"Gas Chambers" could not have been used for gassing
Holocaust Deniers Say:
No holes have ever been found in the roofs of the gas chambers in Cremas 1, 2 and 3 in Auschwitz through which the Zyklon-B was supposedly introduced, therefore there was no mass murder of Jews in Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Holocaust deniers claim that if there were no holes in the roofs then the structures could not have been gas chambers and Auschwitz was not an extermination camp. If Auschwitz was not an extermination camp, then the Holocaust did not happen.
"No holes, no Holocaust!" David Irving, whom the High Court in London declared to be a Holocaust denier, racist and antisemite, advanced this slogan as part of his libel accusation against Professor Deborah Lipstadt during David Irving v. Penguin, UK and Deborah Lipstadt in London (2000). During the cross-examination of Professor Robert Jan van Pelt, who wrote the expert witness report on Auschwitz for the trial, Irving asked: "And do you accept . . . that if you were to go to Auschwitz the day after tomorrow with a trowel and clean away the gravel [from the ruins of Cremas 2 or 3] and find a reinforced concrete hole . . . this would make an open and shut case and I would happily abandon my action immediately?"1
Robert Faurisson, a French denier, said about Crema 2 at Birkenau: "The caved-in roof of this supposed mass extermination 'gas chamber' has visibly never had any of the four special holes . . . through which, we are told, Zyklon B pellets were poured in. This being the case, how, simply, could an execution gassing operation have even begun here at Birkenau, the core of the so-called Holocaust'?"2
What are the holes in the roof?
When Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer of the SS, ordered that Auschwitz was to become the center of the Final Solution, Cremas 2 and 3 were in the process of being built in Birkenau. In both buildings (which are identical), two existing underground rooms originally designed to be used as morgues were easily adapted to become an undressing room and a gas chamber room.
On the flat roofs of the gas chamber rooms, four holes were chopped in the concrete and a chimney was built over them, which was covered with a gas-tight lid. It was through these holes that the Zyklon-B was dropped into the gas chamber.
Zyklon-B was the product name for the blue-green chalk pellets which were soaked with a highly poisonous liquid called hydrogen cyanide (HCN). It was a powerful pesticide and was also used in industrial applications. The chalk pellets were kept in a vacuum-sealed can because when they were exposed to the air poisonous HCN gas was released. After the HCN dispersed into the air, only the harmless inert pellets were left to be collected and disposed of later.
Zyklon-B was introduced into the gas chambers at Auschwitz through holes in the roof in three of the gas chambers (Crema 1 in Main Camp and Cremas 2 and 3 in Auschwitz-Birkenau) or through windows covered with gas-tight shutters in the other four facilities (Cremas 4 and 5 and the two peasant cottages at the back of Birkenau).
Why is it difficult to spot the holes in the roof today?
Crema 1 in Auschwitz I (the Main Camp)
Crema 1 is still intact. It was restored by the Museum authorities to its appearance when it was used as a gas chamber in early 1942 and today is a memorial and reflection space. The Museum authorities located the clear scars of five holes in the roof and knocked out four of them for the restoration. Why they didn't knock out the fifth as well is unknown but the scar that shows where it was located and then patched can be clearly seen on the roof.3 You can see pictures of this building at:
Cremas 2 and 3 in Auschwitz-Birkenau
Cremas 2 and 3 were originally built as cremation facilities. Each crema had two underground rooms which were intended to be used as morgues in anticipation of a large population increase in the camp and therefore more deaths. When the mission of Auschwitz was changed to become an extermination center for European Jews, the two existing underground morgue rooms in both Cremas 2 and 3 were adapted to become one undressing room and one gas chamber room. Both buildings were identical in design.
In late 1944, both Cremas 2 and 3 were blown up to cover the Germans' genocidal activities. Today all that remains of these buildings are the outlines of the underground rooms into which the ceilings and walls have collapsed. They look like a dry swimming pool full of concrete and rubble. The part of the buildings where the ovens were housed is just a heap of crushed concrete, masonry and metal. You can see what these buildings look like today at:
So what evidence do we have for the holes in the roofs of the gas chambers in Cremas 1, 2 and 3?
Hans Stark, a member of the Auschwitz Gestapo, testified at the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt in 1963 that in the Main Camp gassings were carried out "in a room in the small crematorium which had been prepared for this purpose." Stark told the court that the roof above the gas chamber room was flat with openings through which "Zyklon B in granular form" was poured. On at least one occasion Stark himself poured the Zyklon-B in the holes.
Stark recalled after the war that the Zyklon-B "trickled down over the people as it was being poured in. They then started to cry out terribly for they now knew what was happening to them . . . After a few minutes there was silence. After some time had passed, it may have been ten or fifteen minutes, the gas-chamber was opened. The dead lay higgledy-piggledy all over the place. It was a dreadful sight."4
Filip Müller, a Slovak Jew who arrived in Auschwitz in April 1942, was put to work as an oven stoker in Crema 1. Müller's job was to drag the corpses from the morgue-turned-gas chamber to the ovens and sort and remove valuables from the abandoned clothing. Later, he was transferred to Birkenau to work in the crematoria and burning pits there.
Müller gave a detailed description of the process of murder in both the Main Camp and Birkenau. He recalled one such gassing in Crema 1: "When the last one had crossed the threshold, two SS leaders slammed shut the heavy iron-studded door which was fitted with a rubber seal, and bolted it . . . the Unterführers on duty had gone onto the crematorium roof . . . They removed the covers from the six camouflaged openings. There, protected by gas-masks, they poured the green-blue crystals of the deadly gas into the gas chamber."5
Photographic evidence of the existence of the holes in the roofs in the gas chambers in Cremas 2 and 3
In the fall of 1944, Allied planes flew over Auschwitz and on August 25 they captured the cremas and gas chambers at Auschwitz on a reconnaissance film.
The underground gas chambers in Cremas 2 and 3 are visible from the outline of the berm of earth and grass that covered them. The introduction chimneys are clearly visible on the roof as four dark squares staggered side to side down the length of the room.6 You can see this picture at: http://www.mazal.org/Auschwitz%20Aerial/08-25-44%20001.htm.
Holocaust deniers claim that these aerial photos have been tampered with and the black spots on the roof were added later.7 In 1996, experts at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, one of the world leaders of the analysis of aerial and satellite images, examined the negatives carefully. The JPL experts found no evidence of forgery or tampering. The markings on the roof were on the original negative.8
The Germans themselves also documented their construction work around the camp with cameras. In December 1942 they took a picture of the construction work underway on Crema 2. The picture included the roof of the gas chamber room shortly before its completion and before it was covered with dirt and grass. On the flat roof there are clear images of the protruding chimneys over the holes. You can see this picture at: http://www.holocaust-history.org/auschwitz/intro-columns/.
Further scientific evidence regarding the holes in the roofs of the gas chambers in Cremas 1, 2 and 3:
A properly authorized and rigorously conducted forensic study was done in 2000 by qualified experts. The experts unearthed a photograph of the roof of Crema 1 that clearly shows five holes in the roof which had been resealed after the building was abandoned as a gas chamber and turned into an air raid shelter in late 1944.9 Adam Zlobnicki recalls the restoration of the holes in the roof: "Those who reconstructed them had an easy task because the erstwhile introduction holes and had distinct traces . . . Thus, they constructed in the same places again the openings for the little chimneys."10 The fifth hole was not reopened.
The same study identified the location of three of the four holes in the badly damaged roof of Crema 2. The study found "clear signs of openings; straight cast edges in the concrete of the roof; rebar cut cleanly (i.e., not stretched by the explosion); the absence of rebar in the area within the holes; and the presence of rebar bent inwards at the edges of the holes."11 The fourth hole is partly hidden by a fold in the rubble created by the explosion and only the edge of it can be seen.
There are multiple forms of evidence -- both material and documentry -- which prove the existence of gas chambers in Auschwitz. Crema 1, 2 and 3 had holes in the roof for the introduction of Zyklon-B into the gas chamber below. Both perpetrator and survivor eyewitness testimony document their existence and use.
Contemporary photographs taken in 1944 by Allied aircraft also show the chimneys over the holes in the roof.
Further, a rigorous and authorized forensic study conducted in 2000 on the roofs of Crema 1 and Crema 2 (which is identical to Crema 3) have located and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that these holes existed. The Holocaust deniers' claim of "No Holes, No Holocaust" is only wishful thinking.
1. Robert Jan van Pelt, The Case for Auschwitz: Evidence from the Irving Trial (Indiana University Press, 2002): p. 3. See also Transcript, Day 11, p. 151 at www.hdot.org ("Transcripts.")
2. Robert Faurisson, "The Gas Chambers of Auschwitz," http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v18/v18n5p12_Faurisson.html.
3. Daniel Keren, Jamie McCarthy, and Harry W. Mazal, "The Ruins of the Gas Chambers: A Forensic Investigation of Crematoriums at Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau," Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 18(1), Spring 2004: pp. 68-103. For the discussion on Crema 1 see p. 98.
4. Robert Jan van Pelt, Expert Witness Report for 2000 trial: pp. 514, 515 at www.hdot.org, ("Evidence.")
5. Filip Müller, Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chamber (Ivan R. Dee, 1979): p. 38.
6. Van Pelt, Case for Auschwitz: p. 353; van Pelt, Expert Witness Report, Plate 52 following pp. 369, 370.
7. John Ball, "Air Photo Evidence," http://www.air-photo.com/english/.
8. Van Pelt, Case for Auschwitz: p. 354.
9. Keren, McCarthy, and Mazal, "The Ruins of the Gas Chambers." See pp. 97-99 and photographs in center section.
11. Ibid., p. 73.