The Holocaust Historiography Project
Auschwitz, by J.-C. Pressac


In the second stage of the construction of Birkenau camp, B.a.II, a stable-type WC block in the Gypsy Camp (B.IIe) was transformed at the end of 1943 or in early 1944 into a disinfestation installation for effects. Only the south-east part of this installation was photographed by the Auschwitz Bauleitung [Photo 1]. It was made up essentially of a battery of eight disinfestation chambers that occupied almost half the area of the hut, controlled and operated in pairs [Drawing 2]. In a morning there were three rotations, each lasting about 45 minutes. Electric motors indicate that these chambers had forced ventilation. Located exactly in the corner of B.IIe [Bauleitung drawing 3764 of 23/3/44], its internal arrangements are not precisely known. The disinfestation vector or product used against lice is indicated in “Der Auschwitz Process” by Hermann Langbein (Europa Verlag Wien. Frankfurt. Zurich, a report of the Frankfurt trial in 1963-1965), volume 2, p. 568. Amann is a former Auschwitz prisoner:

“I belonged to a disinfestation Kommando. Klehr was the chief. Our job was to delouse the accommodation Blocks and the people. At first, we used mobile disinfestatIon vehicles and later, AN ELECTRIC HOT AIR CHAMBER was built in the Birkenau Gypsy Camp.”

“We deloused the clothes, the people and the buildings. When a Block was to be deloused, it was evacuated. The people were sent to the disinfestation service where they were shaved and had a liniment applied. During this time, the clothes were placed in a steam boiler, where they remained for an hour and a half. Meanwhile, the prisoners bathed then had to wait on the 'clean' side of the disinfestation service. The blankets remained in the Block to be disinfested.”

This installation was dismantled after the war.

Photo 1
Photo 1:
Bauleitung photograph [PMO neg. no. 20995/420] “Disinfestation installation in gypsy camp.”
Drawing 2:
Drawing 2
  • Essai de reconstitution … / Attempted reconstitution of the internal layout of the disinfestation hut of B.IIe
  • cheminée / Chimney
  • chaufferie en s/sol … / Boiler room in basement with access by external stairway
  • position du photographe / Position of the photographer