Reconstructed Auschwitz Gas Chamber

Poster shows diagram of Krema I building

The photo above shows a poster, which is located outside the gas chamber building in the Auschwitz main camp. On the left, the poster depicts the layout of the gas chamber building as it originally looked and on the right, the way it looked after the gas chamber was reconstructed in 1947.

The gas chamber room was originally used as a morgue to store corpses prior to cremation in the ovens. According to the model on the poster, neither the gas chamber nor the morgue included the area where a washroom was once located. This means that the victims had to go through two small rooms to get to the gas chamber, and that neither the morgue, nor the gas chamber, had a floor drain since the only drain that can be seen today is in the washroom area of the reconstructed gas chamber. The gas chamber, as seen by tourists today, includes the area of the former washroom.

When the building was converted into an air raid shelter in September 1944, a new door was cut into the gas chamber room, as shown on the right hand side of the poster.

During the time that the building was used as an air raid shelter, the morgue room was divided into four small rooms. During the reconstruction in 1947, the walls of the small rooms in the morgue were removed, along with the wall of the small washroom. The washroom is designated by the letter b on the poster shown in the photo above. The wall of the washroom is shown as a dotted line in the diagram on the right, which shows the gas chamber the way it looks today.

The red arrow marks the present tourist entrance, which is the entrance through which the victims entered. The victims had to first walk through a small room which the poster says was a room for "storage for spare gratings" at that time. When the building was used as a morgue, this same room was used as a "laying out room."

Old photo of Auschwitz gas chamber

Photo Credit: US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Auschwitz gas chamber, October 2005

The color photo above, taken in 2005, shows the same view of the gas chamber as the old black and white photo, which was taken immediately after Auschwitz was liberated in January 1945, according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Notice that the doorway into the oven room, which was moved during the reconstruction, appears to be in the same spot in both photos, and the walls of the small rooms in the air raid shelter have already been removed, which indicates that the old photo was taken in 1947 after the reconstruction of the gas chamber. For years, the staff at the Auschwitz Museum tried to pass the reconstructed gas chamber off as original.

According to Franciszek Piper, the director of the Auschwitz Museum, the size of the Krema I gas chamber in the main camp was 78.2 square meters, not including the washroom area. The section of the gas chamber, that was formerly the washroom, is shown in the photo below. The washroom area has the only floor drain that can be seen today.

On the left is the tourist entrance door into the gas chamber as it looks today

The door on the left in the photo above is the tourist entrance door into the reconstructed gas chamber; this door was originally the door into a washroom. Against the wall on the right-hand side, you can see marks on the floor which indicate where partitions were placed around two toilets, that were back to back. Just to the right of the large white spot on the floor is a square floor drain that has a cover over it.

The floor drain, which is now closed up, is in the middle of the former washroom, close to the wall on which the entrance door is located. A close-up of the drain is shown in the photo below. Directly in line with the floor drain is one of the drain holes for a toilet; the location of the toilets indicate that the floor drain was connected to a sewer line.

Floor drain in former washroom is in the foreground

The photo below shows where two toilets were placed back to back, just in front of the wall. The T-shaped outline on the floor indicates where the walls around the toilets were removed when the air raid shelter was converted back to a gas chamber in 1947.

Floor drains for two toilets in former washroom

1998 photo of door through which the victims entered

The photo above, which shows the entrance door into the former washroom, was taken in 1998. This is an ordinary wooden door with a glass panel. According to the poster shown at the top of this page, the washroom area was not included in the gas chamber, so this was the door into the washroom. However, on my guided tour in 1998, I was told that this was the back door of the gas chamber. When I asked the guide how the victims were prevented from breaking the glass in this door, she said that an SS man stood outside, ready to shoot anyone who attempted to escape from the gas chamber.

Notice that there are no flowers and very few candles in the candle holder, shown in the photo above. This reflects the fact that there were few visitors back then. In 1998, tourists were not told that the gas chamber was a reconstruction, unless they asked.

Interior of Reconstructed Gas Chamber

Holes in ceiling of gas chamber

Holes on roof of gas chamber

Exterior of Gas Chamber

Door into Air Raid Shelter


Start of Gas Chamber Tour

Introduction to Auschwitz I

Back to Photo Gallery 2


This page was last updated on February 19, 2008