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                        Technique and Operation
                            of the Gas Chambers ©
 
 
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PART TWO

CHAPTER 4
 
 
BUNKER 2 (Subsequently renamed BUNKER V)
or the “WHITE HOUSE”
and its undressing huts 
 
Study of Bunker 2 and its undressing huts
according to the written testimonies of
Szlam[a] DRAGON, Pery BROAD, Rudolf HOESS,
Miklos NYISZLI, Filip MÜLLER,
the pictorial testimony of DAVID OLÈRE
 
 
Historical note 
 
Located 350 meters due west of the Zentral Sauna, the installation known as Bunker 2 seems, according to Szlam[yI Dragon and the PMO, to have consisted of a whitewashed farmhouse (hence the name “white house”) whose converted interior held four gas chambers of different sizes, with an overall floor area of 105m², two sheds serving as undressing rooms and a certain number of cremation ditches, four on 10th December 1942 according to the witness S. Dragon. His deposition perfectly describes the “working” of Bunker 2, which operated from summer 1942 to spring 1943: when it was, abandoned in favor of Krematorien IV and II, which had recently entered service.

In summer 1944 Bunker 2 was reactivated to participate in the “Hungarian action”. It was now known as, Bunker V, logical enough when one considers that in the Birkenau camp the new Krematorien II, III, IV and V usually referred to as I, II, III and IV respectively, the old, abandoned Krematorium I at Auschwitz being forgotten. It is difficult to say at this stage whether the Bunker was used in the same way in 1944 as in 1942 or whether the internal walls had been knocked down so that it now comprised a single gas chamber roughly 7m wide and 15 long. Filip Müller relates that it operated in 1944 as in 1942, but his evidence in the form of a book dates from 1979, and by then he was certainly familiar with the deposition of S. Dragon. Doctor Miklos Nyiszli speaks of a “thatched-roof house whose plaster was peeling off” and suggests that “partitions must have divided the interior into rooms” implying that there were none when he went to Bunker 2 V. The doctor relates an episode in the summer of 1944 in which the functioning of Bunker V had changed. From a gas chamber it had turned into an undressing room. His account concerns a period when there was a lack of Zyklon B because of a supply problem and during which the victims were pushed directly into the cremation ditches after being killed by a shot in the bark of the neck, or even still alive. David Olère sketched such a scene of pure dementia, situating it behind Krematorium V, a place where Staff Sergeant Moll acted in a particularly brutal way (described in Part II, Chapter 7 on Krematorien IV and V). David Olère's 1945 sketch showing a thatched cottage must be a memory from before this insane period, when Bunker V was working “normally” with Zyklon B.

For the study of Bunker 2/V. I present as witnesses: Szlam[y] DRAGON, the main one, Pery BROAD, Filip MÜLLER, Miklos NYISZLI and David OLÈRE. There are still others of course. The first two testimonies are concerned with the period 1942-1943 and the last three with the summer of 1944. They do not contradict one another, for they are describing different periods. The present ruins of Bunker 2/V make it possible, should there be any need, to judge their testimony. 

I/ The testimony of Szlamy DRAGON
concerning Bunker 2, recorded on 10th May 1945 [Volume 11 of the Hoess trial, pages 101 to 121]
 
The next day on the morning of 10th December 1942, once all the kommandos had gone to work MOLL (then Unterscharführer/ Sargeant, later to be Hauptscharführer/ Staff Sergeant and head of the Birkenau Krematorien) arrived at Block 14 and gave the order: “Sonderkommando ‘raus’” [get outside]. It was thus that we learnt that we were detailed, not to the rubber factory (Buna) but to a Sonderkommando and we did not realise what this was for nobody had ever given us the slightest explanation of it. On Moll’s order, we went out of the block and were divided into two groups of 100 men each to be marched out of the camp by the SS.

We were taken into a forest where there was a cottage covered with thatch, its windows bricked in. On the door leading to the interior of the cottage was a metal plate with the inscription “Hochspannung Lebensgefahr / High tension danger” [Document 3: Figure 2]. Thirty or forty meters from this cottage there were two wooden huts (huts 1 and 2 in Drawing 1). On the other side of the cottage there were four pits 30 meters long, 7 meters wide and 3 meters deep (above in drawing 1), their edges black with smoke. We were lined up in front of the house. Moll arrived and told us we would work here at burning old and lousy people, that we would be given something something to eat and in the evening we would be taken back to the camp. He added that those who did not accept the work would be beaten and have the dogs set on them. The SS who escorted us were accompanied by dogs. Then he split us into a number of groups. I myself and eleven others were detailed as we learnt later, to remove the bodies from this cottage. We were all given masks, and led to the door of the cottage. When Moll opened the door, we saw that the door, we saw that the cottage was full of naked corpses of both sexes and of all ages. Moll ordered us to move these corpses from the cottage to the yard, in front of the door. We started work with four men carrying one body. This annoyed Moll. He rolled up his sleeves and threw a body into the yard When, despite this example, we said we were incapable of doing that, he allowed us to carry them, two men to a body. Once the corpses were laid out in the yard. the dentist, assisted by an SS man, pulled out the teeth [Dragon forgets the removal of rings and jewels, unless these had been removed earlier], and the barber, also watched by an SS man, cut off the hair. Another group loaded the bodies onto wagons running on rails that led to the edge of the pits. These rails ran between two pits [Document 1: Drawing 1]. Still another group prepared the pit for burning the corpses. First of all, big logs were put in the bottom [Document 9, sketch by David Olère. The logs are on the right, along the wall of the undressing hut], then smaller and smaller wood, in criss cross fashion, and finally dry twigs. The following group threw the bodies into the pit. Once all the bodies had been brought from the cottage to the pit, Moll poured kerosene over them in the four corners of the pit and set fire to it by throwing in a burning rubber comb (roughly fringed piece of rubber). That is how the corpses were burnt. While Moll was starting the fire, we were in front of the cottage, (on the north west side) and could see what he was doing.

After having removed all the bodies from the cottage, we ware obliged to clean it thoroughly, washing the floor with water and spreading sawdust and whitewashing the walls. The interior of the cottage was divided into four parts by partition walls running across it [Document 2: Drawing 2], one of which could contain 1,200 naked people, the second 700 the third 400 the and the fourth 200 to 250
 
[Making a total of 2500 to 2550 people which represents a density of 28 people per square meter over an area of 90m². This is physically impossible and S. Dragon’s estimate of 2500/2550 is clearly wrong. I do not think that this witness was intentionally misleading, but he was following the tendency to exaggerate which seems to have been the general rule at the time of the liberation and which is what gave rise to the figure of 4 million victims for KL. Auschwitz, a figure now considered to be pure propaganda. It should be divided by four to get close to reality.] 
 
 
AUSCHWITZ:
Technique and operation
of the gas chambers

Jean-Claude Pressac
© 1989, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
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