The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/m/mueller.filip/muller.008


Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Holocaust Almanac - Eyewitness Auschwitz: Birkenau's crematoria
Summary: Birkenau's new cremation facilities discussed by survivor
Reply-To: kmcvay@oneb.almanac.bc.ca
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac, Vancouver Island, CANADA
Keywords: Auschwitz,Birkenau

Archive/File: holocaust/poland/auschwitz muller.008
Last-Modified: 1993/09/20

   "In the lunch break I ran across a mate of mine whom I had
   first met at the beginning of 1943, during his 'training' as a stoker
   in the old crematorium at Auschwitz.  Through a wooden door in the
   left wing of the building he took me into the coke store.  From there
   we went along a narrow semi-dark corridor, past three doors (one of
   which led into the Kommandofu"hrers room) into the cremation plant.
   Five ovens, each with three combustion chambers, were installed here.
   Outwardly the fifteen arched openings did not significantly differ
   from those at the Auschwitz crematorium.  The one important
   innovation consisted of two rollers, each with a diameter of 15
   centimetres, fixed to the edge of each oven.  This made it easier for
   the metal platform to be pushed inside the oven.  The process of
   cremating corpses was similar to that in Auschwitz.  The only way in
   which this death factory differed from the one in Auschwitz was its
   size.  Its fifteen huge ovens, working non-stop, could cremate more
   than 3,000 corpses daily.  Bearing in mind that scarcely more than
   100 metres away there was another crematorium with the same capacity,
   and still another 400 metres further on the two smaller crematoria 4
   and 5, with eight ovens each, one was forced to conclude that
   civilization had come to an end.  And yet, whoever wanted to stay
   alive had to ignore the detestable reality and the conditions under
   which he was forced to live, however violently he loathed them.

   ...

   Using the lift which brought the corpses up we descended into
   the basement.  The sight of the rooms down there made me shudder.
   Every detail had been devised with the sole aim of cramming up to
   3000 people into one room in order to kill them with poison gas.
   When we entered the morgue we found lying in a heap some 200
   emaciated corpses, all of whom had obviously died of hunger, disease
   or exhaustion.  They had been thrown down the concrete chute from the
   yard into the mortuary basement.

   ...

   We left the mortuary and came to a huge iron-mounted wooden door; it
   was not locked.  We entered a place which was in total darkness.  As
   we switched on the light, the room was lit by bulbs enclosed in a
   protective wire cage.  We were standing in a large oblong room
   measuring about 250 square metres.  Its unusually low ceiling and
   walls were whitewashed.  Down the length of the room concrete pillars
   supported the ceiling.  However, not all the pillars served this
   purpose: for there were others, too.  The Zyclon B gas crystals were
   inserted through openings into hollow pillars made of sheet metal.
   They were perforated at regular intervals and inside them a spiral
   ran from top to bottom in order to ensure as even a distribution of
   the granular crystals as possible.  Mounted on the ceiling was a
   large number of dummy showers made of metal .  These were intended to
   delude the suspicious on entering the gas chamber into believing that
   they were in a shower-room.  A ventilating plant was installed in the
   wall; this was switched on immediately after each gassing to disperse
   the gas and thus to expedite the removal of corpses.

   At right angles to the gas chamber was the largest room in the
   extermination complex, the so-called changing room.  Measuring over
   300 square metres, this underground room could accommodate more than
   l,000 people.  They entered from the yard down wide concrete steps.
   At the entrance to the basement was a signboard, and written on it in
   several languages the direction: To the baths and disinfecting rooms.
   The ceiling of the changing room was supported by concrete pillars to
   which many more notices were fixed, once again with the aim of making
   the unsuspecting people believe that the imminent process of
   disinfection was of vital importance for their health.  Slogans like
   Cleanliness brings freedom or One louse may kill you were intended to
   hoodwink, as were numbered clothes hooks fixed at a height of 1.50
   metres.  Along the walls stood wooden benches, creating the
   impression that they were placed there to make people more
   comfortable while undressing.  There were other multi-lingual notices
   inviting them to hang up their clothes as well as their shoes, tied
   together by their laces, and admonishing them to remember the number
   of their hook so that they might easily retrieve their clothes after
   their showers.  There were further notices on the way from the
   changing room to the gas chamber, directing people to the baths and
   disinfecting room.

   The whole get-up of these subterranean rooms, cunning camouflage and
   clumsy deception at one and the same time, was horrifying I began to
   fear that what I had experienced so far was child's play to what
   awaited me.  Every single detail was carefully aimed at allaying the
   victims' suspicions and calculated to take them quickly and without
   trouble into the gas chamber.

   The number of ovens had been increased almost eightfold; the
   number of prisoners in the Sonderkommando was forty times its former
   strength.  After initial problems had been dealt with, it was now
   possible in the course of twenty-four hours to cremate up to l0,000
   corpses.  These were, of course, not modern or technically advanced
   crematoria.  Their operation depended entirely on slave labourers
   capable of doing very heavy physical work under extreme conditions."
   (Mu"ller, 59-61)

                              Work Cited

Mu"ller, Filip. Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers.
New York: Stein and Day, 1979


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