The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/auschwitz/air-photo-citations

(Various citations dealing with existing air photo evidence, snipped 
from Usenet articles.)


"In photographs taken by a further United States photographic
reconnaisance on December 21, the sole aim of which was to show the extent
of the damage at Monowitz during the bombing raids three days before, many
of the electrified fences and guard towers of Birkenau can now be seen to
have been dismantled. At Crematorium II the undressing room roof adjacent
to the gas chamber had been removed, and the roof and chimney of the
Crematorium itself was in the process of being dismantled. The fences
around the Crematorium can also be seen to have been removed. Around
Crematorium III the fences are also gone, and the whole building
surrounded by debris....

"On January 14 the United States Air Force flew its twelfth photographic
reconnaisance flight over Monowitz. Once more, all of Auschwitz and all
of Birkenau were included. Studying the photographs today, the continuing
dismantling of the gas chambers and crematoria is evident...."(Gilbert, 
Auschwitz and the Allies, p. 332, 334-337)


"The first bombing raid on the synthetic oil and rubber plant at Monowitz
took place on August 20 [1944]. The raid was flown by the 15th United
States Air Force, from their base at Foggia, in southern Italy. During the
raid, which began at 10.32 in the evening, and lasted for twenty-eight
minuted, 127 Flying Fortresss dropped a total of 1,336 five hundred pound
high explosive bombs, from an altitude of between 26,00 and 29,000 feet.

"Only one of the bombers was shot down. Against nineteen German fighters
that rose to intercept them, the Americans had been able to send an escort
of a hundred Mustangs.

"The intelligence reports on the Monowitz raid of August 20 were completed
three days later, following a scrutiny of aerial photographs taken
immediately after the raid. The 'main weight of the attack' it appeared,
had fallen on the central and eastern part of the works, 'where there is
very considerable damage to installations and buildings'. Owing to the
dispersed nature of the various plants, however, 'many hits have been
scored on the open ground between buildings and damage is therefore not so
spectacular as it might otherwise be'. It seemed 'probable' that the blast
from these hits on open ground 'must have caused a considerable amount of
damage to installations' not visible on the photographs. Several buildings
in the synthetic oil plant were seen to have been 'severely damaged', and
there was 'probably also some blast damage' to one of the three active
hydrogenation stalls.

"Heavy damage was recorded by the aerial photgraphs in the aluminum
production plant, as well as 'considerable damage to stores, buildings,
contractors sheds and offices, and to huts and buildings in the various
labour camps adjoining the works'.


"The sole purpose of the photographic reconnaissance over Auschwitz on
August 25 was to look yet again at the damage done during the raid of
August 20, and to see what further repairs were being made. Once more, both
Auschwitz I and Birkenau appear in part five of the photographs. But the
intelligence assessment made no reference to these exposures, nor did it
have any reason to do so. Over Monowitz it noted, 'some slight clearance
and repairs seem', but as to the six 'primary objectives', at the first,
the boiler house and generator hall, 'no damage seen'; at the second, the
water gas plant, 'no damage seen'; at the third, the H2S removal plant,
'no damage seen';  at the Co2 and CO removal plant 'small installation
partly wrecked'; at the gas conversion plant, and at the injector houses,
'no damage seen'. 

"This was a dissapointing result. 'The damage received,' the report
concluded, 'is not sufficient to interfere seriously with synthetic fuel
production, and should not greatly delay completion of this part of the

"A photograph attached to this report showed one of the aerial shots taken
over Monowitz on August 25. In it, hundreds of bomb craters are clearly
visible. The photograph was accompanied by a plan on which all damaged and
destroyed buildings were marked. Also identified were 151 different
buildings, including a group of buildings at the southern edge of Monowitz
listed as 'Concentration Camp'. This was, in fact, the slave labour camp
at Auschwitz III, with 30,000 Jews who had been brought from Birkenau. But
this was not known to the interpreters. More than seventy huts and other
buildings were visible, but not specifically identified, inside this
particular complex, recognized as a camp, but not commented on further in
any way.


"The Monowitz  raid of September 13 [1944] had lasted for only thirteen
minutes, from 11.17 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. Ninety-six heavy bombers took part,
dropping just over a thousand 500-pound bombs from 24,000 feet.

"Like the raid of August 20, this one was a part of the continuing Allied
efforts to destroy Germany's synthetic oil production. According to the
interpretation of aerial photographs taken during the raid, 'only slight
damage' was done, mostly to the 'small stores, buildings and labour
barracks'. Two buildings in the 'concentration camp' were seen also to
have been hit. Normal motor transport movement was seen. So too were
repairs to 'previous damage' in the raid of August 20, 'and new
construction continuing'.

"As part of the air attack on September 13, yet another photographic
mission had flown over both Auschwitz and Birkenau, as well as over
Monowitz. Its camera even recorded, twice, the falling bombs. Also visible
in the Birkenau photographs of September 13 are the gas chambers and
Crematoria IV and V: the latter being hidden from the inmates of the camp
by the birchwood.


"On September 16 two pilots from 680 Squadron, FLight Lieutenant Tasker and
Flight Sergeant Murphy, left Foggia to photgraphs eight of the recently
attacked oil plants and stores. Their sortie took them over Ravenna,
Bologna, Auschwitz, Vrutky, Diosgyor and Vienna. Passing over Monowitz at
five minutes after midday, the photographs which they took covered only
the western third of the plant, the section least affected by the attack
three days before. But they did show that the cooling tower serving the
main distallation had been destroyed, and a purified gas-holder burned

"Two days later, On September 18, a second reconnaissance sortie by Major
Allam and Lieutenant Roth of 683 Squadron was more successful in
photgraphing the areas hit during the September 13 air-raid on Monowitz,
but noted that owiong to the dispersed nature of the buildings, 'fresh
damage is not as heavy as it might otherwise be'. In addition to the
damage noted by the camera two days before, the new photographs, when
analysed, showed slight blast damge to the water gas plant, but found no
other primary or even secondary objectives to have been 'visibly
affected'. There was however some clear 'fresh' damage to stores,
workshops, an 'in the labour camps to the south and south-west of the
plant'. The camera also photgraphed clearance of bomb damage and roof
repairs, 'in progress around several points of earlier damage'. 

"Further photographs were taken over Monowitz on September 18 by 60
Squadron. Air intelligence confirmed the findings of Allam and Roth, but
noted that there were 'no signs' of operative activity in any part of the
plant, apart from a wisp of smoke or steam issuing from the southern end
of the blower-house for the water gas plant', and the presence of gas in
five gas holders. The only other activity recorded was 'the usual
movement' of trucks, personnel, 'cranes and hopper wagons and presence of
rail cars'. The fresh damage, the intelligence analysts concluded, 'is not
likely greatly to delay the work of completion of the synthetic oil


"On November 11 [1944] the Allied Combined Intelligence Unit prepared a Top
Secret report on the principal sites of German synthetic oil production.
At Auschwitz-Monowitz, it was clear, 'progress has been made with
construction' of the Buna plant. Two of the lime kilns 'are now complete
and the third in nearing completion'. As a result of the bombing attacks
on August 20 and September 13, it now appeared, there had been 'a
cessation of production for two or three months', and the production
recently restored was at only two-thirds its earlier capacity. The
probable annual production of synthetic oil was estimated at between
24,000 and 33,000 tons.

"In the intelligence report that followed the reconnaissance, no mention is
made of the crematoria area at Birkenau. But for the first time there is a
direct reference to the number and nature of the trains in the
Auschwitz-Birkenau 'marshalling yard'. Although the photographs themselves
were of 'dark quality', they revealed, in the 'North Yard', approximately
220 to 240 'mixed wagons', five locomotives 'in steam', and two other
locomotives, while in the 'South Yard' the the Allied analysts noted 160
160 mixed wagons, one locomotive 'in steam', and twenty-three box cars on
the railway sidings 'in industrial plant West of South Yards', as well as
two locomotives 'in steam in an unidentified area' to the southwest.

"It is clear from this analysis that nothing was known by those who made it
of the purpose or role of Birkenau and its sidings. In the same report,
the scrutiny of Monowitz was as detailed, and specific as always. Smoke
and steam issuing from several smoke stacks and installations indicated
'the plant to be active'. Five small work trains, two small locomotives,
and several lorries were seen 'moving in the plant area'. In addition the
report noted that 'numerous personnel can also be seen moving about',
that further repairs had been carried out to damaged installations, and
that 'new construction' had continued. Some thirty railway wagons were
seen on the Monowitz sidings, and approximately a hundred wagons 'on the
railway sidings east of the plant area'. 

"From this it was clear that Monowitz was still operational, and on
December  18 the Allied bomber attacked again, some bombs hitting the
plant, and others the labour camp, the latter to such an extent that the
first intelligence revealed that five huts had 'suffered partial
destruction from direct hits'. Bit there was also wastage, a cluster of
twelve bombs having fallen in the 'open area'. A second intelligence
report five days after the raid was to reveal 'particularly heavy damage'
to the injector house, compressor house and north workshop, but at the
same time reported substantial 'repairs and construction' in the
distillation plant, cooling plant, lime kiln, and railway shed. In
addition, the 'concentration camp', that is to say, Monowitz's own slave
labour camp, 'three heavily damaged buildings have been repaired'."(Gilbert, 
Auschwitz and the Allies, pp. 307-308, 310, 317-318, 330-332)


"Thanks to Dr. Nevin Bryant, supervisor of cartographic applications and
image processing applications at Caltech/NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
in Pasadena, California, I was able to get the CIA photographs properly
analyzed by people who know what they are looking at from the air. Nevin
and I analyzed the photographs using digital enhancements techniques not
available to the CIA in 1979. We were able to prove that the photographs
had not been tampered with, and we indeed found evidence of extermination
activity. The aerial photographs were shot in sequence as the plane flew
over the camp (on a bombing run toward its ultimate target - the IG Farben
Industrial works). Since the photographs of the camp were taken a few
seconds apart, stereoscopic viewing of two consecutive photographs show
movement of people and vehicles and provides better depth perception. The
aerial photograph in figure 23 [1] shows the distinctive features of Krema
II. Note the long shadow from the crematorium chimney and, on the roof of
the adjacent gas chamber at right angles to the crematorium building, note
the four staggered shadows. Ball claims these shadows were drawn in, but
four small structures that match the shadows are visible on the roof of
the gas chamber in figure 24 [2] taken by an SS photographer of the back
of Krema II (if you look directly below the chimney of krema II, you will
see two sides of the rectangular underground gas chamber structure
protruding a few feet above the ground.)

"The photgraphic evidence converges quite nicely with eyewitness accounts
describing SS men pouring Zyklon-B pellets through the opening in the roof
of the gas chamber. the aerial photograph in figure 25 [3] shows a group
of prisoners being marched to Krema V for gassing. The gas chamber is at
the end of the building, and the crematorium has double chimneys. From the
camp's daily logs, it is clear that these are Hungarian Jews from an RSHA
transport, some of whom where selected for work and the rest sent for
extermination. (Additional photographs and detailed discussion appear in
Shermer and Grobman 1977.)" (Shermer, Michael. Why People Believe Weird 
Things: Pseudoscience, superstition, and other confusions of our time, 
pp. 233-234, 235)


"Photo Evidence: a 10x enlargement of imagery aquired on August 25 covers
only the southern third of Birkenau and is of very high quality for its
day (Photo 4). The imagery illustrates eyewitness accounts of the death
process at Birkenau. A rail transport of 33 cars is at the Birkenau
railhead and debarkation point. Prisoners can be seen beside the train. The
selection process is either underway or completed. One group of prisoners
is apparantly being marched to gas chamber and Crematorium II. 

"Groups of prisoners can be seen marching about the compound, standing
formation, undergoing disinfection and performing tasks which cannot be
identified soley from imagery. A detailed view of the Women's Camp and
individual barrack blocks was obtained. (Many of the so-called "barracks"
provided as living quarters were originally
prefabricated stables intended for use in Africa with the Arfika Korps.)
We can also identify details of the camp security system - the electrified
fences, guard towers, the camp main gate and guardhouse, as well as the
special security arrangements around the gas chambers and crematoria."
(Brugioni and Poirier, The Holocaust Revisted, p. 7-8)

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