A common thread running through many witness testimonies about homicidal gassings in German wartime camps is the claim that the perpetrators applied a ruse: telling their victims that, for hygienic and health reasons, they would have to take a shower before being admitted to a camp or before being transferred elsewhere. To make that lie sound credible, witnesses claim that the alleged gas chambers were equipped with items making them look like shower rooms, such as showerheads on the ceiling and in some cases even faucets, sinks and mirrors on the walls (see the entries on Sofia Litwinska, Alexander Pechersky, Henryk Poswolski, and the statement by Wilhelm Soerensen quoted in the entry on Sachsenhausen).
It is an undisputed fact that inmates who were really admitted to a wartime camp routinely were subjected to hygienic procedures in order to prevent the spread of diseases. (See the entry on showers for details.)
However, any perpetrator planning to mass murder hundreds or even thousands of victims in a gas chamber would never have issued each of them a towel and a piece of soap, hence hundreds or even thousands of towels and pieces of soap with each batch. First of all, no one takes towels into a communal shower, where they would only get wet and dirty. If a deception was planned, stacks of towels would have been merely shown to inmates in the undressing room before walking into the “shower room,” with the explanation given, that, once they step out of that shower room, each one of them gets a towel to dry off. Adding a thousand towels to a thousand bodies to be killed with poison gas would have caused a logistical nightmare for the murderers: The fabric of the towels soaks up poison gas, making it even more difficult to ventilate the place later. After the deed, a thousand poison-soaked towels, soiled with all the body fluids panicking people release in their death throes, needed to be collected and laundered (and the ripped ones discarded), before they could be given to the next batch of alleged victims.
It is even worse with the claimed pieces of soap, which would all have ended up on the floor, trampled upon by two thousand panicking feet, mixed up with the already-mentioned body fluids. Little if any of it could have been recovered. It would have been a waste of soap on a large scale. In other words: it certainly never happened.
Here is a list of witnesses who claimed otherwise, demonstrating how cross-fertilization of many witnesses’ minds with rumors and clichés leads to a “convergence of evidence” on a lie:
- Ada Bimko
- David Fliamenbaum
- Gyula Gál
- Szaja Gertner
- Bruno Israel
- Sofia Kaufmann Schafranov
- Imre Kertész (soap only)
- Hermine Kranz
- Olga Lengyel
- André Lettich
- Mordecai Lichtenstein
- Sofia Litwinska (with mirrors on the wall)
- Henryk Mandelbaum (he even has toothbrushes handed out to the victims)
- Kurt Marcus (his chamber was equipped with towel holders, soap dishes and bathroom mats)
- Hans Münch
- Narcyz Tadeusz Obrycki
- Isaac Egon Ochshorn
- Michał Podchlebnik
- Resistance reports of August 1942, late 1942/early 1943 and May 1944
- Mary Seidenwurm Wrzos
- Roman Sompolinski
- Jerzy Tabeau
- Rudolf Vrba/Alfred Wetzler, and Wetzler separately (with soap dishes)
This “convergence of evidence” on the same lie proves the copy-cat or orchestrated nature of these witness testimonies.