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Birkenau (part 2)

Posted June 5th, 2017 at 09:15 AM by Solidaire
Updated July 1st, 2018 at 11:20 AM by Solidaire

An explanatory layout of Krema II.

N: the railway coming right up to the extermination installations
L: gates to the gas chamber and crematorium of Krema II (seen in previous entry)

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Entrance (A) to the underground room (C) where victims had to undress before entering the gas chamber.

Katabasis, the descent into Hades.
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The underground gas chamber (D). Blown up by the retreating Nazis to eliminate evidence for the mass murder, with its roof caved in by the explosion.

Death is so thick here: so many people murdered, in such a short time, in so small an area. Half a million souls, in this gas chamber alone; an eerie thought, a place like no other.
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Rudolf Hoss described one such gassing:

“ Through the spyhole in the door one could see how those persons standing nearest the shafts fell dead immediately. Nearly a third of the victims died instantaneously. The others began to huddle together, scream and gasp for air. Soon however, the screams turned into a death rattle, and a few minutes later all were lying down. By the time twenty minutes at the most had passed, no one was moving”.

Filip Muller a member of the Sonderkommando described a gassing:

“As people reached the crematorium they saw everything – this horribly violent scene. The whole area was ringed with SS. Dogs barked – machine- guns. They all, mainly the Polish Jews, had misgivings.

They knew something was seriously amiss, but none of them had the faintest of notions that in three or four hours they’d be reduced to ashes.

When they reached the undressing room they saw that it looked like an International Information Centre. On the walls were hooks,and each hook had a number. Beneath the hooks were wooden benches. So people could undress more comfortably, it was said.

And on the numerous pillars that held up this underground undressing room, there were signs with slogans in several languages – “Clean is Good”,” Lice can kill”, “Wash Yourself”, “To the disinfection area”. All those signs were only there to lure people into the gas chambers already undressed – and to the left, at a right angle, was the gas chamber with its massive door.

In Crematoriums II and III, Zyklon B gas crystals were poured in by a so-called SS disinfection squad through the ceiling, and in Crematorium IV and V through side openings. With five or six canisters of gas they could kill around two thousand people.

This so-called disinfection squad arrived in a truck marked with a red cross and escorted people along to make them believe they were being led to take a bath. But the red cross was only a mask to hide the canisters of Zyklon B gas and the hammers to open them.

The gas took about fifteen minutes to kill. The most horrible thing was when the doors of the gas chambers were opened – the unbearable sight – people were packed together like basalt, like blocks of stone. How they tumbled out of the gas chamber.

I saw that several times- that was the toughest thing to take – you could never get used to that. It was impossible.

You see, once the gas was poured in, it worked like this: it rose from the ground upwards. And in the terrible struggle that followed – because it was a struggle – the lights were switched off in the gas chambers. It was dark, no one could see, so the strongest people tried to climb higher. Because they probably realised that the higher they got, the more air there was. They could breathe better. That caused the struggle.

Secondly, most people tried to push their way to the door. It was psychological – they knew where the door was, maybe they could force their way out. It was instinctive, a death struggle.

Which is why children and weaker people, and the aged, always wound up at the bottom. The strongest were on top. Because in the death struggle, a father didn’t realise his son lay beneath him”.

And when the doors were opened?

"They fell out. People fell out like blocks of stone, like rocks falling out of a truck. But near the Zyklon B gas, there was a void. There was no one where the gas crystals went in – An empty space. Probably the victims realised that the gas worked strongest there. The people were battered – they struggled and fought in the darkness. They were covered in excrement, in blood, from ears and noses."

"One also sometimes saw that the people lying on the ground, because of the pressure of the others, were unrecognizable. Children had their skulls crushed. It was awful, Vomit, Blood – from ears and noses, probably even menstrual fluid. I am sure of it.

There was everything in that struggle for life, that death struggle. It was terrible to see. That was the toughest part."

Auschwitz Concentration Camp The Gas Chambers http://www.HolocaustResearchProject.org

The blown-up furnaces and ground facilities.
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Pits where ashes of the murdered people were thrown. Ash is still visible beneath the top ground layers.
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Jews selected for immediate extermination in Krema III and IV were herded along this way, halfway from the Gate of Death to Krema II above, following a long road on foot. All Crematoriums were blown up by the SS, with the exception of Krema III which was destroyed by a Sonderkommando rebellion.
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Barbed wire fence, electrically charged when the camp was operational.
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[Click the image to open in full size.
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