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The Holocaust History Project.

Re: F. Krema IV & V (31-35)

Rudolf responds to the following paragraphs in Mr. Justice Gray's Judgment:

7.68 . . . . There is a timesheet of a construction worker which makes reference to fitting gastight windows to crematorium 4.

7.63 Crematoria 4 and 5 were new buildings. The initial drawings are dated August 1942, not long after the visit paid to the camp by Himmler, which the Defendants say marks the inception of the accelerated extermination programme. According to van Pelt the design of these crematoria incorporated undressing rooms (although not so designated on the drawings) and morgues which were to serve as gas chambers. The drawings of the morgues make provision for several windows measuring 30 x 40cms. The size of these windows corresponds with the size of windows referred to elsewhere in construction documents as being required to be gas proof. The windows were to be above eye level. Van Pelt draws the inference that the purpose of these windows was to enable Zyklon-B pellets to be inserted through them into the building (a process which was observed by Sonderkommando Dragon, as mentioned above).

7.64 Van Pelt agreed that the drawings for crematoria 4 and 5 show a drainage system which appears to link up with the camp sewage system. He disagreed with Irving's suggestion that this would have been highly dangerous because large quantities of liquid cyanide would have found their way into the sewage system. Van Pelt claims that the gas would evaporate rather than turn into liquid.

Rudolf does agree that "these rooms" in crematoria 4 and 5 were gas chambers. He argues that these were, however, not homicidal gas chambers. "Mr. Justice Gray appears to be unaware that before and during the war the term "gas chamber" was used solely in connection with delousing facilities." (p. 32) It is a point which Rudolf claims in his interview with his alias Schlesiger already made nine years ago, in the original Rudolf Report. "Before the development of the Holocaust the term Gaskammer (gas chamber) was a technical term for a delousing chamber for clothing and personal effects. . . . For that reason, I put a list of definitions of terms in a chapter at the beginning of the expert report, in which Menschengaskammer, (killing gas chamber), the term in common usage, was put in quote marks to distinguish it from the technical term Gaskammer (gas chamber)." 26 I must say that, in all my years working on the topic, I have never encountered the word "Menschengaskammer." I would be interested to see Rudolf's evidence for the "common usage" of that term.

Rudolf is careful not to include in his statement in the affidavit that the term "gas chamber" was used solely in connection with delousing facilities "after the war," because it seems that immediately after the defeat of the Third Reich witnesses of the killings of people by gas in enclosed spaces started to use the word "Gaskammer" to designate the spaces in which this occurred. For example, Auschwitz Kommandant Rudolf H&oumlss referred in his 1946 essay on the Final Solution to the underground space in crematoria 2 and 3 where Jews were killed as a "Gaskammer." 27 But he also referred to that same space as a "Vergasungsraum." 28 In his autobiography, written somewhat later, he labels that space "Gaskammer," 29 but also refers to it as a "Gasraum." 30 In other words, H&oumlss does not have seen the need for linguistic precision when he referred to homicidal gas chambers.

In his work Teufel und Verdammte, written in 1945 and published in 1946, the Auschwitz survivor Benedikt Kautsky continuously refers to the "Gaskammer" in Birkenau as places where people are killed en masse. 31 Similarly when on November 4, 1945 Vinzenz Nohel was interviewed by the police in Linz about his activities as an attendant in the T4 killing center of Hartheim Castle, the place where mentally ill patients were killed, he talked at length about a "Gaskammer" which at other moments he also identified as a "Gasraum" which was disguised as a large bathroom. Nohel testified that in this Gaskammer or Gasraum people were killed. 32

Even before the war had ended, on May 4, 1945, did Kurt Gerstein in the German language version of his report (which he originally wrote a couple of days earlier in French) on the gassings in the Operation Reinhard camps use the word "Gaskammer" to denote those killing spaces. He quotes Globocnik, the head of the killing operation, as instructing him to modify the gas chambers (Gaskammern), and when he reports on his visit to Treblinka he reports that it had 8 gas chambers (Gaskammern)33 If Rudolf were right, a unique linguistic revolution would have occurred in the final days of the Third Reich, in which the word Gaskammer, which until then had exclusively referred to a delousing gas chamber, suddenly had acquired a new meaning.

Of course, reality is different. While it is true that in official German correspondence concerning Auschwitz the word "Gaskammern" exclusively referred to delousing chambers, this was only because there was a general policy not to refer directly to homicidal gas chambers as "Gaskammern."

As to the use of the word "Gaskammer" before the war, according to Dr. Heinz Küpper's Illustrierte Lexikon der deutsche Umgangssprache the word "Gaskammer" has been used since 1914. It originally referred to the room where gasmasks were tested for their efficiency. 34

Rudolf accepts on p. 34 of his affidavit that the alleged homicidal gas chambers of crematoria 4 and 5 were prepared for use with Zyklon B. But he asserts that the lights were to be built in "explosion proof" places, marked with the words "ex.gesch" which would mean "explosionsgeschütz," or explosion proof. This, he argues, suggests the intended use of a high concentration of gas appropriate to delousing, and not homicide. In the alternative, Rudolf argues this if his first hypothesis is wrong, and a high concentration of gas was contemplated for homicidal purposes in crematoria 4 and 5, then the absence of the "ex.gesch" designation for the lights in the plans for morgue 1 of crematorium 2 shows that it cannot have been intended for use as a homicidal gas chamber.

On examination, Rudolf's arguments turn out to be based on two errors of fact and one of logic. First, I have checked the plan on p. 401 of his my copy of Pressac's Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers - of which only one edition appeared, and which therefore must be the same edition as the one relied on by Rudolf. I cannot find any trace "ex.gesch" on the plan, nor for that matter anywhere else. On the contrary, the lights are indicated with the word "Kavernischen," or "set in." This is exactly what one would expect in a homicidal gas chamber. Second, the inventory of crematorium 2 dated March 31, 1943 and reproduced of p. 438 of Pressac's Auschwitz shows that it was provided with Kugellampen , that is, convex lights. This would seem to suggest that the lights were wholly or partly inset like in crematoria 4 and 5. In this context it is also important to note that, contrary to Rudolf's assertion, the plans for morgue 1 of crematorium 2 do not show any indication at all as to where lights were to be installed, or what kinds of lights they were to be.

Finally, even if Rudolf were right - which he is not - that the documents contained no specification for or description of the lights in crematorium 2, this would prove nothing of its intended use, but would suggest only that the relevant documents no longer existed (I estimate that, in all, some 60% of the archive is extant).

In the result this section of Rudolf's report does nothing to disturb the positive case made by the evidence as a whole that crematoria 4 and 5 were designed, built and used as homicidal installations.


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