Crematorium I


This greyscale image depicts the entrance into Crematorium I at Stanisławy Leszczyńskiej 11, 32-600 Oświęcim, Poland.

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This greyscale image depicts the entrance into Crematorium I at Stanisławy Leszczyńskiej 11, 32-600 Oświęcim, Poland.

This gas chamber has been preserved (and to some extent) partially rebuilt. 

Crematorium I operated from August 1940 in a pre-war ammunition bunker adapted for its new function.

The largest room was a morgue, which was changed into a provisional gas chamber. There were three furnaces for burning corpses in crematorium I, ordered by the camp administration from the Topf and Söhne company, which installed them.

When the gas chambers in Birkenau were going into operation, the camp authorities transferred the mass killing operation there and gradually phased out the first gas chamber (seen in this image).

In July 1943, after the completion of the Birkenau crematoria, the burning of corpses in the crematorium ended. The furnaces and chimney were dismantled, and the holes in the roof used for introducing Zyklon B were closed.

Two of the three furnaces and the vent were reconstructed (from the original parts), and several of the holes in the roof of the gas chamber were reopened.

Outside the boundaries of the Museum, the railroad siding and unloading platform (the so-called Judenramp or “old ramp”) is commemorated. Transports or Jews deported for killing, and Roma and prisoners of other nationalities arrived here from 1942-1944.

According to calculations by the German authorities, 340 corpses could be burned every 24 hours after the installation of the three furnaces at this specific site.

Several hundred people were killed at a time in the Crematorium I gas chamber. The room also remembers the 8,000 Polish political prisoners that were also gassed here. Prisoners selected in the hospital as unlikely to recover their health quickly were also sent to the chamber of death.

The gas chamber walls appear to have finger-nail scratches deeply embedded into the plaster. To date, I have found no clear explanation for these scratches.

One tour guide explained that visitors to the museum had deliberately scratched the walls but did not explain why visitors would do this. Each tour guide has a different explanation. After close inspection, the scratches do appear to be genuine. However, there is no evidence to suggest these scratches were made in desperation regarding those who were gassed in the chamber of death.

This chamber also has wooden doors. Holocaust deniers claim the gas chamber would not have been effective because wooden doors did not work well as a seal. The early gas chamber examples all had wooden doors and were sealed using felt.

Image size: 2900×4085
File size: 3.3MB
DPI: 300
Bit: 24 bit
Colour: No
Property/model release: No
Edited: Yes. Adobe Lightroom CC
Location: Auschwitz 1, Poland
Year took: 2020
Copyright owner: J. J. Williamson