Pressac on Kremas 1 to 3 at Auschwitz

Peter Myers, February 9, 2009; update April 30, 2009.

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Note on Pressac - Peter Myers, February 18, 2009

This is my third and last posting of Pressac's material.

I decided to search the three Pressac (Word) files for the word "holocaust" (not case sensitive). That is, this one, and the two bulletins I sent over the last two days. NB the first one also contains an article by Faurisson; that should be excluded from the search.

There were no occurrences of the world "holocaust" in what Pressac himself had written. There were occurrences in the URLs (links) of the website which hosts Pressac's book, and in comments by other people - but Pressac himself seems not to have used this word, even when he wrote this book.

The three Word files do not comprise the whole text of Pressac's book; perhaps half. But this result is a clear indication that Pressac rejected the use of this term.

He affirmed the Gas Chambers, but refused to call it "Holocaust".

Some Deniers/Revisionists portray him as having changed his mind late in life. But a close study of his book on Auschwitz shows that, even when he wrote it, he rejected what Finkelstein later called the "Holocaust Industry".

This is consistent with his statatement at the start of his Postface (p. 537):

{quote} I was at one time a "revisionist". After reading this book, some will no doubt think that I still am one. This is quite possible and I bear them no grudge. The distinction between these two fiercely opposed schools, the "exterminationists" and the "revisionists", becomes meaningless once a certain threshold of knowledge about the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp has been reached. I have passed this point of no return. {endquote}

Pressac and Finkelstein thus occupy what I call the Synthesis position.

This material is for reference; it is not otherwise available as a large text file.

(one item only)

Pressac on Kremas 1 to 3 at Auschwitz

Krema 1 is covered here at pp. 123-137. Kremas 2-3 at pp. 183-264.

The publishers say that the most important part starts at p. 236.

Diagrams & photos are important too. Therefore, consult the online edition at

The text there is in the form of numerous small pdf files.

Here, the text is one continuous file, easy to search.

The first link below is for p. 123 of the pdf edition. You can substitute any other page# to go direct to that page.

AUSCHWITZ: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers

© 1989, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation

{p. 123} PART TWO



The installation, utilization and transformation of the first cremation facility at Auschwitz designated BW 11 and then BW 14 as from September 1944. INTRODUCTION 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.

{p. 124} Page 124

Document A "IN MITTEN DES GRAUENVOLLEN VERBRECHENS: Handschriften von Milgliedern des Sonderkommando Sonderheft (I) PMO" 1972, pages 42 and 43. ["AMIDST A NIGHTMARE OF CRIME, Notes of prisoners of Sonderkommando found at Auschwitz, P.M.O.", Special issue, 1973, Pages 40, 41 and 42]

From the testimony of "Stanislas Jankowski", Cracow, April 1945. The crematorium at Auschwitz Ñ a one storied building (some 50 meters long, 12 15 meters wide), in which there were five smaller rooms and one big hall, dark, 30 by 5 meters.

This big hall had no windows, only two vents in the ceiling, electric light and one door leading from the corridor, the other door leading to the ovens. This hall was called Leichenhalle (hall of corpses). It served as mortuary and at the same time for so called "shambles" ["demolition" or "slaughtering"], that is, for shooting prisoners. Directly adjoining was another hall where the cremating ovens for burning corpses were. There were three ovens and each had two openings, 12 corpses could be put into one opening, but no more than 5 were usually put, as they burnt more quickly in that quantity. The corpses were put into the ovens in so called special carts which, after dumping the corpses, were removed from the ovens, The corpses lay on grates under which coke was burning. The crematorium, moreover, possessed a coke store where coke was kept, then a special room for the ashes from the corpses and still another room which was a clothes store. Document B1 Documents B1, B2 and B3: [PMO microfilm 1254]

Declaration by Mr. Alter Fajnzylberg made on 29th September 1980 before Maitre Pierre Attal, Paris Notary Document B1

BEFORE Maitre Pierre Attal, Paris Notary, undersigned APPEARED Mr Alter Fajnzylberg, retired, domiciled in Paris (nineteenth arrondissement), Avenue Jean Jaurès, No 27.

Born in STOCKEK (Poland), 23rd October 1911.

Of French nationality by naturalisation (Identity Card No 3 801 788, issued by the Préfecture de Police de Paris on 15th April 1975

WHO requested the undersigned notary to record the following declaration in order to ensure its conservation and to communicate it in whole or in part: "Deported from the COMPIEGNE camp, I arrived at the Auschwitz concentration camp on 27th March 1942. After having worked in the carpenters' shop there, I was transferred to the Sonderkommando (special kommando) of Krematorium I of the camp in November 1942. In July 1943, I was transferred to the Birkenau camp, three kilometers from Auschwitz and detailed to the Krematorium V Sonderkommando. On 18th January 1945, when the Germans evacuated the camp, taking with them a great number of deportees, I managed to escape from the convoy a few kilometers from the camp.

"During my detention in Auschwitz, I witnessed mass executions. The SS shot people in the hundreds using machine guns on the big room of the Krematorium, 30 meters long and 5 meters wide, called by the SS the "Leichenhalle/ corpse hall". Before bringing their victims into the yard of Krematorium, the SS shut the nine Jews of the Sonderkommando in the adjoining coke store. There we could hear the shots and the cries of the victims. Then they brought us out and made us carry the bodies, covered in blood and still warm, to the furnaces. It is at Auschwitz that I saw for the first time a gassing in the Leichenhalle. This room had no windows, but there were ventilators in the ceiling. The two thick wooden doors of the room, one in the side wall, the other in the end wall, had been made gas tight. The room was lit by electricity. The victims of the gassing were about 400 Jews brought from Birkenau. The men of the Sonderkommando, including myself, saw them enter the yard then we were shut in the coke store. When the Sonderkommando men came out, they saw and I saw, only their clothes in the yard."

{p. 125} Document B2

Document B3

"Thirty minutes later, the Sonderkommando was ordered to transport the corpses to the furnace, situated about five meters from the door of the Leichenhalle, in a separate room. "In Birkenau, where I was as from July 1943, I witnessed a great many gassings, carried out several times a week.

"In 1944, when convoys brought hundreds of thousands of Jews from Hungary, there were gassings every day, and even several times a day.

"In Birkenau, the Sonderkommando was locked up when the victims arrived and entered the gas chamber.

"This rule was not always applied, however.

"Thus as a member of the Sonderkommando, I was able to see the injection og gas by an SS man who poured the contents of a black can, of diameter about 10 to 12 centimeters and about 25 centimeters high, into a kind of small chimney or tube which projected a few tens of centimeters from the roof of the gas chamber.

"The SS man wore a mask. He immediately closed the opening through which he poured the contents of the can.

"The Sonderkommando started to remove the bodies from the gas chamber 15 to 20 minutes after the SS man had poured in the contents of the can. The doors of the gas chamber were open. The air was purified by ventilation. When we started to remove the bodies near the door, we felt no ill effects. Working in the centre of the chamber, our eyes sometimes watered.

"I would add the following details:

"I saw Sonderkommando men pull gold teeth and fillings from the mouths of the corpses. When the corpses had been removed, a vehicle took away the clothes and all that was Ôgold'.

"I feel I should add that the Hungarian Jews who were gassed in 1944 entered the gas chamber without having their hair shaved.

"I certify that that I was deported to Auschwitz under the name of ÔStanislas Jankowski'. In April 1945, I made a declaration under this name before a Cracow magistrate, a member of the Central Commission for the Investigation of Hitlerite Crimes in Poland, a declaration that was published in the Auschwitz Notebooks

"I indicated to him that my true identity was Alter Fajnzylberg My registration number in the Auschwitz Birkenau camp, tatooed on my left arm and my chest, is 27,675.

"Such is my declaration."

(Declaration signed before a notary on 29th September 1980 and officially deposited in Paris on 3rd October 1980)

{p. 126} Document C1a Document C1b [PMO File BW 11/5 page 3] Like all human testimony, these accounts frequently contain unlikely affirmations, and a critical comparison, for example on the equipment of the gas chamber, gives contradictory results. 1. ALTER FAJNZYLBERG affirms that an incineration muffle in one of the three furnaces (the mouth opening was 0.60 x 0.60m, and the internal dimensions 0.70 x 0.70 x 2.10m, or 1.029m3 according to Topf drawing D57253) could "swallow" TWELVE bodies at a time (which is mathematically possible, but not practically), but that normally five were "fitted in". The latter figure is closer to reality which was on average three (normal adult) bodies at a time. The witness clearly gave way here to the general tendency to exaggerate at that time (in the years 1945­50). His description of the equipment of Krematorium I is valid (though the building had been converted into an air raid shelter and the furnaces had been removed), except for its length (50m) and the dimensions given to its gas chamber: 30 x 5m (150m?) instead of 17 x 46m (78.2m?). This error in estimation is more than excusable, in particular as the PMO, in a note to his figures [30 x 5m], indicates the following dimensions: 17.00 x 4.50m giving a floor area of 65m? [!], an area regularly reproduced in the early histories of the camp, but not corresponding to the facts. What is remarkable n his new declaration in September 1980 is that the witness repeats exactly the same dimensions as he did in April 1945, a proof of the sincerity and authenticity of his statements. 2. FILIP MÜLLER wrote that in May 1942 (the date of his arrival at the camp, page 23), the chimney of Krematorium I was of circular section (p. 37) [an initial state confirmed verbally to the author in 1981 by a former prisoner. Mrs. Hertig, No. 68919, who lived in the town of Auschwitz before being interned in the camp]. The Topf

{p. 127} Document C2a Document C2b [PMO File BW 11/5] drawings for the installation o f the third furnace ("neuer Ofen / new furnace") 59042 a and b of 25th September 1941 indicate that the chimney was a square section and thus had already been rebuilt. This casts a doubt on the presence of the witness during the fire that he describes (pages 45 and 46) and the resulting damage to the chimney that had to he rebuilt more solidly, hence of square section. However, there is a series of documents concerned with an order of 13th May 1942 by the camp administration [Documents C1a and C1b] requesting the repair of the Krematorium [I] chimney (first item), which is wrong, because the description of the work [Documents C2a and C2b, C3a and C3b] and the final report [Documents C4a and C4b] show that the repair was actually only on an underground flue ("Kaminnterkanal"). These documents fully confirm the witness's account of the accident (jets of cold water on fire bricks heated to a a temperature of 800-1000° C), but negate the existence of a "round" chimney in May 1942, because even the sketch on the description of the work [C2a] shows it to be square.

This error on the form of the Krematorium I chimney, first noted by the Auschwitz Museum, is minor, since the damage caused by the accident is confirmed by the repair documents. F. Müller. who can be seen in Claude Lanzmann's film "SHOAH" (script published by Fayard in 1985, where he states on page 73 that "the firebricks exploded suddenly, and the [underground] flues linking the Auschwitz Krematorium to the chimney were obstructed", an explanation perfectly in line with the repair documents) is a valuable witness with a "technical" eye, even if like anyone else, he is sometimes mistaken (on facts going back 40 years!). 3. RUDOLF HOESS describes one of the first gassings [of 900 Russian prisoners of war] at which he was present, in the morgue of Krematorium I (page 164). Two details are unlikely: the squeezing of 900 persons into 78.2m? and the "rapid" drilling of several holes in the ceiling to pour the Zyklon B. Drilling through 10 to 15cm of concrete was not a job that could be done on the spur of the moment.

{p. 128} Document C3a

Document C3b [PMO file BW 11/5, p.6] Hoess participated in the "special actions" strictly in accordance with his obligations and occupied his mind with the almost insurmountable tasks imposed by the exponential growth of his camp, thus not allowing his conscience to dwell on the moral question. He was present, without seeing. In the author's opinion, this attitude explains the involuntary errors found throughout his autobiography. 4. PERY BROAD's testimony raises problems yet to be solved. His account of the various "activities" of the camp is one of the most striking. But the form and tone of his declaration sound false. His writings cannot be the faithful reflection of the thoughts of an SS man and indeed reading them gives the impression that they were written by a former prisoner. Pages 148 and 149 and 153 to 156 have to be read carefully for this to be seen. Lastly, who wrote (page 172): "for these SS monsters, the spectacle of the suffering of ill treated Jews constituted an amusing pastime!" (true as that may have been)?

The basis of P. Broad's testimony seems authentic, despite many errors, but its present literary form is visibly coloured by a rather too flagrant Polish patriotism. Furthermore, the original manuscript of his declaration is not known, However, this text should not be rejected and its "special tone" can be explained: either Broad had adopted the "language of the victor" (hypothesis put forward by Pierre Vidat Naquet), or his declaration has been "slightly" reworked by the Poles (present author's opinion. Whatever criticisms one might level at the might level at the accounts of these four witnesses, all affirm one identical fact: homicidal gassings took place in the morgue of Krematorium I. Even if their accounts diverge on the number of holes through which Zyklon B was poured or on the number of extractor fans, details in fact unlikely to be noted and remembered unless one actually designed or installed them, the utilisation of the morgue for criminal purposes is established.

{p. 131} Document D1b and D2b [Pages 41 and 42 of the Bauleitung "Catalogue of Drawings" : PMO File BW 1/4] (Photos by the author)

THE FURNACES This Topf drawing, showing a furnace with two cremation chambers (also known as muffles) heated with coke by two hearths situated at the rear, was the basic model for the first two furnaces installed in Krematorium I. Although shown on this drawing, the lateral pulsed air installation does not seem to have been fitted to the furnaces according to Topf Drawings D59042 [a and b].


The upper opening [top left on section A B in Drawing D57253] enabled one or more bodies to be introduced using a charging trolley [Photos 22, 23, 24]. The ashes of the bodies were collected through the lower orifice [visible lower left on Photo 24]. In the case of registered prisoners, the ashes were placed in metal urns [Documents F1 and F2]. The family were informed of the death [Document F3], and could obtain the urn on request, after paying the "costs" of cremation. Since the cremations were often collective, it was virtually impossible that the urn received by the family would contain the right ashes.

The hearth was fed with coke and the cinders were removed from behind the furnace, in a small pit reached by a stairway [right hand side of section A B on Drawing D57253]. The smoke reached the external chimney via underground flues.

Topf Drawing D59042 [a and b] of 25th September 1941 is concerned with the installation of a third two muffle furnace, known as the "new furnace", also with a lateral pulsed air installation which was installed as indicated in the furnace operating instructions provided by Topf [Documents G1a and b, G2a and b].

The trolley for charging the bodies into the furnace was operated as perfectly described by Henryk TAUBER in his deposition of 24th May 1945 [Part III, Chapter 3]. The main problem with this trolley was that it tended to tip up when the charging trough or slide was loaded with several corpses. This "nose down" tendency meant that this type of trolley was abandoned in Krematorien Il and III in favor of a "Leichenbrett / corpse stretcher" that was easier to handle.

Filled with three two muffle furnaces. Krematorium I could incinerate up to 340 corpses in 24 hours, according to a Bauleitung letter of 28th June 1943 (31550/Ja/Ne). This was a PRACTICAL THROUGHPUT achieved as follows: Ñ For the first two two muffle furnaces: 1.5 to 2 bodies per muffle per hour; {total 8/hr - Peter M.} Ñ For the new two muffle furnace: 3 to 4 bodies per muffle per hour. {total 8/hr - Peter M.}

{total for 3 furnaces = 16/hr, x 24 hours = up to 384/day; so 340 would be "more practical - Peter M.}

The coke consumption of the three furnaces was estimated at about 1000kg per 12 hours of operation, calculated on the basis of a Bauleitung note (Aktenvermerk) of 17th March 1943 (24757/43/Jä/Lm) [file BW 30/34. page 54]. The third furnace was the prototype for the future three muffle furnace designed by Kurt Prüfer, chief engineer at Topf, ten of which were built and installed in Birkenau Krematorien II and III. This furnace entered service in December 1941 [Documents HI and H2].

The initial chimney was of circular section, but as the result of damage it was replaced by one of square section. The date of this transformation, before September 1941, is not known. Between the furnace room and the chimney there was a shed housing the motor for the collective forced draught installation for the three furnaces [Documents G3a, b and c].

Layout [according to Topf drawing D59042 of 25th September 1942]

The main entrance door (north west) opened onto a vestibule leading to the furnace room. This included two rooms in annex: a coke store with its own entrance from outside containing a little office [which no longer exists] and an urn room. Entering the vestibule from outside, the first door on the right opened on a laying out room [which now contains the oil fired cremation furnace from the Trzebinia labor camp], the left hand door [bricked up since 1944] opened onto the third furnace and, finally, the second door on the right opened onto the washing room communicating directly with the "Leichenhalle" or morgue that communicated with the furnace room through another door.

The bodies of dead prisoners should have taken the circuit: laying out room, washing room and morgue, where they would be stored while awaiting cremation. In fact, they were directly stocked in the morgue. The delay between death and cremation was three or four days [Documents F1 and F2]. Their ashes, theoretically deposited in individual urns, were sent to the family at the latter's expense.

The morgue

From an "ordinary" morgue it gradually became a place for "knocking over", a term designating execution by shooting in the back of the neck with a small caliber firearm, a practice used by the Political Section of the camp on those it condemned. Rather than transporting to the Krematorium the bodies of prisoners executed in the yard between Blocks 10 and 11, at the other end of the camp, much effort was saved by taking the victims directly on foot from Block 11 to the morgue of the Krematorium and shooting them there.

At the end of 1941 the morgue was transformed into a homicidal gas chamber operating on Zyklon B, the regulation hydrocyanic acid disinfection agent used by the Wehrmacht, produced by Degesh and distributed in the east of the Reich by Tesch und Stabenow (Testa).

The present area of the gas chamber is 98m2, including the airlock at the south east end. Initially, it covered 78m2 and had a volume of 224m3 [or a little less than half the volume of the gas chambers in Krematorien II and III]. The two gas tight doors, one opening on the furnace room and the other on the washing room, had three thicknesses of board and were sealed with felt [one of these gas tight doors with no peephole is visible leaning against the wall where the third furnace used to be]. In the ceiling there were at least three openings for pouring Zyklon B [Photo 14] which was thrown in directly and scattered

{p. 132} Document E

over the victims. 3kg [1 kg per opening] were required to kill the 500 to 700 people that the morgue could hold. It would appear that one or two extractor fans were installed in the ceiling [according to the testimonies of Fajnzylberg, Müller and Broad].

The homicidal gassings

The first experimental gassing took place on 3rd September 1941. using Zyklon B in the basement of Block 11, the openings of which had been crudely sealed with earth. The victims were 250 sick prisoners and 600 Russians. The next day, an SS man wearing a gas mask went to see the results and saw that some of the guinea pigs were still alive. More Zyklon B was introduced. On the evening of the 5th nobody moved any more. The corpses were then transported by a group of prisoners to Krematorium I to be incinerated. Shortly afterwards 900 Russian prisoners according to former camp Kommandant Hoess [in fact between 500 and 700], were gassed directly in the morgue of Krematorium I, which avoided the need to transport the bodies. Then, in January 1942, operations began at Birkenau Bunker 1, which had two small gas chambers for the extermination of Jews.

During the gassings, a certain area around Krematorium I was sealed off. Furthermore, it was forbidden to look at the roof of the Krematorium which was visible from the windows of the SS hospital located on the first floor of the building nearest to the Krematorium, separated from it only by the "Kasernenstrasse". The Krematorium forecourt was closed off and served as an undressing place for the victims who were then pushed into the morgue. The two gas tight doors were closed and Zyklon B was injected through three openings in the roof. Outside, a truck kept its engine running during the whole operation to drown the cries.

It is not known how many deaths were caused by this gas chamber, which was used only occasionally and not continuously. The number is probably not more than 10,000.

Krematorium I functioned as a cremation installation from November 1940 to July 1943. Its gas chamber was used sporadically from the end of 1941 to 1942, but precise dates are not known. The installation was abandoned in 1943, its three furnaces dismantled and the chimney demolished.

Conversion to an air raid shelter

Because of the American bombing (the first raids on the IG Farben Buna factory at Monowitz and on Auschwitz I were on 13th September 1944), the "old" Krematorium, unused since the construction of the four "new" Krematorien at Birkenau, was converted into an air raid shelter for the patients of the SS hospital. Two similar Auschwitz Bauleitung drawings of 21st September 1944 [4287a and b] show the interior arrangement designated Bauwerk 14. The modifications concerned only the entrance vestibule. the laying out room, the washing room and the morgue. This last was divided into four rooms.

{p. 133} Document F1 Document F2 Documents F1 and F2 thus creating a suite of six rooms whose communicating doors were staggered in order to reduce the blast effects of a bomb exploding in the vicinity. The suite included an operating table and a double wash basin with mirror (in the laying out room), and two WCs (in the washing room) [Documents J1 and J2]. Entry was through two air locks (one arranged in the vestibule through building a wall between two of the supporting pillars, the other being built at the opposite end of the suite, in the southernmost room).

The second, unused part of the old Krematorium (furnace room and its annexes) was used as a medical store [according to the former prisoner Hermann Langbein].

Krematorium I after the Liberation

The building was found as the SS had abandoned it [Photo 2]. It would appear that the photos of the interior showing the state of the premises were not taken at the beginning of 1945, which is a pity because the restructuring of the building back into a Krematorium began immediately after the liberation. During this work a dance was organized on the roof [Photo 4] of the gas chamber, an event no doubt to be explained by the euphoria be resulting from the end of the war.

The chimney [Photos 8, 9, and others] was rebuilt in the form of the second model. Four openings supposedly for pouring Zyklon B were made in the roof [Photos 15 and 18] which was covered with roofing felt, thus hiding the traces of the original opening. Four of the five partition walls of the air raid shelter were demolished. The space obtained [Photos 26 and 27] became the present gas chamber with an area of 94m2 (not including the air lock), while the original gas chamber was 78m2 and did not have any access by the air lock remaining to the south. The communicating door between the morgue and the furnace room was reopened, unfortunately just beside the original location [Photo 26]. The first two furnaces [Photos 22, 23, and 24] were rebuilt from memory and as a function of the metal parts found in the "Bauhof" (open air depot for building materials). The third furnace was not rebuilt [Photo 25]. The entrance door to the medical store [Photos 6 and 10] was converted into a window. CONCLUSIONS Because of the lack of original documents and the transformations that have been made [see the drawing of the present state of the premises at the end of this chapter], it was not possible before to materially demonstrate the existence of a homicidal gas chamber in the former morgue of Krematorium I, even though the testimonies of former prisoners and SS formally affirm its existence. This is why the revisionist attacks [see the remarks by R. Faurisson on Krematorium I in "Vérité historique ou vérité politique" by S. Thion, La Vielle Taupe, April 1980, pages 314 to 317] have essentially been concerned with this building, which is by far the most visited in the camp. But at the end of February 1988, a certain Fred LEUCHTER, an American engineer specialised in the design and improvement of legal methods of execution in the United States (including gas chambers), having been commissioned by the "revisionists", went to Poland and, without the authorization of the P.M.O., took seven samples from bricks and cement in the "Leichenhalle" of Krematorium I. The "report" that Leuchter wrote on his return [ AN ENGINEERING REPORT ON THE ALLEGED EXECUTION GAS CHAMBER AT AUSCHWITZ, BIRKENAU AND MAJDANEK POLAND. April 5, 1988] indicates the cyanide levels found in the analysis of each sample, expressed in miligrammes of cyanide per kilogram of sample (mg/kg). Six of them were positive (3.8/1.9, 1.3, 1.4, 1.3, 7.9, 1.1 mg/kg) and one negative (taken from the floor according to the sampling plan). These results, virtually all (6 out of 7) positive, prove the use hydrocyanic acid in the "Leichenhalle" of krematorium I, of hence its use as a homicidal gas chamber. Today, despite its poor reconstitution, the krematorium I must be considered as an authentic symbol of homicidal gassings at Auschwitz, since several thousand people did indeed die there through gassing.

When it turned out that Krematorium I no longer sufficed for cremating the numerous dead in the camp, the SS considered building a "new" Krematorium in the main camp about 20 meters from the first

{p. 134} Document F3

Translation of Document F3

and extending the building line to the southeast. This project, born at the end of October 1941 out of conversations between the new Bauleitung Director, SS Captain Karl Bischoff and the Topf chief engineer Kurt Prüfer was precisely described in a letter of 22nd October 1941 sent by the Bauleitung to Topf [PMO files BW 30/27 page 27 and BW 30/ 43 page 116]. The study was undertaken by the Bauleitung services and probably resulted in three drawings of a "new Krematorium" (Neubau Kremat), Nos. 870, 871 and 875, showing respectively its external aspect, the ground floor and the furnace installation [Document D1a]. Although these drawings have not been found, they must have closely resembled those of the "Entwurf für das Krematorium / projected Krematorium" of the "930 series" on which the building is shown in its final form. Drawing 3250 (drawn in 1941-42 and used by the Bauleitung in 1943 to show the location of the watch towers around the camp), showing its situation in the main camp. and that of 19th February 1942 [Document K] established by the SS Economic Administration Main Office show the implantation of a new Krematorium similar to that of the 930 series, but with a collective external chimney built onto its annex wing and not emerging from it as shown on the 930 drawings. On 15th January 1942, the Bauleitung Drawing Office, headed by SS Second Lieutenant Walter Dejaco, newly promoted to this rank, had finished the drawings for the "Krematorium project" 935 (west elevation), 936 (north elevation), 937 (east elevation) [Document L] )and 938 (south elevation) [Document M]. The orientation of the building proves its destination the main camp (as already shown on the drawing of 19th February 1942 [Document K).

This series of elevations was completed by drawings 932 (basement), 933 (sections) and 934 (ground floor). They were all checked by Dejaco and countersigned by Bischoff on 28th January 1942. The locations of the two underground "Leichenkeller/ corpse cellars" mentioned in the letter of 22nd October 1941 do not appear on the drawings 935, 936, 937 and 938.

But, on 27th February 1942 [file BW 30/25. page 1 (letter of 5th March 1942) and BW 30/34, page 37 (letter of 30th March 1942)], it was decided following a conference with Oberführer SS Dr. Ing Kammler of the SS Economic Administration Head Office in Berlin, to transfer this new Krematorium from the main camp to the POW (prisoner of war) camp in Birkenau, where this building, classified by the Bauleitung as "Bauwerk/ Worksite" 30, was built and copied under the designation "Krematorium II".

This decision seems to have remained purely theoretical for a good month, for a letter of 2nd April 1942 [Document N] addressed by the Bauleitung to Topf, written by Dejaco and signed by Bischoff, still speaks of the "[new] Krematorium to [be] built in the Auschwitz concentration camp" (i.e., in the Stammlager, the main camp). ***

{p. 136} Document G2a Document G2b [PMO File BW 11/1, page 3] OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS FOR COKE-FIRED TOPF DOUBLE-MUFFLE INCINERATION FURNACE Before charging the two hearths with coke, the two furnace dampers and the main rotary damper in the chimney must be open.

The fire can now be lit and maintained, being sure to open both secondary openings to the right and left of the cinder removal doors (of the coke furnace).

Once the cremation chamber (muffle) has been brought to a good red heat (approximately 800°C), the corpses can be introduced one after the other in the cremation chambers.

Now the pulsed air blower situated to the side of the furnace should be switched on and run for about 20 minutes, ensuring that the two cremation chambers do not receive too much or too little fresh air.

Regulation of the fresh air is by means of a rotary valve in the air duct. In addition, the air intakes, to the right and left of the chamber doors, should be half open.

As soon as the remains of the corpses have fallen from the chamotte grid to the ash collection channel below, they should be pulled forward towards the ash removal door, using the scraper. Here they can be left for a further 20 minutes to be fully consumed, then the ashes should be placed in the container and set aside to cool.

In the meantime, further corpses can be introduced one after the other into the chambers.

The two coke furnaces must be fed with fuel from time to time.

Every evening, the furnace fire bars must be cleaned of clinker and the cinders removed.

In addition, care must be taken that at the end of operations, as soon as the furnace. having burnt everything. is empty and no coals remain, that all the air valves, doors and dampers are closed, so that the furnace does not cool.

After each incineration, the temperature rises in the furnace. For this reason, care must be taken that the internal temperature does not rise above 1100°C (white heat).

This increase in temperature can be avoided by introducing additional fresh air.

{p. 137} Document G3a Document G3b [PMO File BW11/1, page 2] OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE TOPF FORCED DRAUGHT INSTALLATION If the furnace does not draw properly, the forced draught installation incorporated in the chimney must be brought into service.

Here, care must be taken to first switch on the motor and only afterwards close the rotary damper in the chimney. The cold water supply from the tank should also be opened immediately.

At the end of the incineration, the rotary damper in the chimney must be opened first and then the motor and the water supply shut off.

In addition, care must be taken to ensure that there is always enough water in the tank Document G3c Document G3c Topf forced draught installation: schematic diagram (reconstitution of operations) · Cheminee / Chimney · Reservoir d'eau / Water tank · Motcur / Motor · Saugzuganlage (forced draught installation) · Aerations / Ventilators · Ancienne cheminee de la poudriere / Old powder store chimney · Ofen / Fumace · Ofenraum / Furnace room · Leichenhalle / Morgue KREMATORIUM I OR OLD KREMATORIUM



Plans, construction and general study

Complete history of Birkenau Krematorien II and III, covering their design, construction, utilization and destruction


Design ­ Construction ­ Utilization ­ Destruction The sections "Design" and "Construction" will be dealt with chronologically, as in the "Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager" [Calendar of events in the concentration camp] by Danuta Czech, certain items of which are incorporated in the present text. The documents on which the argument is based either accompany the text or appear in the annex of documents. Thus, everything set out here, frequently as the result of extensive study presented separately in annex, reflects our present state of knowledge concerning these buildings.

The "Utilization" section takes the form of a guided tour in the ruins of Krematorien II and III and refers the reader to the excellent testimony of Henryk Tauber [Part III, Chapter 3] for further details.

Krematorium II functioned as a homicidal gas chamber and incineration installation from 15th March 1943, before its officially coming into service on 31st March, to 27th November 1944, annihilating a total of approximately 400,000 people, most of them Jewish women, children and old men.

Krematorium III was used in similar fashion from 25th June 1943 to 27th November 1944, killing about 350,000 victims.

Thus approximately three quarters of the Jewish victims of KL Auschwitz Birkenau were gassed and reduced to ashes in these two buildings. DESIGN AND IMPLANTATION IN THE POW CAMP The main orders issued by Himmler as a result of his visit to Auschwitz KL [Concentration Camp] on 1st March 1941 were that the Stammlager [main camp] should be extended to receive 30,000 prisoners and that a camp should be built at Birkenau to hold an expected 100,000 Soviet prisoners of war.

The Camp Commandant, Rudolf Hoess, despite all his good will as an old Party Member, was technically incapable of undertaking and completing such a task, but nevertheless the extension of the Stammlager was begun in summer 1941, using bricks from the demolition of the Zasole district, situated immediately to she north of the KL.

In order to build the Birkenau POW Camp (Kriegsgefangenenlager or KGL). Amtsgruppe C (Bauwesen/Construction) of the SS Wirstschaftsverwaltungshauptamt or SS WVHA [SS Economic and Administrative Main Office] in Berlin detached SS Captain Karl Bischoff as Sonderbauleiter [Special Head of Construction], later to become "Leiter der Zentral Bauleitung / Head of the Central Construction Management" of the Auschwitz region.

The first plan of the KGL was produced on 7th October 1941, drawn by Fritz Ertl, then an SS Corporal, and approved by Bischoff on the following day [Document 1]. The camp comprised three parts: a Quarantine Camp (the future B.I) containing a "Leichenhalle/ Corpse hall" and two internment camps (Camps I and II, whose total area was a little greater than that of the future B.II). There was no plan for a rail link with the nearby Auschwitz station, A week later, on 14th October 1941, a second plan was produced [Document 2] on the same basis as the earlier one, this time including barracks for the SS guards to the east and a double track railway running from the station and ending between Camp I and the Quarantine Camp. still equipped with a "Leichenhalle" to serve as a morgue to store corpses before their transfer to the Stammlager for incineration in the crematorium there.

With an overall total of 130,000 persons expected for the Stammlager and KGL together, it was foreseeable that the two or three 2 muffle furnaces of the single existing crematorium (i.e. 1 muffle for 22,000 or 32,000 prisoners) would prove insufficient. At the end of October 1941, Bischoff had a conversation with Kurt Prüfer, Chief Engineer of the "Krematoriumbau" department of the firm Topf & Söhne of Erfurt, concerning the construction of a new crematorium in the Stammlager (behind the existing one), the new building to have a furnace room with five 3 muffle furnaces, two "Leichenkeller" [basement morgues] and a dissecting room, all these rooms being ventilated (having air extraction systems). The components for the furnaces were to be delivered within three months [Document 3]. This would bring the number of muffles for the two camps up to 21, or roughly 1 muffle for 6,000 prisoners. This plan for a new normal crematorium implied the temporary storage of the KGL dead in morgues in Birkenau before cremation in the Stammlager.

The Drawing Office of the Bauleitung produced three plans for this project in November and December 1941, entitled "Neubau-Kremat [orium]" and numbered 870 (elevation), 871 (ground floor plan) and 875 (furnace installation).

Bauleitung drawing 885 of 5th January 1942 [Document 4] showed a further extension to the KGL, now planned for a probable population of l10,000 to 120,000 prisoners. Camps I and II were extended, to reach their final dimensions, those a of the second and third construction stages (B.II and B.III). The Quarantine Camp still contained its "Leichenhalle" in the northwest corner. In addition, Camp I now contained in the west a "Verbrennungshalle / Cremation hall" with FIVE "Leichenhallen". Camp II was given similar installations. Though the incineration capacity of these "Verbrennungshalle" is not known, it must have been very limited in view of the disturbing number of storage morgues planned (ten), probably half underground structures as were later the Leichenkeller of Krematorien II and III.

The Quarantine Camp Leichenhalle (appearing on the drawings of 7th and 14th October 1941), was drawn in detail by the Bauleitung at the end of 1941 under drawing number 785, entitled "Leichenhalle KGL". A second drawing, no 812, "Leichenhalle für das KGL" is probably connected with this, unless it shows one of the ten corpse halls (appearing on drawing 885) from which another drawing, 1040, "Leichenhalle" für KGL" was probably derived. The drawing of the two "Verbrennungshallen" was also produced in January 1942 under the number 879, "Vorschlag zur Errichtung eines prov. Krematorium KGL" [Proposal for the construction of a provisional POW Camp crematorium]. Unfortunately, however, although we know the numbers and titles of these drawings, it is impossible to make use of them in compiling the history of the ramp, for none of them has yet been found. The multiplication of "Leichenhalle" in this prisoner of war camp remains incomprehensible, for it contradicts the existence of the camp itself: either an infrastructure was to be created to house Soviet prisoners, or they were to he killed rapidly, in which case there was no need for a huge internment camp. The majority of the some 12,000 Soviet prisoners who were actually sent to Auschwitz died during the construction of the Birkenau Quarantine Camp (the future B.I), before

{p. 184} even starting on Camps I and II (the future B.II) where the ten "Leichenhallen" were to be. The fact remains that the drawing of these ten corpse halls is inexplicable without additional documentary evidence, unless they are in some way connected with the creation of Bunker I, located in the immediate proximity, though this link is tenuous, as we shall see.

During January 1942, Bunker 1, situated in the vicinity of the northwest corner of the future B.III, was in fact created, It was an old Birkenau farmhouse roughly convened into two homicidal gas chambers. Bunker 1 was not planned as an extermination installation (which it later became), but as a crude experimental station for studying the possibilities for the rapid extermination of numbers of people through making them inhale a toxic gas. The product selected, hydrocyanic acid fixed on a porous substrate, was marketed under the trade name "Zyklon B" as a disinfection agent. It could therefore be ordered in the normal way from civilian firms manufacturing or distributing it, without attracting the type of attention that would have been inevitable, for example, with orders for suffocating gas of the "Green Cross" Cross type. The method adopted stemmed directly from the destruction of insect and animal vermin using the gaseous phase of the Zyklon B in an enclosed space (for example when delousing clothing) or in buildings infested by vermin such as bugs, mosquitoes, lice, fleas, rats and mice. Because the lethal dose for humans was not known, the SS had made a botched trial gassing in the basement of Bunker 11 of the Stammlager on 3rd, 4th and 5th September 1941, the victims being 850 Soviet POWs and other prisoners. It was subsequently seen to be more convenient to gas people as required in the very place where all corpses inevitably had to go eventually: the morgue of Krematorium I. But trials to perfect the technique could not be carried out in this crematorium attached to the camp, hence the idea of establishing Bunker I in an isolated location on the edge of the Birkenau wood. It was very little used, if at all, for the extermination of prisoners found unfit for work after selection, up to 4th May 1942 [according to Danuta Czech's "Calendar of events"], and its use for the extermination of Jews without prior selection did not begin before 12th May 1942 [according to the "Calendar", but contrary to what is stated there, it seems in have been practiced from January 1942].

The Bauleitung Drawing Office, headed by SS Second Lieutenant Walter Dejaco, continued work on a new crematorium for the Stammlager and between 15th January and 3rd February 1942, the following drawings were completed: 935 (west elevation), 936 (north elevation), 937 (east elevation), 938 (south elevation). 933 (ground floor plan), 934 (furnace and chimney sections), 932 (basement) and 980 (roof frame) [see these drawings in annex]. Dejaco had met his deadline, as less than three months had passed since Bischoff's order of 22nd October 1941.

According to a tracing of the KGL and its surroundings on a scale of 1:10,000 [Document 5], the rail link between the camp and Auschwitz station appeared as at 4th February 1942 to be planned with no extermination of the Jews in mind, for there was no crematorium planned in the vicinity. The future B.I was half completed. The cleared sector to the north corresponded to the dimensions of the drawing of 14th October 1941, but a new extension zone to the north was outlined, considerably larger than that appearing on drawing 885. To the east, the extension of the Stammlager continued apace, with an expanding industrial zone.

On 12th February 1942. two 3 muffle burden, were ordered from Topf & Söhne for the KGL [Document 6]. It is likely that each furnace was to be installed in a Verbrennungshalle (which appeared on drawing 885). which f or the planned 110,000 to 120,000 prisoners meant one muffle for 20,000 people. The Topf three muffle furnace had been designed at the end of 1941 by Chief Engineer Kurt Prüfer [Document 7]. What Prüfer had proposed to install its Birkenau was the firm's very latest product and the fruit of his own efforts. The throughput of this prototype furnace, which had not yet been tested, was expected to be 225 cremations per day, which made the theoretical total daily capacity of the two Verbrennungshalle 450.

However, on 27th February 1942, as the result of a visit by the Head of Amtsgruppe C of the SS WVHA In Berlin, Dr Ing Kammler, it was decided that the new crematorium with five 3 muffle furnaces planned for the Stammlager would in fact be installed at Birkenau KGL (which would then give 1 muffle for 7,500 prisoners) and the order of 12th February for two 3 muffle furnaces was cancelled, a decision that was bound to upset Messrs Topf, and above all Prüfer, who received a commission on the sale of his furnaces.

Topf naturally wanted to be compensated for the technical and commercial work already done for the order for the two 3 muffle furnaces, the cost of which they estimated at 1,769.36 Reichsmark. This, sum was requested from the Auschwitz Bauleitung in a letter of 11th March 1942 [Document 8]. After having conferred on 25th March 1942 with SS Major Wirtz (Head of Office C III [Technical Tasks], one of the six sub divisions of Amtsgruppe C), Bischoff diverted the two 3 muffle furnaces to "another" use. (This destination is not known, but there would appear to be only two possibilities: either installation in the Stammlager to replace the new crematorium now transferred to Birkenau, or another installation at Birkenau, associated with the homicidal activity to come from Bunker 1 in May and then Bunker 2 at the end of June.) Bischoff subsequently requested Wirtz, in a letter of 30th March 1942 [Document 9] to inform Topf of this, in order to "clarify the situation". This was done on 8th April 1942. suppressing the expenses claimed by Topf, but the firm found the procedure somewhat high-handed and the dispute did not end there. In June 1943 Topf again approached the Bauleitung to claim their money, and Bischoff, thinking the affair had been settled since 8th April 1942, immediately referred it to the Head of Office C III of the SS WVHA in Berlin, since the original decision to cancel the two 3 muffle furnaces had come from him. The outcome of this dispute is not known (letters of 3rd June and 10th July 1943 [file BW 30/34, pages 34 and 20]).

The decision of 27th February 1942 to transfer the new crematorium meant that the drawings of the "930 series" had to be modified slightly to reflect the reorientation of the building to suit the new site in Birkenau. The four elevation drawings, 935, 936, 937 and 938 were combined into a single one, bearing the number 936. The marshy nature of the lands at Birkenau also meant that the planned cellars (Leichenkeller) had to be raised to a semi-basement configuration. This led to drawings 1173 (reuse of the earlier drawing 935, reoriented to the south and completed by a sectional drawing of Leichenkeller 1), 1174 (unpublished) and the addition to drawing 934 of sectional drawings of Leichenkeller 1 and 2 [see these drawings in annex]. As a result, the dates of 15th January attributed to drawings 936, 1173-1174, 23rd January for 932 (second version) and 27th for 934, are all incorrect because of lack of time or some other reason. These drawings must have been modified for the most part in April 1942, and perhaps some were completed early in May. In fact the drawing of the foundations, 1301, which necessarily had to lake account of the nature of the soil, was produced on 8th May. The correction sheet to foundation drawing 932 was produced on 14th May, last date in the first modification of the 930 series, for drawing 1311 "rectifies" one that was already almost entirely redrawn.

Between April and June 1943 there is a historical "gap" in the Bauleitung correspondence concerned with the Birkenau crematorium which makes it impossible to give precise answers to the following questions: - When was the decision taken to modify the crematorium for criminal ends by installing a gas chamber in Leichenkeller I and an undressing room in Leichenkeller 2 (the only initial indication known being drawing 1300 of the drainage system of the building, dated 18th June 1942)? - Why was the call for tenders for the construction of the future Krematorium II issued to civilian firms in July 1942, a very late date in view of progress with the "resettlement of the Jews" which meant that convoys were already arriving is Auschwitz? On 5th June 1942, a civilian civil engineering firm, Huta of Kattowitz, working on the construction of B.I in Birkenau. produced a 1:2000 drawing of the POW camp [Document 10] showing the location of the (narrow gauge) railways used to transport building materials. This drawing contains an apparent contradiction: to the west of B.I there was a branch running towards the area occupied by the future Krematorium II, whereas to make this drawing Huta had used Bauleitung drawing 885 (with to the west of Camp Ia Verbrennungshalle and five Leichenhallen) which did not have a crematorium. This apparent premonition is explicable in view of the fact that Krematorium II appeared on a Bauleitung drawing of the POW camp dated 6th June and Huta, in direct contact with the SS, could not fail to be informed of this.

A 1:2000 drawing of Birkenau POW camp showing the contours of the ground for construction stage II [Document 10a] shows Bauabschnitt (construction stage) I in the final phase of evolution, having reached its final form, the double track railway, B.II in its final form and B.III, identical to B.II, giving a total capacity of 140,000 prisoners. Construction stages II and III now had only TWO Leichenhallen each, without Verbrennungshalle but with, in the western extension of B.I, ONE crematorium with five 3 muffle furnaces (the future Krematorium II) apparently for "normal" use (1 muffle for 9300 prisoners). This drawing, without an identification block, came from the Bauleitung Drawing Office, where it was produced in early June 1942, a date that can be established by companion with a similar drawing of the POW camp showing the three construction stages, the double track railway, and a single crematorium (the future Krematorium II), signed by Bischoff and dated 6th June 1942 [PMO neg no 10263].

On 18th June 1942, prisoner 17133 drew a plan of the drainage system for the new POW camp crematorium, Bauleitung drawing 1300. This number puts the drawing at the beginning of May, whereas it was dated mid June and checked on 9th July by Eggeling and Töfferl and approved by Bischoff the following day. This drawing, of a technical nature, required two months of work because it was necessary to carry out studies and measurements on the ground in Birkenau and the intervention of two Bauleitung specialists, constraints which perhaps explain the time taken, unless this was due to the modifications made to Leichenkeller 1. This is the first drawing to contain a criminal element, for the drainage of Leichenkeller 1 (the future gas chamber) is now separated from that of the rest of the crematorium, whereas there had been just a single drainage system on the earlier basement drawing 932.

A second farmhouse, three hundred meters west of the future "Zentral Sauna", was crudely transformed into four small homicidal gas chambers, parallel to one another, which came into service on 30th June 1942 under the designation "Bunker 2". The arrangement of the gas chambers was directly inspired by that of the Zyklon B delousing chambers installed by civilian firms. 30th June 1942 marks a turning point in the history of Birkenau, for while there may have been some extermination of Jews before this, it was on an ad hoc and totally improvised basis, whereas henceforth it was to be carried out on an industrial basis, This was perhaps not always true in practice, but it was certainly the intention of the SS, who between early July and mid August 1942 launched a program of FOUR crematoriums with 46 incineration muffles, without counting the 6 already existing in Krematorium I, for a present and existing total of 20,000 prisoners, or 1 muffle for 400 people. Of course, this calculation is incorrect to the extent that it divides the existing number of prisoners, without adding those planned to come, by the number of existing and planned cremation muffles, but it does perfectly illustrate the criminal nature of the multiplication of crematoriums. It suffices to imagine a village of 4,000 inhabitants with its church in the center arid beside it a crematorium equipped with three 3 muffle furnaces as they existed in Birkenau, The installation would have human fuel for scarcely a week of operation. We need not dwell on this picture.

It may appear surprising that the"industrial" extermination of Jews at Auschwitz Birkenau was planned and put into practice so late: planned between June and August 1942 and actually implemented between March and June 1943 by the entry into service of the four Krematorien, For from the standpoint of criminal technique, the massacres of the Jews perpetrated in the late summer of 1941 were rudimentary and unorganized trials (those carried out by Einsatzgruppen A, B, C and D in the Soviet Union; the mobile gassing trucks is the Eastern territories; lastly the trucks at Kulmhof [Chelmno on the Ner] in December 1941), likely to be stopped in any moment under the pressure of internal or external events. It was not until the second quarter of 1942 that the "production line" stage was reached, irreversible and practically official in the leading circles of the Reich and the extermination regions: Belzec (17th March 1942), Sobibor (17th May 1942), Treblinka II (June or July 1942, depending on the source). Lublin Majdanek (September 1942, a date that would probably be revised to considerably later if a serious study of its gas chambers were to be made). In this tight chronology. Auschwitz Birkenau would he placed in late June / early July 1942.

{p. 187} At the beginning of July 1942, the Bauleitung invited two building firms already working on the construction of the POW camp, Huta [Document 10] and Lenz & Co [Document 11], both of Kattowitz, to tender for the construction of the shell of ONE crematorium (the future Krematorium II) at Birkenau [Document 12].

On 13th July 1942, Huta submitted its tender at a price of 133,756.65 Reichsmark, a price which was to undergo several modifications (described in detail below). On 15th July, Lenz & Co refused to tender on the grounds of labor shortage.

On 17th and 18th July 1942, Reichsführer Himmler visited the Auschwitz Birkenau complex for the second time. On the 17th he witnessed the complete process of a "Sonderaktion/ special action" [Document 12/II] on a Jewish convoy; he saw the detraining, the gassing of the latter in Bunker 2 and the removal of their bodies which were then buried in mass graves. In recognition of his untiring activity in the development of the camps, SS Major Hoess was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Hoess was in luck, for only five days after Himmler's departure he had to decree, by Kommandanturbefehl 19/42 of 23rd July, a state "Lagersperre / isolation of the camp" because of an outbreak of typhus. Disinfection and delousing measures were stepped up.

On 29th July 1942, the Bauleitung awarded Huta a contract worth 133,756.65 RM for building the shell of the new crematorium at Birkenau [Document 13]. Two mirror-image buildings were in fact constructed, but no known document mentions a second order or its date. Huta themselves were to prepare the site and erect the shell of the building: brickwork, facings, floors, concrete and reinforced concrete, for 116,366 65 RM while the damp proofing work was subcontracted to Vedag at a price of 17,390 RM. The Huta price amounted to scarcely more than one fifth of the total price of a crematorium: Krematorium III cost 554,500 RM and Krematorium II probably 646,000 RM before inspection [BW 30/43, page 29]). Other contracts were subsequently awarded: construction of two chimneys (Messrs Robert Kochler); supply of ten incineration furnaces, the ventilation systems and two corpse lifts (Messrs Topf & Sons, who received 110,000 RM per crematorium); design of the roof frame (Messrs Konrad Segnitz) before supply and erection of roof frames and covering (Industrie Bau AG, who invoiced those of Krematorium III at 9,418.04 RM); drainage work (Messrs Karl Falck) [see list of enterprises in annex].

Huta subsequently recalculated its estimate (including the work to be subcontracted to, Vedag) and arrived at a total of 140,795.65 RM, which was reduced by the Bauleitung to 115,832.90 RM (half of the saving being achieved under "bricklaying", where the SS provided their own prison labor). After some negotiation, on 7th May 1943 Huta claimed 120,443.16 RM for Krematorium II and an identical sum for Krematorium III, After a new agreement had been reached between had been reached between the parties, the accounts were closed on 1st November 1943 at a sum of 119,007.23 RM for Krematorium II (or a 12% reduction on the original tender. Of the 120,443.16 RM claimed for Krematorium III, the Bauleitung accepted only 116,532.69 RM (or a 15% reduction on the agreed price), which was claimed by Huta on 1st November 1943,

Document 3 [PMO file BW 30/27, page 27] Translation: Copy Correspondence register no. 715 ?/4 Ho 22nd October 1941 Subject: Order for Topf 3 muffle furnaces, [suction type] forced drought installation and waste incinerator. Reference: Conversation between our Head of Construction, K Bischoff and your Herr Prufer. Enclosure: -- Messrs J Topf & Sohne ERFURT

The Waffen SS and Auschwitz Police Construction Management refers to the conversation that took place between Herr Prufer and our Head of Construction K Bischoff, and hereby orders from you: 5 Topf three-muffle furnaces with pulsed air installation; 2 Topf forced draught installations each approx 10,000 m? flue gas per hour; 1 Topf incinerator With the furnaces you are to supply all the refractory and insulating materials as well as all cast iron parts, ducting and pulsed-air blowers. For its part our Construction Management will supply the construction materials necessary for the furnaces, such as bricks, sand, lime and cement and the cast iron anchors.

For this order we request a detailed estimate, the prices on which will serve as a basis for the contract. We should also like to have an estimate for air extraction installations for the two corpse cellars. the dissecting room and the furnace room.

As this project is urgent, we would ask you to immediately establish the plans for the furnace foundations and the various flues and to submit these to the Construction Management within 14 days.

Delivery of the above mentioned furnace components shall be within 3 months.

Within about 8 weeks you are to make available to our Construction Management one of your fitters, who will supervise the construction of the foundations.

Two drawings concerning this project have already been given to your Herr Prufer. On the basis of these drawings you are to furnish the Construction Management with data regarding the required chimney section and height. Signed: For Second Lieutenant Janisch [copy of BW 30/27 page 27] For Second Lieutenant Kirschneck [copy of BW 30/34, page 116]

{p. 188} then this sum was further reduced to 110,519,22 RM, with a difference of 6,013.47 RM that was not acceptable to Hula [the figures cried come from file BW 30/26]. Final settlement with Huta for the work done on the two Krematorien dragged on in such an extent that on 29th January 1944 [BW 30/32A, page 1] the firm had still received only 100,000 RM for Krematorium II (the outstanding balance being 19,007.23 RM) and 90,000 RM for Krematorium III (balance 26,532 69 RM) As at that date, the Bauleitung owed Huta a total of almost 200,000 RM (equivalent to the price of Krematorium IV!) for the balance on the Krematorien and sundry other invoices. It was not easy to do business with the SS, even when supplying them with the means to do excellent business with the Jews.

In order to combat the typhus epidemic that was raging through the camp in August 1942, it was necessary to eliminate the vector of the disease, lice. The most effective delousing agent was Zyklon B, and without this product it would he impossible to eradicate the disease. On the eve of the "Lagersperre" order, authorization was received by radio to send a 5 ton truck [officially classified as 4.5 tons and capable of carrying a payload of 4950 kg on the road and 4100 kg off-road, and with a cubic capacity of approximately 20m?] to Dessau, to the Zyklon-B production plant in order to collect "gas intended for gassing the camp against the epidemic that has broken out". On 29th July, authorization was received for another truck to go to Dessau to load "gas urgently required for disinfection". These two trucks would have brought back a maximum of 4,000 to 5,000 one kilogram cans of Zyklon B, if this was the size chosen. On 26th August, Zyklon B was running out or lacking, and a Renault truck (probably a 3.5-ton AHN) was sent to Dessau, this time for "material for special treatment" . On 2nd October, while the epidemic was still present, having reached a peak in September, the camp required "material for the resettlement of Jews". Finally, on 7th January 1943, to keep control of the now endemic typhus, another truck was sent to Dessau for "disinfection material". These five movement authorizations are the only ones in existence that mention this type of transport. They reflect the two different utilizations of Zyklon B. But in what proportion?

As we know the quantity of Zyklon B delivered, the dose necessary to kill one thousand people (according to Camp Commandant Hoess) and the number of people gassed during this period (obtained from the "Calendar") it is easy to determine the percentage used for each purpose over the period of 22nd July to 26th August: 2 to 3% for homicidal gassing and 97 to 98% for disinfestation purposes. This extremely surprising distribution totally invalidates the interpretation and presentation of these "authorizations" by the traditional historians who claim the word "disinfection" was used to "camouflage" homicidal gassings and that a gigantic massacre was going on, an argument supported by the "shock" image of big trucks scurrying back and forth between Auschwitz and Dessau, bringing back 5 tons of Zyklon B on each trip (a quantity of 5,000 kg is enough to kill 1,250,000 people, more than the total number of Jews sent to Auschwitz!).

The truth is that the SS used the extermination of the Jews, about which their superiors had a general knowledge, without being informed of the practical details, to hide the terrible hygienic conditions in the camp, and to cover up their enormous consumption of gas for disinfection purposes. If knowledge of the disastrous state of affairs had reached Berlin, this would have had unfortunate consequences for Hoess, who had recently for been congratulated by Himmler and promoted in rank, and for his entourage. What did the Auschwitz SS care, in the month of August 1942, about the twenty or thirty thousand Jews killed in the seclusion of the Birkenwald forest at the cost of a hundred kilos of Zyklon B, when their own lives were at risk and the very existence of the camp threatened? It was necessary at all at all costs to stop the epidemic, which led on the 29th August to the radical and extremely effective solution of gassing all the sick or convalescing prisoners so as to get rid of both the lice AND THEIR CARRIERS ["Hefte von Auschwitz 3", Kalendarium ... p.85]. So the SS made the Jews take the blame (the usual practice) for the huge Zyklon B requirements, in order not to be accused of incompetence in the running of the camp and lack of control over the conditions obtaining there. However, this strategy was to have very long term effects because of the duration of the epidemic and the discovery of the sad truth by the higher authorities in September. That the SS should have worded two transport authorizations in such a way that after the war they should become crushing proof linking the Jews, their resettlement and special treatment with hydrocyanic gas, together meaning death for those unable to work, becomes something of a statistical miracle when we consider the proportions in which the gas was used: 2 to 3% homicidal as against 97 or 98% disinfection. The terms used in these authorizations, generally considered today to be incriminating slips, were deliberately used by the SS in what was a desperate period for them, when they were submerged by an epidemic and were trying to escape responsibility for this scourge for which they were in fact at least half responsible.

In this context of drastic disinfestation measures, Hoess signed on 12th August 1942 a special order telling the SS to be careful after the gassings taking place [Document 14], because of indisposition caused by inhaling a very small amount of Zyklon B. This text, which previously appeared to be damning proof of the existence of homicidal gas chambers can no longer be accepted as such. The distribution of FORTY TWO copies of this order, to all corners of the camp and to semi civilian enterprises is proof that there was nothing whatever "secret" about it, and that on the contrary, the gassings concerned the whole camp at this date. If the accident had occurred at Bunker 1 or 2, hidden away in two small areas of the Birkenwald [Birch Wood], the order might possibly have been worded similarly, but would have been sent only to the medical service and the SS medical orderlies who actually used the Zyklon B. The recommendations made in the order justify some of the reservations expressed by R Faurisson regarding the handling of Zyklon B, though we cannot accept his presentation of hydrocyanic acid gas, devastating by definition, as being highly persistent.

Document 4 [PMO file BW 2/6, neg no 21135/4]


Sonderbauleitung für die Errichtung eines Kriegsgefangenenlager der Waffen SS in Auschwitz OS / Special Construction Management for the erection of a Waffen SS prisoner of war camp in Auschwitz, Upper Silesia Maßstab / Scale 1:2000 Gezeichnet / Drawn 5/1/42 by SS W Uhlmer Geprüft / Checked 5/1/42 by SS Second Lieutenant (S) Walter Dejaco Genehmigt / Approved 6/1/42 by SS Captain Bischoff

Translation of inscriptions: Erläuterung / Key Unterkunftsgebäude / Accommodation block Wirtschaftsgebäude / Administration building Abortbaracke / WC block Waschbaracke / Ablution block Entlausungsgebäude / Delousing building Leichenhalle / Corpse hall Verbrennungshalle / Cremation hall Reviergebäude / Sick quarters Vorrätebaracke / Stores [In the camp] Quarantäne Lager / Quarantine Camp Erdamschüttung / Earth embankment Lager I / Camp I Lager II / Camp II Unterkunfte für Wachtruppe / Accommodation for guards

{p. 200} On 15th August 1942, a situation plan of the whole POW camp was completed [Document 15], projecting its extension to four construction stages, numbered (from south to north) IV, I, II, III, with a capacity of 60,000, 20,000, 60,000 and 60,000 respectively or a total of 200,000 prisoners. A letter of 27th August 1942, signed by Bischoff and addressed to the SS Construction Inspectorate at Posen for the Head of Office C/V of the SS WVHA in Berlin, confirmed that the "lodging" capacity of the POW camp was to be increased to 200,000 prisoners to [Soviet "October Revolution" Archives, microfilm 295, ref. 7021-108-32, page 41]. A double track railway was still shown between B.I and B.II as well as the construction of TWO crematoriums (labeled 1 and 2, the future Krematorien II and III), which gives 1 muffle for 7,000 prisoners, a proportion considered "normal". However, the two crematoriums, though certainly still designed without homicidal gas chambers, are formally connected with the SPECIAL ACTIONS [Document 12/II] carried out in Bunkers 1 and 2, i.e. they were to be used essentially to incinerate the corpses from these two installations, which were hitherto buried in mass graves,

The date of 15th August 1942 is to be considered as the end of the gestation period for the FOUR KREMATORIEN of the POW camp and the beginning of their construction. In fact the contracts for the building work on Krematorien II and III were awarded on 29th July The first drawing for the future Krematorium IV [PMO file BW 30b 30c/22, drawing 1678] was produced on 14th August. The contract for the construction of the four chimneys for the TWO OTHER KREMATORIEN (IV and V], of a different model from II and III, was awarded to Messrs Robert Koehler on 20th August 1942 [file BW 30/26, pages 52 and 53]. Thus the incineration capacity of the camp was to be increased to 52 muffles while on 19th August 1942 at the evening roll call there were 22,925 prisoners in the camp.

AS AT MID AUGUST 1942, the criminality of the Krematorien, normally by definition installations planned for health reasons, is evident from the fact that THEIR CAPACITY WAS EXCESSIVE IN RELATION TO THE REAL NEEDS OF THE CAMP, without there being any need to demonstrate the presence of homicidal gas chambers inside them, which is in fact difficult to establish at that date. Although a criminal trace has been detected on drawing 1300 of Krematorium II, it is unique and thus open to dispute, as it can be differently interpreted in relation to other factors. By contrast, drawing 1678 of Krematorium IV (and V) makes it possible to prove that the building was directly planned for criminal purposes, These are the only early traces. The real traces of the installation of homicidal gas chambers in the four Krematorien first appear in mid January 1943 and go on appearing until the end of June 1943.

{p. 201} Document 14 [PMO Archives, no reference] Translation: Auschwitz Concentration Camp Auschwitz 12th August 1942 Kommandantur Special Order A case of indisposition with slight symptoms of poisoning by hydrocyanic gas which occured today makes it necessary to warn all those participating in the gassings and all other SS members that in particular on opening rooms used for gassing SS not wearing masks must wait at least five hours and keep at a distance of at least 15 meters from the chamber. In addition, particular attention should he paid to the wind direction.

The gas being used at present contains less odorous warning agent and is therefore especially dangerous.

The SS garrison doctor declines all responsibility for any accident that should occur in the case where these directives have not been complied with by SS members. Signed: Höß SS Lieutenant Colonel and Commandant

{p. 202} Koch, should be rapidly detached to worksite 30, Then Prüfer suggested that the two simplified 3 muffle furnaces to be located near the "Badeanstalten für Sonderaktionen / Bathing installations for special actions" (Bunkers 1 and 2), should be taken from the Mogilew consignment, But this Mogilew contract was exclusively made up of 8 muffle furnaces, with no 3-muffle furnaces. [It would appear that Prüfer was acting quite dishonestly (or, depending on the point of view, as a clever salesman), trying to exploit to the full the disastrous health situation in the camp. Motivated essentially by the prosperity of his firm and his own personal gain, he probably wanted to ensure the implantation of his furnaces (being also the creator of the 3-muffle furnace, standard and simplified model) in three stages. First, rapidly install a 2-muffle furnace intended for Mauthausen but sent in error [?] to Auschwitz; second, rapidly deliver two 3-muffle furnaces, taken from Topf stocks and not from the "Mogilew contract", installing one near Bunker 1 and the other near Bunker 2; third, being able to see with his own eyes the catastrophic state of the camp and having direct knowledge of what was going on there, he could foresee what was to happen (large scale physical destruction of the Jews) and thus professionally assess the cremation requirements of the SS, suggesting the installation of oneor two 8-muffle furnaces in addition to the others, having already supplied the Bauleitung with technical details of this new furnace at the beginning of August. Prüfer, having finally succeeded in doing a remarkable sales job in supplying cremation furnaces to KL Auschwitz Birkenau (total sales: three 2-muffle furnaces, ten 3-muffle and two 8-muffle. But from all this he received a maximum commission of only 2,000 RM, something like $ 4,000 today) had slightly overestimated the real cremation requirements of the camp and his plan failed. First, the 2-muffle furnace was in fact sent on to Mauthausen; then the two 3-muffle furnaces remained on his hands (for only twelve 3 muffle furnaces were found in 1945 in Buchenwald and Birkenau, whereas fourteen had been manufactured [letter from Prüfer to Ludwig and Ernst Topf dated 15/11/42]); lastly, he was not able to install one or two furnaces in addition to the four of the original Mogilew contract, because two furnaces from this contract were sent to Birkenau to equip Krematorien IV and V. At the beginning of July 1943, there remained in the Topf stores in Erfurt: two unsold 3­muffle furnaces and three 4-muffle half furnaces of the Mogilew contract, paid for but not delivered (only one half furnace had been actually been sent to Mogilew, on 30/12/41)]

As for the five other 3-muffle furnaces to equip the second Krematorium (the future Kr III), no decision could be taken, because the construction of this building depended on the decision of the Reich Security Head Office [RSHA] in Berlin [and not the SS WVHA, which confirms that at this date the construction of Krematorium III was not envisaged for health reasons but was planned strictly in the context of "Sonderaktionen/ Special actions" which were the exclusive purview of the RSHA]. Taking advantage of the appalling state of the camp, Prüfer tried to palm off on the SS a 2-muffle furnace intended for KL Mauthausen and arrived by providential error at Auschwitz. Late in the afternoon, Prüfer, Ertl, SS Sergeant Kirschneck and the chimney expert Robert Koehler went to Krematorium I in the main camp to instant the chimney and assess damage caused by repeated overheating.

The nest day, 20th August 1942, Ertl, SS Corporal Janisch, Koehler and Prüfer went to Birkenau to visit worksite 30 [Documents 17 and 17a]. Then Prüfer pressed for written confirmation of the order for the two 3-muffle furnaces intended for Bunkers 1 and 2, and for the double muffle furnace delivered in error.

On 24th August, Ertl gave Prüfer the go ahead for the delivery of two 8­muffle furnaces, these naturally to be taken from the "Mogilew contract". On the other hand, the Bauleitung rejected the suggestion of installing the double muffle furnace, which was subsequently sent to Mauthausen [Documents 18, 18a and 18b]. The period from 21st to 24th August must have been nerveracking for Prüfer. It was be no means certain that that a civilian like him would succeed in taking two 3-muffle furnaces, being manufactured or already in stock at Erfurt, from the "Mogilew contract" which had no furnaces of this type, and transform them into the very latest 8-muffle furnaces, which were in the contract. It was not for nothing that Prüfer had become a member of the Nazi Party and had access to Himmler. Precisely because of his contacts in high places, he was starting to have considerable influence over the Auschwitz Bauleitung in cremation matters. He emerged triumphant from this difficult situation, in that he was officially invited by the SS WVHA in Berlin on 26th August to divert from the Mogilew contract to Birkenau two 8-muffle furnaces to equip the future Krematorien IV and V.

On 2nd September, Vedag learned from Huta the damp-proofing work was to be carried out in the basements of a crematorium (which that firm did not know) and in fact would have to be repeated (Krematorien II and III). Vedag gave a guarantee of two years.

On 3rd September, the Bauleitung informed Huta that the excavations for the future Leichenkeller 1 and 2 of Krematorium II had been completed ten days earlier (25th August) and it was high time that the damp proofing work began [Document 19].

On 6th September, a new garrison doctor, SS Major Wirths, arrived at the camp to take the health situation in hand.

On 7th September, Vedag agreed to Huta's request to carry out the work required, while pointing out that they could not start without authorization to release the proofing materials necessary. On the same day, Huta informed Vedag that they had received and immediately passed on to the Bauleitung the requests for the release of felt and bitumen, that the construction of Kr II would have to proceed rapidly and that the firm was waiting for other release forms for the proofing materials required for Krematorium III. Furthermore, Huta warned the Bauleitung that damp proofing the basements with two layers of bituminous felt, as shown on the initial quotation, was not sufficient, and three layers would be necessary. At worksite 30. Topf foremen Holick and Koch were starting work on the foundations for the five 3-muffle furnaces.

On 9th September. Bischoff visited worksite 30 and saw that work was held up because of the lack of damp proofing materials. He immediately informed Huta and offered to make the necessary materials available. The same day, Vedag requested Huta to send them the material release forms signed by the Bauleitung.

The deaths caused by the typhus epidemic were becoming a real problem for KL Auschwitz, a situation that was aggravated by the "output" of Bunkers l and 2. Camp Commandant Hoess, accompanied by SS Second Lieutenants Hoessler and Dejaco, therefore went on 16th September to the Linzmannstadt Ghetto and from there went to visit the "Sonderanlage / Special installation" [open air cremation ditches] run by SS Colonel Blobel, to assess the possibility of using the same method at Auschwitz. On 17th September, Huta informed Vedag that its requests for the release of materials had been sent to Himmler's headquarters and did not go through the regular channel of the "Reichsstelle für Mineralöle / Reich office for mineral oils". On 18th September, Huta explained to the Bauleitung that the delays occurring at worksite 30 due to the lack of damp proofing were not caused by Huta but by Vedag, a civilian firm subject to regulations regarding the release of bituminous substances and which refused to employ its materials without authorization from the Reich office for mineral oils. Knowing that the Bauleitung SS were extremely irritated by this procedure, Huta advised them to take responsibility for damp-proofing the basements, using their own resources. The same day, authorization for the release of proofing materials for Veda, was drawn up by Himmler's headquarters.

{p. 206} As a result of Hoess' visit to SS Colonel Blobel. the exhumation and incineration of the corpses buried earlier began at Birkenau on 20th September, first on pyres, then in open air ditches. To accelerate the process, the bodies were doused with crude oil, which was later replaced by methanol.

On 22nd December, the Bauleitung Drawing Office produced a situation plan of the POW camp, drawing 1697, this time with three construction stages (with a maximum capacity of 140,000 prisoners), still with only two Krematorien (II and III), giving 1 incineration muffle for 4,700 people. Even though the construction of Krematorien IV and V had been decided upon, their location did not yet figure on the drawing. The double track railway did not stop "at the gates to the Krematorien" but continued beyond them [Document 20].

SS Lieutenant General Pohl, head of the SS WVHA, inspected the Auschwitz camp on 23rd September and was able to sec that an epidemic was raging there.

Between 18th and 26th September, Vedag finally sent the long awaited damp proofing materials to Bauleitung, but this did not prevent them from asking Huta on 26th for "standard" materials release authorizations in order to regularize the situation. At the same time they asked Huta to pass on a letter to Vedag foreman Krause whose exact address they did act know!

Probably at Pohl's request, Dr Ernst Robert Grawitz, Head of the German Red Cross, made a thorough inspection of the camp on 25th September. He saw the sick quarters overflowing, corpse storage, the temporary water treatment installations, the extermination of the Jews and the incineration of corpses in open air ditches.

On 29th September, Huta sent Vedag the release issued by Himmler's headquarters, hoping that this would settle the question of the formalities. But this was not to be, for on 1st October Vedag replied to Huta that so far as they were concerned this release had no legal value and the papers had to be filled in, signed and sent solely to the Reich office for mineral oils. Despite these administrative difficulties, damp proofing work at BW 30 proceeded without a hitch until 2nd October, when worked stopped due to a problem with drain pipes that had to pass through the proofing material.

On 7th October, the Bauleitung signed the second request for the release of damp proofing material, this time for worksite 30a (Krematorium III).

On 13th October, the Auschwitz Bauleitung informed the Head of Office C/IV of the SS WVHA in Berlin of the cost of the contracts for the construction of the KGL (POW camp) according to the estimates of the civilian firms Lenz & Co and Huta, and the cost of the shell of a new crematorium in this camp [Document 12]. This letter mentions the urgency of constructing the new crematorium, an argument often advanced as proof of its criminal intent, but this argument is invalid, because for the SS, ALL construction was urgent. On the other hand, this document is still vital, for it proves that the Krematorien were associated with "special actions".

On 14th October. there was a meeting in the Auschwitz Bauleitung building between its senior staff and two Huta representatives Herr Stephan and Herr Sadora. The floors of the basements in Krematorien II and III, originally planned to be 12 cm thick, were increased to 50 cm of non- reinforced concrete [Bauleitung drawing 933 [934](p) and Huta drawings 109/13a/14a and /16a].

On 17th October, Vedag foreman Krause, working with Bauleitung materials on the damp proofing of the basements of Krematorium III. estimated that this would be finished by 31st October.

On 19th October, Vedag asked for release requests for the damp proofing materials for Krematorium III, not wanting to deliver them without "standard" authorization (which is why the SS had advanced materials to foreman Krause). Messrs Karl Falck completed the first stage of the drainage work at worksite 30, commenced ten days earlier on 9th October.

On 24th October, Huta sent the Bauleitung a first batch of twenty pages of static calculations accompanied by its drawings 109/3, 4, 5 and 6 of Krematorien II and III, Huta project number 7015/IV. These static calculations also concerned the chimneys, identical for the two buildings, which were no doubt designed by the Bauleitung on the basis of drawings supplied by Topf.

On 26th October. there was an incident at worksite 30a concerning the sizing of the concrete before damp-proofing with disagreement between SS Second Lieutenant Janisch and foreman Krause, the latter considering the operation unnecessary in view of the damp and rainy weather, It is not known how the argument ended, but the suspicion must be that it cost Krause very dear, because a letter of 4th May 1943 indicates that he had been called up in the Wehrmacht [PMO file BW 30/30, page 3], whereas if he had played his cards right he should have been able to volunteer for the Waffen SS and get himself detached to the Auschwitz Bauleitung, a real "cushy number" compared with the "external" fronts.

During the period 27th October to 11th November, the only documents referring to BW 30 are the "Arbeitzeit Bescheinigungen / Timesheets" of the fitter Willi Koch concerning the foundations for the furnaces and the underfloor flues, and the "Bauberichten / Construction reports" on the erection of the furnaces [PMO file BW 30/41].

On 12th November, Huta produced drawing 109/9 (Dissecting room ceiling), and on 13th, drawing 109/10 (Waste incinerator room ceiling supporting beams and the lintel). These were sent to the Bauleitung on 14th October, together with more static calculations concerning project number 7015/IV.

{p. 212} Document 23 [PMO file BW 30/34, page 101]

Translation: [Manuscript] SS Second Lieutenant (Specialist) Kirschneck BW 30 Copy 29th January 1943 Subject: Inspection report by engineer Prüfer To Waffen SS and Police Central Construction Management

Auschwitz Upper Silesia

As a result of this morning's conversation with the Bauleitung and the subsequent visit to Krematorien II, III, IV and V, I have established the following:

Krematorium II

This complex is completed, from the standpoint of construction, but for secondary details (the form work cannot yet be removed from corpse cellar 2 because of the frost).

The 5 three muffle incineration furnaces are completed and are at present being warmed through to dry them. Delivery of the ventilation and air extraction systems for the corpse cellars has been delayed by the blockage of wagons, so that it will probably not be possible to install them for another 10 days. It will therefore certainly be possible to bring Krematorium II into service on 15/2/43 [in fact it was officially handed over on 31/3/43, a month and a half late].

Krematorium III The external walls of the furnace building [actually room) and the chimney are completed. In 8 days installation of the incineration furnace flues will begin. Installation of the 5 three-muffle incineration furnaces can be done in about 5 weeks. It will be possible to bring these incineration furnaces into service at the earliest on 17/4/43 [in fact Kr III was handed over on 25/6/43, two and a half months late].

Krematorium IV

The shell and the foundations are completed. Construction of the eight muffle incineration furnace will begin on Monday 1/2/43. Work will be completed for the 28/2/43 [in fact Kr IV was handed over on 22/3/43, less than a month late].

Krematorium V

The foundations of the external walls and of one chimney are under construction. Completion of this Krematorium will depend mainly on weather conditions.

{p. 217} On the morning of 29th January, two days before the planned date for bringing Krematorium II into service (31st), Bischoff, Kirschneck and Prüfer, probably accompanied by other Bauleitung SS and representatives of all the civilian firms working on the Krematorien, went to Birkenau and thoroughly inspected worksites 30, 30a, 30b and 30c. In the afternoon, Kirschneck drew up a detailed report of the inspection [Documents 24 and 24a]. As soon as he had finished. Prüfer read it and coolly rewrote it, simplifying the text to "erase" some of the obvious delays. Prüfer entitled the shortened text "Prübericht / Inspection report" and gavel it to Bischoff [Documents 23 and 23a]. Then Bischoff, in response to a request made the previous day by the SS WVHA in Berlin for a progress report, sent the Prüfer report off to his chief, Kammler, informing him that Krematorium II was completed [Document 22] and claiming it was operational, which was far from the case. He wrote that he expected the building to be ready for official handover on 20th February, whereas the actual date was 31st March. This "victory communiqué" brought Bischoff immediate promotion: he was made a Major the next day, 30th January. Bischoff had very cleverly maneuvered his superior, and the delays that inevitably appeared were attributed to Prüfer and hence to Messrs Topf, which was only fair. However, in his letter Bischoff made an enormous gaff, explaining to Kammler that though it had unfortunately not been possible to remove the formwork from the ceiling of Leichenkeller 2, because of the Silesian cold, this was of little importance, because the "Vergasungskeller" could be used in its stead [as a normal morgue]. There was the fateful word, "gassing cellar", written by Bischoff himself and designating Leichenkeller 1, as can be seen after cross-checking with Kirschneck's report and Prüfer's simplified "inspection report". This is the first of the "slips" that SS and civilians could not help making, involuntarily or otherwise, as the criminal conversion of the Krematorien progressed, since in the course of their work they had to give precise designations to the homicidal installations. The afternoon of 29th January 1943 was extremely busy, because in addition, Bischoff and Prüfer considered the possibility of constructing a SIXTH INCINERATION INSTALLATION, KREMATORIUM VI based on the principal of open air incineration ditches and the experience gained with them in the Birkenau woods between 20th September and 30th November 1942. Prüfer was to produce the drawings and Pollok was to follow progress for the Bauleitung (Volume 11 of the Hoess trial, Annex 1, page 58]. Prüfer being a fast worker, both in business and in designing furnaces, it is most likely that on his return home from Auschwitz, and according to his habit, he produced the plans for this project at home (2 Herman Göringstraße, Bischleben) and during his free time (hence probably on Sunday 31st January). The drawings of this envisaged new cremation installation have not come down to us. It was designated as an "offene Verbrennungskammer / open cremation chamber" or "großer Ring Einäscherungsanlage / Big ring incineration furnace". Pollok reported that its dimensions were "48.75 by 3.76 meters". Bearing in mind that that this "furnace pit" was most probably circular, these dimensions could apply to the overall installation or to the diameter and depth of the pit. In the latter case, the surface area of the "furnace" would be 1,865 m? and the cubic capacity approximately 7,000 m?, which is absolutely gigantic and technically quite utopian. In order to remain exploitable within the limits of human strength, the diameter would have to be no more than about fifteen meters. [In the author's opinion, the foundations and the circular wall would have been poured in reinforced concrete, the whole being protected by a thick layer of firebrick, On the bottom there would have been short pillars of refractory material, about one meter high, supporting a framework of refractory beams on which the corpses would rest. Firing by coke or coal would be effected through three (or more, depending on the diameter of the pit) openings spaced equidistantly around the circumference, in the form of trenches sloping from ground level to the floor of the "furnace pit". It is very possible that Prüfer would have considered improving the efficiency of this internal site by installing pulsed air blowers, which would have enabled him to sell more of his own firm's products. Operation would have been cyclical: the hearth would be lit, corpses would be thrown on to the grid of refractory material, then, when the space between this and the floor of the pit had become choked with ash and clinker, it would have been necessary to let it cool and clean it out completely before beginning a new cycle. The advantages would have been great incineration throughput for very little fuel consumption. The disadvantages: a fire visible day and night for kilometers around, terrible heat, the danger in case of sudden gusts of wind, an unbearable smell and, above all, the work of cleaning out and recharging the furnace pit, would be exhausting if not mortally dangerous. The fact is that optimal operation would require that the pit should not cool too much between cycles, to enable the following cycle to start easily, which would mean that the prisoners cleaning out the pit and preparing it for the next firing would be forced to work in a very hot furnace. Even though this project never came to anything, its principle was not forgotten, and was put into practice in a primitive way in the open-air incineration ditches dug near Krematorium V and Bunker 2/V. In the author's opinion, the future Krematorium VI would most probably have been installed in the birch wood, 300 meters north of Krematorium V. The reader may be interested to know that for a long time one of the Birkenau guides used to tell visitors that Krematorium VI was planned to be electric. The victims would have stepped on a conveyor belt and been taken into the Krematorium where they would have been electrocuted and incinerated in a continuous production line operation. The location was to be in B.III, which was an error of only 200 to 300 meters, since Krematorium VI would probably have been to the west of B.III, in the woods. This poor guide was in fact only repeating what had been written by a Soviet journalist, Boris Polevoi, in "Pravda" on 2nd February 1945. Legends die hard.]

On Monday 1st February, a team of bricklayers, civilians and prisoners, working for Messrs Robert Koehler, completed the three-flue collective chimney of Krematorium III [Documents 26 and 26a].

On Tuesday 2nd February, the newly promoted SS Major Bischoff sent the Prüfer report to Hoess, to inform him of progress on the four Krematorien [Document 25]. This letter shows that Hoess did not participate in the visit to the worksites on the morning of Friday 29th.

On 3rd February, Kirschneck sent a telegram to Topf, listing their fitter, Messing's, requirements for the air extraction systems for the whole of Krematorium II. At 4:15 pm, Topf senior engineer Schulz telephoned from Erfurt, saying that the requested material would be despatched without fail on Saturday 6th February.

On 5th February, Prüfer wrote to the Bauleitung regarding Messing's request, saying that he was having the blowers and ducting taken from a consignment intended for another camp and confirming that they would be on a wagon that should arrive at Auschwitz on 6th February. Asking the Bauleitung to excuse this delay, he announced that two other foremen were shortly to arrive at Auschwitz, Holick (already on his way) and Seyffarth, and that a specialist fitter would later be arriving to help Messing to install the ventilation and air-extraction systems. On the subject of the "large circular incineration furnace", for the supply of which the Bauleitung had [already!] received an estimate, Prüfer gave them until 9th February to confirm the order, so that he could immediately start on the manufacture of the metal parts. Krematorium VI was never built for the simple reason that KL Auschwitz had no need for it. With five Krematorien and a total of 52 incineration muffles, the cremation capacity was more than adequate with respect to its real needs, to the extent that in July 1943, just after the official handover of Krematorium III (the last to be completed), the three two-muffle furnaces (6 muffles) of Krematorium I were taken out of service. The same day, Huta sent to Herr Stephan, their foreman at Krematorien II and III, a letter concerning the complaints made by the Bauleitung on 27th January. Hula exonerated him with respect to the non-use of frost protection agents during the is pouring of the concrete roof of Leichenkeller 2, a practice the firm was against in all circumstances, but asked him to give his reasons for forgetting to dig the pit for the corpse lift of Krematorium III sufficiently deeply, while its dimensions were perfectly indicated on Bauleitung drawings 1173-1174 and 1301 and that of Krematorium II had already been correctly completed.

On 8th February, Messing, who had still not received the ventilation material required for Krematorium II, stopped work there, and in order not to waste time, fitted the anchors for the 8-muffle furnace of Krematorium IV, probably being engaged on this until and including 10th February.

On 10th February, work began on piercing the opening for and building the western access stairway to Leichenkeller 2 (future undressing room) of Krematorium III, under the supervision of Huta foreman Kolbe. This was done in six days, being completed on 15th [PMO file BW 30/38, pages 25 to 27]. It is not known when this operation was carried out for Krematorium II. The only mention of its realization dates from 26th February, or eleven days AFTER that of Krematorium III was completed. This paradox cannot be explained without further documents. The same day, the Bauleitung telegraphed Topf to again confirm the orders for the "mechanical" installations (five 3-muffle furnaces and the ventilation systems) for Krematorium III and two corpse lifts (one for II and the other for III), as well as a provisional mechanical good shoist (for Krematorium II), all this material being for immediate procurement or manufacture and to be delivered as soon as possible in order for Krematorium III to be ready for service on 10th April [Document 27].

On 11th February, the Bauleitung finally received, apparently five days late, the wagonload of material promised by the Topf engineers Schulze and Prüfer. On checking its contents, Messing found that the blower for Leichenkeller I and the air extractor fan motor for Leichenkeller 2, both for Kr II, were still missing. This time, things had gone too far, and it was Jährling, a civilian Bauleitung employee, who asked Topf to explain themselves. He recalled that on 21st January Topf had announced that ALL the ventilation and air extraction equipment (for Krematorium II) would be despatched on 22nd, whereas when this first wagon arrived there were so many parts missing that Messing was unable so continue his work. In response to a telephone enquiry, Prüfer had maintained that the material had in fact been sent. As nothing further arrived, the Bauleitung had, at Messing's request, sent a telegram to which Schulze had immediately replied by telephone, saying that the parts had not yet been manufactured but would be sent on 6th February. Prüfer had confirmed in writing on 5th February that the material should in fact be delivered the following day, adding that it had been taken from another consignment! On 10th February, the Bauleitung, still having received nothing, had cabled to Topf the confirmation of orders for equipment for Krematorium III. The arrival of the second wagon on 11th February with the material still incomplete had caused another telegram to be sent, and also a letter concerned essentially with the lack of the blower and its motor for Leichenkeller 1 (the future gas chamber), "for which the need is most urgent". However, Messing recommenced work on installing the ventilation systems of Kr II and continued uninterrupted until 13th March. The Bauleitung SS, having triumphally announced to their superior in Berlin, Kammler, that Krematorium II was completed, were very annoyed that it should still not be operational for lack of the ventilation essential for its operation. The fault lay with Messrs Topf, and in particular with Prüfer, who promised instant miracles to the Bauleitung, whereas in fact things dragged on and material failed to arrive, However, Prüfer's failure to keep his word was very largely due to the incompatibility between his genuine desire to rapidly manufacture and sell his firm's products and the ever increasing shortages of all sorts of goods and materials in Germany, which frequently slowed or halted production. Still on 11th February, the Bauleitung had Jährling send Topf the order for the delivery and installation of the waste incinerator for Krematorium III (this matter being not yet settled), for a price of 5,791 Reichs marks according to the Topf quote of 5th February.

On 12th February, Messrs Topf sent a first letter [Document 27] acknowledging receipt of the telegram of 10th concerning Krematorium III and the corpse lifts, then, in a second letter repeating the text of the telegram of 10th, it attached that of 11th concerning the fans and motors for Leichenkeller 1 and 2 of Krematorium II [Part II, Chapter 6]. It announced that Prüfer would arrive al Auschwitz in the afternoon of 15th February, and the despatch of a replacement motor for Leichenkeller 2. The same day, the consignment note for the shipment of the missing parts was drawn up, and the Bauleitung received on 14th February. Through the intermediary of Pollok, Bischoff informed Kammler at the SS WVHA in Berlin of the difficulties encountered with Topf, thus putting the blame for the delay in the coming into service of Krematorium II onto this firm. In addition, still through Pollok, Bischoff informed Camp Commandant Hoess of the project for Krematorium VI, stemming from the experience gained with open air incineration ditches. The Bauleitung envisaged a work force of 350 prisoners for its construction, almost as many as were employed on the construction of the four new Krematorien. This project was, of course, never implemented because the additional cremation capacity was not required.

On 17th February, the Bauleitung Drawing Office produced a general plan of the Birkenau POW camp, drawing 1991, showing the three construction stages in their final form (total capacity of approximately 100,000 prisoners) and equipped, for the first time on any

{p. 218} drawing with FOUR KREMATORIEN (labelled 2, 3, 4 and 5), giving one incineration muffle for 2,200 prisoners, a ratio that does not appear really criminal [for purposes of comparison, KL Lublin Majdanek, with an average population ranging from 15,000 to 20,000 prisoners, had a crematorium with five muffles, giving a ratio of 1 muffle for 3,000 to 4,000 people], but it was criminal if one considers the state of progress in the building of prisoners' accommodation barracks with that of the Krematorien. If the SS had had them built as and when the construction stages were completed, it might have been possible to believe that these buildings were "normal", serving only to cremate the dead among a growing population, but as they had all seen planned at the same time (all four in July/August 1942), it obvious that this was not for health reasons but for some quite different purpose. In addition to the two sets of railway tracks appearing on earlier drawings, there was now a third, with a broad space between it and the other two, like a particularly wide station platform. This was to be the "ramp" where the selection was made between those Jews fit for work and those not [Document 28]. This drawing also shows the precise state of the buildings at Birkenau: planned, under construction or completed.

On 18th February, Kirschneck informed Messrs Industrie Bau AG, the firm responsible for the roof of Krematorium III, of an extension of 2 meters in the southern wing housing the waste incinerator, and inviting them to send a quotation for the additional work.

On 20th February, Kirschneck informed the camp labor office that on 18th of 200 prisoners sent to the construction sites of Krematorien II (and III), only 40 were "strong" (capable of work) and on 19th, still out of 200, only 80. Pollok signed this letter in Bischoff's stead.

On 22nd February. the Bauleitung Drawing Office drew complementary sheet 2136 for Krematorium III (BW 30a) with a front elevation, a side elevation and a plan of the ground floor. The principal modification was in the length of the annex wing, which was 12 meters for Krematorium II but became 14 for Krematorium III.

On 24th and 25th February, Messing installed the air extractor fan in Leichenkeller I (the future gas chamber).

On 26th February, on a hand-written note, countersigned by Kirschneck, concerning the terra cotta pipes for the drainage of Krematorium II and the supply of doors and windows for Krematorium III, there was mention of the entrance to the future undressing room of Krematorium II (BW 30, Eingang Keller 2), accompanied by tough sketch showing the western access stairway [Document 29]. This is the first trace of this stairway, which could be used only by living people (assuming drawing 2003 was totally respected), which did not appear on the initial drawings but did on the inventory drawing, 2197 [see annex]. At 6.20 pm, SS Second Lieutenant Kirschneck (his name having been written on a copy by Jährling during filing) sent to Topf a telegram requesting the immediate despatch of TEN GAS DETECTORS for BW 3O, i.e. Krematorium II [PMO file BW 30/34, page 48, presented in Part II Chapter 6 "The ventilation systems of Krematorien II and III" and Chapter 8 "Criminal traces"]. This telegram on is own establishes that Messrs Topf, and in particular their representative at Auschwitz, Prüfer, had compromised themselves up to the neck in installing a gas chamber in Krematorium II. Since Topf 's production consisted essentially of brewery equipment (cauldrons, vats, etc), metal conduits and containers (ventilation ducting, grain Document 26 [PMO 20995/86]

Document 26a [PMO 20995/88] Example of the construction of a collective chimney with three (or four) flues, typical in the composition of the gang of bricklayers working on it: two civilians, two prisoners and an SS guard (in actual fact, there was one SS man for an entire worksite, where 100 to 150 civilians and prisoners would be working). This gang is very probably working for Messrs Robert Koehler of Myslowitz, a firm specializing in the construction of chimneys, and here building that of the "Fernnheizwerk / District heating plant", located several hundred meters west of the Stammlager or main camp.

{p. 221} Document 30 [PMO file BW 30/25, page 7]

Translation: [manuscript] Krema II and III Correspondence register no. 24365/43/Jä /Lm Auschwitz. 6/3/43 Subject: KL Auschwitz Krematorien II and II POW camp, BW 30 and 30a Reference: Your letter of 22/2/43 D.IV Prf Enclosure: ­

Topf & Sons Erfurt

In accordance with your suggestion, the service agrees that cellar 1 should be preheated with the air coming from the rooms of the 3 forced draught installations. The supply and installation of the ductwork and blowers necessary to this end are to be effected as soon as possible. As you point out in your above mentioned letter. execution should commence this week. We would ask you to send in triplicate detailed quote for supply and installation.

At the same time, we would ask you to send an additional quotation for the modification of the air extraction installation in the undressing room.

After receipt of these quotations we shall send a written order. Head of the Auschwitz Waffen SS and Police Central Construction Management [Bischoff's initials] SS Major [Jährling initials] Distribution: 1 KL and Agriculture Bauleitung 2 Files KGL BW 30 and 30a 1 Official in charge

{p. 224} On 8th and 9th March, and March, Messing continued working 8 hours a day on the air extraction system of Leichenkeller 2, which he designated "Auskleidekeller / undressing cellar".

On 10th March, Messing worked for SIXTEEN HOURS straight, testing the ventilation and air extraction systems of Leichenkeller 1 of Krematorium II. These tests were intended to determine first the effectiveness of the ventilation, then the waiting time necessary between the introduction of the toxic gas and the opening of the gas-tight door. The ventilation system of Leichenkeller 1 had initially been designed for a morgue, with the fresh air entering near the ceiling and the cold unhealthy air being drawing out near the floor. Its use as a gas chamber really required the reverse situation, with fresh air coming in near the floor and warm air saturated with hydrocyanic gas being drawn out near the ceiling. But the SS and Prüfer chose to maintain the original "morgue" ventilation system in the gas chamber, hoping that it would be efficient enough. The famous ten gas detectors, ordered through Topf, were used to check this point, and probably also to cheek the gas-tightness of the door sealing. It would appear that by the evening it was established that the ventilation was almost satisfactory, and that 20 to 30 minutes appeared sufficient to bring the HCN concentration down to a reasonable level so that the door could be opened and the future (corpse) "extraction commando" could start its work in reasonable safety. In the author's opinion, it was still necessary to make some adjustments and modifications before the optimal result was achieved.

On 11th March, principal engineer Schulze [written Schultze] obtained from Bischoff a certificate of presence at Auschwitz for 1st to 12th March, having had to remain on site, in accordance with the contract, for the installation of the ventilation and air extraction systems [of Leichenkeller 1] of Krematorium II. This certificate states that the ventilation of the gas chamber was to come into service in the evening of 12th March. In fact it was not ready until the following evening. The same day, Jährling sent the Camp Kommandantur Administration three copies of the "Betriebsanweisung / Operating instructions" for the 3 muffle furnaces of Krematorium II [Document 31] supplied by Messrs Topf and being no different from those provided for the third double-muffle furnace [known as the "new furnace" of Kr I]. Two copies were displayed in the furnace room [one of them being "recuperated" by Dr Miklos Nyiszli in November 1944] and the other was filed.

On 12th March, Messing was again at work on the ventilation of the "undressing cellar" [Leichenkeller 2] of Krematorium II, probably waiting for parts to he manufactured locally or the completion of other work before finishing off the ventilation system of Leichenkeller 1. The same day, Jährling calculated the theoretical coke consumption to allow for the four Krematorien and obtained a figure of 8,264 kg for 12 hours of operation (it being implied that the furnaces would operate 12 hours s day) [Document 32]. 321. His calculation contained TWO ERRORS [!], the first concerning the consumption of Krematorien IV and V, and the second an error in addition (a mistake of 800 kg Ñ he should have obtained a total of 7,464, not 8,264). Bischoff initialed the incorrect result without question. The figures were considered to be maximum consumption ("Spitzleistungen / Peak production"). Jährling admitted he could not determine annual consumption because it was not known how many hours a day the furnaces world be working. [The correct theoretical consumption was calculated by Jährling on 17th March [Document 33], giving a figure of 7,840 kg of coke for the four Krematorien in 12 hours of activity PER DAY. Very proud of himself for having achieved a "good" result, Jährling signed it and added his status "Z.a. Ing./ Civilian employee, Engineer" a detail that should have been omitted considering his arithmetical abilities! The result of 12th March, instead of being cancelled and destroyed, was filed with that of 17th, on which Kirschneck nevertheless wrote "dieser Vermerk is richtig! / this note is correct!". While it might be thought that these calculations were the result of incompetence and irrealism, this is not the case and the theoretical result, apparently very approximate, turns out quite accurate when compared with another PMO file.

PMO microfilm 12,012 contains the coke delivery notes for the Krematorien (without distinguishing between them) from 16th February 1942 to 25th October 1943, a period in which Krematorium I was the only one in operation for the first thirteen months, followed by the completion and bringing into service (between 22nd March and 25th June 1943) of the four Birkenau Krematorien and the abandonment of the cold "old Krematorium" at the Stammlager. The some two hundred and forty delivery notes preserved make it possible to determine coke requirements month by month:

1942 1943 Feb (from 16th only) 22 tons Jan 23 tons Feb 40 Mar 39 Mar 144.5 Apr 39 Apr 60 May 32 May 95 Jun 29.5 Jun 61 Jul 16.5 Jul 67 Aug 31.5 Aug 71 Sep 52 Sep 61 Oct 15 Oct 82 Nov 17 Dec 39 Disregarding February 1942 (incomplete data) and stopping at the end of February 1943, we can determine the average monthly coke consumption of Krematorium I over a twelve month period: 31.1 tons. As Krematorium I had 3 double muffle furnaces, one muffle required approximately 5.2 tons of coke per month. The note of 17th March 43 establishes a theoretical daily consumption of 7.84 tons for the four new Krematorien with a total of 46 muffles, which also gives a monthly consumption of 5.2 tons of coke per muffle. These two concordant figures:, coining from different sources, show that the theoretically calculated figures of the note of 17th March can be considered valid and that in PMO microfilm 12,012 the delivery notes for the supply of coke to Krematorium 1 [Document 34] are complete.

As from March 1943, the delivery notes [Documents 35 and 36] indicate only total consumption without any breakdown between the different Krematorien. Disregarding March 1943, when Krematorium I was probably still working and large quantities of coke were used in drying out and warming through the Birkenau furnaces, then assuming for the sake of argument that all the Birkenau Krematorien were operational al the beginning of April, then the overall consumption was 497 tons of coke in seven months (April to October) and with a monthly consumption of 5.2 tons per muffle, then the total coke

{p. 227} received by the four Krematorien WAS ONLY SLIGHTLY MORE THAN THAT REQUIRED FOR 14 MUFFLES OUT OF 46 (including March 1943, the result changes very little, being slightly over 15 muffles). From April to October 1943 Krematorium II, III, IV, and V worked the equivalent of only TWO MONTHS at full capacity (out of seven). Admittedly, they incinerated the corpses of between 165,000 and 215,000 victims during that time, but it is apparent from the files that Birkenau was OVER equipped with cremation capacity, because until the end of October 1943 they were used to ONLY A QUARTER OR A THIRD OF THEIR MAXIMUM CAPACITY (which means that the 15 incineration muffles of JUST ONE installation of the Krematorien II/III type or the 16 muffles of Krematorien IV AND V would have amply sufficed for the incineration of the corpses from the extermination of the Jews and that two Krematorien, II and III, or three Krematorien, III, IV and V were superfluous to requirements). This over supply of cremation capacity is confirmed by Camp Commandant Hoess in his autobiography ["Commandant of Auschwitz", Pan Books 1961, page 216] "Number III [Kr IV] failed completely after a short time and later ceased to be used altogether. Number IV [Kr 5] had to be repeatedly shut down, since after its fires had been burning for from four to six weeks, the ovens or the chimneys burnt out. The gassed bodies were mostly burnt in pits behind crematorium IV [Kr V]" [is, fact this was the situation only in the summer of 1944 during the extermination of the Hungarian Jews]." It should be noted that before May 1944 the SS made no attempt to repair Krematorien IV said V, considering (and the coke consumption figures prove it) that ON THEIR OWN the 30 muffles of Krematorien II and III [the 6 of Kr I finally having been withdrawn from service] were AMPLY SUFFICIENT for "routine" extermination. The only major repair undertaken was that of the Krematorium II chimney, in May to July 1943, as at this time the SS could not let their cremation capacity tend towards zero. In the author's opinion, the excess cremation capacity al Birkenau, which remained a constant feature even during the extermination of the Hungarians, was due to two factors: first, the absolute panic that seized the SS in July/August 1942 when they were confronted with a raging typhus epidemic and were in a situation where they had to combat this by every possible means and at the same time urgently find an "industrial" technique for large-scale extermination; second, the influence of Topf engineer Prüfer, a born fighter who new how to profit from the SS panic and appear as their savior, selling them all he could and taking a profit for himself.] On Saturday 13th March, after a working day of FOURTEEN HOURS during which Messing put the finishing touches to the job, the ventilation and air extraction systems of Krematorium II Leichenkeller 1 WERE FINALLY DECLARED "FIT FOR SERVICE".

ON SUNDAY 14TH MARCH, Messing continued installing the ventilation of Leichenkeller 2, which he called "Auskleiderkeller II/ Undressing cellar II". IN THE EVENING, ABOUT 1,500 JEWS FROM THE CRACOW GHETTO WERE THE FIRST VICTIMS TO BE GASSED IN KREMATORIUM II. They did not undress in Leichenkeller 2, still cluttered with tools and ventilation components, but in a stable-type hut temporarily erected in the north yard of the Krematorium [Document 37].

On 17th March, Jährling again calculated the theoretical daily coke consumption of the four Birkenau Krematorien, this time without any errors: 7.84 tons for 12 hours (one day of operation) [Document 33].

In view of the approaching date for the official handover of Krematorium II, the Bauleitung Drawing Office produced an inventory drawing on 19th March, drawing 2197, to be attached to the deed of transfer. Drawing 2197 to a large extent copied drawings 932,933, 934, 936 [937, 938]. 980, 1173 1174 and 1311, bringing them all together and modifying them according to the changes since made (but not completely). Three versions of 2197 were produced, with the differences concerning only the "Kettergnandriss/ Basement plan" [see these drawings in annex]. The most complete is 2197[b](r), showing the building's drainage (inspired by 1300) and lighting systems, This drawing is essential for understanding the inventories, attached to the deed of transfer, describing the equipment installed on each floor of Krematorium II, and it even makes it possible to correct an error on one of these inventories. One of the two commissions of enquiry (probably the Polish Commission) had 2197 redrawn after the war, because it is barely legible [Document 38]. On the same day. Huta requested their site superintendent at Auschwitz, Herr Stephan, to find out which of his workers had worked on the night shifts instituted to complete Krematorium II, and for how long, so that this nightwork could be invoiced to the Bauleitung, who had ordered it. On 19th March the Bauleitung drew up the "Ubergabeverhandlung / Deed of transfer" for the handover of Krematorium IV to the KL Auschwitz Administration. Accepted on 22nd March, Krematorium IV was officially the first Birkenau Krematorium to come into "action" (built in five months and completed less than seven months after being designed), In actual fact, the furnaces of Krematorium II had been operational since the beginning of March and the gas chamber since the 14th.

On 24th March, the engineers Prüfer and Schulze, summoned by the Bauleitung, arrived at Auschwitz to find a solution to the problems encountered in the operation of Krematorium II during the first gassings (1,500 Jews from Cracow) the on the 14th and 2,200 from Saloniki on 20th). A summary record of this meeting, which lasted two days, was compiled by Kirschneck on 25th [Documents 39]. There was bad news for Topf: the famous forced draught installations, which had done nothing but cause problems, were to be dismantled. This decision meant that the installations planned for Krematorium III were to be abandoned and the planned preheating of Leichenkeller I was no longer possible. Also, a more substantial blower casing, in cast iron, was to replace the wooden one in place, probably to prevent leakage. Finally, the corpse charging trolley (of the type used in Krematorium I) was to be abandoned in favor of the easier to use "Leichentrag [or Leichenbrett] / Corpse stretcher [or board]". As a result the rails running along the furnace room and carrying the turntable were removed and replaced by a concrete trough which was kept full of water to make it easier to drag the corpses from the lift to the furnaces. The rails in front of the furnaces, however, were left in place even though now redundant [Documents 40, 41, 42 and 43]. During Prüfer and Schulze's stay at the camp, almost 2,000 Jews from the Saloniki ghetto were gassed on 24th and a further 1,200 on 25th. The two engineers must have witnessed this, in view of their degree of involvement in the homicidal installations of Krematorium II.

[Document 39, the summary record of the meeting of 25th March 1943, is a "criminal trace" concerning the existence of homicidal gas chambers.]

On 29th March. Jährling, on behalf of the Bauleitung, confirmed to Topf by letter that the wooden case or housing of the two air extractor fans (for the Leichenkeller 1 of Krematorien II and III) were to be replaced by a cast iron model. From 29th to 31st March, Messing was completing the installation of the undressing room ventilation system, which became operational on 31st.

On 30th March, Kirschneck wrote a brief note to the effect that SS Second Lieutenant Eggeling (an agricultural engineer) was to be responsible for all water supply and drainage work for Krematorium III. [The drainage system of Krematorium III was simplified as compared with that of Krematorium II. For example, the Kr II gas chamber [Leichenkeller 1] sewer manhole was brick built with an internal iron ladder, whereas in Kr III it was simply a few sections of low cost concrete pipe [Documents 44, 45, 46, 47 and 48]. In the author's opinion, this type of simplification of construction, based on the experience of building Krematorium II, was used wherever possible in Krematorium III, which probably explains its lower overall cost: 554,550 RM for Kr III, as against probably 646,000 RM for Kr II.] On 31st March, KREMATORIUM II WAS OFFICIALLY ACCEPTED BY THE CAMP ADMINISTRATION.

On 29th March. Jährling, on behalf of the Bauleitung, confirmed to Topf by letter that the wooden case or housing of the two air extractor fans (for the Leichenkeller 1 of Krematorien II and III) were to be replaced by a cast iron model. From 29th to 31st March, Messing was completing the installation of the undressing room ventilation system, which became operational on 31st.

On 30th March, Kirschneck wrote a brief note to the effect that SS Second Lieutenant Eggeling (an agricultural engineer) was to be responsible for all water supply and drainage work for Krematorium III. [The drainage system of Krematorium III was simplified as compared with that of Krematorium II. For example, the Kr II gas chamber [Leichenkeller 1] sewer manhole was brick built with an internal iron ladder, whereas in Kr III it was simply a few sections of low cost concrete pipe [Documents 44, 45, 46, 47 and 48]. In the author's opinion, this type of simplification of construction, based on the experience of building Krematorium II, was used wherever possible in Krematorium III, which probably explains its lower overall cost: 554,550 RM for Kr III, as against probably 646,000 RM for Kr II.] On 31st March, KREMATORIUM II WAS OFFICIALLY ACCEPTED BY THE CAMP ADMINISTRATION.

{p. 230} Document 39 [PMO file BW 30/25, page 8]

Translation: [illegible] BW 30 and 30a Correspondence register im. 45269/Kir/Lm Auschwitz, 25/3/42 Summary record Subject: Visit by two representatives of Messrs Topf & Sons. Erfurt Chief Engineers Prüfer and Schulze Reference: Telegraphed summons with a view to eliminating the faults in Krematorien II and III at Auschwitz POW Camp [Birkenau] Place and Date: Auschwitz Waffen SS and Police Central Construction Management 24/3 and 25/3/1943 Krematorium II

Since the three forced drought installations have not given satisfaction in any respect. and even suffered damage after the first real utilization because of too high temperatures, they are to be dismantled at the expense of Messrs Topf & Sons and taken back by that firm. The ZBL [Zentral Bauleitung] counts on the fact that it will suffer no loss of material and that the corresponding quantity of iron will be posted to its credit [this concerns the materials rationing]. The ZBL will take the three electric motors (each of 15 HP) with their connections, switch and starter, provided they have not been damaged by the high temperatures. The hot air supply installation for Leichenkeller I [1] must he eliminated because of this modification, and the materials will be stored by the ZBL (in the Bauhof]. In place of the wooden blower for the air extraction installation of Leichenkeller I [1], a cast iron blower has been chosen. The ZBL will assume the additional cost of the blower housing. For the 5 three-muffle furnaces, the coffin [!] charging trolley will be replaced by corpse stretchers: the trolley will be stored by the ZBL. Installation of the Demag goods hoist transport platform will be effected by a Topf fitter.

Krematorium III

In view of the experience with Krematorium II, the forced draught installations planned and delivered will not be installed, but will be stored by the ZBL. (For use in the district heating plant).

[initialled by Bischoff] [signed] Kurt Prufer Distribution: 1 Messrs Topf 1 Machine store 2 Files 1 Register POW camp BW 30

{p. 231} The description of the building [Document 50] associated with the deed of transfer for Krematorium II [Document 49] shows that Leichenkeller 1 was fitted with a "GASDICHTETÜR / GAS TIGHT DOOR" [Document 51], and the basement inventory [Document 52] also lists 4 "DRAHTNETZEINSCHIEBVORRICHTUNG[EN] / WIRE MESH INTRODUCTION DEVICES" with 4 "HOLZBLENDED / WOODEN COVERS," [incorrectly attributed by a Bauleitung clerk to Leichenkeller 2. Seethe explanation in Part II, Chapter 8]. These, apparently "neutral" terms, designated, with no possible shadow of a doubt, the heavy mesh columns into which the Zyklon B was poured in the form of pellets, the top of which, outside the roof, were closed by wooden covers. This proves formally that Leichenkeller 1 of Krematorium II was filled out as A GAS CHAMBER USING ZYKLON B. It is not possible with these documents alone to prove that it was "homicidal". But, Messing's designation of Leichenkeller 2 as the UNDRESSING CELLAR, together with the fact that in the ceiling of Leichenkeller 1 about twenty emplacements for dummy showers still exist in the ruins (these are not shown on the Krematorium II basement inventory, whereas the 14 of Kr III are), introduce the missing, "human", element. We now have the set: (undressing cellar) + (gas tight door + 4 mesh columns + 4 covers + about 24 dummy showers), which no longer corresponds to: (corpse cellar 2) + (corpse cellar 1), but to: (undressing room) + (homicidal gas chamber). Still on 31st March, a letter written by Kirschneck and signed by Bischoff reminded the Auschwitz DAW [German equipment workshops] of the order of 6th March for one "Gastür / Gas door", 100 by 192 cm to be made for Leichenkeller 1 (the gas chamber) of Krematorium III [See Part II, Chapter 8].

As from 1st April, all efforts were concentrated on Krematorium III whose construction had virtually ceased in order to finally complete Kr II (on 31st March) and also finish Kr V as quickly as possible (4th April). The Krematorium III drainage work was started on this day by Messrs Karl Falck, who worked on it until 13th April. Messrs Triton also helped with this job from 2nd to 13th April. Still on 1st April, Topf sent the Bauleitung an invoice for 25,148 RM for the installation of one furnace, without indicating either the model or where it was installed. In the author's opinion it was probably an estimate for the "circular" furnace of the envisaged Krematorium VI, which was never built.

On 4th April, Krematorium V was officially handed over to the camp administration. It would appear that it was not yet completely operational, since the gas tight doors of the gas chambers were fitted on 16th and 17th April by a gang working for Huta.

{p. 232} gastight door with peephole, krema ii

{p. 234} On 6th April, Vedag informed Huta that they could not give the usual two year guarantee because the floors (probably the basements of Krematorium Ill) had been sealed with only one layer of damp proofing material. The firm had been warned of this by their foreman at Birkenau, who said it was BECAUSE THESE BUILDINGS [Krematorien II and III] WERE BUILT TO BE ONLY TEMPORARY "weil diese Bauten nur als Vorübergehend ausgeführt werden") [Document 53]. [This statement about the future of the Krematorien goes considerably further than does Camp Commandant Hoess in his "Commandant of Auschwitz":

"The crematoria were erected at the end of the two main thoroughfares in the Birkenau camp, firstly in order not to increase the area of the camp and consequently the safety precautions required, and secondly so that they would not be too far from the camp, since it was planned to use the gas chamber, and undressing rooms as bath houses when the extermination actions came to an end".

So Hoess envisaged that once the extermination was over, i.e. when there were no more Jews left in Europe, the gas chambers and undressing rooms would be converted into baths and showers. It was already with this in mind that Bischoff, through the intermediary of Jährling, requested Topf on 15th May 1943 to draw up the plans for 100 showers using water heated by the waste incinerator of Krematorium III (this system was found in the crematorium of KL Natzweiler (Struthof), where the incinerator supplied the heat for the hot water tank for the showers next door to the incinerator room). Traditional historians have [wrongly] interpreted Hoess' remark as proof that the Leichenkeller 1 of the Krematorien could be used both as showers AND as gas chambers, because they did not know exactly how a homicidal gas chamber functioned at Birkenau. They thought they were they were equipped with REAL SHOWERS with the associated pipework and imagined that the SS could deliver toxic gas or harmless water, as they wished. A precise knowledge of the operation of the gas chambers makes it possible to confirm that Hoess was indeed thinking of the FUTURE of the Krematorien, AFTER the extermination, In the author's opinion, this idea probably applied to 1942 and would have been the first stage in the "white washing" of the Birkenau Krematorien. For even if the war had ended later than it did, in 1946 or 1947, with the victory or defeat of the Germans, i.e. in either case permitting the "round up" and "removal" of the Jews, it is certain that at least three of the Birkenau Krematorien. having fulfilled their "mission" and in view of their excess number, would have been destroyed, the remaining one being converted to appear simply a normal cremation installation for health reasons, with or without a shower installation. What is more, the projected later use of the Krematorien for the annihilation of the Slav peoples is pure myth, based on no document.] Messing, after having worked on 5th April on the air on extraction system of the Krematorium III furnace the room, worked from 6th to 11th on Leichenkeller 1, where he installed the ventilator fan [in fact the extractor fan]. [The ventilation system of Leichenkeller 1 in Kr III was "improved" as compared with that of Kr II, by having an increased number of fresh air inlets. On 18th February, 50 perforated galvanized plates, 7 x 18 cm, had been ordered for Leichenkeller 1 of Kr II (for the air inlets near the ceiling, spaced at intervals of 120 cm) and on 19th an unknown number of protection "grills" of 10 mm diameter iron rod (for the air extraction ducts, near the floor). These two orders were completed on 15th March (the absence of these parts in no way affecting the operation of the gas chamber). Still on 15th March, an March, an order was issued for Leichenkeller I of Kr III for 95 perforated zinc plates. 7 x 18 cm, (for the upper air inlets, here spaced at 60 cm intervals) and for 45 10 mm iron rod protection "grills" (for the lower, air extraction ducts and spaced about every 150 cm). The order was completed on 23rd March. Some of the perforated zinc plates [Document 54] were found after the Liberation in the "Bauhof" (lying under the iron supports for the brickwork of the 8-muffle furnace of Krematorium IV). Scrapings from the surface of some of them were subjected to toxicological analysis which revealed THE PRESENCE OF CYANIDES, The protection "grills", whose form was not known (there was a sketch in the order book of the DAW "WL" metalworking shop, but the original is not in the possession of the PMO and is thought to be in the Soviet Union), were brought to light during the excavations carried out in 1968 in the ruins of the northern part of Leichenkeller 1 of Krematorium III, along the eastern wall [Document 55] and makes it possible to show their configuration (see sketches in the French text: left, face view; center, side view; right, oblique view).]. Document 55 [PMO neg. no. 14500] Excavations carried out on 14th August 1968 by a group of Germans from the "Sühnezeichen" organization in the northern part of the ruins of the Krematorium III gas chamber. It was possible to clear, at the base of the eastern wall, three "grills" covering the air extraction vents in the lower part of Leichenkeller 1. Unfortunately the walls of the excavation were not consolidated and landslips caused the brick walls to collapse, leaving a scarcely identifiable mass.

{p. 236} On 12th April, Huta covered themselves vis à vis the Bauleitung by telling them that since the floors of the Krematorium III ["II" in the text] basements had only a single layer of damp proofing, Vedag refused to give the usual guarantee of two years and that under these conditions Huta were unable to do so.

On 13th and 14th April. Messing worked on the air extraction system of Leichenkeller 2 of Krematorium Ill, calling it in his timesheets "Auskleidekeller / Undressing cellar".

On 16th April, Topf & Sons wrote to the Bauleitung concerning the damaged blowers of the forced draught installation of Krematorium II [designated "I" in the letter, even though the subject of this letter is without doubt Kr II and III], requesting them to be returned to Erfurt immediately on removal. Topf credited the Bauleitung with the sum of 3.705 RM, but refused to return the metal ration coupon arguing that they could no longer use it for other orders.

Having received an order from the Bauleitung on 16th April for the fittings for ONE "Gastür / Gas [tight[ door" (which was ready on 20th), the Auschwitz DAW metalworking shop that same day requested the iron required for FIVE such doors [for worksites 30a and 30b, Krematorien III and IV]. The metalworking shop was killing two birds with one stone, for the fittings to be produced were for the "Gastür" of Krematorium III and for the four doors of the two [at this date!] gas chambers of Krematorium IV.

From 17th to 24th April, a gang from Messrs Josef Kluge of Gleiwitz covered the dissecting table of Krematorium III with granite ["Terrazzo"] and took it to the Krematorium, where it was installed.

From 19th to 22nd April, Messing continued work on the air extraction system of Leichenkeller 2 of Krematorium III, still calling it the "Auskleidekeller / Undressing cellar".

Worksite 30a was deserted on 1st and 2nd May, despite the fact that it was way behind schedule (it should have been finished on 10th April] because of the Labour Day holiday. Nobody was gassed on these two days.

On 4th May, Janisch replied for the Bauleitung to the Huta letter of 12th April [Document 56]. The scapegoat was naturally somebody who was absent, damp proofing foreman Krause of Vedag, meanwhile called up in the Wehrmacht, who had authorized the single layer of proofing material. His replacement refused it, saying that two layers were necessary for Vedag to be able to give their two-year guarantee. The Bauleitung, probably tired of these futile arguments which were holding up work on Krematorium III, was conciliatory on this matter, agreeing that work should continue with two layers provided a damp proofing guarantee was given, and waiving the guarantee with respect to the work already done with only a single layer.

In the afternoon of the same day, SS Major Alfred FRANKE-GRICKSCH, adjutant to SS General Maximillian VON HERFF [Documents 57 and 57a], Head of the SS Central Personnel Office [SS Personal Hauptamt, 98 99 Wilmersdorferstraße, Berlin-Charlottenburg], accompanying the General on a tour of inspection in the "General Government" [the half of the Polish territory occupied by the Germans and placed under the authority of Hans Frank], arrived in KL Auschwitz (although reported, the presence of General von Herff is doubtful). Franke- Gricksch visited Krematorium II and is supposed to have witnessed the gassing of those unfit for work from a convoy of 2,930 Greek Jews (from the Salonika ghetto). Following this visit, between the evening of 4th May and 16th May, he wrote a report on what he had seen at Auschwitz Birkenau for his chief, von Herff, and for Reichsführer SS Himmler. This report was entitled: "JEWISH RESETTLEMENT ACTION" [Document 58].

Document 57 Document 57a Documents 57 and 57a (Personal archives)

Maximillian von Herff, Alfred Franke-Grisch's chief. Born in Hannover on 17th April 1893, died in September 1945 in a prison camp in England. Left: As SS Brigadier-General, probably in August 1942, when he was made Head of the SS Central Personnel Office, a position he held until May 1945. Right: Wearing the uniform of the highest rank he held: SS Lieutenant-General On 5th May, the Auschwitz DAW metalworking shop received an order from the Bauleitung, made out the previous day for the production of "2 handrails [for stairways ], each 7.70 in long, 1 m high (see sketches 1 and 2)" and "2 handrails, each 12.20 m long, 1 m high each (see sketch 3)" "for the 2nd basement stairways" [die 2- ten Kellertreppen]. This order requesting delivery for 14th May, was not completed until 25th. [As the original orders of the "WL metalworking shop / Schlosserei WL" are not in the possession of the PMO, the three sketches are not known.] A study of Bauleitung drawings 2003 and 2197 reveals that the two 7.70m guardrails, at different form, were for the access stairways to the basement vestibules of Krematorien II and III (running from the north yard of Kr II and the south yard at Kr III) [Figures 1 and 2] . The two others of 12.20 m, identical in form, were for the access stairways to the undressing rooms (Leichenkeller 2) of Krematorien II and III [Figure 3]. They were removed when Krematorien II and III were dismantled in December 1944 and found intact in the "Bauhof" after the Liberation of the camp [Document 59].

On 11th May, Jährling wrote an urgent telegram to Messrs Topf of Erfurt, signed by Kirschneck and sent by the civilian employee Ludwig at 18.01 hours, requesting that Prüfer set out for Auschwitz without delay and that the drawings and calculations for the chimneys and the installation instructions for the temporary Demag III goods hoist [for Krematorium III] be sent at once. This telegram does not state which building(s) the chimneys were for. [This urgent telegram was the first of a series, the total number of which is not known, reflecting the general air of panic reigning in the Bauleitung. The crematorium situation in Birkenau had suddenly deteriorated as the remaining telegrams in the series show: Krematorien IV and II, handed over on 22nd and 31st March respectively, WERE OUT OF ORDER. with damaged chimneys; Kr III, although not completed, could have been operational IF it had been possible to feed the furnaces with corpses from the basement, but this was not the case, as the goods hoist could not be installed because the instructions were not available! (Messing started installing in on 17th May and completed the job on 9th June), Only Krematorium V was functioning correctly.] Hearing nothing from Topf, Jährling sent a second urgent telegram on 14th May, this time signed by Bischoff, requesting the static and thermal calculations for the chimneys of Krematorien II and IV and insisting that Prüfer should come to Auschwitz [Document 60]. The civilian employee Schwender sent the text at 1600 hours . This telegram in fact confirmed a telephone conversation between Jährling and Topf in the morning, in which he had learned that Prüfer was on a business trip in the Rhineland. but would do his best to arrive in Auschwitz by Monday 17th May. Only ONE AND A HALF HOURS LATER. Schwender sent another urgent telegram to Topf, signed by Bischoff and, in view of the late hour, dated and filed the next day [Document 61]. In this telegram, Jährling requested the urgent study of an installation to obtain hot water from the waste incinerator of Krematorium III, then under construction, to supply about one hundred showers (probably to be located in an annex building built on the southern wall of the Krematorium). Prüfer was supposed to bring the relevant drawings with him on 17th May. [This plan was never implemented, although such installations were built in other camps, for example in the crematorium of K L Natzweiler (Struthof) where the incinerator was the main source of heat for the showers]. Although this request for a hot water system for a hundred NORMAL showers was in no way criminal it was recorded in the Krematorium III, worksite 30a, file under the heading "SONDERMASSN[AHMEN] / SPECIAL MEASURES" because the funding was connected with these measures, the killing and cremation of Jews unfit for work.

On Monday 17th May, it is more than likely that Prüfer arrived at Auschwitz as arranged. As we have no formal proof we cannot be categorical, but if Messing began installing the lift of Krematorium III precisely on 17th May, this was not simply a whim on his part, but because he had received the installation instructions brought by Prüfer. The engineer was certainly present on 18th [Topf letter of 9/6/43]. According to subsequent telegrams it is clear he had not brought the drawings and calculations required for the repair of the chimneys of Krematorien II and IV, and in fact he could not reasonably produce them until he had seen the location and extent of the damage. It was only after inspecting Krematorien II and IV that the following decisions could be taken, after consultation with Bischoff: repair Kr II as quickly as possible, abandon the operation of the Kr IV furnace completely and improve the operation of Kr V by fitting its gas chambers (and those of Kr IV, still intact) with an air extraction system. [This abandonment of Krematorium IV was not formally stated (and for good reason! This is particularly evident on reading the letter of 28th June 1943 on the throughput of the Krematorien), but it can be deduced from several pieces of evidence: subsequent correspondence between the Bauleitung and Topf makes no mention of its repair; Camp Commandant Hoess in his memoirs states that "Number III [Kr IV] failed completely after a short time and later ceased to be used altogether"; after the first fifty days (22nd March to 10th May 1943), during which time operations had to be interrupted at least once for repairs to fissures that had appeared in the furnace, and during which time less than 10,000 victims were cremated (probably 6,000), not a single member of the Sonderkommando reports having worked on the furnace of Krematorium IV. What is more, Krematorium V being of identical design, it was to be feared that it would suffer the same damage unless it was used more moderately. Despite the fact that Kr V had to be "handled with care", it absolutely had to go on being used until Krematorium III came into service. It was then mothballed, barely operational. In 1944, despite repairs the furnace of Krematorium V was as inefficient as ever and operations were frequently interrupted by breakdowns, so open air cremation ditches were dug near the gas chambers. It would appear that Krematorium V really worked for only two months in 1943, annihilating about 15,000 victims. In summer, 1944, it can be"credited" with about 50,000 people gassed, but they were cremated in the open-air ditches.]

{p. 238} This report was shown to Professor Charles W Sydnor of Hampton-Sydney College, Virginia (United States) in 1976 by a person from Richmond (Virginia) who had discovered it after the second world war. This man, apparently Eric M Lippmann according to the signature, was at the time employed by the US Army on collecting documents and seeking anything that might be used as evidence in the Nuremberg trials. He seems to remember finding carbon copy of the original report among a set of documents in a place he cannot recall exactly, somewhere in Bavaria. The original was not there. Having immediately realized the value of this report, which described the whole process of exterminating the Jews in Auschwitz, he made a typed copy for himself, as he had to hand the carbon over to the American Prosecutor at Nuremberg He certified in longhand that he had made a true copy, and signed it "Eric M Lipmann". The two sheets that he typed are now preserved in the Tauber Estate of Brandeis University with other documents from the Third Reich.

[The author would like to stress that in 1945 47 it was not so easy to reproduce documents as is today. Finding the original of a document, whose content is perfectly well known, requires long and laborious research with frequently uncertain results. Political interference can lead to utter confusion in this type of investigation, as has been shown by the recent case of a highly-placed person in placed person in Austria.]


{p. 239} Translation: (Documents 58/I and 58/II)

Jewish resettlement action. The Auschwitz camp has a special task in the settlement of the Jewish question. The most modern methods make it possible to implement the Führer Order very quickly and discreetly. The so called "resettlement action" for the Jews proceeds as follows: The Jews arrive in special trains (goods wagons) towards evening and are taken by a special line to a special area of the camp. There they are unloaded and examined by a medical board in the presence of the Camp Commandant and several leading SS in the first place to see if they are fit for work ["selection"]. Here anybody who can be integrated into the work process in anyway is sent to a special camp. Those with some temporary ailment are sent immediately to the quarantine camp [B.IIf] and are brought back to health through a special diet The basic principle is: keep as many prisoners as possible for labor. The "resettlement action" of the old sort is completely rejected, for it is not permissible to systematically destroy substantial labour capacities.

The unfit go to a biggish house, into the basement rooms, which are accessible from the outside. They descend 5 or 6 [1] steps and come to a long, well built and ventilated basement [Leichenkeller 2], fitted with benches on the right and left. It is brightly lit, and above the benches are numbers. The prisoners are told that they are to be disinfected and washed ready for their new tasks. They therefore have to undress completely to be bathed. In order to avoid any panic or disorder, they are told to arrange their clothes neatly and leave them under a number so that they can find their things again after the bath. Everything proceeds in complete calm, They then go through a small corridor ["Gang" on drawing 932] and arrive in a big basement room [Leichenkeller 1] that resembles a shower room. In this room, there are three big pillars [2]. Into these it is possible from above, outside the basement, to lower certain products. After 300 to 400 people have gathered in this room, the doors [3] are closed and from above the containers with the products [cans of Zyklon B pellets] are lowered into the pillars. When the containers reach the floor of the pillars, they produce certain substances that put the people to sleep [!] in one minute. A few minutes later, the door on the other side [4] is opened, leading to a lift ["Aufzug"]. The hair of the corpses is cut off and the teeth are broken out (gold teeth) by qualified people (Jews). It has been observed that Jews have hidden jewels, gold, platinum, etc. in hollow teeth. After this the corpses are loaded into the lift said go to the first floor [5]. There, there are 10 big crematorium furnaces [6] in which the corpses are burned, (As fresh corpses burn particularly well, the whole process requires only ? to 1 Zentner [25 to 50 kg] of coke). The work itself is carried out by Jewish prisoners who will never leave this camp.

The result to date of this "resettlement action": 500,000 Jews [7]. The present capacity of the "resettlement action" furnaces: 10,000 in 24 hours [8]. [Franke-Gricksch reports that "The unfit go to a BIGGISH HOUSE, into the basement ..." , without saying that it is a crematorium, or which one. Later in his account we learn that the "house" is equipped with "big crematorium furnaces", so it must have been a crematorium. Only Krematorien II and III had semi basements, whereas Krematorien I, IV and V had none. On 4th May 1943, only Krematorium II was complete and operational, while Kr III was not yet ready. Franke-Gricksch's "biggish house" can therefore be nothing other than Birkenau Krematorium II. The errors in his report are: [1] "5 or 6 steps" (for the access stairway at the western end of Leichenkeller 2) instead of 10. Simple lack of attention on the part of a man who used this stairway only once. The error would be more serious on the part of a Sonderkommando member, using it several times a day. [2] "three big pillars" [columns for pouring Zyklon B] instead of four. The explanation of this error is that Franke-Gricksch must have just gone a few paces into Leichenkeller 1, not down to the end, and thus noticed only three of the four columns. [3] "the doors [of Leichenkeller l] are closed" instead of the door, singular. This is probably due to confusion with the double door of Leichenkeller 2 leading to the corridor, through which he had just come before having a quick look over the threshold of Leichenkeller 1. [4] "the door on the other side is opened, leading to a lift". There was not an entrance door at one end and exit at the other, but only one door to Leichenkeller 1, through which the victims entered and from which the corpses were removed. This is the most glaring fault, but may be explained by the route taken during Franke-Gricksch's visit. [5] "go to the first floor" instead of the floor above, or ground floor. A common mistake made by many witnesses. [6] "10 big crematorium furnaces", instead of 5 three muffle furnaces or 15 muffles. As with Leichenkeller 1, Franke-Grisksch probably did not go the whole length of the furnace room, but stood at the western entrance in front of the first furnace and listened to the explanations given. It could be that the figure ten was the total he was given for the capacity of Krematorien II and III together (10 three muffle furnaces). [7] "500,000 Jews" [in May 1943], instead of a true figure of probably somewhere between 200,000 and 250,000. This figure would have been provided by the Auschwitz SS guide and Franke Gricksch is merely repeating the inflated figure given to make the camp look efficient. [8] "10,000 in 24 hours", instead of the "official" figure of 4,756 per day for the FIVE Krematorien (I, II, III, IV and V), itself a theoretical figure that was never achieved in 1943, as proved by the Krematorium coke consumption. The maximum daily throughput of the 4 Birkenau Krematorien was in the order of 3,000 incinerations. What is more, in May 1943, Kr III was not yet in service. This is simply another Auschwitz SS propaganda figure passed on by Franke-Gricksch.] The report was found in his career file and is now thought to be preserved in the National Archives Collection of World War II, War Crimes Records, in Washington, under reference NA RG 238. The author is unable to be certain whether or not Franke Gricksch was a direct witness of the gassing of the Greeks found unfit for work. The enthusiastic tone of the report throws some doubt on his DIRECT participation, despite his description of the gassing, and this would explain certain errors. Unlike other dignitaries of the Third Reich, who after witnessing the "special treatment" of the Jews, became silent about it, visualizing the insane consequences, Franke-Gricksch is quite lyrical about the technique used by the Auschwitz SS to implement the "Jewish resettlement action", the title he gave to his report, which in fact was to be the very first report on the extermination of Jews in the Birkenau Krematorien, at a farm when Kr III was not even finished. In addition, this report was produced under very favorable circumstances: it was the first, the author was an SS witness writing freely (not testifying before an Allied tribunal) and he had visited the site, guided and given explanations by one of the people responsible for its operation. However, as compared with the testimony of former Sonderkommando members collected after the war, his report is disappointing, and contains eight errors, six of which can be attributed to its author, Franke-Gricksch.

There are two hypotheses possible: either Franke Gricksch visited Krematorium II when it was empty, or he witnessed a batch of unfit for work being gassed and then incinerated. In 1942 43, most of the "special actions" took place at night for obvious reasons of discretion, and since Franke Gricksch was expected in Cracow in the evening of 4th May it is almost certain that he would have been unable to see the arrival of the Greek Jews, which probably took place after his departure. This is the author's firm belief, but he is unable to prove it.

The most striking and serious error in his report is his stating that the gas chamber (Leichenkeller 1) had a door at each end. This can be explained only if there was some kind of break in his visit to the crematorium that caused him to lose his bearings somewhat. His error becomes comprehensible if we assume the following itinerary: descent from the outside to the undressing room [Leichenkeller 2], walk through its entire length to the double door at the far end, through this into the short corridor and then the vestibule, from which he took a few steps into the gas chamber [Leichenkeller 1], whose operation was then explained to him. He emerged from the basement via the northern stairway into the yard. then entered the ground floor of the crematorium through the north entrance and was shown into the furnace room. Here the virtues of the Topf furnaces were extolled, probably while he was standing before Furnace 1. Then he took the corpse lift down to the basement, in front of the entrance to the gas chamber (where, not recognizing the vestibule he had passed through some time before, he thought this was ANOTHER door to the gas chamber). He probably went back up to the ground floor on the corpse hoist and left the Krematorium through the main, north, door. The "break" thus occurred when he emerged from the basement by the northern stairway, instead of more logically taking the corpse hoist directly up to the furnace room. One indication that Franke-Gricksch did not actually witness a gassing, is his description of the successive states of the victims: they walk in, are put to sleep and are then corpses to be incinerated. Finally. the Franke-Gricksch report is very short on detail regarding Krematorium II, even though it does correctly describe its criminal operation. It's only real, and very important, merit is that it gives a clear and precise explanation of the term "Jewish resettlement action / Umsiedlungsaktion der Juden". The original method was wholesale annihilation, the second method involved selection into three groups (those it for work being used as labor, those temporarily unfit being rapidly cured and used as labor, those unfit being sent to a "biggish house" [Krematorium II] where they are "put to sleep" and reduced to ashes), The title of the "Auschwitz: Album" by Serge Klarsfeld. "Umsiedlung der Juden aus Ungarn" [Resettlement of the Jews from Hungary], despite the fact that it has been possible to compare certain scenes in the photographs with a "peaceful country outing against a background of barbed wire", can no longer give rise to any discussion, and covers the second type of "resettlement".]

{p. 244} On 24th June 1943 (sometimes given as 25th June [see Document 65, line beginning "53"]) the deed of transfer [Document 64] by which the Bauleitung handed over Krematorium III to the camp administration was signed. Despite the difficulties with Vedag, who had refused to guarantee the damp proofing of certain basement areas for two years, the Bauleitung nevertheless gave such an undertaking. The firms who worked on Krematorium III and their areas of responsibility were stated: foundations and walls by Huta; assisted by prisoner labor, roof by Industriebau AG; furnaces and machinery by Topf & Sons; the chimney by Koehler. Other subcontractors. whose contribution was minimal, were not named.

One of the inventories accompanying the deed of transfer, that for the basement [Document 66] contains a "CRIMINAL TRACE", INDIRECTLY PROVING THE EXISTENCE OF A HOMICIDAL GAS CHAMBER IN LEICHENKELLER 1 OF KREMATORIUM III [The argument concerning this proof is to be found in Part II, Chapter 8]. The inventory for the ground floor [Document 67] includes, unlike that for Krematorium II, the dissecting table, the 5 3 muffle furnaces, the 5 furnace blower motors, the waste incinerator and 5 complete sets of furnace irons [5 kompl. Schürgeräte]. The explanatory report on the construction contract gives the date for the start of work as July 1942, which is too early and should probably be LATE AUGUST OR EARLY SEPTEMBER. The price of the building amounted to 554,500 Reichsmark.

On 28th June, following the handover of Krematorium III, the last one to be completed, Jährling calculated the overall throughout for the five Krematorien as 4,756 people in 24 hours, and sent this information to SS General Kammler in Berlin [Document 68]. This "official" figure, coolly doubled when explaining operations to high ranking visitors (cf. SS Major Franke Gricksch's report above, giving a figure of 10,000 in 24 hours), had no basis in practice, and probably has to be divided by two or three to arrive at the true figure. The different visitors, SS, political leaders or others, were obviously unable to check the figures given by the camp SS, but accepted them as true and went away praising the Auschwitz SS for having found such a splendid solution to the "Jewish question".

[The throughput of Krematorium I, estimated at 340 per day, is a valid figure based on relatively long practice, but the figures for Krematorien II, III, IV and V are purely theoretical, especially those for IV and V which were calculated by extrapolation from the planned figures for Krematorien II and III. The fact is that Krematorium II (and hence also III) was planned as early as 30th October 1941 to incinerate 60 corpses per hour. Obviously the SS had to stick to this figure that they had announced:

60 per hour x 24 hours 1,440 corpses per day

Any lower throughput would be bad for their promotion prospects or could even be regarded as sabotage. As Kr II had 15 muffles and Kr IV and V each had 8 muffles, the throughput for each of these last was calculated as:

(1440 x 8)/15 = 768 corpses per day.

a purely hypothetical figure based on no practice of any sort.

The real throughput of a type II/III Krematorium was from 1,000 to 1,100 corpses per 24 hours and the maximum for a type IV/V was about 500 a day. The total capacity for the four Krematorien was therefore about 3,000 a day, but in practice the real capacity at Birkenau was even less than it appears at that time (and Krematorium I at the main camp was closed down shortly afterwards): Kr IV was soon permanently shut down: V worked only intermittently, II was working again after repairs to its chimney, and III had just begun operations. These last two could incinerate 2,000 to 2,200 corpses a day, and this was the true incineration capacity at Birkenau from the beginning of July 1943 until April/May 1944. This much lower than advertised throughput is confirmed by the low coke consumption figures for the four Krematorien recorded until the end of November 1943, which was only enough to keep one Krematorium of type II/III in full operation.]

Not directly connected with the construction of Krematorien II and III, but still of some relevance is a Topf letter of 7th July 1943, replying to one of 2nd written by Jährling, justifying the price asked for the two 8 muffle furnaces for Krematorien IV and V. The Bauleitung was probably balking at having to pay for these unusable furnaces covered by a TWO MONTH guarantee that had already expired (Topf letter of 10th April 1943 [see Part II, Chapter 7 "Krematorien IV and V"]). This letter mentioned the taking from the "Mogilew contract" of two twin 4 muffle furnaces, designed by Prüfer for Krematorien IV and V, which were in fact designed around these furnaces.

[In the author's opinion, the defects in Krematorien IV and V cannot be directly attributed to Prüfer. His technical solutions for the 4-muffle furnace, in which certain metal parts (rationed) were replaced by firebrick constructions (unrationed), were rather clever. The 8-muffle furnaces (obtained by twinning two 4 muffle furnaces) roared so well during their adjustment by Topf foreman Willi Kock that the ground around the Krematorien trembled (according to Filip Müller). Prüfer was let down by the poor quality of the refractory materials available in this fourth year of a war that was bleeding Germany white. Hoess admitted this indirectly:

"Owing to the wartime shortage of materials, the builders were compelled to economize during the construction of crematoria III and IV [IV and V] and they were therefore built above ground and were of less solid construction. It soon became apparent, however, that that the flimsy construction of these two [twinned] four-retort ovens did not meet to the requirements."

These furnaces, whose design was technically sound (for example, the engineer Martin Klettner of Topf applied in 1951 to the Patent Office of the Federal Republic of Germany for a patent for a single muffle cremation furnace using the guillotine door designed by Prüfer) and which were carefully constructed, were unable to justify the hopes placed in them simply because they were built with second-rate materials.]

On 17th July, Kirschneck informed Topf that the repair of the Krematorium II chimney lining was completed (and had been since 11th). By comparing the very first Topf drawing of the chimney with later ones, the Bauleitung SS been able to see that initially the Erfurt firm had not taken account of the different thermal expansions produced or the very high temperatures reached. The Bauleitung therefore raised the question of liability for these defects. They also notified Topf that the underfloor flues from the furnaces to the chimney were deteriorating and, under the terms of the guarantee should be rapidly repaired or replaced. [PMO file BW 30/34, page 17].

On 21st July 1943, Huta sent back to the Bauleitung the original drawings for Krematorium II (which were also used for Kr III) that they had received on 2nd August 1942. The drawings concerned were 932, 933, 934, 935, 936, 937, 980, 1173 1174, 1300, 1301, 1311, 1341 and 1541 (drawings 935. 937, 1300 and 1541 having reached them later). Huta also enclosed their own drawings with those of the Bauleitung, i.e. sheets 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of project 7015/IV. This coming and going of drawings is in itself proof that the original drawings of Krematorium II were in no way secret. By contrast, drawing 2003 and the different versions of 2197, where the criminal arrangements were clearly visible, were not communicated to Huta, or at least not officially [see these documents, in annex].

On 4th August, Topf informed the Bauleitung that the permanent corpse lifts for Krematorien II and III (which were using provisional goods hoists) were still not ready. Topf's subcontractor could not complete them because official authorization had again been refused. Topf requested the Bauleitung SS to inform their superiors in Berlin so that they could intervene to resolve the situation. Topf explained that the subcontractor had already built a substantial part of the lifts, but feared that if authorization was refused the order would be immediately suspended [PMO file BW 30/34, page 19].

On 6th August, Topf replied to the Bauleitung letter 17th July, expressing doubt that the underfloor flues should be failing in their turn, after the problems with the chimney lining. [It would appear that, despite the evidence of damage to the flues, there was some justification for Topf's surprise. The author would like to point out that, during a conversation with David Olère, the later had declared that the problems with the underfloor flues were caused by members of the Sonderkommando trying to immobilize Krematorium II through sabotage But this "induced" damage did not suffice to stop operations, while the spontaneous damage to the chimney had closed the Krematorium down for a month and a half. It is difficult to assess the impact of these "manipulations", which consisted of discreetly introducing cold water into the underfloor channels, knowing that the excessively high rates of incineration were bound to cause damage].

On 9th September, Bischoff told Kirschneck to send the Topf letter of 4th August concerning the permanent lifts for Krematorien II and III to the SS WVHA in Berlin, asking them to rapidly solve this problem [PMO file BW 30/34, page 18].

On Friday 10th September, Prüfer arrived in Auschwitz to confer with the Bauleitung on the settlement of the expenses incurred in the relining of Krematorium II chimney. From the beginning of the talks, the Bauleitung position was clear: Topf and their representative Prüfer were directly responsible for the defects in the chimney. The fact is that after the first, round chimney of Krematorium I, planned and built by the Bauleitung, was taken out of service Topf had supplied the drawings for a second, of square section. These drawings had served as model for SS Second Lieutenant Dejaco Drawing Office producing the drawings of the "Project for a Krematorium" (such as 932, 933, 934 and 980), a building that was in the end to be constructed in two mirror image versions at Birkenau. The SS, while admitting their own lack of competence in that area, insofar as they slavishly copied the Topf drawings for the chimneys of Krematorien II and III, nevertheless considered that the Erfurt firm had given them incorrect data, which was the probable cause of the damage to the chimney After this first meeting, some members of the Bauleitung went with Prüfer to inspect the Birkenau Krematorien. The Topf chief engineer was forced to admit that the complaints about the underfloor flues in the letter of 17th July were justified: "whole sections of the roof [of the flues] were caving in and É the connections between the hot flues and the chimney were in very bad condition". The SS also pointed out to Prüfer that the draught control dampers in the chimney, which had melted due to faulty construction (implied to be Topf's fault) had been repaired entirely satisfactorily by the Bauleitung themselves. As Prüfer's situation was becoming difficult, he threw the blame for the defects in the chimney onto Messrs Koehler, the firm who had built it, claiming that that they had used lime mortar instead of refractory mortar. The SS therefore decided to convoke the engineer Robert Koehler, the head of this firm, for the next day.

On Saturday 12th September. Koehler swept away Prüfer's accusations, saying the work had been carried out correctly and using the prescribed materials. The discussion then became somewhat heated. The SS mentioned the other arguments previously put forward by Prüfer to explain the collapse of the chimney lining. But Prüfer was a good talker and his "scientific" demonstrations carried the day. The SS nevertheless pointed out that at each visit Prüfer put forward a new reason for the problems with the chimney. As for Robert Koehler, who lived in Myslowitz, about twenty kilometers from Auschwitz and was thus well informed about what went on there, in his opinion the real cause of the poor state of the chimney before its repair by his firm was simply the excessive rate of cremation. However, the SS were reluctant to have Prüfer lose face completely Ñ he had compromised himself too much with them Ñ and so they accepted his "technical" reasons, while knowing that Koehler was right. Finally, in order that nobody should feel too upset and in order to maintain good relations, the cost of repairing the chimney, estimated at 5,000 RM, was split three ways: 1/3 for Topf, 1/3 for Koehler (who really was not at fault!) and 1/3 for the Bauleitung. And this was the end of the affair. {p. 247} On Monday 13th September. Kirschneck wrote up a summary of the sometimes heated discussions of 10th and l1th [Document 69 and 69a]. In this summary he formally stated that PRÜFER HAD BEEN CONSULTANT FOR THE WHOLE INSTALLATION IN SUMMER 1942 [i.e. for the four new Krematorien], This was already apparent from previous correspondence, but had never been spelled out so clearly before. Despite the "amicable arrangement" that had been arrived at, i.e. equal division of the cost of repairing the chimney between the three parties, a solution that was in fact to Prüfer's advantage, the report makes it clear that relations between Prüfer and the Bauleitung, which had been excellent in the second half of 1942, had deteriorated and were becoming rather bad. The SS were blaming him for the building of two useless Krematorien (a waste of 400,000 RM) and for the problems with the chimney of Krematorium II.

On 28th September, Kirschneck sent a registered letter to Messrs Robert Koehler, announcing that the cost of creating the lining of the chimney in fact amounted to 4500 RM, so that the firm owed 1,500 RM [which meant that Koehler had worked on this job simply for the glory, their profit having gone up in smoke] and that the final account would be sent shortly. In addition, the SS informed Koehler that the Bauleitung had once again urgently requested the latest drawing of the chimney [probably concerned with the consolidation or relining of the underfloor flues] which Topf had been promising to dispatch without fail for TWO MONTHS already (since the end of July 1943) [PMO file BW 30/34, page 16]

[What happened after this. i.e, whether or not the repairs were carried out, and if so whether by Topf or Koehler, is not known. If it was done, the job would have been extremely difficult and unpleasant, for the bricklayers would have had to work lying down in flues 50 cm wide and 70 cm high, which seems to be at the limits of the possible. Alternatively, the flues could have been reached from above, but this would have meant demolishing one third of the concrete floor of the ground floor of the Krematorium, which does not seem to have been done. In any event, if the work was done, it would have been in October 1943 and the furnace would have had to be shut down for considerable time. So in the second half of 1943, Krematorium II was out of service for two to three months for sundry repairs. As for the Krematorium III chimney, of the same design as that of Kr II, it is not known whether similar problems were encountered, also causing that Krematorium to be shut down for a while, as the available files have nothing to say on the subject. The sudden and permanent shutdown of Krematorium IV, the gradual shutdown of V and the temporary shutdown of II, are again in line with the coke delivery figures for the four Krematorien from March to the end of October 1943, which indicate an average rate of only just sufficient to keep one Krematorium of type II/III in full operation.]

In late September and early October 1943, Huta produced the regularization drawings for Krematorien II and III. The first, sheet 12 (not known today), was drawn on 20th September, then followed on 21st 13a, 23rd 14a, 24th 15 and finally, on 9th October. 16a [see these drawings in annex].

On 2nd November 1943, Huta sent the Bauleitung the final accounts for their work on Krematorien II and III. The next day, they sent a registered package to complement these accounts, containing three copies of more of their drawings for the two buildings, sheets 13, 14, 15 and 16 of project 109 [7015/IV].

On 6th November. following a conversation between Camp Commandant Hoess and Bischoff (who had just been appointed Head of the Silesian Waffen SS and Police Construction Inspectorate and replaced as head of the Auschwitz Bauleitung by SS Lieutenant Werner Jothann, a building technician), a letter was written for the Bauleitung by SS Sergeant Kamann (responsible for gardening and a photographer), requesting SS Major Joachim Caesar, head of the agricultural section of the camp, to supply various trees to surround Krematorien II and III (referred to as I and II) [Document 70]. This ring of greenery was intended more to make the Krematorium sites look agreeable than to camouflage them, as was mistakenly thought for a long time. Judging by what was actually planted (as against the 300 trees and 500 bushes planned for each Krematorium) and where it was planted, half way between the buildings and the surrounding barbed wire fences [Document 71], the aim was clearly more to reassure future victims with a calm rural décor than to try to hide a criminal activity known throughout the camp. What is more, because of a lack of plants, the implementation of the plan was very late (1944) and was limited to a very thin ring, scarcely visible [Document 72] and incomplete [Document 73], with small trees (the diameter of whose trunks was no more than five centimeters in 1945 [Document 71]) and the creation of a formal garden in the north yard of Krematorium II, perfectly visible on the aerial photograph of 25th August 1944 and found intact at the Liberation [Document 74].

[This letter, often cited by traditional historians, is the basis of the myth of the "Tarnung / camouflage" of the Krematorien. Thanks to the concept of "camouflaging" the means by which the most criminal aspect of the Third Reich was implemented, certain historians seem to have considered themselves authorized to make quite unjustifiable generalizations. The use of "camouflage" enabled them to replace scant knowledge by certainty and brought dangerous by confused thinking. A suspect installation was "criminalized" by the introduction of "camouflage". A shower room was or a disinfection gas chamber could be a camouflaged homicidal gas chamber. If the documents found proved that the suspect installation was in fact used normally for its stated purpose, then the second aspect of "camouflage" came into play, "coding", an indispensable complement in certain writings. The document mentioning normal use, according to this argument, must be "in code", because it referred to a "camouflaged" place. Thus the word "Leichenkeller 1" [corpse cellar 1] in Birkenau Krematorien II and III "encoded" the homicidal gas chamber function, and "Leichenkeller 2" encoded the undressing room function (one wonders what "Leichenkeller 3" would have encoded, if, unfortunately, it had not been split up into perfectly clearly designated rooms). This historical "methodology", all the more intransigent because it was ignorant, stood in the way of any objective research, because being ignorant of the chronological and architectural evolution or even the practical arrangement of the premises, it had taken the easy way out. The theory of "camouflage-coding" was further reinforced by a third concept, the last of the trilogy. that of "secret", which made it possible to hide gaps in one's own knowledge by blaming the "secrecy" supposedly practiced by those to be denounced. In fact the extermination of the Jews was such an open secret that in 1943-44, train passengers going through Auschwitz station in daytime crowded to the windows to better see where the Jews were being liquidated, and at night they saw Birkenau brilliantly lit by the thousand lamps of its perimeter fence. What they did not know, and this was the only "secret", was the method used by the SS.

{p. 249} Document 69 [PMO file BW 30/25, page 12] Translation: (the corrections are not translated) KI/L6 36132/43 Auschwitz, [Monday] 13/9/1943 Summary Record Subject: Meeting concerning the imputation of the costs incurred in having to replace the defective lining of the chimney of Krematorium II, POW camp BW 30 On Friday, 10/9/1943, Herr chief engineer Prüfer, as the representative of Messrs Topf & Sons of Erfurt, consulted with this service [Bauleitung] to clarify the situation with regard to the subject stated.

The Zentralbauleitung maintained the position that the damage to the chimney lining was due above all to the incorrect drawings and instructions furnished by Messrs Topf & Sons. Here chief engineer Prüfer was in 1942 the consultant for the whole installation and he declared at the time to SS Second Lieutenants (Specialists) Ertel [Ertl], Dejaco and Jahnisch [Janisch] that the Krematorien should be built according to the drawings provided by Messrs Topf. As for the chimneys, they should be built according to the project drawing for the chimney for Krematorium I in the main camp on the one hand and the measurements and instructions for the individual parts of the chimney appearing on the above mentioned drawings provided by Messes Topf & Sons. One of these drawings shows a lining thickness of 12 cm. The lining itself is shown to a height of 6 m in orange, as is all the other refractory brickwork. The brickwork supporting the lining is shown in red, meaning ordinary bricks. [See drawing 933[ 934](r) in annex, where the lining of the chimney, of a color different from the pink walls, should be orange, which it is very faintly on the original in the PMO archives].

During a subsequent inspection and conversation with the Chief Capo of the Krematorien, it was noted that the collapse of part of the flues was not error or confusion, as [claimed] in the letter of 6/8/1943 counts. reg, no. h.e.s./D IV/Prf, but in fact as stated in the Bauleitung letter of 17/7/1943, whole sections of the roof [of the flues] were caving in and the connections between the hot flues and the chimney were in very bad condition.

On this occasion it was also established that all the draught adjustment dampers had melted due to a fault in construction, but this fault had been eliminated in the light of rear own experience and now Document 69a [PMO file BW 30/25, page 12] Translation: (corrections are not translated) the system worked perfectly. Here chief engineer Prüfer this time designated the reason for the damage to the lining as being that the brickwork was bonded with lime mortar instead of refractory mortar, and also errors in the static calculations.

In reply to this, in the conversation on the following day [Saturday 12th September] with Herr engineer Koehler, who built this chimney according to the Topf & Sons drawings, stated that the lining was completely built with refractory mortar from the bottom to the top.

It was pointed out to Herr chief engineer Prüfer that with each visit he brought a new explanation for the reasons for the collapse of the chimney lining.

During his last visit but one, in the presence of the Commandant, he gave as the reason the great stresses caused by firing individual furnaces [while leaving the others cold], which was not taken into account in the plans.

In the opinion of the Zentralbauleitung, this was in fact probably the main reason, and would be taken into account in the new Topf & Sons plans, in which the different rates of expansion of different parts of the lining would be allowed for by having openings such that they could slide with respect to one another.

Herr engineer Koehler declared during this conversation that the overloading of the chimney installation was the most important cause of the damage.

Since it had not been possible to completely settle the question of liability, Herr engineer Koehler for Messrs Robert Koehler, Myslowitz and Herr chief engineer Prüfer for Messrs Topf & Sons (subject to consultation with his superior) declared their agreement, in the interests of further good relations, to each assume 1/3 of the total extra cost, provided that for its part the Bauleitung was prepared to assume a similar sum. This total cost was provisionally estimated at 5,000 RM.

With this settlement, the reconstruction of the chimney lining in Krematorium II, POW camp BW 30, is considered to be finally settled. Read and approved SS Second Lieutenant (Specialist) SS Major

{p. 251} Krematorium II and III were never camouflaged, in the first place because the actual process of extermination went on inside their walls. Dr. Mengele's twins, for example, who lived in the hospital sector, B.IIf, were able to see through the barbed wire fence perfectly well, and regularly until the end of 1944, columns of a few hundred to a thousand people enter the grounds of Krematorium III and disappear into one of its underground annexes, and a few hours later, they would see the chimneys belching smoke and flame. If there had been some kind of hedge behind the barbed wire, they would not have been able to observe these external signs of the extermination process. However, there was one particular form of camouflage put in place, not to hide the buildings, but what went on around them. This decision was taken by a meeting of SS held at 1800 hours on 16th June 1944 [Summary record of 17/6/44. Correspondence register no. 8580/44/Je/Ko]. In this summary, under item 16, the expression "Tarnung der Krema / Camouflage of the Krematorium" was used, but this "camouflage", or more correctly in this case "masking", was considered necessary to hide, not the building itself, but the open air incineration ditches dug behind Krematorium V. Krematorium IV was given a similar screen even though it was out of use and had no incineration ditches. The reason is not known, except for a rather surprising desire for symmetry with Kr V [Document 75]. This screen had to be placed against the barbed wire, and rush matting was envisaged but it was actually done using branches cut from the adjacent wood and placed in front of or behind the barbed wire, probably in July 1944. Following the Sonderkommando revolt of October 1944, Krematorium IV was dismantled and the surrounding barbed wire and screen also. In January 1945, all that remained of this "camouflage" was a hedge to the south of Krematorium V, along the ring road.] At the end of 1943, according to Henryk Tauber's deposition, the gas chamber (Leichenkeller 1) of Krematorium II was divided into two chambers by building a wall across the middle. This modification is not mentioned in any Bauleitung document, and it was probably made under the responsibility of the Krematorium administration. Two other former prisoners confirmed this division into two, without realizing it, by describing what they saw in 1944. In "Témoignages sur Auschwitz" (page 161), Dr Paul Bendel relates that in Krematorium II: "the gas chambers proper [are] two in number" and: "In the middle of these, there descend from the roof two mesh tubes with external valves used to emit the gases". In "Camps de Concentration" (page 162), Dr. Michel Scheckter [provided the reference for this passage is correct and that the doctor is in fact the author] also describes Leichenkeller 1 of Krematorium II: "A big room followed on from the first [undressing room], approximately 10 [in fact 15] meters long, 6 or 7 meters wide and 5 or 6 [2.5 in fact] meters high. In the upper part, on the center line of its longer dimension, there were two latticework chimney-like structures, with an opening outside the roof through which the gases arrived and spread throughout the room through the lattice of the tubes." In saying that the gas chamber(s) of Krematorium II had only TWO columns for the introduction of Zyklon-B instead of FOUR, these witnesses confirm that the original gas chamber had been divided in two, even though they did not know this. At the end of 1943, splitting the 210 m? of Leichenkeller 1 into two chambers of 105 m? was not simply partitioning, but was a reduction in capacity. The construction of a central wall, with a communicating door, gas-tight or not, would necessarily have reduced the rate at which corpses could be extracted from Leichenkeller 1. There would on the face of it be no advantage to the SS in this deliberate slowing of the extermination process, but in fact there was a change in the method of operation, so [Note: the photos of Documents 71 and 72 are reversed in the original book] Document 71 [PMO neg. no. 822] Southwest/northeast view of the ruins of Krematorium III after the Liberation in 1945, photographed from a watchtower covering the ramp. The containers of bricks show that the dismantling of the building had not been completed when the SS blew up the concrete parts of the structure on 20th January 1945. The present state of the site is not as shown on the photo, as all the bricks, those in the containers and the others, have been removed, as have the remains of the internal walls still visible on the photo. The pile of logs in the foreground, faithfully shown by David Olère in his drawing of Krematorium III, were to fire the furnaces when there was no coke. Between the ruins of the building and the barbed wire fence is the ring of greenery around Krematorium III. The size and location of the plants prove beyond any doubt that the intention could not have been to camouflage, but was rather to make the site more pleasant Document 72 [Photo 19 of Serge Klarsfeld's "Auschwitz Album"] East/west view of the Birkenau ramp in May or June 1944, showing the arrival of a convoy of Hungarian Jews. In the background is Krematorium II with its collective chimney, very clearly visible. Seven or eight months after the order for a "ring of greenery" given by Camp Commandant Hoess, not a single tree can be seen, and between the posts supporting the barbed wire we can even make out the windows of the prisoners' rest room and the door of the coke store. Where is the "camouflage"?

{p. 252} that less victims were gassed at one time. thus less gas chamber space was required. The old formula of 2,000 at a time had gone and out of fashion and the maximum size of a batch became 1,000. In the author's opinion, there could be only two possible explanations for such a modification: either the number of people to be gassed turned out to be smaller than anticipated, or the assign of large batches meant prolonged overloading of the cremation furnaces and led to frequent breakdowns, this reducing the overall efficiency of the Krematorium. By limiting the capacity of Leichenkeller 1 to 1,000 people, the SS optimized their incineration installation of regulating it to avoid the problems brought about by "accelerated" working. The author considers that this new method, based on experience, made it possible to improve the incineration throughput of the Krematorium. The same principle was applied in May 1944 in Krematorium V, where an internal wall was built to create a gas chamber of about 12 m? in order to be able to "treat" small groups using a minimum of Zyklon-B. It is not known whether Leichenkeller 1 of Krematorium III was divided in a similar way, but this would seem logical. At the present time, one of the few opportunities that exist for verifying this would be to study ALL of David Olère's sketches, assuming that somewhere he had drawn from memory the interior of the gas chamber of Krematorium III. However, this research is not possible at the moment, because fifty of Olère's sketches (about half of his historical production) are not available to the public.

[On 19th December 1943, most probably, Huta gave the new head of the Bauleitung, SS Lieutenant Jothann, virtually all their original drawings for Krematorien II and III, in order to finalize business concerning these two buildings. This letter, actually dated 1944 and cited as such in the annexes, is much more likely, in the logical succession of the correspondence exchanged, to date from 1943, its writer having somewhat anticipated the arrival of the new year. Chronologically, the date of 19th December 1943 is more plausible than 19th December 1944. In this case, the author's comments on this letter in the annexes are mistaken, because they are too "dramatized". They are nevertheless left uncorrected because it is impossible to actually prove that the letter was written in 1943 as there is no supporting documentary evidence.]

From the end of 1943 until April 1944, Krematorien II and III functioned regularly, but not at full capacity, in accordance with the numbers of people found unfit for work. Krematorien IV and V, were out of service and not required anyway. In anticipation of the arrival of the Hungarian Jews, the SS Krematorium Administration had the FOUR buildings gradually made ready for service. On 13th April, the DAW metalworking shop received an order (no. 1483) for the repair of 20 furnace doors and 10 scrapers for Krematorien I [II] and II [III]. This work was completed on 17TH JULY 1944 [a date that remains inexplicable because impossible to check in the original file]. On 5th May, still for Krematorien II and III, the metalworking shop completed 40 nuts and bolts produced according to a sketch attached to an order of 27th April (no. 1513). Finally, on 1st June, this shop received an order (no. 1600) for the repair of 30 furnace doors for Krematorien III [IV] and IV [V] and for 4 slices. This order, marked urgent, was completed on 7th June [this order from the SS administration raises the question of its late date with respect to the "resettlement" of the Hungarian Jews and the number of doors is a mystery, as it seems excessive and is not a multiple of 8. We have no documents to elucidate Document 73 [PMO neg. no. 21334/49] Western access stairway to the undressing room (Leichenkeller 2) of Krematorium II in 1945. In the center, standing on the top step, is the Examining Judge, Jan Sehn. In the background is the barbed wire fence. On the left is a post supporting three strands of barbed wire to prevent any "leakage" away towards the southern grounds of the Krematorium. There is no ring of greenery here. Document 74 [PMO neg. no. 21334/48] In the center, his tie flying in the wind, is the Examining Judge, Jan Sehn, accompanied by various officials, walking in 1945 between the "formal garden" (behind them) and the undressing room (Leichenkeller 2) in the north yard of Krematorium II, heading for the western access stairway. Jan Sehn was following exactly the same route as those found unfit for work, from the entrance gate (in the background on the right) to the stairs down to the undressing room. In the middle ground is the famous garden which according to the "revisionists" should not have been intact if the SS had really gassed people, as it would have been trampled out of existence by the crowds to be "treated". It is nevertheless protected by pickets carrying a very low strand of barbed wire, an apparently laughable barrier, but in fact vicious and effective.

{p. 253} either problem]. After their revision, an operation that may be considered routine, Krematorien Il and III fulfilled their role perfectly from May to July 1944. As for Krematorien IV and V, we have no precise information about their reactivation. According to Sonderkommando and SS accounts and depositions concerning the "forest Krematorien", which are confused and divergent on this point, the following situations emerge. Krematorium IV either functioned again for a very short time, a few days to a few weeks, before being closed down for good, or was not trimmed at all and served as accommodation for about 700 Sonderkommando men, who occupied ALL the available space in the building, (including the gas chambers, but not the furnace room and its annexes, which were probably reserved for the Capos). The furnaces of Krematorium V, not so badly damaged as those of Kr IV, either worked at such a slow rate that open air incineration ditches had to be rapidly dug behind the gas chambers in order to compensate for their poor throughput, or, knowing in advance that the Krematorium V furnaces would be unable to operate at the pace required for the future, the SS decided to replace them with five small incineration ditches and to reactivate Bunker 2, under the designation Bunker V. which also had an incineration ditch. There is still another possibility, in view of the repairs of early June, i.e. that Krematorien IV and V were not repaired by the end of April 1944 and the SS had the five incineration ditches dug and Bunker 2/V reactivated right away. It is possible that, overwhelmed by the mass arrivals of Hungarian convoys in May, they tried at the beginning of June to rapidly reactivate Krematorien IV and V in order to increase incineration capacity at Birkenau. These cursory repairs, made in extremis, seem to have succeeded in the case of Kr V, which worked more or less correctly until January 1945, but turned out to be inadequate in the case of Kr IV, whose furnaces and chimney needed to be completely rebuilt.

Between May and the beginning of July 1944, some 200,000 to 250.000 Hungarian Jews were annihilated in the gas chambers and incineration furnaces of Krematorien II and III, the gas chamber and five incineration ditches of Krematorium V, and the gas chamber (the original internal walls dividing the building into four small gas chambers had been removed, leaving a single chamber of external dimension 7 in by 15m) of Bunker 2/V and its incineration ditch of 30 m2 area. According to the accounts of former prisoners, this was the darkest and most depressing period in Birkenau, at the time when the Liberation of Europe was beginning. The most palpable sign of this demential period, engraved on the memory of survivors, was four black columns of smoke, belched forth 24 hours a day by the Krematorien. This picture, of course, cannot be taken entirely at face value, because two of the Krematorien were out of service and aerial photographs taken during this period show no trace of smoke. An argument has grown up over the discrepancy between the memory of survivors and the indisputable evidence of the aerial photos. Even though this can now be explained by the gaps between the arrival of convoys, historians have been extraordinarily unlucky in that the American reconnaissance aircraft flew over Auschwitz Birkenau precisely on days when nothing was happening or when the cremation of the last batch had finished. On the other hand, it is easier to explain the four columns of smoke, despite the feet that two of the four Krematorien were not working. The chimneys of Krematorien II and III were visible from almost all over the Birkenau camp and everybody could see when they were smoking. In the case of Kr V, practically surrounded by the birch wood and hence invisible to most of the prisoners, the incineration ditches behind it burned regularly, giving the impression that the furnaces were working. As for Kr IV, partly hidden by a screen of trees, an observer within the limits of B.II (and most of the survivors are in this category) could see the smoke coming from the incineration ditch of Bunker 2/V, located 400 m to the west of Krematorium IV and on the same line of sight, and had the impression it was coming from the Krematorium.

On 6th June 1944, the Bauleitung produced drawing 4054, on which the "Jewish ramp" where the convoys arrived was transformed into a real station, an installation that could be called the "extermination station" [Document 76]. This version produced by the Bauleitung Drawing Office is more realistic than the plan mentioned by Hoess of a huge station covering the four Krematorien, for it includes only Krematorien II and III, the only ones that were actually working. [It should be pointed out that the only piece of "camouflage" found on any of the known Bauleitung drawings appears here, where "Gemüesehalle / Vegetable shed" probably stands for "Effektenhalle / Effects shed"].

On 26th June 1944. the US Air Force photographed the entire Auschwitz Birkenau Monowitz complex from a height of 30,000 feet [Document 77]. An enlargement [Document 78] reveals no activity in the four Krematorien, which is perfectly natural, because the last transport of Hungarian Jews from Wegier had arrived on 18th June and the next did not arrive at Birkenau until 28th June.

On 25th August 1944, the US Air Force photographed, in clear weather, part of the Birkenau camp (B.I, the ramp and Krematorien II and III, from a probable height of about 3,000 feet [Document 79]. No incineration activity can be detected in the Krematorien, and yet the previous day five transports had arrived in the camp: three from Lodz, one from Wegier (Hungary) and one from Boryslaw (Soviet Union). The total number of deportees in these five convoys is not known, but the number selected for work is: those from Lodz 10, 7, and 222: from Hungary 28 and from the Soviet Union 2. A total of 269 judged fit for work. Assuming that IN THE WORST CASE 10% of the total were pronounced fit, the total for the five convoys would be in the order of 2,700 people. The incineration of 2,400 or 2,500 corpses in Krematorien II and III and the ditches of Krematorium V and Bunker 2/V was a matter of routine, compatible with the real throughput of the installations, and could have been completed by the time the photograph was taken, before midday on 25th August. (It should be noted that the incineration ditches were not photographed, so we do not know whether they were operating or not.)

On 13th September 1944, Krematorien IV and V were photographed by an American aircraft [Document 75], and no trace of smoke can be seen. No convoy had arrived at Birkenau that day, and only the 300 Jewish children of a transport from Kowno had been gassed the previous day.

After the Sonderkommando revolt of 7th October 1944, Krematorium IV, which was set on fire during the uprising, was completely demolished except for the concrete floor, which remained in place.

On 26th November 1944, following the publication in American newspapers of the "War Refugee Board" report on the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, Himmler gave the order, probably verbal (no written trace ever having been found) to completely dismantle Krematorien II and III. THE USE OF THE KREMATORIEN FOR THE "RESETTLEMENT" OF JEWS UNFIT FOR WORK After selection at the Jewish ramp at Auschwitz station [the new siding in the very center of the Birkenau camp was not completed until May 1944. for the arrival of the Hungarian transports], groups of 1,000 to 1,500 classified as "unfit" [for work] were taken on foot, or for the weaker ones, by truck, to Krematorium II or III. For about two weeks, from 15th to the end of March 1943, victims heading for Krematorium II, the only one ready at that date, used a particular route, Because the access stairway to the underground undressing room was not yet finished, a stable type hut was erected on a north-south line in the north yard of the building [Document 80], to serve as a temporary undressing room. After passing through the wire mesh gates in the fence round the Krematorium. the unfit entered this hut at the northern end, emerged naked front the southern end and, then being visible to the prisoners, in B.IIf, disappeared into the northern stairway of the Krematorium [Document 81]. From there, they were channeled into Leichenkeller 1, the gas chamber, the door was shut on them and they were gassed. Once the stairway from the outside directly to the underground undressing room was completed, the hut was dismantled, and from April 1943 the victims entered the north yard of Krematorium II, walked along the northern side of the undressing room along its whole length, went down the western stairway [Document 82], with its metal guard rails, and entered the undressing room. The whole operation now being underground, nothing was visible from the outside, which was not the case before. Once they were undressed [Document 83], the unfit went through the double door at the far end of the undressing room along a short corridor and through the vestibule into the gas chamber, whose entrance was on their right.

As soon as the whole group of 1,000 to 1.500 people was in the gas chamber, the gas light door was closed and secured with its two latch bars, which were screwed tight. The lights in the room were then probably extinguished. On the roof, SS medical orderlies wearing gasmasks introduced 1 or 1.5 kg of Zyklon B into each of the four "chimneys", with their covers (making 4 to 6 kg in all) which projected 40 or 50 cm above the grass growing on the earth bank covering the roof of the gas chamber. Death followed very quickly, as the amount of Zyklon B used was FORTY times the lethal dose [Document 84]. In a few minutes, five at the very most, depending on the humidity of the air and the ambient temperature, all the victims were dead. In theory, an SS doctor was supposed to check by looking through the peephole to make sure nobody was still moving. But as a real check was impossible it could but be cursory and was generally dispensed with altogether, the poison used being so very toxic and effective. The air extraction system was then switched on for at least 20 to 30 minutes, for there was a great deal of poisoned air still in the chamber, the amount absorbed by the victims being minimal. The gas tight door was then unbolted and opened, and the work of extracting the corpses began immediately [Document 85] The "dentists" then pulled out the gold teeth and collected any jewelry (most of the "crematorium" gold came from melted down jewelry. NOT GOLD TEETH, which only accounted for a very small percentage). "Barbers" sheared the hair off the women. These two operations were carried out either directly in the gas chamber entrance [Document 86] or where the corpses were taken from the lift at the end of the furnace room. In the early days the corpses were loaded 3 or 4 at a time on the temporary goods hoist, then later 10 to 15 at a time on the permanent electric lift, and sent up to the ground floor. There, the Sonderkommando men attached leather thongs to them and slid them along a shallow trough of water to a point in front of one of the furnaces [Document 85]. They were placed head to foot in threes on a metal "corpse stretcher" and charged into one of the muffles (this was the normal number for normal adults: it could be more in the case of children, but it could never possibly have been twelve adults, even reduced to musulman stale, as claimed by one former Sonderkommando man) [Document 87]. The incineration of such a charge took 45 to 60 minutes [Document 88], though some unrealistic witnesses have claimed it look only 15 to 20 minutes. or even less. The pulsed air blowers on the side of the furnaces were apparently used only when starting up a furnace. Once the furnace was hot, the corpses burned spontaneously. Witnesses have stated (or drawn [Document 89]) that when working at full capacity and high temperature, flames leapt 2 or 3 meters from the top of the chimney. There is no photographic evidence to corroborate this claim, however. The work of incinerating the corpses was watched by the SS from a room known as the "Capo's room" [Document 90].

The destruction of 1,000 to 1,500 people took a whole day or more. The two bottlenecks in the process that put absolute limits on the extermination capacity of Krematorien II and III were in fact the extraction of corpses from the gas chamber, which took "hours and hours" according to former Sonderkommando member David Olère, and then the cremation process, which took 24 to 36 hours. Somewhere between 15th and 20th June 1944. during the extermination of the Hungarian Jews, the three working Krematorien and Bunker 2/V established the unhappy record of between 4,000 and 5.000 people eliminated in a single day (the "emotional" figure put forward after the Liberation for this day was 25,000). THE DESTRUCTION OF KREMATORIEN II AND III After the order was received to destroy Krematorien II and III, an "Abbruchkommando / demolition commando" was formed on 1st December 1944 to perform this task. Work advanced rapidly. The roofs were dismantled, the undressing room ventilation systems removed, the chimneys and furnaces dismantled. On 21st December 1944, the floors of the roof spaces were bare and the earth banks over the undressing rooms (Leichenkeller 2) had been removed, this earth being placed on the ground on either side of these premises, [Document 91]. The way in which the earth was removed and cleared assay from the cellars shows that the SS intended to expose the walls as well, so as to be able to remove all trace of the Krematorien. Unfortunately for them, it would appear that these outdoor activities had to stop because the ground was frozen. Work then proceeded inside the buildings, the ten cremation furnaces being removed, so that only the empty foundation pits were found at the Liberation. On 14th January 1945, internal dismantling continued [Document 92]. In the afternoon of 18th January, Auschwitz II (Birkenau] was evacuated. It had not been possible to complete the destruction and removal of the Krematorien, partly because of the frost and snow and partly because of the lack of time, for the Russian troops were dangerously close. On 20th January 1945, the SS blew up the remaining carcasses of Krematorien II and III, apparently in daytime (towards midday for Kr III, according to Mr. Otto Klein's

{p. 260} statements to the author. A group of Dr Mengele's twins, to which Mr Klein and his brother belonged, was ordered by the SS to take cans pf inflammable material and explosives into Krematorium III, then having left the building the twins sought safety in a drainage ditch, from where they watched the explosion) or according to Danuta Czech's "Calendar", towards late afternoon. AFTER THE WAR: RUINS, MONUMENTS AND EXCAVATIONS The Soviet troops who liberated Birkenau on 27th January 1945 between 2 and 3 o'clock in the afternoon found three Krematorien in ruins, inaccessible because of the rubble. The Soviet investigation commission does not seem to have touched those of Krematorien II and III, but left immediately. The fact is that the Soviet Commission had seen that while in the case of Krematorien II and III the SS had dynamited almost entirely dismantled carcasses, the situation was different with Kr V, where the SS had blown up the COMPLETE BUILDING one night (between 22 and 26 January, the exact date is not known). As no incineration furnace remained in the camp (those of Krematorien I, II, III and IV having been dismantled earlier), it was hoped that that of Kr V would be found not too badly damaged in the ruins of the building [like the five furnaces built by Messr H Kori at KL Majdanek, which had remained intact despite the fact that the SS had burned the Krematorium in July 1944.]. However, the SS had placed a lot of explosive in the muffles of Kr V, so that when the rubble was cleared, virtually nothing remained of the big 8-muffle furnace but the twisted metal frame. For reasons of safety and for investigation purposes, the ruins of Krematorium II [Documents 93, 94, 95, 96 and 97] were cleared of rubble shortly afterwards in order to give access and so that the Polish Commission (which had taken over from the Soviet Commission) could understand its arrangement and undertake research. The same was done with Krematorium III [Document 72], where the demolition work was less advanced than in the case of Kr II. At this time, and for a period of several months, nobody was allowed to visit the Krematorium areas and the entrance to Birkenau was even guarded by the militia. Certain revisionists have presented this measure as being intended to allow the ruins of the Krematorien to be arranged to make them fit official history. A claim all the more contemptible when one knows the real reason, which was to protect the Krematorium sites from scavengers, to prevent (in actual fact to unsuccessfully try to limit the damage) the local population from digging for "Jewish gold," which they started to do immediately after the Liberation. This ignoble treasure hunt was crowned with success for some Poles, but had the disastrous consequence of destroying virtually all the manuscripts, letters, photographs and other evidence concerning the criminal activity of the Krematorien that had been buried at such risk by members of the Sonderkommando.

Fortunately for the Polish Commission, the Auschwitz main camp was almost intact, and much material having belonged to the victims of the extermination were found there [readers who have seen the Soviet film on the Liberation of the camp will certainly remember the scene in which the heaps of cylindrical paper sacks of about 20 kg stuffed full of women's hair were presented]. The buildings, even the roof spaces, were chock-a-block with the most varied and surprising

{p. 261} Document 93 [PMO neg. no. 1204]

The ruins of the waste incinerator room of Krematorium II being filmed, probably in summer 1945, by a Polish cameraman who also filmed the final stages of the clearing of Krematorium V. This film has not been found and remains unknown. Document 94 [PMO neg. no. 936]

View of the ruins of the waste incinerator room of Krematorium II, looking east/west, in summer 1945. Document 95 [PMO neg. no. 1203]

View from west to east to the ruins of Krematorium II. The photographer is standing in the north yard of the building, between the "formal garden" (on his left) and the undressing room (on his right), the soil that used to cover its roof being visible on the photo. In the background on the right are the barracks of Sector "b" of the first construction stage of Birkenau, designated B.1b. Document 96 [PMO neg. no. 857]

West/east view of the ruins of the undressing room (Leichenkeller 2) of Krematorium II. The photographer is standing on the top steps of the western access stairway. The roof has collapsed onto the floor. Certain supporting pillars have collapsed completely while others have pierced the roof. On each side of the undressing room are the heaps of earth removed from the roof. At the far end are the remains of the furnace room. Document 97 [PMO neg. no. 858]

South/north view of the ruins of the gas chamber (Leichenkeller 1) of Krematorium II, taken from its southern end. Bottom left is one of the four openings, its chimney dismantled, through the Zyklon-B was poured. In the foreground, the roof is resting on a pillar that withstood the explosion. The black parts of the roof are the places where the protective layer of concrete has cracked and exposed the layer of bituminous damp-proofing material.

{p. 264} objects [Documents 40, 41 and 98]. In the film "Chronicles of the Liberation of the camp, 1945", already mentioned, the outside of a gas chamber using Zyklon-B in the section of the camp known as "Kanada I" is shown, with its characteristic gas-tight door with a peephole. There is a real problem here, however, for this gas chamber was strictly for disinfestation, not for homicidal purposes. The interior, several photographs of which were taken at the Liberation and in the 50s and 60s, never seems to have been filmed, probably because it was not fitted with false showers.

In the search for evidence of the criminality of the Krematorien, the "Bauhof", the camp's building materials yard, turned out to be a very valuable source. and was exploited to the full by the Examining Judge, Jan Sehn [Document 99], in conjunction with the correspondence found concerning the construction of the Krematorien.

Then, during the 50s, the Krematorien became places of pilgrimage. A belvedere was built on the collapsed roof of the furnace room of Krematorium II, where the motors for the ventilation system were installed and where some of the Sonderkommando men used to live [Document 100]. A first commemorative plaque was erected near the ruins of Krematorium II, on private initiative [Documents 101 and 102]. A central monument, between Krematorium II and III and the end of the ramp, was erected by the Polish authorities [Document 103]. It would appear that the central monument was later than the commemorative plaque of Krematorium II, whose Hebrew inscriptions were considered too "provocative" [!] at the time and caused it to be removed. Finally in 1963-64, the present monument was erected [Document 104 and 105], chosen from the works presented in an international competition held by the Auschwitz Museum and the Polish authorities. It is located on part of the land belonging to the two Krematorien, set on very large stones arranged irregularly and extending over a considerable area, thus preventing any subsequent archeological research. Its artistic value is for the individual to judge. The base of the monument is of nineteen stone tablets, each bearing a text in a different language. The content of these texts varying slightly from one to the other: for example, here are the English, French and German versions:




The figure of 4 million victims is now recognized as "emotional" and should really more in the order of 1 million. Despite this incorrect figure, repeated in 19 different languages, the visitor who stops and meditates before the Birkenau monument cannot but be aware that he is there between two buildings designed as normal crematoriums by a few dozen men, then criminally converted by these men, and built and fitted out by a few hundred more, and in the end so destructive that they killed and reduced to ashes about 750,000 people, the very great majority of whom were non-combatants whose only crime against the regime that annihilated them was their Judaism.

Before the second monument was built, much digging and searching was done in the crematorium grounds and ruins. The hunt was essentially for notes, photographs, and other objects hidden in the heaps of ashes or buried by members of the Sonderkommando. As of 1962, only six manuscripts had been found, whose Hebrew texts were attributed to three authors: Zalmann Gradowski, an "unknown author" [presumed to be Leib Langfus] and Zalman Lewenthal, and also a letter written in French by Hermann Chalm. All these writings were published by the Auschwitz Museum in a special volume entitled "Amidst a nightmare of crime", together with the deposition of Stanislav Jankowski (whose real name was Alter Feinsilber) made on 16th April 1945 and in fact placed at the front of this book. On 5th November 1970, an inhabitant of Oswiecim, Wojciech Borowcyk, brought to the Auschwitz Museum a set of five manuscripts found in the attic of his house during a major tidy up. These Hebrew manuscripts, which had been found by his elder brother, Gustaw Borowczky in April 1945, near the ruins of Krematorium III, had never been handed over to an interested body because the elder brother had left the town. They thus lay undisturbed in the attic for twenty five years. This "new" testimony, written by a Sonderkommando man whose first name was Lejb, was translated by Dr Roman Pytel and published by the Auschwitz Museum under the title "Ich will lebenÉ" [I want to liveÉ]

The author knows of two other excavations made during the 60s to investigate the gas chambers of Krematorien II and III. The first dug a trench around the walls of Leichenkeller 1 of Krematorium II [Documents 106, 107, 108 and 109]. The second, undertaken in August 1968, was at the northern end of Leichenkeller 1 of Krematorium III and cleared away the soil to expose the air extraction vents near the base of the walls [Document 55]. This last excavation was not consolidated and resulted in land slips that further damaged and jumbled the ruins of this part of Krematorium III. COMMENTS AND CONCLUSIONS As we come to the end of this study, one observation is certainly called for: most of the German documents used in it have been available to historians for forty years, and yet no precise and detailed history of Krematorien II and III was ever produced during this time and it was not until 1988 that the present author completed such a study, subject to the gaps and errors that may become evident later, In the author's opinion, the reason why such a task has never been undertaken before is to be found in the degree of interest shown, in the main countries concerned about the extermination of the Jews, in the study of the technical means by which it was made possible.

After the work done by the Examining Judge, Jan Sehn. on the question, the Poles felt no need to probe any further. After Jan Sehn's death in 1957, nobody thought to pursue or question his study of the Krematorien where the homicidal gas chambers were located, because the facts were considered to be obvious, as plain to see as the sun in the sky. What is more, a certain anti-semitic past, which ought to be forgotten in view of the vicissitudes suffered by the Poles since 1945, turned their historical research away from this field, where the findings were known and accepted, towards work on Polish resistance during the war for the survival of that country. In the Federal republic of Germany, despite several trials where former SS men claimed that they had scarcely participated in the "actions" at all, or even that they had seen nothing at all, and where former prisoners often invented things, an ostrich-like attitude and the desire to forget were stronger than any interest in historical research, the main aim being to avoid fanning the embers of a still smoldering past. The case of the German democratic republic was different, its political structure allowing it to squarely face and denounce a past of which it considers the other Germany to be the direct heir. In Austria. a trial such as that of the two "Krematorium architects" ended up being dismissed for lack of evidence, simply because the historical material provided by the Poles and the Russians was not properly exploited, and because of an unconscious refusal of self-criticism on the part of the population, The Soviet Union, hampered by the variations and contradictions in its political orthodoxy and trapped by memories of a guilty past (Katyn, the Gulags) and by an equally guilty present, discredited itself in the eyes of world opinion and gradually lost any rights on the subject, even though it was the Soviet Army that liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau and had seized documents from the archives the quality and value of which still remain unknown. The Anglo-Saxon world felt itself to be relatively little concerned (United Kingdom) or too far away to really participate (United States, with notable exceptions such as Raul Hilberg). The position of Israel would seem to be close to that of Poland on the evidence of the mass gassings, a position reinforced by the presence of numerous survivors of the camps, and interest turned more towards a religious preservation of the memory rather than a close study of the mechanics of the extermination. There remains the case of France, where the Jewish population was free to express itself fully. Unfortunately, the appearance of the "iron curtain" made contacts and visits to the places where the extermination had taken place very difficult, and the historians having the capacity and the desire to study the question generally preferred to take the easy way out and rely on what was said and written by "prominent" witnesses (and by them only), ignoring the testimony of ordinary deportees (those who had suffered the most, but without glorifying themselves for it after the war), and disregarding the German archives preserved "on the other side" of the iron curtain.

The fact that the history of the extermination rested essentially on eyewitness accounts gave rise in the West to a debate cased on comparison and confrontation of these testimonies, a critical attitude which led in the end towards some people purely and simply denying the existence of homicidal gas chambers. Testimony history and its revisionist offspring being very closely linked, the one having generated the other, it became absolutely essential to find a new historical approach in order to escape from the closed circle of futile debate and go further in search of the truth. A precise study based on material evidence, such as the study of Krematorien II and III, meets this requirement of getting out of the circle, but can by no means be considered definitive, because like any human endeavor it contains imperfections. It is intended above all to be the beginning, open to criticism and improvement, of a detailed, in-depth study of all the gas chambers, for homicidal or disinfestation purposes, still existing in the Nazi concentration camps. This study also demonstrates the complete bankruptcy of the traditional history (and hence also of the methods and criticisms of the revisionists), a history based for the most part on testimonies, assembled according to the mood of the moment, truncated to fit an arbitrary truth and sprinkled with a few German documents of uneven value and without any connection with one another. This new methodology is also a form of protection against the temptation to seek media success, as in films or television programs which, despite their success, disdain even the most elementary historical approach and cut themselves off from basic realities. Finding a hitherto unknown document that makes it possible to fill a gap between two known facts and this improving our overall knowledge is a thousand times more necessary and important than constantly wasting kilometers of film on the same places, the same ruins and the same monuments without ever bringing anything new. The money invested in these films or television broadcasts would have been better spent on genuine historical research in order to establish a less fragile truth than that based on human memory, which is fallible and changes over time.

Above and beyond the methodological errors, the faults, deliberate or otherwise, the many sophisms that were committed and triggered a violent nihilist reaction, it is essential to recall the significance of Krematorien II and III, as it was illustrated after the Liberation by a Soviet artist who portrayed Krematorium II (working on the basis of German drawings of the "930" series) in a deserted landscape [Document 110] and as portrayed symbolically from 1945 by David Olère. After his return to France, with people constantly coming to ask him "Have you any news of my mother, my father, my brothers and sisters, my dear children, my grandparents, my uncles and aunts, my friends and neighbors, please, where are they?" David Olère, in a weak state and exasperated by all these people who had still not understood, used to reply by thrusting ONE SINGLE SKETCH [Document 111] under their noses. Completed on 4th February 1988

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