The Central Sauna
The Central Sauna at
The photo above shows the brick building
which the SS called "die zentrale Sauna." The building
is shaped like the letter I and the other side of it is a mirror
image. When the Birkenau camp was in operation, this building
contained a shower room, but it was also used for disinfecting
the prisoners' clothing with hot steam or hot air. In the photo
above, the center part of the building has two long hallways.
Steam chambers were located against the wall that divided the
hallways; on each side of the wall were doors into the chambers.
The wing of the building, which is on
the right in the photo above, was where the shower room was located.
In the wing of the building, shown on the left, are two exit
doors; the door on the left in this wing of the building was
the exit from the room where the men were given their prisoner
clothing and the door on the right was the exit for the women.
The entrance door for both sexes is on the other side of the
building, not shown here.
The two photos below show the steam chambers
used for delousing the clothing. Note that the first photo shows
an exit door on the other side of the wall.
Closeup of steam chamber
for delousing clothes
Steam chambers for
delousing clothing at Birkenau
The steam chambers were manufactured
by the Topf company, which also provided the crematory ovens
at Birkenau and other Nazi concentration camps. At the International
Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, the Soviet Union charged the
Nazi war criminals with killing Jews with steam at Treblinka,
another death camp that used steam to disinfect the clothing.
The photo below shows one of the hot
air ovens in the Central Sauna. These ovens were also used for
killing lice in the clothing in an attempt to prevent epidemics
Hot Air oven in the
Central Sauna, used for killing lice in clothing
The Central Sauna was located directly
across the road from a group of wooden warehouse buildings. The
prisoners called this section of the camp "Canada"
because of all the riches that could be found there. This was
where the clothing, brought to the death camp by the Jews, was
sorted and packed for shipment to Germany, to be given to the
German civilians who had lost everything when their homes were
bombed. During World War II, factories in Germany concentrated
on making uniforms for the soldiers and civilian clothing was
in short supply.
A sign marks the location
of the clothing warehouses at Birkenau
In the background of the photo above
is the location of the ruins of the Krema IV gas chamber building,
which was blown up by the prisoners who worked there in October
The photo below shows a small pond where
the ashes from Krema IV were dumped. In the background, you can
see the Sauna building and to the right in the background are
the ruins of Krema IV and Krema V, two of the four gas chamber
buildings at Birkenau. The open space in front of the Sauna is
the former location of the clothing warehouses, which were burned
by the Nazis when they abandoned the camp.
Ash pond with the Central
Sauna in the background