The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac
1. “Vergasungskeller / gassing cellar”
[PMO file BW 30/40, page 100]
[Photo 1]
Letter of 29th January 1943. from SS Captain Bischoff, head of the Bauleitung (Auschwitz Waffen SS and Police Central Construction Management), registered by SS Second Lieutenant Pollok (Buildings Section) and addressed to SS Major-General Kammler in Berlin, concerning the progress of work at Krematorium II, in which the word “Vergasungskeller” is used. The inspection report enclosed with the letter makes it possible. through a process of elimination, to establish that Bischoff uses Vergasungskeller to designate “Leichenkeller 1” of Krematorium II.
2. “10 Gasprüfer / gas detectors.”
[PMO file BW 30/40, page 48]
[Photo 2]
Telegram sent on 26th February 1943 at 1820 hours by SS Second Lieutenant Pollok, signed by SS Second Lieutenant Kirschneck (Buildings Section specialist and technician) and by Jährling (civilian employee, heating technician), to the firm Topf & Sons of Erfurt, requesting immediate despatch of “10 gas detectors” for B W 30 (Krematorium II) [in order to check the efficacy of the ventilation system in the gas chamber]. In the week of 1st to 7th March 1943, the Topf fitter Messing started up the ventilation and air extraction systems of Leichenkeller I of Krematorium II and tested them the following week, 8th to 14th, just before the first homicidal gassing in this room, that of 1500 Cracow Jews on 14th March. Messrs Topf, manufacturer of metal parts for incineration furnaces and grain silos, was unable to produce this type of equipment and must have sub-contracted.
3. “1 Stck Ilandgriff für Gastür D12 / handle for gas[tight] door, 12 [Ø] diameter” [Photo 3]
[Volume 11 of the Hoess trial. Annex 15 concerning the book known as Schlosserei WL / metalworking shopWL. The original is no longer in the possession of the Auschwitz State Museum, and is probably conserved in theOctober RevolutionCentral State Archives in Moscow. This book contains records of the work carried out by the metalworking shop for the construction and maintenance of the Birkenau Krematorien in accordance with orders issued by the Bauleitung. Some of these orders have survived and are conserved in the PMO Archives in a black file entitled “Zentral Bauleitung der Waffen-SS und Polizei. Auschwitz OS (Bestellscheine für) Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke, Auschwitz OS, 1943-1944 / Waffen-SS and Police Central Construction Management, Auschwitz. Upper Silesia (order forms for) German Equipment Works, Auschwitz Upper Silesia, 1943-1944”, now classified as File BW 30/31, comprising 416 pages, microfilm No 1258. Certain extracts form Annex 14 of volume 11 of the Hoess trial, a report of 22nd October 1945 indicating the discovery of the file on the Bauleitung premises. File BW 30/31 is incorrectly referred to as simply the “Schlosserei” file to distinguish it from the “Schlosserei WL” file.)

6.3.43, Nr 162. KGL Krematorium II BW 30.

Order issued by the Bauleitung on 5th March 1943 under the number 64, received on 6th March by the DAW metalworking shop under number 162. requesting the making of “1 handle for gas[tight] door, 12 [mm] diameter” for Birkenau Krematorium II. It was completed on 10th March.
4. “Auskleideraum / undressing room”
[PMO file BW 30/25. page 7]
[Photo 4]
Letter of 6th March 1943 front the civilian employee Jährling. signed by the head of the Bauleitung (now Major) Bischoff, addressed to Messrs Topf. regarding the possibility of preheating Leichenkeller 1 of Krematorien II and III (BW 30 and 30a) with air coming from the three forced draught suction installations [next to the collective chimney]. The preheating of the Leichenkeller completely demolishes the revisionist argument according to which the Leichenkeller 1 were not gas chambers but “typical underground morgues”. Why would anyone want to heat rooms that by definition ought to remain cool? This idea would be absurd if there had not been a change of function, transforming these rooms from morgues into gas chambers, where the temperature had to be high enough for the product introduced to vaporize rapidly. This project could be realized only in Krematorium II, where three “Saugzuganlagen” were actually installed. Because of overheating problems with the three electric motors in these forced draught installalions, and a fire caused by one of them [see the account by Henryk Tauber in Part II Chapter 3], the “Saugzuganlagen” were dismantled and this forced draught system, also planned tor Krematorium III, was abandoned, thus also putting an end to this suggested method of preheating Leichenkeller l. The letter also mentions a modification in the air extraction system of the “Auskleideraum / undressing room” [for Leichenkeller 2] without the Krematorium concerned being specified. Although the term could apply to either II or III, the date of the letter in relation to the stage of construction of the two buildings makes it most likely that it refers to Leichenkeller 2 of Krematorium II, whose function, like that of Leichenkeller l, had now changed.

Photo 1 Photo 1