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June 26, 2011

When was the new crematorium at Dachau finished?

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 11:25 am

The decision to build a new crematorium at Dachau was made in April 1942. An order was issued from Berlin on July 23, 1942 to begin construction of Baracke X, the new crematorium, at a cost of 150,000 Reichsmark.

When was construction of the building, as seen today, completed?  Did Baracke X look the same as it does now when American soldiers liberated the camp on April 29, 1945?  There have been persistent rumors that the new crematorium was built or modified after the Americans arrived.

Baracke X, the new crematorium at Dachau

A reader of this blog recently sent me an e-mail with two links to the web site of David Irving here and here.  These pages on Irving’s web site were put up in 1999.  Each page has a letter written by someone who claimed that the Baracke X building was not completely finished in April 1945 and that the construction was completed later by German POWs being held in the former camp.

According to the book Legacies of Dachau, by Harold Marcuse, “In the fall of 1945 the legend that the Americans had forced German POWs to build the crematorium after the war was not yet in circulation.”

Was the “legend” not in circulation yet because the crematorium was not COMPLETED until some time later, like maybe in 1947?

Marcuse quoted extensively from the diary of German general Gert Naumann in his book, but on page 85, he wrote “I did not attempt to find Naumann” to interview him about the crematorium.

This quote is from Legacies of Dachau:

But I did interview several other internees (of War Crimes Enclosure No. 1 at Dachau).  In the Dachau memorial site archive I found a copy of the diary of General Karl Schnell, who had donated the seven volumes of his magnum opus in 1993.  I called him at his home in Karlsruhe in July 1993, and he was quite willing to talk.  When I asked him whether he had been taken to the crematorium (when he was first brought to War Crimes Enclosure No.1), he answered: “I couldn’t have done that.  The crematorium wasn’t built yet.  The Americans had German POWs build it after I left the camp [in 1946].”  Even when I told him what Naumann, a good friend of his, had written, he refused to concede the point. Not wishing to listen to more, I ended the conversation.”

What had Naumann written that convinced Marcuse that the crematorium was there in 1945?  This quote is from page 81 of Legacies of Dachau:

He (Naumann) arrived in Dachau with a transport of other internees on the roll-call square, and a sign “to the crematorium” on the gatehouse.  The men were taken in groups of ten into a small wooden barrack, and returned reeling, some with bloody noses.

I have deduced from this quote that Naumann did not write that he was taken to see the crematorium, although he did report seeing a direction sign to “the crematorium.”  There were two crematoria at Dachau.  Why didn’t the sign say “to the crematoria” or “to the crematoriums”?

Old crematorium at Dachau

The first time that I visited Dachau, in 1997, I sat outside on a bench before going into Baracke X which is the building where the gas chamber is located.

Bench outside the Baracke X building at Dachau

I love brick buildings, and as I was sitting outside Baracke X, I couldn’t help but notice the front wall which seemed to me to have some sloppy construction that I would call “un-German.”

Outside wall of Baracke X, the crematorium

Those things on the wall looked like mailboxes to me, but why were there two of them?  I didn’t ask any questions because I didn’t want to show my ignorance.  It was only after I returned from my trip that I learned, from doing some research, that the things on the wall were bins for pouring the gas pellets into the gas chamber.

Closeup of bin for pouring in gas pellets

The gas pellets were poured through the bins and came out of two little windows inside on the east wall of the gas chamber.  I took the photo below when I returned to Dachau in 2007.

Window on east wall of Dachau gas chamber

It appears to me that this window was cut into the gas chamber wall AFTER the room was built.  A sign in the undressing room for the gas chamber tells visitors that gas pellets “could have been” put into the gas chamber through the two windows.

A couple of years ago, I compiled a list of descriptions written by American soldiers who were taken to see the gas chamber in 1945.  None of the soldiers mentioned the bins on the wall, nor the little windows in the gas chamber.  It could be that the bins were there, but they were closed and no light was coming through the little windows, so none of the soldiers noticed them.

It is possible that the person who made the film that was shown at Nuremberg did not notice the little windows.  The film showed the “engineer’s room” behind the west wall, where the SS men allegedly controlled the pipes through which the “lethal smoke” was put into the gas chamber.  The west wall was not shown in the film.

This controversy could be laid to rest if the Dachau Museum would just display a photograph of Baracke X, taken after the building was completed in 1943.  It is possible that the Germans never took a photo of the front of the building, but this is highly unlikely since I have seen old photos of the back of the building and the north end of the building.

A photo of the east wall of Baracke X, taken a day or two after the camp was liberated, is shown below.

A three-sided wooden shed hides the east wall of Baracke X Photo Credit: Donald E. Jackson

“engineer’s room” behind the east wall of Dachau gas chamber, 1945 Photo Credit: USHMM, courtesy of William and Dorothy McLaughlin Copyright: USHMM

On the right, in the photo above, are two control wheels for letting gas into the Dachau gas chamber.  To the left of one of the control wheels is a small peep hole with the cover lifted up.  This photo was taken by an American soldier who saw the gas chamber in 1945, after the camp had been liberated.

A film entitled Atrocities at Dachau, Story RG-60.0843, Tape 828 was made on May 3, 1945, the day that a group of US Congressmen visited the gas chamber. It shows the two black objects to the left of the control wheels in the center of the black and white photo above but the movie camera did not pan down to include the peep hole which can be seen in the photo.

In their report, the Congressmen wrote: “….The supply of gas into the chamber was controlled by means of two valves on one of the outer walls, and beneath the valves was a small glass-covered peephole through which the operator could watch the victims die….”

The valves were not on one of  the “outer walls” but rather in a hallway behind the west wall which was called “the engineer’s room.”  The quote is from Document No. 47 of the 79th Congress, 1st Session, Senate Report (May 15, 1945) of the Committee Requested by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to the Congress of the U.S. relative to Atrocities and other Conditions in Concentration Camps in Germany. This document was entered into the Nuremberg trial proceedings as IMT Document L-159.

November 19, 2010

Proof of the Nazi gas chambers given at the Nuremberg IMT on Nov. 29, 1945

The proceedings against the German war criminals of World War II started on November 20, 1945 in the city of Nürnberg, Germany.  This year, the German people are celebrating the 65th anniversary of “the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal” and a new Museum will be open in the court building.

On the 9th day of testimony given by the Allies against the Germans, the American prosecution team presented the most incriminating evidence of all against the Germans: a film which showed the gas chamber at Dachau.

The film footage of the Dachau gas chamber was just a small part of an hour-long movie that started with the burning of concentration camp prisoners in a barn at Gardelegen and covered all the major Nazi atrocities including the lamp shades made out of human skin at Buchenwald and the emaciated bodies of typhus victims being pushed by a bulldozer into mass graves at Bergen-Belsen.

The film footage entitled Atrocities at Dachau, Story RG-60.0843, Tape 828 was made on May 3, 1945.  The film shows the two black objects between the control wheels in the center of the black and white photo below but the movie camera did not pan down to include the peep hole which can be seen in the photo. The rectangular box, located above the peephole in the black and white photo below, is clearly shown in the film and it appears to be a panel with push buttons.

The film shows the Dachau gas chamber, and the “engineer’s room” behind it, while the narrator explains how the victims were gassed. Large pipes and control wheels, located behind the west wall of the gas chamber, are shown as the narrator says:  “A man at the controls let in the poison gas.”

The photo below, which was taken in 1945 shortly after the Dachau camp was liberated, shows the pipes and control wheels behind the west wall of the gas chamber.

“Engineer’s room” with control wheels and peephole behind west wall of gas chamber Photo Credit: USHMM, courtesy of William and Dorothy McLaughlin Copyright: USHMM

In the center of the photo above is a rectangular panel with push buttons, which is approximately at shoulder level for a man six feet tall.  To the left of the push buttons is a switch box with a handle that can be thrown to let something “Ein” or “Aus” which in English means On or Off.

Just below the push button panel is a small round peephole with its cover lifted up.  Why is the peephole so low on the wall?  Those SS guys were 6 ft. 5 and would have had to bend down to check out the victims in the gas chamber.  The placement of the peep hole suggests that it was not there when the switch box and the push button box were installed, but was added later and the only space available was a spot that was too low.

On the far left and on the right in the photo above are the wheels that an operator allegedly turned, to let the gas flow into the chamber through three pipes above the ceiling. All of the shower heads have been stolen from the Dachau gas chamber, and it can now be seen that the shower heads were not connected to any pipes, either water pipes or gas pipes.

So if the shower room at Dachau could not have been used for showers, nor for gassing, what was the purpose of the room?  The room was completed in May 1943, and apparently not used for any purpose, yet the room was kept, along with an undressing room and a waiting room, so that the American liberators could find evidence that Jews were gassed in the concentration camps.

In the film, a closeup of the panel in the center of the photo above shows that it has four push buttons. The narrator of the film explains that the buttons were used to “control inflow and outtake of gas.” There are four sets of lights in the gas chamber, two sets on the south wall and two sets on the north wall.  The push buttons might actually have been used to turn the lights on and off. However, in the film shown at Nuremberg, which was made by the American Army on May 3, 1945, four of the light fixture boxes are called “top vents” through which the poison gas was vented out of the room.

A display in the undressing room in May 2007 informed visitors that the push buttons were stolen after the camp was liberated. The area behind the west wall of the gas chamber, which is shown in the photo above, is off limits to visitors now.

An empty light fixture box that was called a “top vent” in the film shown at the Nuremberg IMT

One of the “top vents,” which was featured in the film at Nuremberg, is shown in the photo above, taken in May 2003. This empty light fixture box is called a “gas vent” in the film that was shot by Hollywood director George Stevens on May 3, 1945 and shown at the Nuremberg IMT on November 29, 1945.

A light fixture box in the Dachau shower room

The photo above, taken in May 2007, shows one of the remaining light fixtures in the alleged gas chamber. The light fixture box is flush against the ceiling.  Notice the very sloppy construction job.  Who puts a light fixture flush against the ceiling?  Could the ceiling have been lowered from 10 ft. down to the present height after the room was originally constructed?  The two rooms on either side of the alleged gas chamber have 10 ft. ceilings.

In the film that was shown at the Nuremberg IMT on November 29, 1945, a US soldier can be seen opening the heavy steel door that separates the undressing room from the alleged gas chamber. In the film, the first thing we see, on the wall opposite the door, are two “gas vents,” one of which is shown in my color photo above. Then we see a “gas nozzle” which looks like a shower head stuck into the concrete ceiling with no visible pipes.

I took this photo of the last remaining shower head in the Dachau shower room in May 2001

Heating vent near the floor in the southwest corner of the Dachau shower room

The photo above shows a large square vent located just above the floor on the west wall of the Dachau shower room. This vent is shown in the film, as the narrator says that it is a “gas vent.”  Today, tour guides at Dachau tell visitors that this is a heating vent, used to warm up the Zykon-B, which needs to be heated in order to release the poison.

The film also shows an unopened can of Zyklon-B pellets which is called “cyanide powder” by the narrator. The Americans should have opened up that can of Zyklon-B.  They would have seen that the gas was in the form of pellets, not powder, and it could not have gone through the shower heads.  They should have done some research to learn that the Zyklon-B pellets needed to be heated.  They should have mentioned in the film that the heating vent on the west wall was used to heat the Zyklon-B pellets, which is what tourists today are told.

Now the tour guides at Dachau tell visitors that the poison pellets “could have been” put through the two small windows on the east wall of the alleged gas chamber.  Sure, the Zyklon-B  pellets “could have been” thrown into the room through the two little windows if those windows had been there between May 1943 and May 1945.

Two vents on the east wall of the Dachau shower room

The Nuremberg film shows a sign on the wall of the morgue that reads “Reinlichkeit is hier Pflight deshalb Hände waschen nicht vergessen.” In English, this means “Cleanliness is a duty here, therefore don’t forget to wash your hands.” This sign has now been painted over.

The film footage that is available on the USHMM web site is raw footage with no sound, but the transcript of the narration about the gas chamber in the finished movie is quoted below:

This is the Brausebad — the shower bath. Inside the shower bath — the gas vents. On the ceiling — the dummy shower heads. In the engineers room — the intake and outlet pipes. Push buttons to control inflow and outtake of gas. A hand-valve to regulate pressure. Cyanide powder was used to generate the lethal smoke. From the gas chamber, the bodies were removed to the crematory.

A delegation of US Congressmen flew to Paris on April 22, 1945, at General Eisenhower’s request.  Remember that Eisenhower famously said that some day people might believe that it was all propaganda.  So Eisenhower wanted to make sure that there were plenty of witnesses to the Nazi atrocities.

The Congressmen visited the Buchenwald concentration camp on April 24, 1945, two weeks after the camp was liberated on April 11th. The Congressmen arrived in Dachau on May 1, 1945, the same day that newsreels were first released in American theaters, showing the Nazi atrocities at Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen. Dachau had been liberated on April 29, 1945, just two days before the Congressmen arrived.

So what did the Congressmen do on May 1st, their first day at Dachau?  Did they relax in a nice hotel in the town of Dachau?  Or did they go directly to the Dachau camp and look around?  Were the Congressmen anxious to see the alleged gas chamber or did they hang around for two days in the town, before checking out the gas chamber?

Zieglerbrau  Brewery and Inn in the town of Dachau

Photo of the congressmen in the Dachau gas chamber

The old black and white photo above was taken on May 3, 1945.  The photo below, which shows the same view of the Dachau gas chamber, was taken in May 2001.  Notice the sign that says, in 5 languages, that the gas chamber was never used.  That sign was removed in 2003 and visitors are now told that the gas chamber was used, although not for “mass gassing.”

Dachau “gas chamber” May 2001

In the old black and white photo, the second Congressman from the right is pointing towards the northeast corner of the gas chamber, where there is a square vent in the ceiling and one of the “gas vents” shown in the movie of the gas chamber, taken on May 3, 1945.

The Congressman seems to be pointing to the “gas vent” in a light fixture box in the northeast corner, while ignoring the large opening on the wall near the floor.  How could the Congressmen have missed seeing the small windows that are on the wall of the shower room today?  Maybe the Congressmen didn’t see the windows on the east wall because they weren’t there in May 1945!

The northeast corner of the Dachau shower room

In their report, the Congressmen wrote:

“A distinguishing feature of the Dachau Camp was the gas chamber for the execution of prisoners and the somewhat elaborate facilities for execution by shooting. The gas chamber was located in the center of a large room in the crematory building. It was built of concrete. Its dimensions were about 20 by 20 feet, and the ceiling was some 10 feet in height. In two opposite walls of the chamber were airtight doors through which condemned prisoners could be taken into the chamber for execution and removed after execution. The supply of gas into the chamber was controlled by means of two valves on one of the outer walls, and beneath the valves was a small glass-covered peephole through which the operator could watch the victims die. The gas was let into the chamber through pipes terminating in perforated brass fixtures set into the ceiling. The chamber was of a size sufficient to execute probably a hundred men at one time.”

In their report, the Congressmen described the ceiling of the Dachau gas chamber as being 10 feet high and pointed out that “The gas was let into the chamber through pipes terminating in perforated brass fixtures set into the ceiling.” The one remaining shower head, which I saw in 2001, was made of sheet metal. The ceiling of the alleged gas chamber is now much lower.  The empty holes for the shower heads show that the shower heads had not been connected to any pipes.  So where are the “pipes terminating in perforated brass fixtures” which the Congressmen reported?  Are the pipes still hanging from the 10 ft. ceiling that is now hidden by a new ceiling that was constructed by the American liberators in May 1945?

Did the Dachau shower room originally have shower heads hanging from pipes on the ceiling like the pipes shown in the photo below, before some re-construction was done by the American liberators?  The photo was taken at the Mauthausen concentration camp; it shows a real water pipe entering the room through the wall.

A shower head hanging from pipes on the ceiling

Why doesn’t the Congressional Report match the photo of the Congressmen inside the gas chamber on May 3, 1945?  Did the Congressmen go to the alleged gas chamber on May 1st and write their report immediately? The film that was shown at Nuremberg was taken two days later; was there some construction done in the two days before the film was shot?

The peephole in the alleged gas chamber presents a problem.  If the room was actually a shower room, why was a peephole necessary?  The Congressmen, who were filmed inside the alleged gas chamber on May 3, 1945, mentioned the peephole in their report.  However, if they had previously seen the alleged gas chamber on May 1st, before any modification of the shower room was done, would they have seen a peephole?  Yes. It is possible that re-construction on the shower room had started on April 30, 1945.

Peephole and water faucet on the west wall of the Dachau shower room

Notice that the frames around the two openings do not match. This is an indication that the two frames were not installed at the same time.  The tiles around the peephole do not match the rest of the tiles on the wall.

The photo below shows a closeup of the peephole.

Close-up of the peephole in the Dachau shower room

Why is the peephole so large?  On the other side of the wall, the peephole has a tiny, round metal frame.  Did the Americans have trouble making a tiny hole in the tile on the other side of the wall?

The photo below, taken after the camp was liberated, shows that the peep hole is too low on the wall.  On the right side of the photo, you can see several wooden coffins, stacked up.

The only known photo of the Dachau gas chamber in 1945

The Congressmen’s report is entitled Document No. 47 of the 79th Congress, 1st Session, Senate Report (May 15, 1945) of the Committee Requested by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to the Congress of the U.S. relative to Atrocities and other Conditions in Concentration Camps in Germany. This document was entered into the Nuremberg trial proceedings as IMT Document L-159.

I don’t know if the Congressmen’s report will be in the new Museum at Nuremberg, but it should be.  Another document that should be in the new Museum is the Report of the Atrocities Committed at Dachau Concentration Camp, signed by Col. David Chavez, Jr., JAGD, 7 May 1945.

The Chavez report, which was entered into the Nuremberg IMT, is quoted below:

“The new building had a gas chamber for executions… the gas chamber was labeled “shower room” over the entrance and was a large room with airtight doors and double glassed lights, sealed and gas proof. The ceiling was studded with dummy shower heads. A small observation peephole, double glassed and hermetically sealed was used to observe the conditions of the victims. There were grates in the floor. Hydrogen cyanide was mixed in the room below, and rose into the gas chamber and out the top vents.”

The “grates in the floor” are drains that are connected to the sewer line.  According to the Chavez report, the poison gas rose up through the floor drains and was then vented through the light fixture boxes.  But why was the gas vented through the light fixture boxes when there was a vent on the ceiling in the northeast corner?  (Look at the photo above which shows the northeast corner.)  The Chavez report seems to be suggesting that there was no ceiling vent for the gas.  Was the ceiling vent put there a few days AFTER the American liberators arrived?  Is that why the shower heads are randomly placed on the ceiling instead of being in three identical rows?

An affidavit, given by Dr. Franz Blaha, a prisoner at Dachau, to Col. David Chavez on 3 May 1945, was also entered into the proceedings of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal. Except for the film of the Dachau gas chamber that was shown at Nuremberg on November 29, 1945, Dr. Blaha’s affidavit was the only evidence presented at Nuremberg which proved that prisoners had been gassed at Dachau.

The affidavit by Dr. Franciszek Blaha, a Czech Communist inmate at Dachau, which was introduced at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, is quoted below:

Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. 5
THIRTY-SECOND DAY
Friday, 11 January 1946

“12. Many executions by gas or shooting or injections took place right in the camp. The gas chamber was completed in 1944, and I was called by Dr. Rascher to examine the first victims. Of the eight or nine persons in the chamber there were three still alive, and the remainder appeared to be dead. Their eyes were red, and their faces were swollen. Many prisoners were later killed in this way. Afterwards they were removed to the crematorium where I had to examine their teeth for gold. Teeth containing gold were extracted. Many prisoners who were sick were killed by injections while in the hospital. Some prisoners killed in the hospital came through to the autopsy room with no name or number on the tag which was usually tied to their big toe. Instead the tag said ‘Do not dissect’. I performed autopsies on some of these and found that they were perfectly healthy but had died from injections. Sometimes prisoners were killed only because they had dysentery or vomited and gave the nurses too much trouble. Mental patients were liquidated by being led to the gas chamber and injected there or shot. Shooting was a common method of execution. Prisoners could be shot just outside the crematorium and carried in. I have seen people pushed into the ovens while they were still breathing and making sounds, although if they were too much alive they were usually hit on the head first. “

Note that Dr. Blaha said that the gas chamber was completed in 1944.  The building where the alleged gas chamber is located was completed in May 1943. Was the shower room converted into a gas chamber in 1944?  Did the Nazis really allow a Communist prisoner to examine the bodies of prisoners who had been gassed, so that he could testify against them in the event that they lost the war?  Why didn’t the SS men at Dachau keep the gassing a secret and blow up the gas chamber building before they left on April 28th, the day before the camp was liberated?

Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen was a defense witness for the SS at the Nuremberg IMT. The SS had been charged with being a criminal organization.  Dr. Morgen testified that Dr. Blaha, who was a prisoner at Dachau, could not have seen what he claimed to have seen because prisoners were not allowed in all parts of the camp.

Dr. Morgen was a Nazi judge who had been appointed by Heinrich Himmler to inspect the concentration camps to determine if there was any corruption or abuse of the prisoners.  He had 5 of the concentration camp Commandants arrested and two of them were executed.  Yet, Dr. Morgen gave the Dachau camp a good report.

How come Dr. Morgen didn’t find out about the gas chamber at Dachau?  Dr. Morgen DID testify at the Nuremberg IMT that there was a gas chamber at the Auschwitz III camp but the SS was not responsible for it.  He didn’t do anything about the alleged gas chamber at Auschwitz III (Monowitz) because it had allegedly been ordered personally by Hitler.

You can read about the “human soap” evidence presented by the Soviet Union at the Nuremberg IMT here.

What about entering false evidence into the proceedings of a Tribunal?  Is that a crime?