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The Holocaust History Project.

                        Technique and Operation
                            of the Gas Chambers ©
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The installation, utilization and transformation
of the first cremation facility at Auschwitz
designated BW 11 and then BW 14
as from September 1944.

Krematorium I, the first cremation installation in Auschwitz, was part of the “normal“ equipment of the camp. but came to be used as an experimental criminal instrument for killing people by hydrocyanic acid intoxication in the morgue, which was transformed into a gas chamber. This prototype murderous role was relatively limited in extent, but makes Krematorium I a powerful symbol, created by the shock of the revelation of extermination practiced on a large scale, both for the SS who saw this concretization of official decisions and for the prisoners who were forced to work there as members of the Sonderkommando.

Krematorium I has two vital functions: first, its present rote of being the only Auschwitz Krematorium where a gas chamber can be visited (in summer sometimes by as many as 5 000 to 7 000 people of various nationalities per day) and, second, its historical role of having been the “test bed” for gassing and cremation in Birkenau Krematorien of type II/III [Krematorien IV and V being of a new and different type, based not on the principle of Krematorium I but that of Bunkers 1 and 2].

Unlike Krematorien II, III, IV and V, there are very few German documents concerned with Krematorium I. These do not make it possible to formally establish proof of homicidal gassing in its morgue and this lack of documentary evidence, together with the present state of the premises, has favoured revisionist attacks aimed at demonstrating that the gas chamber did not really exist. The fact is that while the building itself is still the original one, its internal arrangement, as found in January 1945, has been restructured and the installations connected with its cremation and gassing activities have been reconstructed and reconstituted, a fact which in the eyes of the revisionists negates their existence.  

     As evidence to establish the reality of homicidal gassing there remain only the testimonies of
      participants, the best known of whom are:
ALTER FAJNZYLBERG (alias Stanislas Jankowski, prisoner 27675), former member of the Sonderkommando who made a deposition at Cracow on 16th April 1945. This was subsequently published in the special number of the “Heften von Auschwitz” [Auschwitz Notebooks] by the PMO in 1971 [Document A is a translation of an extract from pages 42 and 43 of the 1972 edition, concerning Krematorium I]. Following the "Faurisson Affair" Alter Fajzylberk made a new declaration before a Paris notary on 29th September 1980 [Documents B1, B2 and B3, on which his statements concerning Krematorium I are indicated by a double line in the margin]. 
FILIP MÜLLER, former member of the Sonderkommando, who recounts his period in the camp in the book “Sonderbehandlung” [Special treatment], Verlag Steinhaussen Gmbh, Munich 1979, which appeared in French as “Trois ans dans une chambre à gaz d'Auschwitz” [Three years in an Auschwitz gas chamber], Pygmalion, Gerard Watelet, Paris 1980. and in English as “Eyewitness Auschwitz”, New York, Stein and Day, 1979. The French version is the one discussed here. 
RUDOLF HOESS, founder Commandant of the camp, who wrote his memoirs in prison before being judged and executed. The greater part of this work has been published very faithfully in French by the PMO in a book entitled “Auschwitz vu par les SS” [Auschwitz seen by the SS]. [In the English test, references are to “Commandant of Auschwitz” by Rudolf Hoess, Translated by Constantine Fitzgibbon, Pan Books, 1961]. 
PERY BROAD, former SS Unterscharführer in the Political Section of the Camp, who in 1945 wrote a text that he gave to the British who had taken him prisoner at the end of the war. This document has been the subject of several PMO publications, the only one used here being the “Déclaration de Pery Broad” in “Auschwitz vu par les SS”, 1974 edition.  
Technique and operation
of the gas chambers

Jean-Claude Pressac
© 1989, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
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