The Gas Chambers

Created on: 03 Feb 2012 | Last modified: 10 Apr 2024

On arrival at the trees, the victims of the gas chambers would be told to strip naked. 

Pictures still exist of groups of new arrivals, huddled in small groups to stay warm and to protect their modesty. Their captors told them they were to be showered, in order to keep them clean and healthy and to limit the spread of disease. 

The buildings that housed the gas chambers were complete with taps, pipes and shower heads.  But, critically when considering the phenomenon of Holocaust denial, there is no evidence that these facilities were ever connected to any water source.  There were no water mains leading into the buildings, and no drainage system to lead water out.  


Upon entering the gas chambers, the new arrivals would gather under the showers and wait for the water to be turned on.  The airtight door to the building would slam shut, and small hatches high above their heads would be opened. 

The Nazis would throw the canisters of Zyklon B into shafts leading down, then close the hatches again to ensure that no air could enter.  By now, those inside the chamber would be choking and desperately attempting to find a way out of the building. 

Finding the door securely locked, they would claw at the walls as they tried to climb up towards the ceiling in the hope of escape.  Outside, despite the very thick stone walls, the guards would hear the terrified screams of those inside.  It could go on for as long as twenty minutes before all was silent. 

Fearful of the psychological impact on the guards, the Nazis tried different ways to mask the sounds including starting up powerful motorcycle engines right next to the entrance to the chambers.  Even this was reportedly not enough to cover the screams of those choking and dying inside the gas chamber.

Pausing for a while to look at the simple monolithic memorials which commemorate all those who died here in such horrific circumstances, we continue to look at the ruins of the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. 

Unlike at Auschwitz I, the fleeing Nazis took a greater degree of care to destroy the evidence of their genocide.  Every gas chamber was dynamited, and many surviving prisoners were taken out of the camps on so called "death marches” where they continued walking until they could go no further and were left to die. 

Continue to part 13 of 14 - The Final Exhibit