Ruins of Krema III

Ruins of the Krema III gas chamber at Birkenau, Oct. 2005

The ruins of the gas chamber in Krema III at Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau, are shown in the photo above. The gas chamber room was about five feet below ground. The roof, which was about three feet above ground, was supported by concrete posts that can be seen in the ruins. The lawn in the background is the former location of the soccer field at Birkenau.

The ruins of the undressing room in Krema III at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The photo above shows the ruins of the Krema III undressing room for the gas chamber at Auschwitz II. The gas chamber, which is shown on the left, at right angles to the undressing room, was below ground but not directly underneath the brick building which housed the furnace room.

The reinforced concrete roof was six inches thick, with four holes, in a zig-zag pattern, where the Zyklon-B gas pellets were poured into the room. These holes were shown on aerial photos taken by the US military in 1944, but they cannot be seen today because the entire roof of Krema III was destroyed when the Nazis blew up the building on January 20, 1945, two days after they had abandoned the camp.

Ruins of underground gas chamber at Krema III

According to the book entitled "Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account" by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, a Hungarian Jew who worked at Auschwitz as the chief pathologist under Dr. Josef Mengele, the three-foot high roofs of the gas chambers in Krema III and Krema II were covered with dirt and planted with grass.

On the blueprint of Krema III, the gas chamber was called Leichenkeller 1 (Corpse Cellar # 1). In the photo above, one can see the solid concrete columns that once supported the roof of the gas chamber. When the gas chamber was in use, it had holes in the roof through which the Zyklon-B gas pellets were poured into wire columns, which can no longer be seen today. The holes were closed up by the Germans before they blew up Krema III and the wire columns were removed, so that no evidence that this was once a gas chamber can be seen today.

Display board gives information to visitors

The photo above shows a display board at the ruins of Krema III. The photo below is a close-up of the display board.

The top of the diagram in the photo below points to the north. Krema III was a mirror image of Krema II, with its gas chamber pointing to the south.

A - Entrance to undressing room; C - undressing room; D- underground gas chamber; E - holes on roof for Zyklon-B pellets; F - five cremation ovens; G - chimney for the ovens; M - the International Monument built in 1967; K - gate on the main camp road which goes into the courtyard of Krema III. The dotted line across the bottom of the diagram denotes the main camp road. The five cremation furnaces, shown on the right on the display board, were triple muffle ovens with a total of 15 doors for shoving three bodies inside, so that 45 corpses could be burned at the same time. The ovens in Krema II could also burn 45 corpses at a time.

Krema II was a mirror image of Krema III with its undressing room parallel to the undressing room of Krema III. The gas chamber of Krema II was on the south side of the building, while the gas chamber of Krema III, shown in the diagram above, was on the north side of the building.

On the right in the foreground of the photo below is the steps of the International Monument, shown as M on the diagram. In the center of the picture is an opening which is what remains of the SS entrance to the anteroom, shown as H on the diagram. Behind the anteroom where the SS staff entered the basement is the Vorraum (vestibule) which connected the gas chamber and the undressing room.

Ruins of Krema III with SS entrance into the gas chamber, Oct. 2005

The location of the SS entrance, shown in the center in the photo above, was not on the original blueprints. Krema III was originally planned to be built at Auschwitz I, the main camp. The original blueprints for Krema II and Krema III called for corpse cellars that were completely underground and included a corpse slide which ended in front of the Leichenkeller doors, but this slide was never built. The SS entrance was built instead, but not in the same location as the originally planned corpse slide.

Krema III was located on the right-hand side of the east-west main camp road, while Krema II was on the left side of the road, as you enter the camp. A short road, perpendicular to the main camp road, connected the two barbed-wire enclosures of the Krema buildings. Directly opposite the gate into the Krema III barbed-wire enclosure was an identical gate into the Krema II enclosure.

The photo below, which is on the display board at the ruins of Krema III, shows Krema III in the background on the right hand side of the main camp road; it is enclosed by a barbed wire fence around the building. In the foreground are women and children who have been selected for the gas chamber, walking west down the main camp road. They are looking toward Krema II which is behind the camera.

Women and children walk past Krema III

The underground gas chamber at Krema III, shown in the photo above, is directly behind the building, facing north. Note the railroad tracks in front of the Krema III building, which brought the victims right up to the gates into the enclosures of Krema II and Krema III.

The victims in the photo are just moments away from entering the gate into the barbed wire enclosure around Krema II or Krema III, where they are destined to die in the gas chamber. This photo was taken on May 26, 1945 when a transport of Hungarian Jews arrived at the Birkenau camp.

The prisoners, who had been selected to work, turned right at an intersection a few feet from Krema II and Krema III and walked on a north-south road to the shower room in the Sauna.

Ruins of undressing room for Krema III gas chamber, Oct. 2005

The photo above shows the undressing room, which was called Leichenkeller 2 (Corpse Cellar #2) on the blueprint of the building. The victims entered the undressing room by descending the stairs shown in the background in the photo above. Note that the stairs are very short, since the undressing room was only about five feet underground. To the left in the photo are the steps of the International Monument which is between Krema II and Krema III at the western end of the former camp.

The undressing room was only partially underground since the concrete roof over it was three feet above ground. The crematory ovens were on the ground floor with the entrance on the south side of the Krema III building. There was a typhus epidemic at Auschwitz-Birkenau in the summer of 1943 and the undressing room could have doubled as a morgue in the event that the bodies piled up faster than they could be burned in the ovens.

The victims walked down the steps into the undressing room while an orchestra played classical music. The location of the orchestra was southeast of Krema III, outside the barbed wire enclosure and right next to the soccer field. This was the location where concerts were held for the prisoners while the gassing operation was in progress. The victims were told that they were going to take a shower, after which they would have a nice, hot meal. They took off all their clothing and then proceeded to the end of the long undressing room where there was a door into a Vorraum (vestibule).

On the left wall of the vestibule was a door into the gas chamber, which was located at a right angle to the undressing room. On the right wall of the vestibule was a door into another anteroom which had an exterior entrance for the SS men. On the back wall of the vestibule was a single elevator which was used to bring the bodies up to the crematory ovens after the victims had been gassed.


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This page was last updated on June 1, 2009