Undressing room - Krema II gas chamber

Model of Krema II gas chamber and crematorium

The photo above shows a model of the Krema II gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which is an exhibit in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. On the left is the underground room where the victims were forced to undress. The gas chamber is shown on the right side of the photo. A small elevator was used to lift the bodies up to the cremation ovens, which were on the ground floor of the building. The prisoners who worked in the crematorium lived in the attic space above the ovens.

The photo below shows the ruins of the undressing room on the right, only a few feet from the steps of the Intrnational Monument at Birkenau. In the foreground is the floor of the oven room where the bodies were burned after the Jews were gassed. In the background is the grove of trees that marks the western boundary of the Birkenau camp, with a guard tower in the right hand corner of the photo.

Steps down into the undressing room in the center background

After descending into the undressing room, the prisoners were instructed to take off all their clothes and hang them on hooks on the wall; they were told that they were going to take a shower. Then the naked victims, men, women and children all together, walked to the end of the undressing room where there was a door into a small vestibule, called the Vorraum. A door on the south wall of the Vorraum led into the gas chamber, which was at right angles to the undressing room. The gas chamber was disguised as a shower room with fake shower heads, which are now gone; the hooks in the undressing room have also never been found. The victims soon learned, to their horror, that they had been duped. The shower room was actually a gas chamber where Zyklon-B gas pellets were thrown in through four holes on the roof.

According to a book entitled, "The Bombing of Auschwitz: Should the Allies Have Attempted It?" by Michael J. Neufeld and Michael Berenbaum, the gas chambers in Krema II and Krema III were 99 feet long by 23 feet wide. The undressing rooms in both buildings were 162 feet long by 26 feet wide. The section of these T-shaped buildings, which was above ground, was 99 feet long by 37 feet wide, and the overall size of the long part of the buildings was 352 feet by 41 feet.

Ruins of the oven room with undressing room in background

On the far right in the photo above, you can see the steps of the International Monument which are only three or four feet from the entrance to the undressing room of Krema II where 500,000 Jews descended to their death. In the foreground of the photo above is the remains of the ground-floor furnace room.

The Krema II gas chamber and the undressing room were both about five feet underground, but not directly underneath the brick one-story building which housed the cremation ovens.

Steps down into the undressing room for Krema II gas chamber

The photo above shows another view of the steps down into the undressing room, which was a bit larger than the gas chamber. Note that the undressing room does not appear deep enough to be an underground room. The concrete roof of this room was 3 feet above ground.

Note in the photo above that there is no path leading to the steps down into the undressing room. Krema II and Krema III were both enclosed by an interior barbed wire fence, which you can see in the background of the photo above. To access the undressing rooms at Krema II and Krema III, the prisoners had to walk down the main camp road and enter the enclosure through a gate that faced the main camp road, then walk around the building to the west side where the steps down into the undressing rooms were located. The location of the gates into the Krema II and Krema III enclosures are now covered by the International Monument.

The photo below, taken with the camera pointing north, shows the collapsed roof of the gas chamber in Krema II, which is at right angles to the undressing room; the International monument is in the backrground.

Ruins of the gas chamber in Krema II

The gassing of the Jews at Birkenau stopped on the first of November 1944; the roof of the Krema II brick building was taken off and the cremation ovens were lifted out with cranes. The fake shower fixtures on the ceiling of the gas chamber were removed and all traces of them are now gone. Then the wire-mesh columns inside Krema II, into which the poison gas pellets had been poured, were removed.

During the David Irving libel case, Robert Jan van Pelt testified as an expert witness that the holes in the roof were closed up and cemented over so skillfully that no trace of them can be seen today. Only then were the gas chamber buildings blown up to destroy any remaining evidence.

BBC video of Auschwitz-Birkenau ruins



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This page was last updated on February 25, 2010