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Auschwitz-Birkenau:
Crematoria & Gas Chambers


Auschwitz-Birkenau: Table of Contents | History & Overview | Photographs


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Crematorium I

Crematorium I operated [at Auschwitz] from August 15, 1940 until July 1943. According to calculations by the German authorities, 340 corpses could be burned every 24 hours after the installation of the three furnaces.

The largest room in this building was designated as a morgue. It was adapted as the first provisional gas chamber in the autumn of 1941. The SS used Zyklon B to kill thousands of Jews upon arrival, as well as several groups of Soviet prisoners of war.

Prisoners selected in the hospital as unlikely to recover their health quickly were also killed in the gas chamber. Poles sentenced to death by the German summary court.

After the establishment in Auschwitz II-Birkenau of two more provisional gas chambers, Bunkers No. 1 and 2 (the so-called "little red house" and "little white house"), the camp authorities shifted the mass murder of the Jews there and gradually stopped using the first gas chamber.

After the completion of four crematoria with gas chambers in Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the burning of corpses in Crematorium I was halted. The building was used for storage, and then designated as an SS air-raid shelter. The furnaces, chimney, and some of the walls were demolished, and the openings in the roof through which the SS poured Zyklon B were plastered.

After the war, the Museum carried out a partial reconstruction. The chimney and two incinerators were rebuilt using original components, as were and several of the openings in the gas chamber roof.

Bunker No. 1

When larger Jewish transports were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp in the first half of 1942, the Nazis began using - in addition to the first operational gas chamber - two provisional gas chambers set up in farmhouses whose owners had been evicted from the village of Brzezinka.

Jewish men, women, and children, as well as Polish political prisoners selected by physicians in the camp hospital, were killed with poison gas in Bunker No. 1, which was also known as "the little red house" (because of its brick walls). The bunker contained two provisional gas chambers. It operated from the early months of 1942 until the spring and summer of 1943, when four new buildings with gas chambers and crematorium furnaces came into use in Birkenau concentration camp. At that time, Bunker No. 1 was demolished and the adjacent burning pits were filled in and landscaped.

Bunker No. 2

When larger Jewish transports were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp in the first part of 1942, the Nazis began using - in addition to the first operational gas chamber - two provisional gas chambers set up in farmhouses belonging to people who had been expelled from the village of Brzezinka.

Jewish men, women, and children, as well as Polish political prisoners selected by physicians in the camp hospital, were killed with poison gas in Bunker No. 2, which was also known as "the little white house" (because of the color of the plaster covering its walls). The bunker contained four provisional gas chambers, which operated from 1942 four new buildings with gas chambers and crematorium furnaces came into use in Birkenau concentration camp in the spring and summer of 1943. In the period when the Germans needed additional gas chambers for the destruction of the Jews deported from Hungary in 1944, they temporarily put Bunker No. 2 back into operation.

Crematorium II

The Crematorium II building, which contained a gas chamber and furnaces for burning corpses. Several hundred thousand Jewish men, women and children were murdered here with poison gas, and their bodies burned. The bodies of Jewish and non-Jewish prisoners who died in the concentration camp were also burned here. According to calculations by the German authorities, 1,440 corpses could be burned in this crematorium every 24 hours. According to the testimony of former prisoners, the figure was higher.

The gas chamber and Crematorium II functioned from March 1943 through November 1944.

At the end of the war, in connection with the operation intended to remove the evidence of their crimes, the camp authorities ordered the demolition of the furnaces and crematorium building in November 1944. On January 20, 1945, the SS blew up whatever had not been removed.

Crematorium III

The Crematorium III building, which contained a gas chamber and furnaces for burning corpses. Several hundred thousand Jewish men, women and children were murdered here with poison gas, and their bodies burned. The bodies of Jewish and non-Jewish prisoners who died in the concentration camp were also burned here. According to calculations by the German authorities, 1,440 corpses could be burned in this crematorium every 24 hours. According to the testimony of former prisoners, the figure was higher.

The gas chamber and Crematorium III functioned from June 1943 through November 1944.

At the end of the war, in connection with the operation intended to remove the evidence of their crimes, the camp authorities ordered the demolition of the furnaces and crematorium building in November 1944. On January 20, 1945, the SS blew up whatever had not been removed.

Crematorium IV

The Crematorium IV building, which contained a gas chamber and furnaces for burning corpses.

Thousands of Jewish men, women and children were murdered here with poison gas, and their bodies burned.

The bodies of Jewish and non-Jewish prisoners who died in the concentration camp were also burned here. According to calculations by the German authorities, 768 corpses could be burned in this crematorium every 24 hours. According to the testimony of former prisoners, the figure was higher.

The apparatus of mass murder in this building functioned, with interruptions, from March 1943 until October 7, 1944. The building was burned down on the day of the mutiny of the Jewish prisoners from the Sonderkommando.

Crematorium V

The Crematorium V building contained a gas chamber and furnaces for burning corpses. Thousands of Jewish men, women and children were murdered here with poison gas, and their bodies burned.

The bodies of Jewish and non-Jewish prisoners who died in the concentration camp were also burned here. According to calculations by the German authorities, 768 corpses could be burned in this crematorium every 24 hours. According to the testimony of former prisoners, the figure was higher.

At times, the bodies of the people who had been murdered were also burned on pyres in pits located near Crematorium V and the so-called bunkers.

The apparatus of mass murder in this building functioned, with interruptions, from April 1943 until January 1945. In connection with the operation intended to remove the evidence of their crimes, the SS blew up the building on January 26, 1945.


Sources: The State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Reprinted with permission.

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