Undressing Room for Dachau gas chamber
"Gas chamber - This was the center of the potential mass murder. The room was disguised as 'showers' and equipped with fake shower spouts to mislead the victims and prevent them from refusing to enter the room. During a period of 15 to 20 minutes up to 150 people at a time could be suffocated to death through prussic acid poison gas (Zyklon B)." Quoted from a display on the wall in the undressing room next to the gas chamber at Dachau.
The photograph above shows the wall of the undressing room next to the Dachau homicidal gas chamber where there is a display which explains the gassing operation. On the left is the door into the gas chamber; the word painted over the door is "Brausebad" which means "shower bath."
According to the information on this wall, the victims were first brought to the waiting room which is the first room at the south end of the crematorium building. The text of the display on the wall, shown in the photo above, reads: "Waiting room - This is where victims were to be informed on using the supposed 'showers.'"
When I visited Dachau in May 2001, there was a display in the waiting room which showed a copy of a letter from Dr. Sigmund Rascher to Heinrich Himmler, which mentioned that a gas chamber was planned for Dachau, and also a copy of the blueprints of the building which identified the gas chamber as a shower room. When I visited again in May 2003, these displays had been moved to the Museum and the waiting room was empty.
The text of the display on the undressing room wall describes the undressing room as follows: "Disrobing - This is were (sic) the victims were to leave their clothes before entering the gas chamber disguised as 'showers.' Their clothing was to be brought to the disinfecting chambers before the next group could enter the room."
The prisoners' clothing was disinfected with Zyklon-B, the same gas used to murder the victims in the gas chamber. Four disinfection chambers are in the same building where the homicidal gas chamber is located. The disinfection of the clothing was done to kill the body lice which spreads typhus.
The west wall of the undressing room has a door into the corridor that runs behind all the rooms in the crematorium building, including the gas chamber. This door, shown in the photograph below, is locked and visitors are not allowed into the corridor. The photograph below also shows the electrical wiring on the north wall of the undressing room, which is next to the gas chamber. Below the wiring is a large pipe which comes through the wall from the corridor and enters the gas chamber. The other side of this pipe cannot be seen inside the gas chamber because it enters the room above the 7.6 foot ceiling of the gas chamber. The ceiling of the undressing room is about 10 feet high.
Although visitors are not allowed into the corridor behind the gas chamber, the display on the undressing room wall has both a photograph and a drawing of the pipes in the corridor. The title of this section is "Operating facilities in the adjacent left corridor."
The drawing in the display was done in May 1945 by Captain Fribourg, a member of the French Military Mission with the Sixth Army Group, Chemical Warfare. Captain Fribourg did an examination of the gas chamber at Dachau for one day and then wrote a report in which he did not reach any definite conclusion. He was of the opinion that a second visit would be necessary in order to study the system for circulating the gas and he also recommended that the walls be tested, but this was apparently never done. France and the Soviet Union were in charge of prosecuting the German war criminals on the charge of Crimes Against Humanity at the Nuremberg IMT, but no report on the walls of the Dachau gas chamber was entered into the proceedings.
The pipes and valves behind the west wall of the gas chamber can be seen in the movie that is shown at the Dachau museum. This movie has footage from the film that was shown at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal as proof that a gas chamber was used to murder prisoners at Dachau. The narration in the film explains the gassing procedure as follows: "Inside the showerbath -- the gas vents. On the ceiling -- the dummy shower heads. In the engineer's room -- the intake and outlet pipes. Push buttons to control inflow and outtake of gas. A hand-valve to regulate pressure. Cyanide powder was used to generate the lethal smoke."
The "push buttons" referred to in the film are shown in the drawing done by Captain Fribourg, but they are gone now. According to the information on the undressing room wall, they were stolen during the postwar years. There were 4 push buttons and 4 sets of light fixture boxes in the gas chamber when the American liberators arrived. However, four of the light fixture boxes now have no lights and according to the film shown at Nuremberg, four of the light fixture boxes were used as "gas vents" to put lethal gas into a fake shower room.
This page was last updated on March 24, 2008