The Holocaust Historiography Project


At Majdanek, there are several facilities of interest: the original crematory, now removed; the crematory with the alleged execution gas chamber, now rebuilt; the Bath and Disinfection Building #2, which was apparently a delousing facility; and Bath and Disinfection Building #1, which contained a shower, delousing and storage room and the alleged experimental CO and HCN gas chambers.

The first free standing crematory, which has been removed, has been discussed earlier. For Bath and Disinfection #2, although closed, an inspection through the windows confirms its function was only a delousing facility, similar to those at Birkenau. The rebuilt crematory and alleged gas chamber, although discussed earlier, will be considered briefly, again. The furnaces are the only portion of the original facility which has not been rebuilt. The basic structure appears to be of wood, as are the other facilities at Majdanek (except for the experimental chambers). However, closer inspection reveals that much of the building is of reinforced concrete, totally inconsistent with the remaining portions of the camp. The alleged execution gas chamber is adjacent to the crematory with apparently no means of containing the HCN gas.

The building is not sealed and would be inoperable for its alleged purpose. Allegedly rebuilt from an original plan, which does not exist, it physically appears to be nothing more than a crematory with several morgues. It is by far the smallest and most insignificant alleged gas chamber of all.

The delousing/storage area at Bath and Disinfection #1 is an L-shaped room with an internal wooden partition and door. It comprises some 7657 cu. ft. of volume and has an area of 806 sq. ft. It has stuccoed walls, beam construction and two ungasketed roof vents. It contains an air circulatory system which is improperly designed whereby the inlet and outlet are in close proximity to each other. Blue staining, apparently caused by ferric-ferro-cyanide pigment, visibly coats the surface of the walls. It would appear from design that this was a delousing room or storage room for deloused materials. The roof vents are only capable of providing long term airing of stored materials. The doors are not gasketed and are not designed to be tight. The room is not sealed inside or out with sealant. There were several areas in this building that were permanently sealed and not available for the author's inspection. This room, clearly, was not an execution chamber and meets none of the described criteria. See drawing.

If this were utilized as a presumed execution chamber, it would hold 90 people, at most, and require 2.0 lbs. of Zyklon B gas. Venting time should be at least one week. Maximum usage execution rate — 90 people/week.

The alleged experimental gas chambers, located at Bath and Disinfection Building #1, are a brick building connected to the main facility by a loose wood structure. This building is surrounded on three sides by a depressed concrete walkway. There are two chambers, an unknown area and a control booth, which has two steel cylinders, allegedly having contained carbon monoxide, which are piped into the two chambers. There are four steel doors with a rabbet, presumably for a gasket. The doors open out and are fastened shut with two mechanical latches and a locking bar (hasp).

All four doors have glass peep holes and the two inner doors have chemical test cylinders, to test the air in the chamber. The control booth has an open window of some 6 inches by 10 inches, never having provision for glass or gasketing, barred horizontally and vertically with reinforcing rods and opening into chamber #2. See drawing. Two of the doors open into chamber #1, one front and one rear, to the outside. One door opens into chamber #2 in the front. The remaining door opens into an unknown area behind chamber #2. Both chambers have piping, allegedly for carbon monoxide gas, but that in chamber #2 is incomplete, apparently never having been completed. Chamber #1 has finished piping, terminated in gas ports at two corners of the room. Chamber #2 has provision for a roof vent, but it appears never to have been cut through the roof. Chamber #1 has a heater/circulatory system for the air, which is not properly designed (the inlet and outlet are too close) and has no provision for venting. The walls are of stucco, the roof and floor are of poured concrete, none of which has been sealed, inside or out. There are two heater circulators built as sheds on the side of the building, one for chamber 31 and the other for something in the Bath and Disinfection facility, forward, (see drawing) neither of which are properly designed and have no provision for vent/exhaust. The walls in chamber #1 have the characteristic blue ferric-ferro-cyanide staining. The building is unheated and damp.

Although at first glance these facilities appear properly designed, they fail to meet all the required criteria for an execution gas chamber or a delousing facility. First, there is no sealant on any of the inside or outside surfaces. Second, the depressed walkway is a potential gas trap for HCN, making the building extremely dangerous. Chamber #2 is incomplete and probably was never used. The piping is incomplete and the vent has never been opened in the roof. Although chamber #1 is operational for carbon monoxide, it is poorly vented and not operational for HCN. The heater/circulator is improperly installed. There is no vent or stack.

Therefore, it is the author's best engineering opinion that chambers #1 and #2 were never, and could not ever, be used as execution gas chambers. None of the facilities at Majdanek are suitable, or were used, for execution purposes.

Chamber #1 has an area of 480 sq. ft., a volume of 4240 cubic feet, will hold 54 persons and use one pound of Zyklon B gas. Chamber #2 has an area of 209 sq. ft., a volume of 1850 cubic feet, will hold 24 persons and use 0.5 pounds of Zyklon B gas. Assuming gas chamber usage, the maximum weekly execution rate would have been the figures set out in Table VII.

Table VII — Hypothetical Execution Rates for Majdanek
Chamber #1 54 persons/week
Chamber #2 24 persons/week