Gas chambers

Among all the prisoners in Auschwitz-Birkenau, none knew more about the Holocaust than the Special Squad. They were forced, under threat of death, to assist the SS at the gas chambers. One of them was Shlomo Dragon, a Polish Jew in his early twenties, who had been deported to Auschwitz in late 1942. After liberation, Shlomo Dragon testified about the way SS men had deceived their victims outside the gas chambers, to stifle any resistance.

080 – The former Auschwitz prisoner Shlomo Dragon on SS deception at the gas chambers

SS photo of an older Jewish woman, Perla Schwartz, shortly before she was sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chambers (May 1944)

I worked in Crematorium V […]. [SS man Otto] Moll was in charge of the work in the crematorium; the person who carried out his orders was [SS] Commando Leader Gorger […]. Those arriving went into the changing room. Gorger kept them moving by saying that they should hurry because the coffee and food were getting cold […]; they should hurry up and when they came out of the shower room they would get tea. When they were all out of the room Moll stood on a bench and gave a speech. He told them that they had come to a camp in which they would stay healthy and go to work. The sick and the women would stay in the block houses. He pointed out the Birkenau camp buildings and told them that before they could go into the camp they must all have a bath because otherwise the camp authorities would not let them in. When they had undressed they were driven naked into the gas chamber […] There were signs on the doors “For Disinfection”. When a gas chamber was full the doors were closed.

Moll [later] opened the doors of the gas chamber; we put on our gas masks and dragged the corpses out of the individual chambers […]. In the first anteroom that was by the main entrance the barbers shaved off their hair; in the second anteroom dental technicians ripped out their teeth.

Source: Landgericht für Strafsachen, Vienna, 20 Vr 3806/64

Translation: Lesley Sharpe and Jeremy Noakes