Auschwitz Camp II Birkenau - Page 4

LINKS BELOW are to pages in the Auschwitz site and to the Colin Day Travelling Days series:

     1 : Auschwitz Introduction
     2 : Auschwitz I
     3 : Auschwitz II Birkenau
     4 : Aerial Photograph
HOME PAGE : Colin Day's Links

A watch tower outside the Women's Camp (above).

The main kitchen in the Women's Camp (above). There were over a dozen prisoners' kitchens scattered throughout Auschwitz built to feed the prisoners who were spared the gas chambers and were able to work both within the camps and in surrounding factory units. However, if a worker later became unfit for work through illness, injury etc. he or she could quickly be transferred to be executed in one of the gas chambers.

The photograph on the left shows newly arrived Hungarian Jews standing near the Central Sauna building at Birkenau where incoming prisoners were processed.

In the background are the clothing warehouse buildings situated in an area of Birkenau known as 'Canada'.

According to information obtainable at the Yad Vashem Museum, where the pictures from the original Auschwitz Album are kept, these Jews would not be able to avail themselves of any food from the kitchens as, indeed, they were waiting their turn to enter the gas chamber in Crematorium (Krema) IV which was close by.

The above information and photograph are with acknowledgement to Scrapbookpages.com (The Auschwitz Album).

Zyklon-B was the trade name of a cyanide-based pesticide invented in the early 1920s and infamous for its later use by Nazi Germany to murder an estimated 1.2 million people (including approximately 960,000 Jews) in the gas chambers of extermination camps during the Holocaust.

Hydrocyanic Acid (aka 'Prussic Acid') was widely used for the fumigation of valuable tree crops. It was initially applied to citrus fruit in 1887 in California.

During World War I other HCN-based pest control applications were developed, and soon fumigation of ships, stores, factories, and even residential buildings with hydrocyanic acid gas became a popular method of combating insect and rodent pests in many countries.

Thousands of ships, cereal mills, and other food processing factories were fumigated with hydrocyanic acid gas up until the mid-1930s in Germany alone.

In early 1942 Zyklon-B had emerged as the preferred extermination tool of the Nazi regime during the Holocaust for both the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek extermination camps. Rudolf Höess, Commandant of Auschwitz, said that the use of Zyklon-B came about on the initiative of one of his subordinates, Captain Karl Fritzsch, who used the substance to kill some Russian POWs in late August 1941.

Victims inside the gas chambers usually died within 20 minutes. The speed of the deaths depending on how close the victims were standing to a poison gas vent. Höess estimated that about one third of the victims died almost immediately. Johann Kremer, an SS doctor who oversaw the gassings, testified that the 'Shouting and screaming of the victims could be heard .... and it was clear that they fought for their lives.'

The above information with acknowledgement to Wikipedia.


The Auschwitz model shows the train with trucks containing Jewish and other prisoners arriving at Birkenau (above). Having been offloaded the prisoners are sorted into various groups, some going to the appropriate camp buildings and others immediately to the gas chambers (below) .

Those going to their death by gassing file into one of the crematoria (the one shown is possibly Crematorium III) where they are told to undress 'in order to have showers and receive a change of clothing' (below).

In early 1943, the Nazis decided to increase the gassing capacity of Birkenau.

Crematorium II, originally designed as a mortuary, with morgues in the basement and ground-level incinerators, was converted into a killing factory by installing gas-tight doors, vents for the Zyklon B described above to be dropped into the chamber, and ventilation equipment to later remove the gas. It went into operation in March. The model of Crematoriun II shown below is to be found in the museum in Auschwitz I.

Crematorium III was built using the same design.   Crematoria IV and V, designed from the start as gassing centers, were also constructed that spring.

By June 1943, all four crematoria were operational.

In November 1944, with the Soviet Red Army approaching through Poland, Himmler ordered gassing operations to cease across the Reich. Crematoria II, III, and IV were dismantled, while Crematorium I in Auschwitz I was converted into an air raid shelter.
The photograph (above) shows the effects of later destruction of Crematorium II both before and after the liberation of Auschwitz II in 1945.

(Photograph with acknowledgement to Pawel Sawicki and www.auschwitz.org) .

buttonnext.jpg - 5586 Bytes

buttongo.jpg - 7212 Bytes