Newsgroups: alt.revisionism Subject: Holocaust Almanac: Two Hours to Live (2 of 2) Followup-To: alt.revisionism Organization: The Nizkor Project, Vancouver Island, CANADA Keywords: Aumeier,Auschwitz,Belsen,Birkenau,Grabner,Hossler Archive/File: camps/auschwitz hilberg.02 Last-Modified: 1993/11/02 "The Auschwitz procedure evolved in stages. In April 1942, Slovak Jews were gassed in Crematorium I, apparently with their clothes on.<66> Later, deportees from nearby Sosnowiec were told to undress in the yard. The victims, faced by the peremptory order to remove their clothes, men in front of women and women in front of men, became apprehensive. The SS men, shouting at them, then drove the naked men, women and children into the gas chamber.<67> During the third stage, in 1942, the abuse was replaced by politeness, and the speech making by Aumeier, Grabner and Hossler began. The victims were now told to undress for the showers, before the soup that would be served afterwards became cold.<68> For added security, gassings would be scheduled for a time before daybreak, when the camp inmates were still sleeping, or for the night hours, after the curfew had gone into effect.<69> At Birkenau, illusion was the rule. It was not always simple or possible, inasmuch as at least some of the deportees had observed the sign 'Auschwitz' as the train passed through the railway yards,<70> or had seen flames belching from the chimneys, or had smelled the strange, sickening odor of the crematoria.<71> Most of them, however, like a group from Salonika, were funneled through the undressing rooms, were told to hang their clothes on hooks and remember the number, and promised food after the shower and work after the food. The unsuspecting Greek Jews, clutching soap and towels, rushed into the gas chambers.<72> Nothing was allowed to disturb this precarious synchronization. When a Jewish inmate revealed to newly arrived people what was in store for them, he was cremated alive.<73> Only in the case of victims who were brought in from nearby ghettos in upper Silesia (Sosnowiec and Bedzin) and who had had intimations of Auschwitz was speed alone essential. These people were told to undress quickly in their 'own best interest.'<74> Once there was a major incident in front of an Auschwitz gas chamber. A transport that had come in from Belsen revolted. The incident occurred when two thirds of the arrivals had already been shoved into the gas chamber. The remainder of the transport, still in the dressing room, had become suspicious. When three or four SS men entered to hasten the undressing, fighting broke out. The light cables were torn down, the SS men were overpowered, one of them was stabbed, and all of them were deprived of their weapons. As the room was plunged into complete darkness, wild shooting started between the guard at the exit door and the prisoners inside. When Hoss arrived at the scene, he ordered the doors to be shut. Half an hour passed. Then, accompanied by a guard, Hoss stepped into the dressing room, carrying a flashlight and pushing the prisoners into one corner. From there they were taken out singly into another room and shot.<75> Selections were carried out not only on the platform, in order to pick out deportees who would be able to work, but also within the camp, to eliminate inmates too sick or too weak to work any longer. The usual occasion for the choosing of victims was the roll call, where everybody was present;<76> another place was the hospital;<77> and sometimes selections were carried out block by block.<78> One former inmate, recalling such targeting, says: 'I tried to make myself as inconspicuous as possible, not too erect, yet not slouching,; not too smart, yet not too sloppy; not too proud, yet not too servile, for I knew that those who were different died in Auschwitz, while the anonymous, the faceless ones, survived.'<79> A young intellectual from Italy, who was in an Auschwitz hospital because of a swollen foot, was told by a gentile Polish inmate: 'Du Jude, kaputt. Du schnell Krematorium fertig [You Jew, finished. You soon ready for crematorium].'<80> In Treblinka, to have been bruised in the face was considered a calamity. The wounded man, 'stamped' (gestempelt), was a candidate for selection at the next roll call.<81> In Auschwitz the victims would try every subterfuge to escape. They tried to hide. Occasionally they tried to argue. A nineteen-year-old girl asked the Auschwitz women's camp commander, Hossler, to excuse her. He replied, 'You have lived long enough. Come, my child, come.'<82> Driven by whips between cordons of Kapos and guards, the naked people who had been picked out were loaded on trucks and driven to the gas chambers or to a condemned block. Before Christmas in 1944, 2,000 women were packed into Block 25, which had room for 500. They were kept there for ten days. Soup cauldrons were pushed through a gap in the door by a fire guard. At the end of ten days, 700 were dead. The rest were gassed.<83> Gassing would begin with a command. At Treblinka a German would shout to a Ukranian guard: 'Ivan, water!' This was a signal to start the motor.<84> The procedure was not necessarily fast. With no room to move in the small chambers, the victims stood for thirty or forty minutes before they died. According to one Treblinka survivor, people were sometimes kept in the chambers all night without the motor being turned on.<85> At Belzec, where Oberscharfurer Hackenholt was in charge of the motor, a German visitor, Professor Pfannenstiel, wanted to know what was going on inside. He is said to have put his ear to the wall and, listening, to have remarked: 'Just like in a synagogue.'<86> At Kulmhof, the doors to the van were closed by Polish workers. One was inadvertently locked in with the Jews and raged in despair to get out. The Germans decided that it would not be prudent to open the door for him.<87> When the Auschwitz victims filed into the gas chamber, they discovered that the imitation showers did not work.88 Outside, a central switch was pulled to turn off the lights,89 and a Red Cross car drove up with the Zyklon.<90> An SS man, wearing a gas mask fitted with a special filter, lifted the glass shutter over the lattice and emptied one can after another into the gas chamber. Although the lethal dose was one milligram per kilogram of body weight and the effect was supposed to be rapid, dampness could retard the speed with which the gas was spreading.<91> Untersturmfuhrer Grabner, political officer of the camp, stood ready with stopwatch in hand.<92> As the first pellets sublimated on the floor of the chamber, the victims began to scream. To escape from the rising gas, the stronger knocked down the weaker, stepping on prostrate victims in order to prolong their own lives by reaching gas-free layers of air. The agony lasted for about two minutes, and as the shrieking subsided, the dying people slumped over. Within fifteen minutes (sometimes five), everyone in the gas chamber was dead. The gas was now allowed to escape and after about half an hour, the door was opened. The bodies were found in tower-like heaps, some in sitting or half-sitting positions, children and older people at the bottom. Where the gas had been introduced, there was an empty area from which the victims had backed away, and pressed against the door were the bodies of men who in terror had tried to break out. The corpses were pink in color, with green spots. Some had foam on the lips, others bled through the nose. Excrement and urine covered some of the bodies, and in some pregnant women the birth process had started. The Jewish work parties (Sonderkommandos), wearing gas masks, dragged out the bodies near the door to clear a path and hosed down the dead, at the same time soaking the pockets of poison gas remaining between the bodies. Then the Sonderkommandos had to pry the corpses apart.<93> In all the camps bodily cavities were searched for hidden valuables, and gold teeth were extracted from the mouths of the dead. In Crematorium II (new number) at Birkenau, the fillings and gold teeth, sometimes attached to jaws, were cleaned in hydrochloric acid, to be melted into bars in the main camp.94 At Auschwitz the hair of the women was cut off after they were dead. It was washed in ammonium chloride before being packed.<95> The bodies could then be cremated." (Hilberg, 967-976) Hilberg's end notes follow: 66. Muller, Eyewitness Auschwitz, pp. 11-13. 67. Ibid., pp.31-35. 68. Ibid., pp.35-39. 69. Ibid., p.39. 70. Elie Wiesel, Night (New York, 1969), p. 36. Interrogation of Hilse, Case Novak, vol. 12, p. 605. According to Hilse, transports passed through the station. The freight yards, consisting of forty-four parallel tracks, were two miles long. 71. Lengyel, Five Chimneys, p.22. 72. Muller, Eyewitness Aushchwitz, pp.80-81. 73. Ibid, p.80. 74. Ibid, pp.69-71. 75. Affidavit by Hoss, March 14, 1946, NO-1210. The incident is described in greater detail by Muller, Eyewitness Auschwitz, pp.83-89. Muller credits a seductive, strikingly good-looking Jewish woman with riveting the attention of two SS men. She struck one with a shoe, drew his pistol and shot the other (Schillinger). Tadeusz Borowski, a Polish inmate, describes the incident in a story, 'The Death of Schillinger,' This Way to the Gas Ladies and Gentlemen (New York, 1976), pp. 143-146. In this version, the woman, already naked, picked up gravel, threw it at Schillinger, and shot him with his own pistol. The SS man, mortally wounded, was carried to a car and, groaning, was heard to say: 'O Gott, mein Gott, was hab' ich getan, dass ich so leiden muss? [God, oh God, what have I done that I have to suffer like this?].' 76. Lengyel, Five Chimneys, p. 40. Gisela Perl, I Was a Doctor in Auschwitz (New York, 1948), p. 103. 77. Lingens-Reiner, Prisoners of Fear, pp.64-65, 82-83, 85. Perl, I Was a Doctor in Auschwitz, pp.55, 94, 108-9. 78. Perl, Ibid., pp.128-30. 79. Rudolf Vrba and Alan Bestic, I Cannot Forgive (New York, 1964), p. 140. Vrba, anonymous but not average, escaped from the camp. 80. Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz (New York, 1961), p.44. 81. Ruckerl, NS-Vernichtungslager, p. 230. 82. Testimony by Helene Klein in Raymond Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer, (London, 1949), pp.127-30. The witness herself was given this answer by Hossler, but she managed to hide. A survivor, Dr. Bertold Epstein, once witnessed a selection of children in which the decisive criterion was height. The children marched up to a pole at the height of 4 feet and 3.18 inches. Those who did not make it were gassed. Friedman, Oswiecim, p. 72. 83. Ella Lingens-Reiner, Prisoners of Fear, (London, 1948), pp. 85-86. 84. Ruckerl, NS-Vernichtungslager, p. 224. 85. Wiernik, 'One Year, ' in Donat, Treblinka, p. 164. 86. Statement by Gerstein, April 26, 1945, PS-1553. Pfannestiel confirms that he was in Belzec in Gerstein, but denies having made the remark. Statements by Dr. Wilhelm Pfannenstiel, June 6, 1950, and November 9, 1952, Belzec case, vol. 1, pp.41-44, 135-141. German personnel stationed in Belzec would sometimes look through the peephole. Statement by Schluch, November 10, 1961, Belzec case, vol. 8, pp. 1503-25. Pfannenstiel points out in his statement of November 9, 1952, that when he tried to look he could not see much, because the Jews had beaten on the glass. 87. Ruckerl, NS-Vernichtungslager, pp. 270-71. 88. Sehn, 'Oswiecim, 'German Crimes in Poland, vol. 1, p.85. 89. Affidavit by Dr. Nikolae Nyiszli (survivor), October 8, 1947, N1-11710. 90. Ibid, Affidavit by Dr. Charles Sigismund Bendel (survivor). October 21, 1945, N1-11390. 91. Hoss, Kommandant, p. 171. Muller, Eyewitness Auschwitz, p. 116. 92. Affidavit by Perry Broad (SS man working under Grabner), December 14, 1945, N1-11397. 93. Muller, Eyewitness Auschwitz, pp. 116-18. Affidavit by Nyiszli, October 8, 1947, N1-11710. Affidavit by Broad, December 14, 1945, N1-11397. Affidavit by Hoss, April 5, 1946, PS-3868. Sehn, 'Oswiecim, 'German Crimes in Poland, vol. 1, pp. 85-87. 94. Muller, Eyewitness Auschwitz, pp. 68, 95, 100, 176. 95. Ibid., pp. 65, 95, 100. Work Cited Hilberg, Raul. The Destruction of the European Jews. Holmes & Meier, 1985.
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