Source: German Crimes in Poland. Volume 1. Central Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland. Warsaw, 1946

[Note on Source Material. The text contains numerous inaccuracies of spelling, hyphenation and  grammatical usage, which have been left as in the original. Usage is also inconsistent. Page numbers precede text.]

The Auschwitz Extermination Camp
Part III

Part I
Part II

X. The victims of hunger in photographs
XI. .The camp hospital and "scientific" experiments on the prisoners

XII. The selections

XIII. The shootings

XIV. Hanging

XV. Gas-chambers

XVI. The burning of corpses. Crematoria

XVII. The wiping out of all vestiges of the crime

X. The victims of hunger in photographs

After the flight of the German’s a special legal and medical Commission inspected the 2819 sick prisoners from the Auschwitz camp who survived, and stated that among them 2189 i. e. 91% - were suffering from extreme exhaustion and starvation, and 223 had tuberculosis. The autopsies which were


carried lout on 536 corpses proved that in 474 cases death was due to starvation. 

The phbtograph No. 31 shown below represents a part of one group of corpses found in one of the Blocks of the Auschwitz camp. The physical condition of the prisoners during the existence of the camp is illustrated in photograph No. 32 taken by the SS doctor Mengele. Photographs Nos 33 and 34 were taken in May 1945, and show the state of the prisoners after they had already received several months of intensive treatment in a Polish Red Cross hospital. Photograph No. 33 represents a woman prisoner Nr. 44884, born in 1914, a Pole who arrived at Auschwitz Camp on May 15 1943.  She is a woman of 160 centimeters in height and weighing about 25 klg. Before her arrest she weighed 75 klg.

  Photograph Nr. 34 is that of a German woman prisoner of Aryan origin born in 1922 who came to Auschwitz on Feb. 28 1944. She weighed at the time the photograph was taken about 25 klg.

One of the many ,others unhappy victims, a woman prisoner No. A 27858, a Dutch Jewess, born in 1908, who had been in Auschwitz since the middle of the year 1944, when photographed she weighed 23 klg. and measured 155 cm. in height. 

All these women were ,suffering from the ,disease Distrophia Alimentaris III gradus.

XI. .The camp hospital and "scientific" experiments on the prisoners 


The inhuman conditions of life in the camp, hunger and hard work were the cause of an average of 30% of the prisoners being sick and needing medical assistance. This figure was contained in authentic diagrams of a section of prison - labour during the period 1st June 1942 to 1st August 1944. At certain


periods up to 80% of all the prisoners had diarrhoea (Durchfall), a very dangerous complaint in camp conditions.

Insufficient personal hygiene, and above all lack of water, caused breeding of lice, and that led to epidemics of spotted typhus, which almost a11 the prisoners caught during the winter periods of 1941-1943. They were also decimated by typhoid fever in all its varieties and finally by malaria, for, although the camp authorities did everything to protect the SS-men from it, they did not do anything to protect the prisoners. The disease "distrophia alimentaris" must also be mentioned, and was caused by starvation. It led in most cases to tuberculosis. Then there were scurvy and other diseases caused by avitaminosis, and finally various skin diseases, scabies in particular, and traumatic diseases caused through ill treatment. 

Malnutrition undermined the constitutions of the prisoners who could not fight efficiently against disease, so that the mortality rate among the sick was very high.  Typhoid fever and spotted typhus caused an excessively high number of deaths.

Elderly people, and of weak constitution perished in masses in a short period.

During the first period of its existence the camp had no hospital at all. Afterwards it was organized, but it was designed rather for experiments by the SS doctors and different representatives of German science than for the cure of the sick. The German doctors and "scientists" sought in Auschwitz human rabbits for their experiments. It follows undoubtedly from the testimony of a series of witnesses and from the report of the surgical section of this hospital of Dec. I6 th 1943 that in the camp hospital at Auschwitz experiments were carried out on living people. In the above-mentioned report there are enumerated among other things: 90 castrations (Hodenamputation), 10 operations for removal of the


ovaries (Eierentfernung) and 10 operation to remove the ovi duct (Entfernung der Eierleiters).

These experiments were carried out ,on the Xth Block of the base camp. The may be divided into the following groups: experiments having as their aim the investigations of cancer, finding out of a new contrasting mass for X-rays photographs and hematological and serological experiments. Women of Jewish origin were used in most cases for these experiments, which were done several times on many of them. At the order of the Garrison doctor Wirths these experiments and the investigation of cancer were done by a prisoner, Dr. Samuel, a German Jew, who cut out under narcosis a part of the neck of the womb of the women prisoners. The cu-tout tissue was frozen, and Dr. Samuel investigated it under the microscope. A big piece of tissue was cut out, and the cut was deep, as the further experiments proved that, owing to a strong scarring of the neck of the womb it became inaccessible to a sounding-rod, so such women were sent to Birkenau to the gas-chambers as not suitable for further experiments. Among others, Herman Mina, bforn on Dec. 27 th 1902 in Amsterdam fell victim to such experiments.

Samuel's asistant had constructed a special apparatus for photographing the inside of the vagina. These photographs were very painful, as they lasted an hour and they had to be repeated many times.

The sterilization experiments by means of X-rays were done by an airman of the Wehrmacht, Oberleutnant, Obermedizinalrat Prof. Dr. Schumann from Berlin. Illumination of the ovulas with X-rays directed on them for 5-15 minutes was carried out. The intensity and the tension of the current were regulated by Prof. Schumann himself, (sitting in a leaden cabin) - according to what he wanted to achieve by such an illumination. Many women vomited after this operation. Many of them died after it. After three months of this treatment


two controlling operations, were carried out on each of such women during which a part of the sexual organs was removed in order to investigate their condition. Probably owing to changes in the hormones ,resulting from these operations, even young girls grew prematurely old and gave the impression of nearly old women.

In the case of men only one testicle was exposed to the rays. After the operation they were returned normally to their blocks, from whence after one day of rest they were driven to work notwithstanding the state of their health. Many men also died owing to the rays. Those who survived were castrated by Schumann after one month in the hospital. The cut-out testicles were gathered up by Schumann who took them away to Berlin. Only young and healthy people were chosen for such operations, most of them being Greek Jews and Jewesses. During one session Schumann put rays on about 30 women. He organized such sessions 2-3 times in a week. 

The principal experimentalist on living people in the camp was the German gynaecologist, Prof. Glauberg who, with his colleague from Berlin, carried out experiments in order to find out new contrast substances for the X-rays. Glauberg however was a business man above everything else, as he was working by order of the German Chemical Industry, from whom he was getting a considerable sum for each woman used in his experiments. He bought 150 women from the camp authorities for his experiments. These women were laid on the table which served for the X-rays and with an electric syringe a dense, liquid mass like cement was squeezed into their sexual organs. The insertion of this mass was controlled with the aid of the Röntgen apparatus, and afterwards photographed. Women were writhing in pain, and often had severe haemorrhage. These experiments were carried out on the same women from 3 to 6 times at intervals of 3-4 weeks..


The victims of these experiments suffered from inflamation of the womb ovaries, ovi ducts and peritoneum.

Further experiments were carried out by the SSmen Weber and Münch. Their aim was the indication of the blood group the denoting of the text and the establishment of the group elements text serum in the saliva. Other experiments had as their aim the establishing of the amount of sulfphonamide and salicyl preparations in the blood and the establishment of the reactions on the system of the injections of blood in people suffering from malaria.

Finally other experiments were also performed in Auschwitz, such as ,the making of plaster casts of the women’s genitals, and the investigation of the reaction to different means of irritating the skin, ,or the relative effects of injections of petroleum and benzine. These last experiments were carried out at the request of the German army in order to obtain a detailed description of diseases ensuing from these operations. 

At the beginning of the year 1944, a special Medical Commission arrived at the camp consisting of SSmen from Berlin, who investigated about a hundred sick Jews and the health staff. A special preparation was injected into their muscles and the reaction from this injection was examined very carefully. After 15 minutes the victims were led into the courtyard where they had a special kind of gymnastics, for half an hour. Then individual members of the Commission asked the prisoners, among other things, if they wanted to live or to die, if they felt fear, and they were particularly asked several times who was their personal enemy. This last question proves that the gestapo were working to find out such means as would produce in the victim a special psychological condition facilitating extortion of evidence. It seems that the prisoners who underwent this experiment felt symptoms of a slight dimness, drowsiness and an inability to concentrate.


So the hospitals at Auschwitz served in the first place for experiments. The sick were taken there-according to the statement of a certain SSman-five minutes before their death. They were supplied with almost no medicaments whatsoever, there was no proper diet, the sick were fed almost in the same way as the prisoners, the housing conditions in the hospital were even worse than in the living quarters. There was one period of time when the only medicine which was in the hospital was aspirin and other analgesic tablets. The sick were given one spoonful of medicine only to create the illusion in them that they were being cured. The medicine which was in the hospital at the moment was given to all, in most cases analgesic tablets (Schmerztabletten) which included treatment for headaches, pleurisy, ischias, rheumatism, inflammation of the bladder, stomach aches and all other diseases. In the hospital drug store paper bandages and lignine were given out, which however were always in short supply. In the surgical section, contained in a small surgery, everything was done without, local or general anaesthesia. Often 8-10 cuts were made on one limb. Very often the operation of the squeezing out of tumours was performed. These were in most cases on the buttocks, resulting from suppuration of wounds, the result of beating with a rod.

In the hospital the meticulous recording of the case history of the diseases was observed very strictly and would have done credit to the best clinics. In some of the hospital blocks the curves of temperature and analysis were so carefully done that they might serve as an example even to the best hospitals. The German doctors however did not cure the prisoners.

XII. The selections

As in the camp only those who worked had the right to live, therefore the sick were taken regularly from the hospital at


intervals of time, and murdered. Such activities were called selections. This nightmare weighed heavily upon the hospital huts. It obviously deterred the sick people, so that for a long period of time the hospitals of Auschwitz were a refuge only for would-be-suicides, tired of life and the torments of camp existence. Such selections were also carried on in the housing blocks of all sections and branches of the camp, in order to clear out prisoners from them unfit for further work. In most cases the SSdoctors Helmersohn, Thilo, König, Mengele and Kitt, whith the manager of the Prisoners’ Employment department reviewed the sick and the prisoners in the blocks and without any medical inspection they decided merely from ,the appearance of the prisoner whether he should live or die. The prisoner, who at the first glance gave the impression of being exhausted, sick, unable to work, was regarded by the doctor as qualified for destruction. The sick knew that they were approaching in turn these masters of their life and death and tried to give the impression of being healthy. They straightened themselves, lifted their heads, pushed out their lean chests, trying in this way to weight the scales in favour of life. It did not help much, it was sometimes enough that someone had an abcess, or wore a a bandage, and so fell victim to selection. The Viennese Paul Kruger, was selected only because as he had an old appendicitis scar. The methods of selection are proved by the fact that in about 20 minutes the doctor "inspected" in this way often about 500 persons. During a certain selection carried out by Helmersohn, the physically weak prisoners tried to conceal themselves under the plank beds. They were seen and the SS-men fired blindly at the hidden men, wounding and killing many of them. The extent of destruction by such a selection is proved by the fact based on statistical data, that 7,616 people were selected only from the camp of the quarantine in Birkenau during the period from August 29 th 1943 up to Oct. 29 th 1944.


The chosen were put into separate blocks called by the prisoners "blocks of death".

In the women’s camp the XXVth Block was described by witness Mrs. Rachwal as follows: It was a stone block with grated windows whose courtyard was fenced with a high wire. In this block up to 2000 persons were often staying who sometimes did not get anything to eat for days. There was a dreadfull stuffiness and stench as it was filled with dead and dying prisoners, among which crept ,sick persons, swollen bleeding human skeletons, moaning and begging for a drop of water. Isolated in such blocks the selected prisoner perished either from hunger or from an injection of phenol or were suffocated by gas. The gaps thus made in the ranks of the labour groups were filled by the prisoners who arrived in the fresh transports. 

In the carefully thought-out mills of death at Auschwitz the selections served as a means of keeping the prisoners at the highest level of working efficiency, killing by hard labour, hunger and disease some, who were destined to be replaced by others. In this criminal way the turnover of human material at Auschwitz was control1e.d.

The inventor of the method of ridding the camp of prisoners unable to work by injections of phenol was one of the camp doctors SS-Obersturmführer Dr Endress. Injections of 10-12 cm. of a 30% phenol were made, first in the veins and then in the heart. The number of prisoners selected by him for injection of phenol was on some days as large as 300. These injections were made in most cases by both of the medical assistants, SS- Oberscharführer Josef Klehr and Herbert Scherpe, assisted first by Stessel and then by Panszczyk. Stesse1 boasted before the prisoners that he had murdered over 10,000 patients by phenol injections, and Panszczyk similarly treated more than 12,000. These operations were carried out in the surgery of the XXth Block or in ,the XXVIIIth Block of the base camp. The condemned man warns seated in a chair,


similar to a dentist’s, and two prisoners seized his hands and a third blindfolded him with a towel and held his head. Then Klehr approached his victim and drove a long needle into his chest directly into the heart. The prisoner did not die immediately, but everything turned dark before his eyes; then the prisoners who had assisted at the injection led him into an adjoining room and threw him on the floor, where he expired after about 20 seconds. The room in which these operations were carried out was close to the entrance to the XXth block on the left. The corpses were 1aid on the opposite side of the corridor in the lavatory. Klehr, who took keen pleasure in making these deadly injections, did not confine himself to the patients selected by the doctor, but if he had no officially selected material, went himself and looked for it. He used to go to the XXVIIIth Block, enter the room where the sick were waiting to go into the hospital, selected ten or a dozen, and killed them by injections. It is not strange therefore, that in these conditions the prisoners were afraid of the hospital and avoided it particularly as even a high temperature shown on the case chart was enough to bring one to his doom. 

XIII. The shootings.

A second method of mass murder of prisoners was shooting, practised principally by the "political department" at Auschwitz, which was organised and directed from June 18, 1940, to Nov. 1, 1943, by the chief executioner, SS-Untersturmführer Ernst Grabner.

He was chosing a group of suitable assistants strictly collaborating with the camp Command, he secured for the political department unlimited power over the life of the prisoner. He was the initiator and executant of daily mass shootings. It was he who in 1941 introduced the practise of shooting victims through the back of the head (Genickschuss). The following shot prisoners in this way: first reporter of the camp SS- Hauptsturmführer Palitsch, the ex-reporter, SS-Unterschar-


führer Friedrich Stiwitz, son of a German pastor; Blockführer Bruno Schlage, SS-Unterscharführer Lachmann, SS-Unterscharführer Quackernack Walter, SS-Unterscharführer Kirschner Herbert, SS-Unterscharführer Bogar Wilhelm, Kaduk Oswald, Nebest Wilhelm, Schultz Erich, Burek Wasil, Löwenday Friedrich, and other SS-men from the political department. Grabner's principal assistants were SS-Hauptsturmführer Aumeier, Lagerführer of the base camp and afterwards the commandant of the concentration camp at Riga, and Hauptsturmführer Fritsch, afterwards commandant at Flossenburg. Aumeier pronounced the sentences and was present, along with Grabner, at the almost daily executions.

His mentality is illustrated by the following incident: on Saturday Jan. 23, 1943, a Polish colonel, Jan Karcz, who had been half a year in a penal company, came to Aumeier and asked for release from this company, as his time was up. Aumeier answered mockingly that he would be informed of his decision. On Monday, Jan. 25, Karcz was summoned to the XIth Block and shot.

Fritsch greeted the prisoners who arrived in the camp with the following speech: I warn you that you have come not to a sanatorium but to a German concentration camp from which there is no way out, save only by the chimney (i. e. the crematorium). If any one disliked it he may go at once on to the (high-tension) wires. If there are Jews in the transport, they have no right to live more than a fortnight; if there are any priests, they may live for a month; the rest may live three months.

He was the organiser of the penal company, to which were sent mainly persons of education and army officers. Grabner’s right-hand man was Boger, who organised a network of spies in the camp and invented the most refined methods of torture for use when prisoners were questioned. He used to torture prisoners himself, and particularly persecuted preg-


nant women, whom he kicked in the stomach and so killed. Quackernack at these examinations used to crucify his victims, prick their testicles with steel needles, or introduce burning suppositories into their vaginas.

Palitsch, the principal executioner and first executant of Grabner’s sentences by shooting, was the terror of all the prisoners. He always carried a tommy-gun before shooting them used to criminally assault his victims. He ordered some Po lish officers who were brought to the camp on Aug. 15, 1940, to kiss his boots in the presence of other SS-men and when they refused he shot them.

The first shootings were done at the posts outside the camp fence. The prisoners were bound to these posts by their arms, which were twisted behind them. The shooting was performed by a firing squad, commanded by an officer of the SS. Afterwards deep holes dug outside the fence were chosen as the place of execution, near the camp gate, and afterwards a square near the branch railway line. In July, 1942, 82 Poles from Cracow were shot there in batches of ten. All of them had their hands bound behind with wire. Those who were in the last ten had been obliged to look on at the death of their 70 companions.

Afterwards the yard of the XIth Block was chosen as the scene of the shooting's, and particularly a wall connecting the Xth Block with the XIth. Before it a high platform was constructed of boards, the sides being covered with cork and painted black. The condemned men were assembled in the lavatory of the XIth Block, where other prisoners covered by rifles bound their hands with barbed wire, the SS-men watching to make sure that the wire should be drawn tight with pincers so that its barbs should eater deeply into the flesh. Then they were taken to the black wall, placed with their faces to it, and shot through the back of the head from a distance of 1 metre. When smaller groups were shot their hands were not bound.


The unfettered prisoners made the sign of the cross. Palitsch ordered them to do it again, and when the prisoner lifted his hand to his forehead Palitsch fired. The firing-squad used guns with silencers. Special automatic guns, such as are used in slaughter-houses for killing or stunning cattle, were also employed.

In 1943 Palitsch fell in love with a Jewess who was a prisoner and for having relations with her was lodged in the coalhole of the XIth Block. He then told prisoners confined together with him that he had shot 25,000 prisoners at Auschwitz with his own hand.

XIV. Hanging

Another method of carrying out the death-sentences of the political department was by hanging. This was principally in order to deter the prisoners from attempting escape. At first the executions were carried out in the camp yard in the presence of all the prisoners, lined up for roll-call. Before being hanged the condemned were flogged. Afterwards the gallows was moved to the yard of Block XI. The bodies were left hanging all night. The corpses of prisoners shot while attempting to escape were also exposed to public view in order to deter the rest. They were laid on a table in front of the guard-house at the camp gate, and next morning all the working-parties going out to their daily labour were made to file past the dead, turning their heads towards them. These corpses were usually injured in the most horrible way so that their intestines protruded. Men were also hanged for other offences. On Sep. 15,1944, Jozef Jasinski, a 27-year-old prisoner, was hanged at Brzezinka (Birkenau) ostensibly for having sent out a letter in which he described the conditions in camp, and so, as it might happen to fall into the hands of the enemy intelligence, endangered the good fame of the German government.


XV. Gas-chambers

All these murder-methods, however, were not enough to absorb all the superfluous prisoners, and above all could not solve the problem of getting rid of hundreds of thousands of Jews. So the German arranged for them to be gassed wholesale. 

This method was tried out in the summer of 1941 in the coal-cellars of Block XI on about 250 patients from the hospital blocks and about 600 prisoners-of-war. After the victims had been put there, the windows of the cellars were covered with earth, and afterwards an SS-man in a gas-mask poured the contents of a can of cyclon on the floor and locked the door. Next afternoon Palitsch, wearing a gasmask, opened the door and found that some of the prisoners were still alive. More cyclon was accordingly poured out, and the doors locked again, to be reopened next evening, when all the prisoners were dead.

Afterwards the gassing was carried out in the gas- chamber near the first crematorium. This chamber with a floor area of 65 sq. metres (78 sq. yds.) haid gas-tight doors, and the gassing was done by pouring the contents of cans exhaling poisonous gas through an opening in the ceiling. After that the gassing operations were systematically extended. In the autumn of 1941 on a clearing in the wood of Birkenau, in a small, cottage which had belonged to a deported peasant, a primitive gas-chamber was organised, called Cellar 2, and two kilometres (1¼ miles) away, likewise in a deported peasant’s cottage, a further chamber, called Cellar 1.

In the summer of 1942 it was decided to extend enormously gassing operations and to improve them technically, entrusting the construction of huge crematoria to the firm of J. A. Topf and Sons at Erfurt (ms. of Aug. 3, 1942, No. 11450/42Bi/H). This was done just after SS. Reichsführer Himmler’s visit of inspection. The construction began immediately, and in the early month’s of 1943 four huge modern 


crematoria were ready for the use of the camp authorities; their fundamental and essential part consisted of a set of gas-chambers ,of a type unknown before. These crematoria were distinguished by the numbers II, III, IV and V. Crematoria II and III had underground areas, called on the construction drawings Nos. 932 and 933 of Jan. 28, 1942, Leichenkeller 1, and 2, both of which were intended for the gassing of human beings. Cellar 2 had an area of 400 sq. metres (480 sq. yds.) and was 2,3 metres high. Cellar 1 had an area of 210 sq metres and was 2.4 metres (7 ft. 9 in.) high. In crematoria IV and V chambers were built on the surface, each having an extent of 580 sq. metres (694 s q. yds.), which were officially called Badeanstalt fur Sonderaktion ("Baths for Special Action") (Aktenvermerk of Aug. 21, 1942, No. 12115/42). From the specifications of the central building board of Feb. 19, May. 6, 1943, and Apr. 6, 1943 it appears that both cellar No. 1 in crematoria II and III and the Badenanstalten in crematoria IV and V had gas-tight doors with grated observation windows of unbreakable 8 mm glass. The true purpose of all these rooms variously described is revealed by Bischoff’s letter of Jan. 29,1943, to the Chief of the Official group C. Kammler, 22250/43 in which he called them gas-chambers (Vergasungskeller). 

From the evidence of witnesses who as prisoners were employed at the gas-chambers and crematoria and from written reports by prisoners which have been preserved the operations seem to have been carried out as follows: Prisoners, selected for gassing straight from the trains on the railway line, and others selected in the camp were driven to the crematoria on foot, those who were unable to walk were taken in motor trucks. Between the railway platform and the gas chambers there was an uninterrupted procelssion of people towards the chambers as they were steadily cleared of corpses. In the middle of the road lorries were continually fetching the


weak, old, sick, and children, from the railway. In the ditches at the road-sides lay SS-me with machine guns ready to fire. An SS-men adressed the crowd huddled in the yard telling them that they were going to the baths for disinfection as they were dirty and lousy, and in such a state they could not be admitted into the camp. The gassing was carried on under the personal supervision of the doctor SS-Hauptsturmführer Mengele. The prisoners who arrived in the yard of the crematorium were driven to the dressing-room over the door of which was the inscription "Wasch und Desinfektionsraum" and the same inscription in the language of the victims destined for gassing. From plans and remains which have been found, and from the evidence of witnesses it appears that in the dressing-room (Leichenkeller 2) there were clothing pegs with numbers. The SS- men advised the victims huddled in the cloak-room each of them to remember the number of the peg on which he had hung his clothes so that he might find them again easily afterwards. After undressing they were driven through a corridor to the actual gas chamber (Leichenkeller l), which had previously been heated with the aid of portable coke braziers. This heating was necessary for the better evaporation of the hydrogen cyanide. By beating them with rods and setting dogs on them about 2000 victims were packed into a space of 210 sq. metres (250 sq. yds).

From the ceiling of this chamber, the better to deceive the victims, hung imitation shower-baths, from which water never poured. After the gas-tight doors had been losed the air was pumped out and through four special openings in the ceiling the contents of cans of cyclon, producing - cyanide hydrogen1 gas, were poured in. (1 The Cyclon needed for the killing of the victims locked in the chamber was brought by an SS doctor in a car with the Red Cross on it. The opening of the cans with a special key, the pouring of their contents and afterwards the closing of the opening with lids with tight-fitting felt covers was done by a Gestapo-man in a gas mask.)


The contents of the cans fell down a cylindrical shaft constructed of four corner pieces covered with wire mesh-work of varying density. In the case of the surface gas-chambers in crematoria IV and V, the contents of the cans of cyclon were poured in through openings in the side-walls. 

Hydrogen cyanide (HCN or HCy) is extremely poisonous. A man is poisoned by inhaling air containing no more than 0.12 mg. of it per litre (i. e. . 0012 per cent) It stops the action of the ferments, which render possible the giving of oxygen to the tissues by the red blood corpuscles, and thus causes death by internal suffocation with the symptoms of irritation of the respiration centre, accompanied by feelings of fear, dizziness and vomiting.

With sufficient concentration of hydrogen cyanide in the air, death comes almost immediately. The SS-men employed at the crematoria at Auschwitz did not give themselves the trouble to calculate the proper quantity for each gas-chamber, which by a quick death would save the victims from agony. They poured into the chambers the contents of the cans of cyclon and to make sure kept their victims under the gas for about 25 minutes. During period of greatest gassing activity in the summer of 1944 they shortened this period to 10 minutes, at the same time for reasons of economy reducing the amount of cyclon from 12 to 6 cans. According to the evidence of the stokers it appears that after the doors of the gas chamber, in which there was an observation window, had been closed the gassed victims ran towards the door, broke the observation pane, and damaged the electric installations and the air-exhaustion pumps.

When the doors of the gas chamber were opened the gassed were found in a half-sitting position. The corpses were pink; in some spots more pink, in others covered with green spots. Some had foam on their lips, others were bleeding at the nose. Many corpses had open eyes, many were looked together. The


majority were packed near the doors; fewer were under the gas inlets. From their position it could be seen that the victims had tried to get away from the openings and get to the door. 

The statements of the witnesses that in the Auschwitz chambers people were poisoned by cyclon are confirmed by the following facts: The "Azot" chemical factory at Jaworzno delivered to the camp authorities between Aug. 3, 1943, and Apr. 29, 1944, a total of 1,155 kg. (253 gallons) of this powerful poison (letter of May 11,1945). During the investigation several cases of cyclon were found intact in a store-room specially this purpose storeroom in the base camp, and in the bathroom of the women’s camp at Birkenau. In the women’s hair which was cut after they had been gassed, and in the zinc lids of the air-exhaustion openings of the gas-chamber (Leichenkeller 1) of Crematorium II, and finally in the metallic objects hairpins and clasps, an the metal spectacle-frames, found in the bag of hair, an expert chemical investigation carried out by the Legal Expert Inquiry Institute at Cracow found traces of hydrogen cyanide and a relatively large quantity of its compounds (report of Dec. 15,1945).

XVI. The burning of corpses. Crematoria.

All the methods of individual and mass murder here described produced an enormous number of corpses, which had to be disposed of. At first they were buried in mass graves in the wood adjoining Birkenau. In the spring of 1942 their decomposition began to poison the air with its exhalations, so the mass graves were dug up and part of the corpses were burnt in the crematorium, and the rest in pits, and the rotten mess was burnt with flame-throwers. The mass-murders forced the camp authorities to seek a radical and wholesale method of disposing of the bodies. Already in 1940 a small crematorium was installed at Auschwitz (No. 1) in an old Austrian munition magazine. It had at first two and afterwards three two-


retort furnaces. 3-5 corpses were put at one time into each retort. As the burning of such a load lasted about an hour and a half, and the furnaces were active about 14 hours a day, or even longer, the number of bodies burnt in a day must have been about 300.

After gassing had begun in 1941, the small crematorium could not hold all the corpses of the victims, so they were burnt in 8 open pits, dug for the purpose near the gas chambers and called "bunkers" 1 and 2. After the extension of the camp to cover the whole Birkenau area, in the spring of 1943 four more crematoria were constructed in pairs according to the plans, and symmetrically located. The first pair (II and.III) had 5 furnaces of three retorts each, heated by two half-generator fires. Crematoria IV and V were constructed at a distance of about 750 metres (820 yards) from the two previously mentioned, and had twin furnaces of 8 retorts each, heated by two fires on either side. Together, therefore, these four new crematoria had 46 retorts, each with a capacity of 3-5 corpses. The burning of one retort load lasted about half an hour, and as the cleaning of the fireplaces took about an hour per day, so all the four crematoria could burn about 12,000 corpses in 24 hours, which would give 4,380,000 ,a year. But even such efficiency in the crematoria and their intensive exploitation, as a result of which one of the flues cracked II (Aktenvermerk No. 36132/43 of Sep. 13,1943), did not suffice to burn the numbers of bodies supplied at certain periods by the camp authorities. Between May and August, 1944, during the mass transports of Hungarian Jews and French Insurgents in the haste caused by the development of the situation on the war fronts, Hungarians and French were gassed in such numbers that the crematoria could not burn all the corpses. So six huge pits were dug beside crematoria V, and old pits were opened near the gas plant in the wood, and corpses burnt in them continuously. When operations were in full swing in


August, 1944, the number of corpses burnt daily rose to 24,000 For this work the prisoners employed at the crematoria numbering at first 100, but later over 1000, received a special bonus of whisky.

The records of the camp construction department abound in calculations and comparisons of the use of coke, current and other materials necessary for crematoria. It is evident, thereflore, that the camp authorities sought an economic method of corpse-disposal.

The experience of August, 1944, showed that the cheapest way was burning in open pits. So the crematoria were closed, and thenceforward the corpses were burnt only in pits, and the plans for a sixth crematorium were based on this principle. 

In Crematorium I the corpses were loaded into the retorts with the help of a specially constructed truck. In Crematoria II and III the corpses were raised to the level of the furnaces by electric lifts on specially constructed platforms. In crematoria IV and V they were dragged up to the furnaces with hooks.

Before the loading of the corpses into the furnaces gold teeth were pulled out, earrings and rings were taken away, and the women’s hair was cut off. After the flight of the Germans 7,000 kg. (7 tons) of women’s hair were found in the stores at Auschwitz; what was left of the hair of hundreds of thousands of victims, which the Germans had not succeeded in carrying away to the Reich. There were also found 2,904 reports by the manager of the crematorium, stating that from 2904 corpses altogether 16,325 gold and platinum teeth had been extracted. 40 prisoners were employed daily on this ‘"dental" work, and at certain times as much as 12 kg. (26 lbs. 8 ,oz.) of gold teeth were melted down. The ashes of the corpses were at first buried in pits, and the marshes near the village of Harmenze were covered with them, and it was only afterwards, when the German army was in retreat, that


they were thrown into the rivers Vistula and Sola, as were those also from the pits.

A small quantity of carefully sifted ash was kept in a shed, for enclosures in urns and dispatched on demand, to the families of murdered prisoners, who had been informed of their deaths. The notice sent to the family stated that the corpse of the prisoner had been burnt at the cost of the State, and that the funeral urn was kept in an Urnenheim adjoining the crematorium at Auschwitz. At the family’s request the urn was sent on payment of the required sum. It was an obvious swindle, as the ashes of the burnt corpses were not preserved individually, and owing to the simultaneous burning of several corpses in the same retort it was quite impossible so to preserve them. Besides, there was no urn burial place whatever at Oswiecim.

On the basis of calculations made by experts of the Investigation Technical Commision under the guidance of Prof. Dawidowski it was stated during the inquiry that the installations for disposing of corpses in pits and crematoria could have burnt more than 5 millions bodies during the period in which they were active.

As is well known, the Soviet Legal and Medicinal Commission, which arrived at Auschwitz immediately after the flight of the Germans, has stated that the number of prisoners murdered exceeded 4,000,000.

These calculations are in conformity with the data obtained during the inquiry from a competent witnes, a railway employee from Oswiecim station. This man, Fr. Stanek, stated that in the three years 1942-1944; 3,850,000 prisoners were brought to Oswiecim by rail. Five millions would be nearer the mark counting those brought by car.

XVII. The wiping out of all vestiges of the crime

The Germans tried of course to destroy if possible all proof of the crimes they had committed. They tried therefore to


wipe out carefully all traces which might betray them in future. The crematoria were the best means for doing this. The scattering of the ashes on the rivers and afterwards the destruc tion of the crematoria tended to the same purpose, as did the murder of the prisoners from the Sonderkommando, the killing of persons on whom experiments had been made, and the destruction of their remains, the killing of the prisoners who had collaborated with the Germans in carrying out the experiments, the writing of false case histories relating to murdered prisoners, and destruction of the records of the camp. 

As early as May, 1944, the old crematorium at Auschwitz was transformed into an air-raid shelter. Crematorium IV was burnt on Oct. 7, 1944, during a fire which broke out when the members of the Sonderkommando tried to avoid being gassed. The technical installations at crematoria II and III were dismantled in November, 1944, and part of them sent to the camp at Gross Rosen, and the buildings were blown up. Crematorium V was burnt and its walls blown up in the night of Jan. 20, 1945. Some of the Sonderkommando were gassed by Germans in the disinfection hall (Enfwesungskammer) in the base camp. It was even proposed to take down the wall of death in the yard of the XI Block and to remove the sand under the wall which was soaked with blood. The XXVth Block in the women's camp (the block of death) was transformed into a hospital block, and the numbering was changed, so that it became No. 2a.

At the end of August, 1944, the registration books in which the deaths of prisoners had been registered were destroyed, by special delegates from Berlin who took them all away, loaded them on two cars, and removed them from Auschwitz. The main book containing very many facts about the Sonderbehandlung (S. B.) was left to the camp authorities, but it was copied and the mark S.B. was replaced by another. Schumann’s X-ray apparatus was taken away in December, 1944. The


prisoner Slezak who worked it and had witnessed many experi ments done with it was sent to the concentration camp at Mauthausen, where he was executed.

The same fate befell five prisoners who had been employed on the crematoria.

On January 18, 1945, the camp authorities hastily evacuated about 58,000 prisoners from Auschwitz, leaving 5,000-6,000 who were seriously ill. Many of the 58,000 were shot on the way, as they were unable to walk.  In one of the daughter-camps (Fürstengrube) all the sick were burnt in their huts.

On January 22 Auschwitz was occupied by the Red Army.


In the light of the investigations which have been made, it may be stated that the Auschwitz camp was not only a concentration camp, but was in the first place an extermination camp, and already at its foundation was designed by the Nazi authorities as a place of execution for millions of people, who, in accordance with Nazi principles, had been deprived of the right to live, as representatives of "inferior races and nationalities" , "less valuable" and standing in the way of the expansion of the Herrenvolk.

Part I
Part II

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 13/11/99
©S D Stein

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