Auschwitz Camp 1 - Page 4

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     1 : Auschwitz Introduction
     2 : Auschwitz I
     3 : Auschwitz II Birkenau
     4 : Aerial Photograph
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It's just short walk through the camp from Blocks 10 and 11 to Crematorium I with its Gas Chamber.

On the way we pass one of the SS offices and medical centre (above ) .......

.......and a small air raid shelter for the camp staff (right) .

The Crematorium I building lies outside the main camp and is seen on the left. The photo below shows the original entrance door into the crematorium building.

This is the door that tourists now enter to see the gas chamber and is the same door through which the victims entered.

The gas chamber (below) was installed in the mortuary of the crematory, and could contain between 700 and 800 persons. Zyklon B pellets (diatomaceous earth soaked with prussic acid) were poured into the gas chamber through openings in the roof.

A more detailed account of Zyklon B will be found on Auschwitz II-Birkenau Page 4. Please click  here .

The use of the mortuary had an additional benefit in that it possessed a strong ventilation system, in contrast to the cellar of Block 11. The gas chamber was put into operation in autumn 1941. The last killings were carried out in December 1942.

The number of victims who perished in this gas chamber is unknown. Filip Müller, who belonged to the Sonderkommando of Crematorium I for about a year, estimated the number of victims at some ten thousand.

After its use as a gas chamber the SS used the building as an execution site. Following completion of the four large crematories at Birkenau the gas chamber was used for other purposes. In 1944 it was converted into an air-raid bunker. After the liberation of Auschwitz the building was partly re-constructed into its original state. Today's visitor sees a re-construction with original parts.

Crematorium I operated from August 15, 1940 until July 1943. According to calculations by the German authorities, 340 corpses could be burned every 24 hours after the installation of its three furnaces. Corpses from the gas chambers were transferred to them on trolleys resting on rails.

Originally it was a morgue room that was situated beside the furnace room. In late 1941 the morgue room was sealed up, five holes were punched in the roof and capped with small chimneys through which the Zyklon-B was dropped. A large fan was installed and the doors were made gas tight.

On February 15, 1942 the first transport of Jews from Upper Silesia was gassed here. The gas chamber had been in use since the autumn of 1941 when it was used to execute Soviet prisoners of war. The gassings continued until the autumn of 1942 when the murder operation was moved to Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

When the building was transformed into an air raid shelter in 1944, the ovens were dismantled and the holes in the ceiling were filled in. The rooms were subdivided with strong walls to support the ceiling and contain the effects of a direct hit by a bomb.

After the war, when the Main Camp was turned into a museum, the authorities felt that a crematorium was required at the end of the memorial journey for visitors. Crematorium 1 was restored using eyewitness testimony and blueprints dated September 25, 1941 to speak for the history of all the crematoria and gas chambers chambers including those at Birkenau.

The chimney, the gas chamber room, the doors, and four of the openings in the roof which had been used to pour in the Zyklon-B were restored. Two of the three ovens were rebuilt. The ovens were not hooked up to the chimney as it was not an operating facility.

Over recent years various 'revisionist' groups and individuals including David Irving have sought to dispute the world wide acknowledged facts regarding the Holocaust. However, various organisations have since been formed to provide the evidence required to demonstrate that these 'revisionists' are presenting severely innacurate and misleading information.

One such organisation is Emory University, one of the world's leading research universities. Its mission is 'to create, preserve, teach and apply knowledge in the service of humanity'. The university has nearly 3,000 faculty members; awards and honours recognizing the Emory faculty include the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, National Humanities Medal, Guggenheim Fellowship, Fulbright Fellowship, and membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. Emory University may be accessed here .

As an example of its work, the following is an edited part of a published university paper concerning Crematorium I and for which due acknowledgement for its reproduction here is given to Emory University.

Hans Stark, a member of the camp Gestapo, gave evidence at the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt in 1963. He testified that gassings were carried out "in a room in the small crematorium which had been prepared for this purpose.

Stark recalled that the roof above the gas chamber room was flat with openings through which "Zyklon B in granular form" was poured. On at least one occasion Stark himself poured the Zyklon-B in the holes. Stark recalled after the war that the Zyklon-B, "trickled down over the people as it was being poured in. They then started to cry out terribly for they now knew what was happening to them . . . After a few minutes there was silence. After some time had passed, it may have been ten or fifteen minutes, the gas-chamber was opened. The dead lay higgledy-piggledy all over the place. It was a dreadful sight."

Filip Müller, a Slovak Jew who arrived in Auschwitz in April 1942, was put to work as an oven stoker in Crematorium 1. Müller's job was to drag the corpses from the morgue-turned-gas chamber to the ovens and sort and remove valuables from the abandoned clothing.

He recalled one gassing in Crematorium 1: "When the last one had crossed the threshold, two SS leaders slammed shut the heavy iron-studded door which was fitted with a rubber seal, and bolted it . . . the Unterfü;hrers on duty had gone onto the crematorium roof . . . They removed the covers from the six camouflaged openings. There, protected by gas-masks, they poured the green-blue crystals of the deadly gas into the gas chamber."

A rigorously conducted and authorized forensic study of the gas chambers done in 2000 unearthed a photograph of the roof of Crematorium I that clearly shows five holes in the roof which had been resealed after the building was abandoned as a gas chamber and turned into an air raid shelter in late 1944.

Adam Zlobnicki recalls the restoration of the holes in the roof: "Those who reconstructed them had an easy task because the erstwhile introduction holes and had distinct traces . . . Thus, they constructed in the same places again the openings for the little chimneys." The fifth hole was not reopened.

Conclusion : Crematorium 1 in Auschwitz I (the Main Camp) is not a 'fake' but a restored space meant to be a memorial and symbolic representation of all the gas chambers and crematoria in the Auschwitz complex.

Copyright © Emory University 2013


Rudolf Höess was born in Baden-Baden on 25 November 1900 into a strict Catholic family. He was the oldest of three children and the only son.

According to Höess' autobiography, he was a lonely child with no playmates his own age until he entered elementary school, and all of his companionship came from adults. When World War I broke out, he served briefly in a military hospital and then, at the age of 14, was admitted to the German Army's 21st Regiment of Dragoons. At the age of fifteen, he fought with the Ottoman Sixth Army at Baghdad, at Kut-el-Amara, and in Palestine.

Wounded three times and a victim of malaria, he was awarded the Gallipoli Star, the Iron Cross first and second class, and other decorations. Höess also briefly served as commander of a cavalry unit.

Höess formally renounced his membership in the Catholic Church in 1922 and soon joined the Nazi Party (Party Member No. 3240) after hearing Hitler speak in Munich. He was invited to become an SS man in 1934, and he accepted.

Höess first met Himmler in 1929. He came to admire Himmler so much that he considered whatever he said to be 'gospel' and preferred to hang his picture rather than Hitler's in his office. That same year, Höess moved to the SS-Totenkopfverbände (Death's Head Units) and in December he was assigned to the Dachau concentration camp, where he held the post of Blockführer.

On 1 May 1940, Höess was appointed commandant of Auschwitz and commanded the camp for three and a half years. Höess lived at Auschwitz in a villa together with his wife and five children. In June 1941 Himmler told Höess that Hitler had given the order for the physical extermination of Europe's Jews. Höess, beginning in September 1941 tested and perfected the techniques of mass killing that made Auschwitz the most efficiently murderous instrument of the 'Final Solution' and the most potent symbol of the Holocaust. According to Höess, during standard camp operations, two to three trains carrying 2,000 prisoners each would arrive daily for periods of four to six weeks. The prisoners were unloaded in the Birkenau camp; those fit for labour were marched to barracks in either Birkenau or one of the Auschwitz camps, while those unsuitable for work were herded into the gas chambers.

At first, two small gassing bunkers were located deep in the woods in order to avoid detection. Later, four large gas chambers and crematoria were constructed in Birkenau to make the killing more efficient and to handle the increasing rate of exterminations.

Höess was replaced as the Auschwitz commander by Arthur Liebehenschel on 10 November 1943. On 8 May 1944 Höess returned to Auschwitz to supervise an operation by which 430,000 Hungarian Jews were transported to the camp and killed in 56 days between May and July of that year. Even Höess' expanded facility could not handle the huge number of victims' corpses, and the camp staff had to dispose of thousands of bodies by burning them in open pits.

In the last days of the war Höess was advised by Himmler to disguise himself among German Navy personnel. He evaded arrest for nearly a year. When he was captured on 11 March 1946 by British troops, some of whom were Jews born in Germany, he was disguised as a farmer and called himself 'Franz Lang'.

On 25 May 1946, he was handed over to Polish authorities and the Supreme National Tribunal in Poland tried him for murder.

Höess was sentenced to death by hanging on 2 April 1947. The sentence was carried out on 16 April immediately adjacent to the crematorium of the former Auschwitz I concentration camp.

Photographs and description with acknowledgement to "www.auschwitz.org" and "Wikipedia".

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