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October 27, 2016

The gas chambers at the Majdanek camp

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 8:45 am
Gas chamber buildig at Majdonik

My 1998 photo of the alleged homicidal gas chamber building at Majdanek

There were two gas chamber buildings at the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland; one of these buildings had gas chambers for killing Jews, and the other identical building had gas chambers for killing lice.  This was a terrible insult to the Jews, to have been treated no differently than lice were treated.

The homicidal gas chamber for Jews at Majdanek was located only a few feet from a major highway that goes through Poland. A person driving by could have thrown a rock and hit the back side of the homicidal gas chamber.

Why would the Nazis have gassed Jews within plain site of the whole world? The Nazis thought that they would win the war and that they would rule the world, after all the Jews had been killed. They weren’t worried about any accusations of having used homicidal gas chambers.

Inside of gas chamber has heavy blue stains cause by the use of Zyklon-B

Inside of Majdanek gas chamber has heavy blue stains cause by the use of Zyklon-B

Back door of gas chamber at Majdanek

Back door of gas chamber at Majdanek

In the photo above, note the peephole which is also shown in the photo just above it.

Carlo Mottogno, the world’s most famous writer of Holocaust history, wrote the following:

Begin quote

It was in August of 1944 that a Polish-Soviet investigation committee announced the existence of homicidal gas chambers in the Lublin concentration camp known as “Majdanek“. The Polish historians who were responsible for giving credence to ‘findings’ of that committee were confronted with some highly perplexing difficulties; for one thing, the gas chambers which are mentioned in the remaining documentation of the Central Construction Administration of the Majdanek concentration camp are invariably designated as “Delousing Chambers” or “Disinfestation Chambers“, and secondly, for all practical purposes, there are no eyewitness reports of human beings being homicidally gassed. Polish historiography ‘solved’ the first problem by presupposing the use of ‘camouflage’ language, which means that documents referring to delousing and disinfestation were said to be referring to homicidal gassings of human beings. Deliveries of Zyklon to the camp were interpreted in the same way.

End quote

Why are tourists not allowed to even get near the other gas chamber at Majdanek — the one for killing lice? I believe that we are not allowed to even peek in the windows of this building because it is identical to the alleged homicidal gas chamber, except that it has no showers for the prisoners.

Upon entering Barrack No. 41, which is the gas chamber building, you first come to the bare, unfurnished undressing room which has narrow wooden boards over the concrete floor. Then you enter the shower room, a large room with rows of exposed water pipes and sprinkler-type shower heads on the ceiling; this room also has a wooden floor over concrete. At one end of the shower room, there are two large concrete bathtubs.

My tour guide explained to me that the prisoners were not allowed to loll in the bathtub, but had to get in and out within a few seconds. The bathtubs were probably filled with disinfectant, as was the case at other camps such as Buchenwald.

This shower room was also used by incoming prisoners who were selected to work at Majdanek, which was a labor camp as well as an alleged extermination camp for the Jews.

The door into the three gas chambers in Barrack Number 41 is located in the shower room. When I visited in 1998, a sign in the shower room said that the prisoners were given a shower before gassing to “quite (sic) them down.”

My tour guide explained that the victims were given a hot shower so they would die more quickly in the gas chamber because the Nazis found that the heat of the bodies caused the gas to work faster. Zyklon-B comes in crystal form, like tiny ice-blue rocks, and the pellets must be heated before they release the poison gas which kills lice or people.

The Majdanek gas chamber building had a heating unit outside the chambers which blew hot air into the chamber to activate the poison gas, so a hot shower, before the victims entered the gas chamber, was not really necessary.

At Majdanek, there is a total of four gas chambers, according to the Museum guidebook, which says that the gas chamber right next to the shower room was “a makeshift chamber which presumably had begun functioning before the other three were opened.” The fourth gas chamber, which is disguised as a shower room, is in the reconstructed crematorium.

 

October 25, 2015

A Jew visits Majdanek and completely misunderstands what happened there.

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:04 am

Today I read an article, written by a man named Jordan Lustman, entitled A Flame Re-Ignited: My Trip to Poland, Part II  

I was struck by the fact that this man saw the former Majdanek concentration camp, not as I saw it on my visit there 17 years ago, but through completely different eyes.

Madanek is famous for the huge Monument of Ashes

Madanek is famous for the huge Monument of Ashes

The Majdanek camp had a double fence around it

The Majdanek camp had a double fence around it

This quote is from the article written by Jordan Lustman:

It is at this point that I would like to take a moment to describe the process in which the Nazis operated. For those of you who may not know, to the Nazis, the Holocaust was a large game. The more deceptive the process of killing Jews could be, the more exciting this game was. As a proof to my point, I offer the following: why make those whose fate is nothing more than being gassed and cremated take showers? Deception.

The Jews who arrived at Majdanek were not forced to take a shower for the purpose of deceiving them into thinking that they were not going to be gassed.

The shower room at Majdanek with a concrete bathtub in the background

The shower room at Majdanek with a concrete bathtub in the background (Click to enlarge)

When I visited the former Majdanek camp, many years ago, my tour guide told me that the prisoners were forced to take a shower before being gassed, so that the hot water would warm up their bodies and make the gas work faster.

I think that the real purpose of taking a shower was to remove any lice from the bodies of the prisoners.  Lice spreads typhus, a sickness that killed many prisoners in the concentration camps. All of the prisoners, coming into all of the concentration camps, had to take a shower, including the prisoners who were selected to work.

This quote is also from the article written by Jordan Lustman:

The room I am currently in is a gas chamber. Stained with a blue residue left over by Zyklon-B, the gas used to kill Jews, the walls are marred by the scratch-marks of the thousands of Jews who never lived to see the outside world again. Packed in the room, the forty of us fan out to form a circle. Locked arm in arm, we break out into song proclaiming G-d’s greatness; I feel as though we are joined by the screams of the hundreds of thousands who perished here, screams that forever echo off the cold walls of the warm room. As we exit the building and move onward, my eyes are fixated upon the black chimney of the camp’s crematorium, far in the distance. My mind is again flooded with questions: Who could perpetrate such a crime? What could motivate a group of people – a group of highly cultured people – to carry out such an abomination? Yet there is one question which seems to scream louder than any and all other: how could it be that the residents of Lublin, the very people with this concentration and death camp in their backyard, did absolutely NOTHING to stop this from happening? Two answers pop into my head, answers which are relevant to what is going on in Israel as well:

It is either that the smoke from burning Jews carries no smell, or the people of the world just get used to it.

End quote

The scratch marks must have been added recently.  There were no scratches made by the dying prisoners when I was there. (How does one scratch concrete with his fingernails?)

My blog post about the scratch marks on the walls of the Auschwitz gas chamber has gotten the most hits of any of my blog posts:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/dying-victims-scratched-the-walls-of-the-auschwitz-gas-chamber-with-their-fingernails/

The original story of the Majdanek concentration camp was that 1.5 million people were killed there.  This was the number given by the Soviet liberators of the camp.  Now that figure has been reduced 78,000 deaths, of which 59,000 were Jews.  However, that does not reduce the 6 million figure of Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

My photo of the inside of a barracks building at Majdanek

My photo of the inside of a barracks building at Majdanek

In his article about Majdanek, Jordan Lustman mentioned that there are some buildings that tourists are no longer allowed to see because they are now empty.  When I was there, tourists were still allowed to see the inside of the buildings.

Most of the barracks at Majdanek have now been torn down

Most of the barracks at Majdanek have now been torn down

This monument in Field III at Majdanek was done by one of the priosoners

This monument in Field III at Majdanek was done by one of the prisoners

I have written several blog posts about Majdanek including this recent one:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2015/08/07/bones-tv-show-has-an-episode-featuring-zyklon-b-used-at-majdanek/

May 2, 2015

Did Mietek Grocher walk backwards out of the room after his lecture to students in Sweden?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 8:37 am
Monument of Struggle and Martyrdom at Majdanek

Monument of Struggle and Martyrdom at Majdanek where Grocher was a prisoner

The back side of the Majdanek monument

The back side of the Majdanek monument faces the camp

Holocaust survivor Mietek Grocher recently gave a lecture to students in Sweden, where skinheads interrupted his talk. Grocher is a survivor of the Majdanek death camp in Poland. He claims that he survived because he walked backwards out of a gas chamber in the Majdanek camp.

This quote is from the Jerusalem Post article about his speech:

Members of a Swedish youth movement launched an anti-fascist campaign at a high school where neo-Nazis interrupted a lecture by a Holocaust survivor.

The campaign began last week at the Peders Skrivares high school in the western province of Halland, where on April 22 a group of skinheads demonstratively walked in on a talk given to students by Mietek Grocher, 89, Sveriges Radio reported.

I previously wrote this blog post about Grocher, who survived the gas chamber at Majdanek by walking backwards out of the room: : https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/mietek-grocher-the-man-who-walked-backwards-out-of-a-gas-chamber-and-survived/

April 7, 2014

New book “The Unpersuadables” by Will Storr reviewed by Michael Shermer

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:50 am

My blog post today is about a new book which mentions the gas chambers at Majdanek.  I previously blogged about the Majdanek gas chambers at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/10/29/selections-for-the-gas-chamber-at-the-majdanek-death-camp/

At the end of Michael Shermer’s review of the book entitled The Unpersuadables is this sentence: “Mr. Shermer is the publisher of Skeptic magazine and a monthly columnist for Scientific American. His next book is on the moral arc of science.”

Michael Shermer’s review of Will Storr’s new book, was published in the Wall Street Journal. You can read the review in full at

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304418404579467702052177982?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304418404579467702052177982.html

This quote is from Michael Shermer’s review:

Mr. [David] Irving is one of a pantheon of unconventional characters featured in Will Storr’s “The Unpersuadables,” a series of vignettes about what he calls “enemies of science.” In addition to Mr. Irving, Mr. Storr profiles British ESP researcher Rupert Sheldrake, Australian creationist John Mackay, past-life regressionist Vered Kilstein and the late John Mack, a Harvard Medical School professor and Pulitzer Prize-winner who also happened to believe in alien-abduction stories.

Mr. Storr’s style is to get close to his subjects by spending enough time with them so that they let down their guard and say what they’re really thinking. For his chapter on Mr. Irving, for example, Mr. Storr spends a week touring Nazi concentration camps with Mr. Irving and his followers. He narrates this trip in a you-are-there account that takes the reader right into a gas chamber at Poland’s Majdanek concentration camp, where Mr. Irving announces to his group: “This is a mock-up of a gas chamber. Those cylinders are carbon dioxide not carbon monoxide. A typical Polish botch job. There are handles on the inside of these doors,” suggesting that the prisoners could have simply let themselves out.

Mr. Storr has an engaging, first-person style and makes it clear that his purpose is to grasp why people believe such irrationalities more than it is to debunk their specific beliefs. But he gives his readers enough information to test the verisimilitude of his characters’ claims. For example, Mr. Storr examines those doors on that “mock-up” gas chamber. He finds that “there were bolts on the outside, two of them, huge ones, each attached to clasps that would have locked the door closed over airtight seals.” Mr. Storr adds that Mr. Irving also saw these details, “the manifest truth” that the gas chamber was real. “What happened in his mind when he saw the bolts?” Mr. Storr asks. Was Mr. Irving “a liar or deluded? Evil or mistaken?”

Mr. Storr finds one answer in a cognitive process called confirmation bias, where we look for and find confirming evidence for our beliefs, ignoring or rationalizing away all disconfirming evidence. We remember in great detail studies that support our political preferences, forgetting all counterexamples. We also tend to befriend people who think like us and so reinforce our beliefs. This cognitive bias is not restricted to the unpersuadables—we all have it—but when you’re dealing with sensitive topics like the Holocaust, it’s especially noticeable.

I haven’t read this new book, and probably never will, so I don’t know if Michael Shermer is aware that the number of gas chambers at Majdanek has been reduced.

The room, in the photo below, is called a gas chamber, on a similar photo, at the Yad Vashem museum in Israel.  This room is actually a real shower room.

Shower room inside the Majdanek "gas chamber" is called a gas chamber by Yad Vashem

Shower room inside the Majdanek “gas chamber” is called a gas chamber by Yad Vashem

The entrance to one of the gas chambers at Majdeank was through this air raid shelter door

The entrance to one of the gas chambers at Majdeank was through this air raid shelter door

Notice the peephole in the door shown in the photo above. The peephole was for the people inside the gas chamber to look out. Note that there is a door handle on the inside of the door. The victims inside the gas chamber could look through the peephole, and if it was all clear, they could open the door from the inside.

Did David Irving point this out to the people on his tour?

I saw the Majdanek gas chambers on a trip to Poland in 1998. I had to restrain myself from laughing when I saw the gas chambers at Majdanek.

According to the book review, David Irving made the statement: “Those cylinders [inside the gas chamber] are carbon dioxide not carbon monoxide.”  When I was at Majdanek in 1998, I saw these cylinders, which are in a tiny room inside one of the large gas chambers.

Two cylinders inside the Majdanek gas chamber

Two cylinders inside the Majdanek gas chamber

David Irving pointed out the carbon monoxide cylinders in the Majdanek gas chamber

David Irving points out the carbon dioxide cylinders in the Majdanek gas chamber

When I was at Majdanek, my tour guide told me that an SS man, wearing a gas mask, stood inside a little room, which was inside a larger room, and gassed the prisoners with carbon monoxide.  The SS man was armed with a gun, to shoot the prisoners inside the gas chamber if they tried to attack him. I am not sure if the tour guides are still telling visitors this ridiculous story.

I don’t know the difference between carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, so I don’t know what these cylinders were used for, nor why they were stored inside a Majdanek gas chamber room.

The entrance to the Majdanek gas chambers is through a real shower room. My tour guide told me that the purpose of taking a shower was to warm up the bodies of the prisoners so that the gas would act faster to kill them. I laughed out loud, but quickly hid my laughter by pretending to cough.

The prisoners at Majdanek also had to take a dip in a bathtub before they were gassed.  The photo below shows the bathtub inside the fourth gas chamber, at the Majdanek camp.  This gas chamber was reconstructed by Soviets after the building was allegedly burned down by the Nazis.

Bathtub inside the Crematorium at Majdanek death camp Photo Credit: PickledPru

Bathtub inside the Crematorium at Majdanek death camp Photo Credit: PickledPru

David Irving became a “Holocaust denier” when he said that the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp was a “reconstruction.”  At the time that he said this, the Auschwitz Museum was claiming that the gas chamber in the main camp is original. Now it is being admitted that the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp is a reconstruction, done by the Soviets after they liberated Auschwitz.

Now David Irving is being ridiculed by Michael Shermer because he is trying to teach people about the Majdanek gas chambers, which are quickly going by the wayside. Majdanek had the lowest number of Jewish deaths of any “death camp” yet it had the highest number of “gas chambers.”

The number of Jews killed at Majdanek has now been officially reduced to 59,000. It was claimed, by the Soviets, at the Nuremberg IMT that 1.5 million Jews had been killed at Majdanek. I wonder what Michael Shermer has to say about that.

P.S. In other news, you can read an interesting article at http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/38925-a-century-of-deceit.html

December 15, 2013

The original guidebook for the Majdanek camp, published in 1986

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 12:10 pm

A regular reader of my blog asked me, in a comment, to put up a photo of the cover of the original guidebook, published in 1986, which was being sold at the Majdanek Memorial Site, when I visited the former camp in 1998. The cover of the guidebook is shown in the photo below.  All the letters on the black background are pure white, although the letters at the top are yellowed with age.

Cover of Majdanek Guidebook, published in 1986

Cover of Majdanek Guidebook, published in Warsaw in 1986

Here are two of the black and white photos, which are included in the guidebook.

The back door of the gas chamber, which is located near the entrance at Majdanek

The back door of the gas chamber, which is located near the entrance at Majdanek

The inside of the main gas chamber at Majdanek, looking toward the back door

The inside of the main gas chamber at Majdanek, looking toward the back door

On the first page of text in the Guidebook, there is a Table of Contents, which lists “The gassing of the Prisoners” in section 5. of Chapter 7.  (There are 9 chapters in the book, which has 189 pages of text.)

When I visited the camp, for the first and only time in 1998, I was accompanied by a non-Jewish tour guide, who had been provided for me, in advance, by a Tour company in New York City. Before going to the former camp, we had visited a yeshiva in Lublin.  I didn’t even know, at that time, what a yeshiva was, and I was very anxious to get to the camp while there was still enough light to take photos.  One of my photos, taken during the fading light, is shown below.

You can read what I wrote about Majdanek in 1998 on these pages of my website:

http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Poland/Majdanek/Majdanek.html

http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Poland/Majdanek/Majdanek01.html

My photo of a guard tower at Majdanek, taken in 1998

My photo of a guard tower at Majdanek, taken in 1998

As my tour guide and I were driving down a major road, that ran through the city of Lublin, suddenly she said “Look over there — that’s the Majdanek camp.”  I was so taken aback that I could not set my camera properly to take a photo.  This was a “death camp,” where 1.5 million people had been killed — and it was on a major highway? My tour guide sensed that I was acting suspiciously like a depraved Holocaust denier, and that made me even more nervous.

My first thought at my first sight of Majdanek was just like my first thought when I saw the Dachau camp for the first time: Something wrong!

The Majdanek gas chambers were in the section of the camp that was very near the highway, so that is where I began my tour of the camp.

This quote is from the Guidebook, which I purchased at the Visitor’s Center, where I watched a movie, all by myself, since I was the only English-speaking person there on that day.

5. The concrete gas chambers in Majdanek adapted for the use of Cyclone B, were opened in October 1942. Earlier, however, exploiting Auschwitz experience with that gas for killing Soviet Prisoners of War, gassing was begun in a makeshift chamber. Evidence thereof is offered by the efforts of the camp administration to obtain Cyclone B. On 25 July 1942, the administration applied to Tesch and Stabenow International Gesellschaf für Schädlingsbekampfung (International Comany for Pest Control) abbreviated to Testa and performing the function of an intermediary in supplying camps for poison gas, for 1,474 cans of Cyklone B. […]

The gas took effect within 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the weather, humidity, temperature, quality of the gas, and the state of the health of the condemned.

The technique of killing with the gas is presented below by Perry Broad, an employee of the gas, and the state of health of the condemned. A similar technique was applied in Majdanek.

[quote from Perry Broad] “Right after the cans are opened, their content is poured into the holes.  Each time the opening is covered immediately… The driver starts the engine [of the truck], whose deafening throb is louder than the deadly screams of the hundreds of people being killed by the gas… Cyclone acts rapidly. It consists of hydrocyanic acid in solid form. When it is poured out of the cans, gas evaporates from the grains…” […]

Photo of cans of CycloneB is included in old guidebook

Photo of cans of CycloneB is included in old guidebook

The gas chambers in Majdanek were also equipped with  installations for the use of volatile gas. An examination carried out by the Polish-Soviet commission immediately after the liberation of the Majdanek camp showed that carbon monoxide had been used.

The human losses in the Majdanek camp were enormous. According to the findings of Zdzislaw Lukaszkiewicz, about 300,000 Poles, Jews, Soviet citizens, and prisoners of other nationalities perished as a result of both forms of extermination, direct and indirect during the three years of the camp’s existence.  (Source: page 91 of a book written by Lukaszkiewicz)

What?  The total number of deaths at Majdanek was 300,000?  That’s not what the Soviet prosecutors claimed at the Nuremberg IMT, where the number 1.5 million was given.

Now the number of deaths at Majdanek has dwindled down to a total of 78,000 deaths, including the deaths of 59,000 Jews. However, the number of 6 million deaths has not changed.  Those sly Nazis managed to kill 1.4 million Jews at some other location, which is still unknown.

The two photos below were also included in the Guidebook that was published in 1986.

Bodies of prisoners found in the crematorium which was burned down

Bodies of prisoners found in the crematorium which was burned down

The Soviets claimed that the Germans had burned down the wooden crematorium building, after killing the prisoners from the Gestapo prison in Lublin, in front of the ovens.  It is more likely that these political prisoners were killed by the Soviet soldiers who were in Lublin that day.

Photo of "Majdanek labor camp" is included in the Guidebook of 1986

Photo of “Majdanek labor camp” is included in the Guidebook of 1986

On my trip to Poland in 1998, I also purchased a small book, about 5 by 8 inches in size, entitled Majdanek The Concentration Camp of Lublin, by Anna Wisniewska. This book is currently available from Amazon.com.  It has a black and white photo of the huge monument at Majdanek on the cover.

Book Cover of 1997 book about Majdanek

Book Cover of 1997 book about Majdanek

This quote is from page 46 of the book, the cover of which is shown above:

Of the 235,000 victims of Majdanek, 48% were Jews, 31% were Poles, 16% were citizens of the SU (Soviet Union) and 5% were all the remaining nationalities.

So between the publication of a book in 1986 and the publication of this book in 1997, the number of deaths at Majdanek dropped from 300,000  down to 235,000.

December 12, 2013

Holocaust denial unrelated to anti-Semitism

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: — furtherglory @ 12:05 pm

The title of my blog post today comes from an essay, written by Rabbi Avraham Krieger, which you can read in full here.

This quote is from the essay, which is entitled Preserve the Truth:

Anti-Semitism can have many varieties. In recent years, though, one can notice new phenomena in the Holocaust denial landscape. These new developments are ostensibly unrelated to anti-Semitism and are not part of the larger historical context, but they nevertheless constitute Holocaust denial.

This quote from the essay gives an example of Holocaust denial which is not anti-Semitic:

For example, the Polish historian who heads the State Museum at Majdanek claims that the death camp was never used for large-scale, deliberate extermination of the Jews with gas. He insists that Majdanek was a concentration and labor camp where Jews and Poles died because of the various hardships of the ongoing war all around them. The Poles were quick to embrace this narrative, because it expunges a large part of their collective record, a record marred by their decision not to lift a finger when the camp was active.

The above quote is a reference to the downgrading of the number of deaths at Majdanek, from 1.5 million to 78,000, including the deaths of 59,000 Jews. Frankly, I was amazed when these new figures were first announced in 2005, as the authentic numbers.  I had visited the Majdanek Memorial Site in 1998 and had written about it on my website.  On this page of my website, I wrote, in 2007, about how the numbers slowly dwindled down to 59,000 Jewish deaths.  Changing the numbers was a long slow process; it didn’t happen overnight.

The original story of Majdanek was that there were three gas chambers in building number 41 near the entrance into the camp, and one gas chamber in the crematorium in the center of the camp, which was reconstructed by the Soviets after the Nazis had allegedly burned it down.  After my visit to Majdanek in 1998, I wrote about the gas chambers in Building #41 on this page of my website.

I have not updated the page about the gas chambers on my website, and you can read all about the original claims.  The story of the gas chambers at Majdanek has now changed. I blogged here about the changes in the gas chamber claims.

I’m glad that I didn’t change my page about the Majdanek gas chambers on my website.  I’m not a Holocaust denier, like the rest of you people, who were quick to acknowledge the new claims about the number of deaths at Majdanek.

It’s time to go back to 1.5 million deaths at Majdanek, which was the original number given by the Soviet prosecutors at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal.  I ask you: Would the Soviets lie?

Yes, I know that the Soviets lied about Katyn Forrest, but would they lie about the number of Jewish deaths?

March 30, 2013

Changes in the gas chamber story told in 1997 at the Majdanek death camp

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 11:54 am

In 1998, I made a trip to Poland and a professional tour guide took me to see the Majdanek Memorial Site, where I purchased a small, 72-page booklet, that had been published in 1997.

Since then, I have learned from a fellow blogger, The Black Rabbit of Inlé, that the Memorial Site is telling a far different story about the homicidal gas chambers at Majdanek.

In a comment on my blog, The Black Rabbit of Inlé asked about the contents of the 1997 booklet; I am answering in a new blog post today so that everyone can learn about what tourists were being told at Majdanek in 1998.

Let me preface this by saying that, when I went to Poland in 1998, I was absolutely astounded at how primitive everything was in the country.  When I commented on this, my tour guide told me that it was because the country had not yet recovered from the years of Communism. I have never returned to Majdanek since 1998, although I did go to Poland again in 2005 and visited the Auschwitz camp for the second time.  I learned in 2005 that a lot of changes have been made in Poland.

So get ready for a trip down Memory Lane because I am going to quote from the 1997 guidebook pages about the Majdanek gas chambers.  On page 42 of the booklet, there is the start of a chapter entitled “Extermination.”

This quote is from page 43 of the Majdanek booklet, published in 1997:

From mid 1942, gas chambers became the direct extermination of prisoners.  Gassings were carried out in specially built chambers of which two adjoined to the bath-house were in most frequent use. Over the entrance door [to the building] there was a sign reading “Bath and Disinfection” to lull the vigilance of those condemned to death.

The “bath-house” that is referred to in the above quote was a building made of wood which had an undressing room and a shower room.  The “specially built chambers” were in a brick extension that was “adjoined” to the wood building.  The sign was on the front of the wood building.

Brick "add-on" to Building #41 at Majdanek

Brick extension adjoined to Building #41 at Majdanek

Sign on front of Building #41

Sign on front of Building #41

Upon entering the gas chamber building, (Barrack No. 41) you first see the bare, unfurnished undressing room which has narrow wooden boards over the concrete floor. Then you proceed into the shower room, a large room with rows of exposed water pipes and sprinkler-type shower heads on the ceiling; this room also has a wooden floor over concrete.

Shower Room in Building #41 at Majdanek

Shower Room in Building #41 at Majdanek

At one end of the shower room, there are two large concrete bathtubs. The tour guide explained that the prisoners were not allowed to loll in the bathtub, but had to get in and out in a few seconds. The bathtubs were probably filled with disinfectant, as was the case at other camps such as Buchenwald. The shower room was also used by incoming prisoners who were selected to work at Majdanek, which was a labor camp as well as an extermination camp for the Jews. The Jews did not have to be disinfected before they were gassed, although they might have been told to take a dip in one of the tubs, to fool them into thinking that they were not going to be gassed.

I could not find a photo of the bathtubs in Building #41; they might have been removed by now.  I wrote a previous blog post about the concrete bathtub in the reconstructed crematorium.  In 1998, when I visited Majdank, the tour guides were telling visitors that there was a gas chamber in the reconstructed crematorium.  The shower room in the reconstructed crematorium, is no longer claimed to have been a gas chamber.  It was previously claimed to be one of the four Majdanek gas chambers.  Now the number of gas chambers at Majdanek has dwindled down to 2.

Entrance into the main room used for gassing in Building #41

Entrance into the main room used for gassing in Building #41

In the photo above, taken several years ago, you can see the metal door into the main gas chamber and a wood barricade which prevented visitors from entering the room.  When I visited in 1998, it was possible to enter the gas chamber and there was no sign inside the gas chamber.

View of the main gas chamber from the doorway

View of the main gas chamber from the doorway

Just outside Building #41 is a small empty square, called the Rosenfeld (Rose field) where the selections were made.  Then both groups entered Building #41 where those selected to work took a shower and those selected to die were gassed. The prisoners who were selected to die also took a shower to warm up their bodies so that the gas would work faster, according to a sign in the building in 1998.

Rosenfeld where selections were made for the gas chamber at Majdanek

Square in front of Building #41 where selections were made for the gas chamber at Majdanek

This quote, on page 43 of the guidebook, is a continuation of the previous quote above:

Built of brick [the gas chambers] had reinforced concrete ceilings, concrete floors and thick metal doors with a peephole hermetically sealed. In one chamber the process of killing could be watched through a small window in the wall of the adjacent room for the SS men.

My memory of the “adjacent room for the SS men” is that this was a tiny room within one of the gas chamber rooms and that this tiny room had a small window, with bars on it but no glass, where an SS man could watch the victims die.  My first thought was that an SS man, standing in this tiny room that had no door, would have been overpowered by the victims and beaten to death.  But maybe the SS man would have just shot the victims inside the gas chamber if they tried to attack him.

The quote from page 43 of the guidebook continues with this quote:

Cyclone B and carbon monoxide were most commonly used in the gas chambers. Cyclone B (lumps of silicate earth saturated with hydrocyanide) was introduced into the chamber through an opening in the ceiling and condensed carbon monoxide came from bottles.  Some 7,700 kg of Cyclone B were delivered.  To drown out the cries of the dying tractor engines were run near the chambers.  The victims were mainly Jews selected for death directly upon arrival.

According to another book, which I purchased at the Visitor’s Center, construction of the gas chambers at Majdanek started in August 1942 and was completed in October 1942.

The following quote is from a book entitled Majdanek, published in Warsaw in 1986, which I purchased from the Visitor’s Center at the Memorial Site in 1998.

This is a description of the gas chambers in “Bath and Disinfection” Building Number One (barrack #41) at Majdanek:

“The gas chambers were built of ceramic brick, covered with a ferro-concrete roof, and provided with a cement floor. The installation comprised three chambers: a large one (10 m x 5.5 m x 2 m) and two smaller ones (4.80 m x 3.60 x 2 m) as well as a cabin for the SS man who pumped doses of gas from steel cylinders into the chambers and watched through a small grated window (25 x 15 cm), the behavior of the victims. Two chambers, the large one and the southern smaller one, were equipped with devices for the use of carbon monoxide (CO). In the smaller one, there was a metal pipe, 40 mm in diameter, running along the walls above the floor. The gas got into the chamber through holes in the pipe. Cyclone B was poured into a special opening in the concrete roof.

“The large chamber also had a metal pipe, 25 mm in diameter, fastened to one of the walls above the floor. As in the smaller chamber, the carbon monoxide from a steel cylinder got in through this pipe. In addition, there were two openings in the western wall, through which hot air (120 degrees C) was blown in by a ventilator from a stove placed on the outside of the chamber, which alone killed the victims and, at the same time, intensified the action of Cyclone B, since the lethal effect of the gas increased at a temperature of over 27 degrees C. The other small chamber, on the southern side, had only an opening in the roof to pour in Cyclone B. The massive metal doors to the chambers were air-tight, fastened by two bolts and iron bars.”

When I visited Majdanek in 1998, I was the only English-speaking person there. My tour began with a movie in English, and I was the only person in the theater.

During my visit, I was carrying a camera that used film.  The camera required a lot of setting before taking a photo.  I was very nervous and my tour guide was rushing me through the gas chamber building, so I didn’t get to take any photos.  I have borrowed the photos on this blog post from other photographers.

Recent photo of the main gas chamber at Majdanek

Recent photo of the main gas chamber at Majdanek

Rear of Building #41 at Majdanek

Rear of Building #41 at Majdanek

In the photo immediately above, the door on the right is the exit from the main gas chamber at Majdanek. The door that is shown in the background of the photo of the main gas chamber is the same door that is shown on the right in the photo immediately above.

March 24, 2013

Mietek Grocher, the man who walked backwards out of a gas chamber and survived

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 1:34 pm

Mietek Grocher has an entry in Wikipedia, which you can read in full here.  This quote is from Wikipedia:

Mietek Grocher is a Polish Jewish author and speaker who survived The Holocaust. Grocher recounts the events in his 1996 book Jag överlevde (English translation: I survived).

Grocher was born in 1926 in Warsaw, Poland and lived with his family in the Warsaw Ghetto. As a teenager during World War II, Grocher survived the gas chamber and nine concentration camps including Buchenwald and Majdanek. He was the only member of his family to survive. […] He also survived the Majdanek gas chambers. He realized he was actually in a gas chamber and began walking backwards. The guard guarding the gas chambers was in a conversation with another guard so Grocher escaped and found his father.

When I visited the Majdanek death camp in 1998, the Majdanek Memorial Site was telling visitors that there were 5 gas chambers at Majdanek, including 4 that were in Building 41 near the entrance into the camp.  Now the number of gas chambers at Majdanek has been reduced to only 2, which are both in Building 41.

Building #41 is on the right. Photo Credit: The Black Rabbit of Inlé

Building #41 is on the right. Photo Credit: The Black Rabbit of Inlé

Could it be that Mietek Grocher walked backwards out of one of the gas chambers that is no longer claimed to have been a gas chamber?  The photo above shows Building #41 which was claimed to have four gas chambers in 1998, but that has changed now, so that there were only 2 gas chambers in Building #41.  Note the buildings in the background.  The Majdanek gas chambers were very near a major road; the Majdanek Memorial Site is now within the city limits of Lublin, Poland.

You can read a newspaper article about Mietek Grocher here.  This quote is from the article:

Mietek Grocher managed to escape from a gas chamber in Maidanek in 1943, when he was sixteen years old.

Wait a minute!  He was sent to the gas chamber at the age of 16?  Was he small for his age, and the Nazis didn’t know that he was over the age of 15?  Only Jews under the age of 15 or over the age of 35 were gassed.  What about his parents?  Were they under the age of 35 and exempt from the gas chamber?  The quote from the article continues:

– When I was in there I knew what awaited me and the rest of the space. Instinctively, I started to back off a little backwards, without any real thought that I could get away. […]

– But by chance, I managed to do it. An officer started talking to another officer and took a few steps away. In that moment, I managed to slip away to eventually join my parents in the camp.

Mietek says that the officer obviously had the opportunity to catch up with him – but he dared not do so, for then he would have been accused of misconduct in office and had suffered really bad.

So his parents were obviously under the age of 35, or they would have been in the gas chamber with him.

My theory is that Mietek was not in a gas chamber at all, but in one of the rooms that is no longer claimed to be a gas chamber.  Mietek was INSIDE an alleged gas chamber and there were allegedly two SS officers inside the gas chamber with him.  The SS men did not go inside the gas chamber with the victims.  This would have been too dangerous.  What if someone had dropped the Zyklon-B pellets into the gas chamber while the SS men were inside?  This would have been a disaster.  Surely, the Nazis were not that careless when they gassed the Jews at Majdanek.

The photo below shows the main gas chamber in Building 41.  This gas chamber was the one that was used most often, as evidenced by the blue stains caused by the use of Zyklon-B gas.  Is this the gas chamber that Mietek walked backwards out of?

The main gas chamber in Building 41  Photo Credit: The Black Rabbit of Inlé

The main gas chamber in Building 41 Photo Credit: The Black Rabbit of Inlé

The photo above shows the gas chamber in Building 41 at Majdanek which is most often photographed because it has the heaviest blue stains, indicating the frequent use of Zyklon-B gas.  The door in the photo is the exit to the outside of the building.  Did Mitek walk backwards out the back door?

The back door into the gas chamber in Building 41 is on the right Photo Credit: The Black Rabbit of Inlé

The back door into the gas chamber in Building 41 is on the right Photo Credit: The Black Rabbit of Inlé

The photo above show the rear of Building 41.  The gas chamber with the heavy blue stains was in the brick annex to the building, shown in the foreground.  The door on the right is the back door into the gas chamber.  On the left, you can see the part of the building that is made of wood; in this part of the building was an undressing room and a shower room.  Does this remind you of Dachau, which also had an undressing room and a shower room in the same building with four disinfection chambers for clothing?  I predict that, soon, the whole gas chamber story at Majdanek will drop by the wayside.

The gas chamber with the heavy blue stains, in the photo above, is right next to the gas chamber with a glass window, which is no longer claimed to be a gas chamber, but a disinfection chamber. Zyklon-B was obviously used in the gas chamber with the window because it also shows blue stains.  However, so many people, including me, have made fun of the gas chamber with a window that it has now been downgraded to a clothing disinfection chamber.

The photo below shows the roof of the gas chamber that has heavy blue stains.

Roof of the gas chamber at Majdanek has no holes. Photo Credit: The Black Rabbit of Inlé

Roof of the gas chamber at Majdanek has no holes. Photo Credit: The Black Rabbit of Inlé

Note that there are no holes in the roof for pouring in the Zyklon-B pellets.  What?  No holes?  Did the SS men just throw the Zyklon-B pellets onto the floor of a homicidal gas chamber?  That would have been stupid because it would have been hard to retrieve the pellets, to be used again, when they were mixed with the bodily fluids from the victims who died in this chamber.  This is a clue that the main gas chamber at Majdanek may have been a disinfection chamber for clothing.

When I visited Majdanek in 1998, there was a sign that said that the victims had to take a shower before entering the gas chamber in order to warm up their bodies so that the gas would work faster.  I suspect that this stupid sign is now gone because it caused so much laughter among the tourists. Did Mietek somehow wander out of the shower room and take a wrong turn into a clothing disinfection chamber where he backed out just in time before the Zyklon-B pellets could release the poison gas?

The photo below shows the door into the gas chamber with the heavy blue stains.  Note that there is a glass door.  This door was not there when I visited in 1998, but my tour guide would not let me enter the gas chamber; she hustled me out as fast as she could.  Note the wooden boards over the concrete floor.  The door to the gas chamber is in a room next to the shower room.

Peephole into the gas chamber with the heavy blue stains. Photo Credit: The Black Rabbit of Inlé

Glass door into the gas chamber with the heavy blue stains. Photo Credit: The Black Rabbit of Inlé

The photo below shows the peephole in the door shown in the photo above.  Note that the glass in the peephole is on the inside of the door, where it could easily have been broken by the victims inside.  Why would the Nazis have put the glass on the inside?  Was it because they thought that an SS man might become trapped inside and would have had to break the glass to save his life?

Peephole into the gas chamber with the heavy blue stains. Photo Credit: The Black Rabbit of Inlé

Peephole into the gas chamber with the heavy blue stains. Photo Credit: The Black Rabbit of Inlé

The fact that the glass is on the inside of the door has been used by Holocaust deniers to claim that this could not have been a homicidal gas chamber.  That is not a valid claim.  The victims were unclothed when they were shoved inside this gas chamber after first taking a shower.  They would not have had anything that would break glass on their person.  However, an SS man who had been trapped inside the gas chamber, by accident, would have had something that could break glass.  I am sure that the SS men were smart enough to have been prepared before entering a gas chamber.

So why has the number of gas chambers at Majdanek been downgraded?  I think it is because the number of Jews who died at Majdanek has recently been lowered to just 59,000.  Assuming that some of the deaths were caused by typhus or other diseases, that leaves around 50,000 Jews who could have been gassed at Majdanek.  Five gas chambers would have been too many if only 50,000 Jews were gassed.

With respect to the gas chambers of the Holocaust, if Majdanek goes, can Auschwitz be far behind?

December 11, 2012

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has downgraded Majdanek “killing center”

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 6:51 am

If you type http://www.thirdreich.com into your computer, what do you get?  With a domain name like thirdreich.com, you might expect to find a website like http://www.nazigassings.com, but you would be disappointed.  The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum owns the domain name thirdreich.com.

If you try to access thirdreich.com, you will be directed here, where you will find this quote about Majdanek, which is one of the “six killing centers” of the Holocaust:

MAJDANEK

Though many scholars have traditionally counted the Majdanek camp as a sixth killing center, recent research had shed more light on the functions and operations at Lublin/Majdanek. Within the framework of Operation Reinhard, Majdanek primarily served to concentrate Jews whom the Germans spared temporarily for forced labor. It occasionally functioned as a killing site to murder victims who could not be killed at the Operation Reinhard killing centers: Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka II. It also contained a storage depot for property and valuables taken from the Jewish victims at the killing centers.

“Majdanek occasionally functioned as a killing site to murder victims who could not be killed at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka II?”  What does this mean?

Were there some Jews who were so resistant to Zyklon-B that they had to be brought to a special gas chamber at Majdanek because they “could not be killed at the Operation Reinhard killing centers”?

Actually, I’ve never heard of a Holocaust survivor who claimed to have survived the Majdanek gas chamber, although there were many survivors of other Nazi gas chambers, including a young boy who survived the gas chamber at Bergen-Belsen six times.

Casting of a gas chamber door at Majdanek

Casting of a gas chamber door at Majdanek

The photo above shows a gas chamber door that is displayed in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.  It is a casting of a gas chamber door at Majdanek.  You can read more about the Majdanek gas chamber on my website here.

Why is the USHMM downgrading Majdanek?  Could it be because the Memorial Site at Majdanek is now saying that the total number of Jews who died there, of all causes, is 59,000?

When the Majdanek camp was liberated on July 23, 1944 by soldiers in the army of the Soviet Union, it was at first announced to the world that 1.7 million people had been murdered there by the Nazis. By the time that the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal proceedings against the Nazi war criminals began in November 1945, the Soviets had revised this number down to 1.5 million.  Testimony given at the Nuremberg IMT was that 1.5 million people had died at Majdanek.

In December 2005, the Museum at the Majdanek Memorial Site announced that Lublin scholar Tomasz Kranz has established that there was a total of 78,000 deaths at the Majdanek camp, including 59,000 Jewish deaths. According to the Museum, this revised number is the culmination of years of research in which the number of deaths at Majdanek has steadily dwindled down to only a fraction of the original estimate by the Soviet liberators.

I previously blogged about the Majdanek gas chamber here.

I blogged about the glass window in the Majdanek gas chamber here.

September 7, 2012

Jews were gassed at Majdanek with the exhaust from captured Soviet tanks. Who knew?

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 5:16 pm

I was startled to read this on the British Mail Online a couple of days ago:

“Victims at Majdanek were forced into gas chambers that were pumped full with the exhaust from captured Soviet tank engines.”

Did the exhaust from the captured Soviet tank engines cause the heavy blue stains that one can still see in the Majdanek gas chambers?  The photo below shows the stains inside one of the Majdanek gas chambers.

Blue stains caused by the use of Zyklon-B in a Majdanek gas chamber

When I visited the Majdanek death camp in 1998, I was told by my private tour guide that these blue stains were caused by Zyklon-B, the gas that was used to kill the Jews.  Was my guide wrong?  Are the blue stains, that are seen in many of the Nazi gas chambers, actually caused by exhaust from tanks? Is that why some of the Nazi gas chambers, for example the gas chambers at Dachau and Mauthausen, have no blue stains?

I also read this on the Mail Online:

The crematoria next door (to the Majdanek gas chamber) still has ash remains of victims in its ovens.

What crematoria (plural) are they talking about?  The Majdanek crematorium building (the only one) is located at the opposite end of the camp from the gas chambers.  There is a small gas chamber, disguised as a shower room, in the crematorium building at Majdanek, but I was told that it used Zyklon-B which was dropped through a hole in the ceiling.  The original crematorium building was burned down, allegedly by the Nazis, and the building was reconstructed by the Soviets.

The photo below shows the reconstructed crematorium building.  In the reconstructed gas chamber in this building, the hole for the Zyklon-B is directly over the floor drain.  The Zyklon-B would have gone down the drain before the victims in the shower room could have been poisoned.


2006 Photo of Crematorium reconstructed by the Soviet Union
Photo Credit: Simon Robertson

The Mail Online news article includes this information:

[Majdanek was] Used for mass killings during Operation Reinhard: the Nazi plan to murder all Polish Jews

Operation Reinhard was the name given to the plan to transport the Jews to three camps: Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec, which the Nazis claimed were transit camps.  The headquarters of Operation Reinhard was in the city of Lublin, which is where Majdanek is now located.  During World War II, Majdanek was just outside the city limits of Lublin.  The clothing, taken from the Jews, who were sent to the three Operation Reinhard camps, was disinfected with Zyklon-B before being sent to Germany.

Could the rooms at Majdanek, with the heavy blue stains, have been disinfection chambers?  Is that why these rooms were located close to the entrance into the camp, not close to the crematorium which was at the opposite end of the camp?  The building close to the entrance has a shower room that is separate from the alleged gas chambers. A sign in the building, when I visited in 1998, said that the purpose of taking a shower, before going into the gas chamber, was to warm up the body so that the gas could work faster.

Building No. 41 at Majdanek was allegedly a gas chamber

The gas chamber building, shown in the photo above, is located within sight of the street that goes past the Majdanek camp. A sign on the building says “Bad und Desinfektion” (Bath and Disinfection), which the Museum guidebook says was “to lull the vigilance of those condemned to death.”

There are actually two buildings near the entrance to the camp where Zyklon-B was used. Only the building allegedly used for gassing people with Zyklon-B was shown to me by my guide. The other one is barrack Number 42 which was used for delousing clothing with the same Zyklon-B when the camp was in operation. Barrack Number 42 is locked and visitors are not allowed to see it.

The disinfection buildings at Auschwitz, which used Zyklon-B to disinfect the prisoner’s clothing, are also off limits to visitors. I previously blogged about this here.

According to the Mail Online, here is why Majdanek is in the news now:

Authorities in Lublin in eastern Poland want to construct [a new] crematorium near to the Majdanek camp where 80,000 people were put to death during the Second World War

That’s right. There were close to 80,000 deaths, from all causes, at Majdanek.  The exact figure that is now given by the Majdanek Museum is 78,000, including 59,000 Jewish deaths.  The Soviet prosecutors at the Nuremberg IMT alleged that the number of deaths at Majdank was 1.5 million.  I didn’t know, until now, that the deaths at Majdanek were due to gassing with exhaust from Soviet tank engines.  That means that the gassing of the Jews could not have started until enough Soviet tanks had been captured.

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