The story of Dachau, as told to tourists
The Gas Chamber
Visitors enter the Baracke X building, shown in the photo above, through a door on the south side and proceed through the waiting room, and then the undressing room before entering the gas chamber. On the wall of the undressing room is a sign which tells visitors:
This is the center of potential mass murder. The room was disguised as "showers" and equipped with fake shower spouts to mislead the victims and prevent them from refusing to enter the room. During a period of 15 to 20 minutes up to 150 at a time could be suffocated to death through prussic acid poison gas (Zyklon B).
The photo above shows three empty holes on the ceiling of the gas chamber, where shower heads were before they were stolen by tourists as souvenirs. Just below the ceiling are two light fixture boxes, which were claimed, in a film shown at the Nuremberg IMT, to be the "top vents" for introducing the poison gas into the gas chamber.
A visitor in July 2009 was told by her guide, Alan, that the screened opening on the right in the photo above was a window for the Nazis to watch the victims die. On the other side of the wall, there is a chute through which Zyklon-B gas pellets could have been poured through this window, but one cannot see inside the gas chamber through this opening.
The following quote is from the visitor's blog:
The sight of the gas chamber has really stuck with me. It had a low ceiling, no more than 10 feet high, and even in bright daylight it was dark, save for the small bit of light seeping through the viewing window. This was where the Nazis would stand, and watch the victims die their slow, agonizing death. It was so painful being in that tiny, stuffy room. It was so hard to come to terms with the human atrocities that had occurred right where I was standing.
Information given to tourists about the gas chamber at Dachau varies according to who is guiding the tour. Some guides tell visitors that the gas chamber was never used, while others maintain that the gas chamber was used a few times. If the gas chamber was never used, why was it built? Some of the guides say that it was used to train SS men in how to use a gas chamber.
A recent visitor who took a tour of Dachau wrote the following on her blog:
Interestingly enough, Dachau was never considered an extermination camp. Hitler made sure that none of these camps resided in Germany. He wanted them to be in the countries that he occupied so it would be easier to transport the foreign people to them. So, knowing this, many wonder why Dachau had a gas chamber in it. The most popular theory is that since Dachau was one of the first concentration camps, it acted as a model for others. When Germans were trained to work in concentration camps, they were trained to use gas chambers, and some were trained at Dachau.
Some guides say that the gas came through fake shower heads, but others tell visitors that gas pellets were poured onto the floor through the two screened openings on the east wall of the gas chamber. One of these openings is shown in the photo above. Video of the gas chamber.
All but one of the shower heads has been stolen by visitors as souvenirs and at least one guide tells tourists that the gas pellets were dropped through the holes in the ceiling. Three of the holes for the shower heads are shown in the photo above.
Although anyone can look up into the holes where the shower heads used to be and see that there are no pipes of any kind there, one tour guide told a visitor on September 24, 2008 that there were special plumbing pipes that brought the gas through the shower heads. It has been known for at least sixty years that the Zyklon-B gas that was allegedly used at Dachau was in the form of pellets the size of peas, and could not have come through the small holes in the shower heads.
The sign that was in the gas chamber when the Memorial Site opened in 1965 was removed some time after May 2001 when the photo below was taken.
The following is a quote from a blogger's account of a visit to the Baracke X building:
The part of the morning that was most appalling was walking into the crematorium. My chest froze and I lost breath when we entered the waiting room. I pictured the crowds of men and women whispering their eagerness to finally have the opportunity to take a decent shower. With toiled feet and dirt and blood stains like patchwork over their clothing, they anticipated their shower. Each subsequent room seemed darker and more gray. Then we entered the last room with several ovens lined along the center. My heart sank and I was so deeply touched that the cold, empty walls almost seemed to whisper as I imagined the thousands of undeserving bodies across Germany in the different concentration camps inhumanely piled on the now rusted metal slabs that slid into the ovens. It seemed that we had just witnessed the world's cruelest crime when we left the camp.
A third way of introducing the poison gas into the fake shower room was through empty light fixture boxes just below the ceiling, according to the film shown by the American prosecutor at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal on November 29, 1945. When I first visited Dachau in May 1997, I was told by a guide that the gas came through the light fixture boxes, two of which are shown in one of the photos above.
The six grates on the floor of the gas chamber, which look like drains, are closed up and visitors are not allowed to see the basement underneath the gas chamber, where the poison gas was allegedly mixed, according to the American Army report that was entered into the Nuremberg IMT. Some of the inmates told the American liberators that the gas came through the floor grates.
One visitor was impressed by the efficiency of the gas chamber system, as quoted from her blog:
Today, I went to Dachau Concentration Camp. I decided to join a tour this time and I was glad I did. Our guide didn't gloss over certain details or cite the politically-correct statements like I heard in Sachsenhausen. This place was just as horrible, if not worse. I walked through a gas chamber. The design and planning seems incredibly sinister. Someone worked hard to plan such an efficient system.
The height of the gas chamber ceiling is 2.5 feet lower than the ceilings of the two adjoining rooms. One visitor noticed this and wrote the following on her blog:
The gas chamber had a much shorter ceiling than any room anywhere else in the facility...I'm guessing this was to contribute to the extreme efficiency of the Germans, giving them a smaller area for the gas to disperse.
Recorded information for the self-guided tour tells visitors that "not as many Jews were gassed at Dachau as at Auschwitz because Dachau was in the middle of a city." (Dachau was a village of 13,000 people back then and the camp was not in the center of the town.)
The official version of the Dachau story, since 2003, is that the gas chamber "could have been used" and in fact, "it was used a few times." The sign that formerly said in 5 languages that the gas chamber was never used has been removed because some of the still living members of the International Committee of Dachau insist that the gas chamber was used. Even the guides who tell visitors that the gas chamber was never used describe the gassing procedure in great detail.
The following quote is from the blog of a visitor in August 2008:
It was an incredible place. I felt the blood rush from my face when walking through the gas chamber and incenerator room. The gas chamber itself had fake shower heads in the ceiling to fool entrants into thinking they were simply about to be disinfected rather than gassed to death. I asked how they chose who was gassed. The tour guide said usually the sick or too injured to work were gassed. In Auschwitz (concentration camp in Poland) however, anyone under 16 or over 45 was gassed immediately. I don't even know what to say about that.
A film that is shown every hour at the Museum includes footage of the Dachau gas chamber that was introduced at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal on November 29, 1945. Nazi war criminals were convicted and hanged, based on the information about the gas chamber in this film, which the defendants claimed to know nothing about.
The photo below shows the control wheels for regulating the flow of the gas into the Dachau gas chamber which are shown in the film at the Dachau Museum.
Visitors are not allowed to see the pipes and control wheels and push buttons that are shown in this film. Conspicuously absent from the Dachau Museum are any photos of the gas chamber, or even the front of the Baracke X building, that were taken before the camp was liberated.
This page was last updated on October 10, 2009