The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac
one after the other after the pits came into operation. The first to be stopped was Krematorium IV, apparently in June 1944 [this date may seem early. but reference to other accounts where this type of mformtation is given indirectly rather than explicitly], then in October 1944, I think, Krematorien II and III. Krematorium V kept going until the Germans fled. Towards the end, it was used to incinerate the bodies of prisoners who died naturally or were executed. Gassing ceased in October 1944 [on 26th November, Himmler ordered the Krematorien to be dismantled, thus making the end of the gassings officia]. At present, I am incapable of giving the exact number of all the people gassed and incinerated in the Krematorien and the pits. Some of the men working in the Krematorium noted individually and in secret the figures and the most dramatic events concerning the gassed persons. These notes were buried in different places close to the Krematorien. Some were dug up during the stay of the Soviet Commission [February — March 1945] and the Soviets took them away. Most of the notes must still he buried and it should be possible to retrieve them. There were, among other things, photographs of people gassed in the gas chamber and others of convoys arriving at the Krematorium to he gassed [never found]. I imagine that during the period in which I worked in the Krematorien as a member of the Sonderkommando, a total of about 2 million people were gassed. During my time in Auschwitz, I was able to talk to various prisoners who had worked in the Krematorien and the Bunkers before my arrival. They told me that I was not among the first to do this work, and that before I came another 2 million people had already been gassed in Bunkers 1 and 2 and Krematorium I. Adding up, the total number of people gassed in Auschwitz amounted to about 4 million.

[A propaganda figure. become symbolic. We find the same type of response in the deposition by Szlama Dragan on 17th May 1945. where he says in similar terms: “I am unable to say the

Document 46 Document 46
[PMO neg. no. 860]

Remains of a hedge hiding the south yard of Krematorium V and bordering the “Ringstraße / ring road” of the found at the liberation. The hedge has since been removed. It was said to be 3 metres high, but this figure seems to be exaggerated in view of the position of the camera. quite close to the ground. In the background are some of the trees hiding the south side of Krematorium V.

Document 47 Document 47

Document 47:
[PMO neg. no.888]
The metal frame of the Krematorium IV 8-muffle furnace, mixed up with zinc covers from the upper ventilation holes of Leichenkeller 1 of Krematorien II and III, lower right. Upper left, half hidden by the frame components, are protective grids from the Krematorium windows. Photograph taken in the Bauhof (building materials yard) in 1945.

Document 48 Document 48

Document 48:
[PMO neg, no. 887]
Doors of the Krematorium IV furnace. They are vertically sliding, “guillotine” doors with inspection peepholes from the muffles of the Krematorium IV cremation furnaces (those of Kr V were identical), photographed at the Bauhof in 1945. The Auschwitz Bauleitung requests to foreman Koch of Tupf & Sons to make 8 counterweights and modify several pulleys for the Krematorien IV and V furnaces ("metalworking” file of volume 11 of the Hoess trial, order nos 137 and 175) indicate that of the 10 “Handwinden / hand winches” fitted — without any indication of their location or function — in the furnace room of Krematorium IV (PMO file BW 30/43. page 33), 8 were destined for the double 4-muffle furnace, known as the 8-muffle furnace, and 2 for the smoke flue dampers. Topf drawing D.58173 for a single muffle furnace for Mauthausen concentration camp (Bundesarchiv Koblenz, NS 4 Mauthausen/54) clearly shows the opening and closing technique for an incineration muffle in Krematoieb IV and V as being by an “Absperrschieber(tür) / sliding shut-off door” with a housing projecting from the upper part of the furnace (visible on the cross-section of the furnace on drawings 1678 and 2036 of Krematorium IV) to hold the door when in the upper position, i.e when the muffle was open. Thus the muffle doors of Krematorien IV and V opened vertically, while those of II and III were ordinary hinged doors. These winches, counterweights and doors are now stored in the former coke store of Krematurium I in the main camp.
Document 49
[PMO neg. no. 889]

Protective grids from the Krematorium windows, photographed in the Bauhof in 1945.
Document 49