The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac
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.
Document 50
[PMO file BW 30/43, page 34]
Document 50

Description of building
General: Single storey building, partly over basement, comprising:
Basement: Corpse cellar 30.0 × 7.0 [m] with ventilation and air extraction ducts, 1 gas tight door, 1 corpse cellar 50.0 × 7.93 [m], wind break and vestibule, 1 gold processing room, 1 office with safe, 1 antechamber with lift [temporary goods hoist], 3 stairways, 1 [corpse] chute.

Ground floor: 1 wind break, 1 corridor, 1 dissecting room with table, 1 laboratory, 1 washroom, 1 WC, 1 [corpse] washing room, 1 incineration room with 5 3 muffle cremation furnaces and blower installation, with corpse charging trolley on rails, coal [in fact coke] or clinker trolley on rails, 1 brick separating wall for the ashes of corpses [outside yard], 1 motor room [in fact three], 1 waste incinerator room, 1 brick separating wall for waste [another outside yard], 1 fuel store, 1 capos room, 1 tool store [irons for firing and operating the furnaces], 1 room with urinal and WC [and shower], 1 prisoners' rest mom, 1 corridor, 1 stairway.

Roof space: 1 heraclite built room for prisoner accommodation, 1 loft with furnace room air extraction ducts, 1 loft with air extraction for the whole Krematorium and 1 temporary goods hoist.
External walls: Brickwork with no facing
Internal walls: Brickwork, plastered and whitewashed
Ceilings: Ackermann reinforced parpends
Floor: Concrete floor with cement screed
Stairways: Reinforced concrete with cement screed
Roof: Gable roof with dormers, tile covered
Windows: Single glazing
Water supply and drainage: Basement and ground floor
Lighting: Electric lighting
Heating: 1 chimney installation 15.46 m high