconstruction

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 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.

According to Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, 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 the site of Krema IV says that there were 450 prisoners who were killed by the SS during the revolt or afterwards in retaliation.

For some unknown reason, the Jews in the last Sonderkommando group were not exterminated.

Around 100 of them were marched out of the 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.

This is my last blog post of 2015.  Happy New Year, everyone.

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.

 

August 5, 2015

Famous Holocaust survivor Samuel Pisar has died

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 12:34 pm

You can read the news about the death of Samuel Pisar in this news article.

This quote is from the news article:

Samuel Pisar, who survived Auschwitz as a boy to become a successful lawyer, an adviser to presidents and the creator of the text for Leonard Bernstein’s symphony “Kaddish,” died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 86.

His daughter Leah Pisar-Haas said the cause was pneumonia after a stroke.

Mr. Pisar had an extraordinary life that arced from Bialystok, Poland, where he was born on March 18, 1929, through the Nazi death camps, and on to education in Australia, at Harvard and at the Sorbonne.

Prisoners were marched out of Dachau before the camp was liberated

Prisoners were marched out of Dachau before the camp was liberated

The photo above shows a march out of the Dachau camp, before the camp was liberated by American troops in April 1945.  These prisoners, including Samuel Pisar, were being marched out of the Dachau camp, towards the mountains, for their own safety.

When American planes strafed the column of Jews marching out of Dachau, Pisar managed to escape and was eventually rescued by American soldiers. He had just turned 16 and had survived three long years of Nazi persecution, including a stay in Majdanek and in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Samuel Pisar was one of the prisoners who survived the march, shown in the photo above. After the war, he emigrated to America; he became an international lawyer and wrote a book entitled Of Blood and Hope.

Pisar had been living in the Bialystock ghetto in northeastern Poland when World War II started; he was 13 years old when the ghetto was liquidated. From the ghetto, he was first sent to the extermination camp at Majdanek; his mother and younger sister were sent to Auschwitz. His father had already been shot by the Gestapo, indicating that he might have been a resistance fighter.

A few months later, Pisar was transferred from Majdanek to Auschwitz, where he was given a job working near a crematoria at Auschwitz-Birkenau. He claimed that he could hear the cries of the prisoners as they were herded into the gas chambers while an orchestra played classical music nearby. This indicates that he was talking about Krema III at Birkenau.

When Auschwitz-Birkenau was evacuated in January 1945, Pisar was one of the prisoners on the death march out of the camp. That is how he eventually ended up in Dachau.

Crematorium IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Crematorium IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau

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

The 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 allegedly thrown into the fake shower room through windows on the outside wall of the gas chamber.

Samuel Pisar was a prisoner in the Birkenau camp when Crematorium IV was destroyed by the inmates. 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 allegedly 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.

Rest in Peace, Samuel Pisar.

November 22, 2014

New show about women’s resistance in the Holocaust

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:24 am

This morning I read a news article in the online Haaretz newspaper which has the headline: The sexual violence which spurred women’s resistance in the Holocaust.

The reconstructed ruins of Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The reconstructed ruins of Krema IV (note that the building was very small)

The news article is about a new show which features the four women who supplied the explosives to blow up Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau shortly before the camp was abandoned by the Nazis on January 18, 1945.

Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau was blown up on Oct. 7, 1944

This quote is from the article:

NEW YORK – On October 7, 1944, Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz blew up a crematorium [Krema IV] in an attempted revolt that, while ultimately futile, has become a powerful rebuttal to the claim that Jews succumbed to the Nazis without a fight. Many know this story but few know the names Roza Robota, Estera Wajcblum, Regina Szafirsztajn and Ala Gertner, four women who smuggled gunpowder under their fingernails and stitched it into the seams of their clothes to make the uprising possible.

Their role has been diminished in historical accounts of the event, if mentioned at all, but a new exhibition by the American Jewish Historical Society in Manhattan, called “October 7, 1944,” seeks to reinsert them into the narrative. The exhibition, which opened last month on the 70th anniversary of the revolt and runs through December 30, makes its case in a most unorthodox way: It merges contemporary dance and archival material.

Excuse me, but I don’t think that this is an appropriate way to honor these four brave women, who literally gave their lives to blow up a building that was believed, by the Jews, to contain a gas chamber.

A few years ago, there was a video game, about the Krema IV explosion, that was set to be released, but it was withdrawn because it was too controversial. I blogged about the video game at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/12/12/sonderkommando-revolt-holocaust-revenge-video-game/

The location of Krema IV has been reconstructed at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The location of Krema IV has been reconstructed at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Krema IV was located just north of the clothing warehouses, which were in a section that the prisoners called Kanada. Across the road from Kanada 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 allegedly a gas chamber, according to survivors of the Holocaust.

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, which were identical, were 220 feet long by 42 feet wide.

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

The place, in the Auschwitz main camp, where the four women were executed

The place, in the Auschwitz main camp, where the four women were executed

When I visited Auschwitz in 1998, I was told by my tour guide that the four women, who supplied the explosives to blow up Krema IV, were executed in the location shown in the photo above. This spot is just outside the entrance into the main camp.

The prisoners who worked in the crematory buildings at Auschwitz, 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, a prisoner who did autopsies at Birkenau, each Sonderkommando group was killed after a few months and replaced by a new crew. According to Dr. Nyiszli, these prisoners knew that they were soon going to be killed, and that is why the members of the next-to-last Sonderkommando revolted and blew up the Krema IV building.

A sign at the reconstructed ruins of 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 at Auschwitz-Birkenau were not exterminated. Around 100 of them were marched out of the camp when it was abandoned by the Nazis on January 18, 1945. Several members of the Sonderkommando 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.

As far as I know, there was very little sexual violence against women in the concentration camps.  There was a heavy penalty for any SS men who were sexually violent.  That’s why there was a brothel at Auschwitz.  I wrote about the brothel in this previous blog post:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/block-24-at-auschwitz-the-brothel/

September 17, 2013

Holocaust survivor who “got the water, not the gas”

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 7:21 am

The title of my blog post today comes from a news article about the Holocaust on ABC News, which has the headline shown below:

Holocaust Survivor, Daughter Offer Business Advice Tips From Auschwitz

Jill Klein, the daughter of Holocaust survivor, Gene Klein, has written a new book about Auschwitz. You can read the full article, about her book, on the ABC News website here.

This quote is from the news article:

Her book, “We got the Water: Tracing My Family’s Path Through Auschwitz,” takes its title from an entry in a diary kept by Gene Klein’s sister Lilly, who also was interned in the infamous Nazi death camp. Lilly wrote in her diary of being sent to Auschwitz’s showers. In her case, she was sent to a real bathhouse, not to the gas chamber:

“Then we went into the showers, and we were the lucky ones. We got the water. Millions of others got the gas, but we knew nothing about that then.”  […]

She says she and her dad started doing the presentations a year ago and have done about a dozen so far. They speak for free to not-for-profit groups. For-profit clients pay between $6,000 and $10,000. Further information about their presentations can be found at http://www.wegotthewater.com.

I haven’t read Jill’s book, but it sounds very misleading to me. Her book implies that some of the prisoners got water and others got gas — from the same source.

Did the shower rooms at Auschwitz have faucets that dispensed water sometimes, and gas other times?  No, the gas chambers in Krema II and Krema III at Auschwitz-Birkenau, did not have shower faucets.

Krema IV and Krema V at Auschwitz-Birkenau had gas chambers that were disguised as showers, so presumably they had shower faucets. However, water and gas could not have come out of the same faucet.  The gas was in the form of pellets; it could not have been put into the gas chambers through shower faucets.

Jill Klein may have gotten the idea for her book from the movie Schindler’s List, which shows Jewish women inside what they think is a gas chamber, but then water comes out of the faucets.  After the women leave the building where they have taken a shower, they look across the road and see Jews descending some stairs into a gas chamber building.  This scene is pure fiction.  The Sauna building at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which had a shower room, was NOT directly across from a gas chamber building that had stairs going down into the undressing room.  If the women in the movie were in a shower room in Krema IV or Krema V, the gas chambers with steps going down into the undressing room were about a mile away, so they could not have seen the steps.

I am guessing that Jill’s Aunt Lilly was sent to either Crematorium IV or Crematorium V, which had ovens to burn the bodies and also shower rooms for the prisoners. She “got the water” because she was NOT sent to Crematorium II or Crematorium III, which did not have shower faucets.

Photo of Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau, taken in 1943

Photo of Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau, taken in 1943

The photograph above, taken in the Summer of 1943, shows Krema IV (Crematorium IV) just after it first became operational.  The 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.  According to official Holocaust history, Zyklon-B poison gas pellets were thrown into a fake shower room through windows on the outside wall of the Krema IV gas chamber. This building was blown up by Jewish inmates in a camp rebellion on October 7, 1944. Krema V was a mirror image of Krema IV.  There is nothing left of these buildings, except the reconstructed ruins.

The Sauna Building at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The Sauna Building at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Krema IV was across the road from the beautiful red brick building, called “die zentrale Sauna” which was the place where incoming prisoners were processed and the prisoner’s clothing was disinfected.  There was a shower room for the prisoners in the Sauna building.

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

The photo below is from the Auschwitz Album, a book of photos taken by an SS man at Birkenau on May 26, 1944. It shows a group of Hungarian Jews waiting at the western end of the camp; the Central Sauna, where the main shower room was located, is across the road from where the Jews are waiting.  Krema IV and Krema V are behind them and to the left.

Prisoners waiting for a shower in the Krema IV building at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Hungarian Prisoners waiting for a shower at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The building plans for Krema IV and Krema V show shower rooms, but according to official Holocaust history, these rooms were actually gas chambers. Even the Red Cross inspectors were fooled by these showers; they thought that these were real showers, not gas chambers.

Between April 29, 1944 and July 8, 1944, there was a total of 437,402 Hungarian Jews transported by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau, including Jill Klein’s relatives.  The photo below shows the entrance gate into the Birkenau camp.

Entrance into Birkenau camp was called the Gate of Death by the prisoners

Entrance into Birkenau camp was called the Gate of Death by the prisoners

In May 1944, the train tracks were extended, through the gate house, to the inside of the Birkenau camp.  Just inside the camp, there was a switch which divided the tracks, as shown in the photo below.

BirkenauRamp01

Train tracks were extended into the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in the Spring of 1944

Train tracks were extended into the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in the Spring of 1944

The train tracks to Auschwitz were extended inside the camp in May 1944, so that the Hungarian Jews could be brought into the camp, instead of being brought from the trains by truck into the camp. The single track that entered through the “Gate of Death” was divided into two tracks inside the camp.

Prisoners getting off the train inside the Birkenau camp

Prisoners getting off the train inside the Birkenau camp

The photo above shows the tall chimneys of Krema II on the left and Krema III on the right.  Some of the prisoners who got off the train went directly to Krema II or Krema III, according to official Holocaust history.

Some of the Hungarian Jews were allegedly gassed immediately without going through a selection process. The next day, the survivors were told by the other prisoners that their relatives had gone “durch den Kamin,” which means “through the chimney.” This was an expression, used by the prisoners in the camp, which meant that the victims had been immediately gassed upon arrival and then burned in a crematorium at Birkenau.

Jill Klein’s relatives were the lucky ones, who “got the water, not the gas.”

At the end of October 1944, Heinrich Himmler ordered the gassing of the prisoners with Zyklon-B to be stopped, according to a guide book which I purchased at the Auschwitz Memorial Site in 1998; the last “selection” of prisoners was on October 30, 1944. This decision, according to the guidebook, was prompted by the liberation of the Majdanek death camp and the discovery, by soldiers of the Soviet Union, of the incriminating evidence of 500 empty Zyklon-B cans and several remaining gas chambers with blue stains on the walls, left by the gas. His decision was also influenced by the camp uprising when Krema IV was blown up. The prisoners had used dynamite, that had been smuggled in by women inmates, who worked in factories outside the camp.