The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac
The cremation furnace at the TRZEBINIA labor camp
[Most of the information in this note is taken from the study by Doctor Franciszck PIPER, entitled “Das Nebenlager Trzebinia” [The Trzebinia subcamp] published in “Auschwitz Notebooks” No. 16, PMO Publications 1978, pages 93 to 135.]
The Trzebinia labor camp “Arbeitslager”, abbreviated to “AL"][Photo 4] was located 24 kilometers northeast of Auschwitz and was established in August 1944 to provide labor for an oil refinery, the “Trzebinia Erdöl Raffinerie Gmbh”. The huts had been built in 1942 to house Belgian workers employed on building the refinery and, having subsequently been occupied by British prisoners of war at the end of 1943, they were surrounded by a barbed wire fence. Then in August 1944, the Monowitz camp [also referred to as KL Auschwitz III] detached a number of SS and prisoners (virtually all Hungarian and Polish Jews) to Trzebinia. the latter to work on extending the refinery. There were a little over 800 prisoners in the camp in September 1944, with about twenty SS to guard them. This figure had fallen to 650 by the first half of January 1945.

The bodies of any prisoners who died were normally taken by truck to Birkenau to be cremated there, but Himmler’s order of 26th November 1944 to destroy Birkenau Krematorien II and III is thought to have led the SS to install a cremation furnace directly at AL Trzebinia itself. The subcamp was therefore equipped very late, at the end of November 1944. with an oil-fired “mobile” furnace manufactured by H Kori of Berlin. The two similar furnaces used in 1942 in the Majdanek camp, had to he abandoned because of a lack of fuel oil, but there was no such problem at Trzebinia, where the refinery could in theory provide all the fuel required. However the real reason for the installation of the furnace remains unknown, for the evidence of a resident of Trzebinia and a corpse transport authorization indicate that the furnace was installed and started work in the second fortnight of November 1944, while Himmler’s order was dated the 26th. This would imply that the order could not after all be the reason for the decision to have a crematorium at Trzebinia, and the real reason remains a mystery.
Photo 4
Photo 4
Photo 4
[PMO neg. no. 6677]
Entrance gate to the Trzebinia labor camp in 1945, looking south/north. The camp comprised six huts, a workshop, a rabbit run, a latrine hut and a crematorium, surrounded by a barbed wire fence and overlooked by four watchtowers. On the photo, to the right of the gate is hut 1, occupied by the SS, with the prisoner accommodation huts 2, 3 and 4 (in the background) beyond it. Behind hut 4 it is possible to see the back of hut 5, used as a hospital. On the left of the entrance, not visible in the photo, was hut 6, more prisoner accommodation.