Ruins of Krema III

Ruins of the entrance to Krema III, Oct. 2005

Entrance to Krema III as it looked in 1943

The photo at the top of the page shows the entrance to the ground floor oven room in the Krema III gas chamber building at Auschwitz Birkenau. The photo immediately above shows the entrance to Krema III as it looked just after construction of the building was completed in 1943. Note the fence which enclosed the area around the building.

The gassing of the Jews stopped at the end of October 1944 and the cremation ovens were removed in November 1944, but the building was not blown up with dynamite until January 20, 1945, two days after the Germans had abandoned Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The photo below shows the other side of the entrance to Krema III.

The ruins of Krema III, one of four gas chamber buildings at Birkenau

On the right is the SS entrance to the underground rooms of Krema III

The photo above shows the steps down into the basement entrance for the SS men, in the center of the photo on the right-hand side. In the foreground is the ruins of the roof of the anteroom which the SS men entered. From this room, there was a door into the vestibule or the Vorraum which the victims entered from the undressing room and then proceeded into the gas chamber. A peephole in the door of the gas chamber allowed the SS men to stand in the Vorraum and watch the victims die.

Early morning shot of the front steps to the building

Ruins of the undressing room in the foreground

View of the back side of the Krema III building

The gas chambers at Birkenau were not a secret; all the prisoners were aware of what was going on. According to Tadeusz Borowski, a Polish political prisoner at Birkenau who wrote a book entitled "This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen," a soccer field was built at Birkenau in the Spring of 1944 "on the broad clearing behind the hospital barracks." By this time, the railroad tracks had been extended all the way to the gas chambers at the western end of the camp, and the men playing soccer were able to see the victims arrive on the trains and then walk to their death in Krema III, which was "right by the fence" that separated the gas chambers from the barracks in the camp. Borowski wrote that he was the goalkeeper in a game on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and "Between two throw-ins in a soccer game, right behind my back, three thousand people had been put to death."

Three thousand was the number of Jews that typically arrived on each transport; during the extermination of the Hungarian Jews in 1944, an entire transport would be gassed without going through a selection process, in spite of the fact that the Nazis were desperate for workers in their munitions factories.


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This page was last updated on December 14, 2008