The gas chamber

Transit camp Annaberg
2 – 12 november 1942

The young men, I among them, were thrown out of the train. The rest went to Auschwitz and were gassed immediately.

In the summer of 1942, camp commander Rudolf Höss received the order to experiment with the poison gas Zyklon B. That took place in the crematorium in Auschwitz. Six hundred POWs from the Soviet Union and 250 ill prisoners were murdered. After this one of the spaces of the crematorium was converted to a gas chamber where Russian POWs and Jews from the Polish ghettoes were gassed in 1941 and 1942.

The mass production of the deadly gas was considerably increased by the building of four large gas chambers and crematoria in Birkenau in 1943. These gas chambers looked like ordinary showers. The dressing area was spotlessly clean. The victims had to get undressed, fold and hang their clothes neatly, and tie their shoes together. There were signs in many languages emphasizing that this was a bath house: “Keep clean” and “Don’t forget your soap.” Numbered clothes hangers were distributed. There was even a prisoner, a “bath director,” who distributed towels and soap. Most Dutch Jews – almost 40,000 – were murdered in the gas chambers immediately after arrival in Auschwitz-Birkenau.