"Vergasungskeller"

This letter of January 29, 1943 was written by SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain) Karl Bischoff to SS-Oberführer (Sr. Colonel) Hans Kammler concerning the progress made on Krematorium II.

In this letter, the word "Vergasungskeller" is used to describe the supposed "morgue." That word means exactly what it sounds like: "gassing cellar," a (homicidal) gas chamber. This was a slip which not only proves that there was a gas chamber in Krema II, but that the architect Bischoff knew exactly what he was constructing.

Transcription:

Das Krematorium II wurde unter Einsatz aller verfügbaren Kräfte trotz unsagbarer Schwierigkeiten und Frostwetter bei Tag- und Nachbetrieb [sic] bis auf bauliche Kleinigkeiten fertiggestellt. Die Öfen wurden im Beisein des Herrn Oberingenieur Prüfer der ausführenden Firma, Firma Topf u. Söhne, Erfurt, angefeuert und funtionieren [sic] tadellos. Die Eisenbetondecke des Leichenkellers konnte infolge Frosteinwirkung noch nicht ausgeschalt werden. Die [sic] ist jedoch unbedeutend, da der Vergasungskeller hierfür benützt werden kann.

Die Firma Topf u. Soehne konnte infolge Waggonsperre die Be- und Entlüftungsanlage nicht wie von der Zentralbauleitung gefordert rechtzeitig anliefern. Nach Eintreffen der Be- und Entlüftungsanlage wird jedoch mit dem Einbau sofort begonnen, sodass voraussichtlich am 20.2.43 die Anlage vollständig betriebsfertig ist.

Ein Bericht des Prüfingenieurs der Firma Topf u. Söhne wird beigelegt.

Translation:

Except for some minor construction work, Krematorium II was finished by working with all our available forces day and night, despite inexpressible difficulties and freezing weather. The ovens were fired in the presence of the senior engineer Prüfer of the executing firm, Topf and Sons, Erfurt, and they are working faultlessly. The reinforced concrete ceiling of the morgue could not yet be eliminated due to the freezing weather. However, this is not significant, as the gassing cellar can be used for this purpose.

Due to the railway car prohibition, the company Topf and Sons could not deliver the aeration and deaeration equipment at the time demanded by the Zentralbauleitung. After the aeration and deaeration equipment arrive, however, installation will begin immediately, so that presumably by February 20, 1943, it will be completely ready for operation.

Enclosed find a report of the inspecting engineer of the firm of Topf and Sons.

Vergasungskeller.


This document is reproduced in Pressac, Jean Claude, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York, 1989, p. 432.

As Pressac points out, "The inspection report enclosed with the letter makes it possible, through a process of elimination, to establish that Bischoff uses 'Vergasungskeller' to designate 'Leichenkeller I' of Krematorium II."

Holocaust-deniers have claimed that this room was not a homicidal gas chamber. What it is they are less sure of. They have proposed that it is (Leuchter) a morgue, (Mattogno) a delousing chamber, (Faurisson) a storage place for fumigation supplies, or (Butz) a fuel gas generation room or sewage treatment room or air-raid shelter.

In particular, Butz is the Holocaust-denier who addresses this document directly and in detail. In a misguided essay on his website, he passes by most of the deniers' old (and contradictory) explanations before settling on the idea of an air-raid shelter based on the most tenuous evidence possible. (We may address these errors in the future, if time permits.)

This document is cited in the essay How Reliable are the Hoess Memoirs?