The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac
dragged along the floor into the access corridor [10], where the barbers cut off the hair and then into the undressing room, which also served, in this kind of crematorium, as a store room for the corpses. It was a big hall [and so designated by the civilian employees of Riedel & Son] where the bodies were put while the gas chambers were being cleaned up. Then they were taken through the narrow corridor [7, 8] between the undressing room and the “boiler room”, where at each end [located at 7 and 8], a dentist tore out the gold teeth. In the “boiler room” [5], the introduction of the corpses into the muffles was by means of metal stretchers, as I have described. Beyond the “boiler room” [5], there was the room of the head of the commando (Kommandoführer) and beside it another one for the rest of the SS [1].

[Designated “Aufenthaltsraum / rest room” and intended for the prisoners. this room was annexed by the SS and divided in two. As a third of its surface was occupied by a water pumping installation for hosing out the gas chambers, there remained only enough space for two tiny cells]

This was followed by a narrow corridor [2, which originally led to the east yard of Krematorium IV, but later had its entrance door bricked up], the SS washroom and WC [3] and the coke store [4]. The building was entirely brick-built, with a wooden roof, covered with asbestos sheets and roofing felt [which helped the fire during the Sonderkommando revolt at the beginning of October 1944]. The yards of all the crematoriums were separated from the outside world by a thick enclosure of wicker and a hedge to which straw hurdles were attached.

[see Document 46 of the hedge surrounding the south yard of Krematorium V, found intact at the liberation. These “camouflage” hedges were installed very late, in July-August 1944, and this was done for the purpose, around Krematorien IV and V, and in particular the latter, of hiding the cremation pits. On the other hand, despite a letter from Bischoff of 6th November 1943 (volume 11 of the Hoess trial, Annex 7) requesting. “a ring of greenery” around Krematorien I (II) and II (III), in line with the order of camp commandant Hoess, the implementation of this order remains extremely doubtful.]

In the yard [of Kr V], there were watchtowers, where SS armed with machine guns kept guard.

[They no longer exist. but were still in place at the Liberation. A photo from the Archives of the Warsaw High Commission, ref. 15492 (Luczko series), shows one near the ruins of Krematorium V].

Furthermore, the whole area [of the Krematorien] was surrounded by electrified barbed wire and the yards were lit by powerful lamps. In May 1944, the SS ordered us to dig five pits in the yard of Krematorium V, between the building itself [north wall] and the drainage ditch ["Graben L1"], five pits which were used later for incinerating the corpses of gassed people from the Hungarian transports. Although a track for the trolleys was laid between the building and the pits, we never used it because the SS considered it to be inconvenient, so we had to drag the corpses straight from the gas chambers to the pits [see Document 39]. At the same time, the old Bunker 2, with its incineration pits, was also made ready for re-use. I never worked there. It was realized that the pits burned the corpses better (than the furnaces], so the Krematorien closed down

Document 44 Document 44

Document 44:
Three gas-tight shutters kept in the coke store of Krematorium I, classified from left to right: PMO II-5-64/1, -64/3 and -64/2. They are of two different types:
· 64/1 operated as follows: the butterfly nut is unscrewed enough to enable the bolt to be turned to the right, the fixing bar can then be moved and finally the shutter can be opened. The sequence is reversed to close it;
· 64/2 and-64/3 are easier to open and close, the fixing bar being attached to the shutter by two nuts and bolts, so that bar and shutter open together. The bolt HEADS ARE ON THE INSIDE and the NUTS ARE ON THE OUTSIDE, an arrangement that calls for no further comment.
(Photo by the Author)

Document 45 Document 45

Document 45:
A shutter for introducing Zyklon-B, PMO II-5-64/2, second model, open. The remains of the two strips of sealing felt can be seen on the shutter (outer rabbet) and the frame (inner rabbet). The presence of a grill behind these shutters was reported by Henryk Tauber and confirmed to me verbally by David Olère, but neither of them described its form. It is commonly thought that the Zyklon-B pellets were thrown on the victims and scattered, but the “Zyklon-B introduction columns in Krematorien II and III disprove this and in fact the absorbant substrate was always recovered* for re-use. The form of the diffusion and recuperation mesh or grid that must have been just inside the shutters of the gas chambers of Krematorien IV and V remains unknown.
(Photo by the Author)
[* Transcriber’s note: The “absorbant substrate” was an inexpensive material, calcium sulphate, that would not merit recovery for re-use]