Auschwitz Main Camp

Documented History

The first extant document of this camp, dated 30 April 1940, is a cost estimate totaling 2 million reichsmark to convert the former Polish barracks into a camp. It includes fences, walls, watchtowers, but also an inmate kitchen, a laundry, a water-supply system, an inmate bath, a delousing facility, and of course additional lodging buildings. Less than a month later, the Topf Company submitted an estimate for a double-muffle cremation furnace, to be built in the camp’s former munitions bunker, to be converted into a crematorium (later called Crematorium I, or Old Crematorium). This furnace became operational on 15 August 1940, with two more following in March 1941 and March 1942, respectively. Many construction reports subsequently documented the steady expansion and improvement of the camp.

Auschwitz I/Main Camp (concentration camp). Left: map according to the information brochure of the Auschwitz State Museum in 1991. Right: Google Earth satellite image (2 Dec. 2016).
Block 1 – 28: inmate barracks; basement of Block 11: detention cells, location of the claimed first homicidal gassing, September 1941.
a: commandant’s house; b: main guard station; c: camp commandant’s office; d: administration building; e: SS hospital
f, g: political department (Gestapo); h: Crematorium I with claimed homicidal gas chamber; i: guard station near camp entrance gate (block leader room); j: camp kitchen; k: inmate admission building, showers, disinfestation (since June 1944: microwave); l: camp warehouse, theater building; m: new laundry

Hundreds of orders issued by the camp’s headquarters over the years paint an inconspicuous picture, with nothing pointing at anything unusual going on. Radio messages sent by the camp to the SS headquarters in Oranienburg, which were intercepted and deciphered by the British between January 1942 and January 1943, speak of occasional inmate deaths due to executions or failed escapes, but indicate nothing unusual, such as mass murder. Various reports and documents of labor-deployment departments, infirmaries and other camp departments show a fluctuating camp population either deployed at work or idle mainly due to illnesses.

The mortality rate of the camp’s registered inmate population grew steadily during the first few years, reaching dramatic proportions in the first half of 1942, and finally catastrophic dimensions in July 1942. This was primarily caused by a typhus epidemic. The situation was particularly bad at the Birkenau Camp due to a lack of sanitation facilities. The situation improved steadily during 1943 and into 1944 due to improved sanitation, hygienic and health facilities at the camp, before it deteriorated again toward the end of the war due to the general collapse of Germany’s infrastructure resulting from Allied carpet bombings and invading armies.

(For more details, see Mattogno 2021, pp. 15-102; 2023, Part 1&2; Rudolf/Böhm 2020.)

Propaganda History

Note: Propaganda that cannot be allocated with certainty to the Auschwitz Main Camp or any of its satellite camps is addressed in the entry on Birkenau.

Camp Resistance

Right from the beginning of the camp’s existence, inmates organized themselves in resistance groups. As the camp grew, so did the number of these groups and their members. Eventually, these groups integrated and coordinated their work. One aspect of their work was helping inmates to escape, but more importantly to communicate to Polish civilians and members of the Polish underground outside the camp what was happening inside. After the war, leaders of this camp resistance, such as Hermann Langbein, Otto Wolken and Bruno Baum, bragged that they had members in all major inmate labor units, including the various so-called Son­der­kom­man­dos, and were always well-informed of what was transpiring in the camp. In fact, Bruno Baum bragged after the war that all the propaganda spread about Auschwitz during the war was created by these resistance groups.

First Gassing

With the camp resistance being so well-informed, their messages to the Polish resistance outside the camp should have reflected reality. However, the first reports about the alleged first gassing at Auschwitz, spread in late October 1941 and playing on gas-warfare fears, spoke of the testing of new war gasses on Soviet PoWs for later deployment at the eastern front. Later reports disagreed on who exactly – Soviet PoWs and/or Poles – and how many of them had become victims of this crime. After the story had circulated throughout the propaganda world for a year, liberated inmates testified all kinds of things about this event, creating an inextricable hodgepodge of mutually contradictory tales, but all of them replacing the claimed testing of war gases for the eastern front with the testing of Zyklon B for future mass-murder at Auschwitz. For more details on this mythological event refuted by documents, see its dedicated entry “first gassing, at Auschwitz.”

Crematorium I

The Auschwitz resistance groups knew nothing about gassings supposedly carried out in the morgue of Crematorium I. Those mass-murder activities are said to have occurred between late 1941/early 1942 and early 1942/late 1942, depending on the anecdotal source. The most important among them is that of former Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Höss. He claimed that, when a batch of Soviet PoWs arrived in late 1941, several holes were spontaneously hacked through the roof of the crematorium’s morgue, so that Zyklon B could be thrown down on the Soviet PoWs locked up inside.

Today’s orthodox narrative claims that there were only a few gassings in that building, and that they stopped once the first bunker near the Birkenau Camp was put into operation, which allegedly occurred in March 1942. The messages of the Polish resistance about Auschwitz, however, mention this building only once as a “poisoning site,” and this in a report of November 1942, hence well after it ceased being used for gassings, if we follow the current orthodox narrative. However, had mass gassings really occurred there, then the Auschwitz resistance groups would have known about it and reported it early on with gory details and ferocious polemics. These messages would have been forwarded by the Polish underground to London, and there exuberantly exploited by the Polish government in exile and the British Political Warfare Executive. However, none of that happened, because no gassing happened.

The tale of gassings in Crematorium I was created by a Soviet investigative commission in February and March 1945, hence while the war was still raging. When the Soviets captured Auschwitz, all the buildings where mass-murders are said to have occurred were located at Birkenau but had all been demolished by the Germans before retreating (Crematoria II through V; plus the two bunkers, if they ever existed). Hence, they could not repeat a propaganda show similar to the one they had performed at the Majdanek Camp, where they had presented the local crematorium as a place of mass murder and mass cremation in July/August 1944. At Auschwitz, only the former Old Crematorium was still standing, because it had been converted to an air-raid shelter in 1944, hence was considered innocuous by the retreating Germans. Thus, Soviets went to work and presented this place as a mass-murder site, although clearly misunderstanding that, before its conversion to an air-raid shelter, this place had looked completely different.

SS blueprint of Crematorium I drawn on 10 April 1942, while the morgue was allegedly equipped for usage as a homicidal “gas chamber.” Red box around door added, highlighting a swing door connecting the morgue (“Halle,” bottom) and the furnace room with three double-muffle furnaces (top).

Witnesses confirming this Soviet propaganda report were found only afterwards. A detailed analysis of their testimony shows that all of them are utterly untrustworthy:

(For more information see Mattogno 2016c.)

Museum Propaganda

When the SS turned the Old Crematorium into an air-raid shelter in late 1944, they made changes to the building rendering it unsuitable as a museum exhibit of mass murder:

  • they removed all cremation furnaces,
  • tore down the cremation chimney,
  • walled up the door connecting the morgue (the alleged gas chamber) with the furnace room,
  • tore down a thin wall separating the morgue from the washroom next door, and another wall separating that room from the adjacent laying-out room,
  • then added five thick, sturdy separation walls along the entire length of building, partitioning the air-raid shelter into six separate, almost square-shaped rooms,
  • and added a pair of toilets with toilet-stall walls to one of the rooms.
  • Furthermore, the SS added a feature that would have been essential for a homicidal gas chamber, but which did not exist originally: a door allowing access without having to walk through rooms filled with corpses. The entrance way they added features a sheet-metal-lined door with a peephole that leads into an air-lock. Such an air-lock is crucial for an air-raid shelter, but would be useless, in fact obstructive, for a homicidal gas chamber.

Floor plan of Crematorium I Auschwitz I Main Camp after conversion to air-raid shelter in the fall of 1944.
1: added entry door with air lock (“Schleuse”); 2: surgery room; 3: former washroom, now air-raid shelter with toilets; 4: air-raid shelter rooms; 5: former furnace room. Note that the swinging door, still shown in this plan, was removed and walled up during the conversion.

Understanding that a museum of National-Socialist atrocities at Auschwitz must absolutely feature a “gas chamber” in order to be convincing and attract visitors, the Polish postwar museum administrators went to work in 1946/47 to create the climax of their future museum tour: the “gas chamber.” Without documenting either the state of the building before their changes, or the changes they were about to make, they

  • built a new crematorium chimney, although it is not connected to any smoke duct;
  • rebuilt two of the three furnaces, yet in a dysfunctional manner (they built the hearth in the ash chamber beneath the muffle rather than attached to the rear of the furnace);
  • knocked a large, asymmetrical opening at the wrong spot through the wall connecting the former morgue with the furnace room, and “forgot” to put any door into it;
  • knocked down all thick separation walls except for one, although they should have left one standing, meaning their new, larger room included what used to be the separate washroom;
  • removed the toilet stall walls and the toilets, but left the toilet drains clearly visible;
  • left the entrance to the air-raid shelter with its air-tight door and air-lock standing, because without it there was no direct access for victims to the morgue, and this gas-tight air-raid-shelter door with peephole was a tempting (though fake) piece of evidence pointing to the room’s alleged misuse as a homicidal gas chamber.
  • As a climax of their criminal tampering with the evidence of a claimed crime scene, they crudely knocked four square-shaped holes through the ceiling, put some wooden boards around them and a wooden lid on top, and declared them to be Zyklon B introduction shafts.

This grand plan of deception was and still is called to this day a “reconstruction” of the “original gas chamber,” although there never was an original, and the mistakes made during the effort clearly qualify it as a forgery rather than a “reconstruction.” Until the turn of the millennium, the Museum mendaciously told millions of visitors that this building was in its original state, although they knew better. Only later, beginning in the 1990s, did they admit having made some “mistakes” during their “reconstruction.”

Floor plan of Crematorium I in Auschwitz I/Main Camp today, after the Polish manipulations of 1947.
1: “Gas chamber”; 2: fake Zy­klon-B introduction holes, wrongly spread out to be somewhat evenly distributed in today’s room; 3: toilet drains of former air-raid shelter; 4: former partition between morgue and washroom; 5: ventilation chimney of air-raid shelter; 6: air-raid shelter’s additional entry door and air lock, until the end of the 20th Century wrongly referred to by the Museum as victim entryway; 7: urn room, 8: coke; 9: reconstructed furnaces; 10: newly broken-through entry way without any door connecting the alleged “gas chamber” with the furnace room; dashed line: original location of swinging door; 11: remains of the old furnace; 12: fake chimney.

The only feature that “proves” that this room was a homicidal gas chamber are today’s four Zyklon-B holes in the roof. The Museum claims that they made these holes in 1946/47 in spots where the old, “original” holes had been, which was allegedly visible by some concrete patches at the ceiling. Needless to say, the Museum did not document the existence of these patches, and they did not secure any witness testimony of the people involved in “reconstructing” these holes either. Moreover, the holes are located in spots clearly demonstrating that they were made to be equally spaced in the room as it exists today – with the air-lock of 1944 and a room that is much longer than the original. All the museum officials can present as evidence for their claim is the 1981 testimony of the former inmate and museum guard Adam Źłobnicki, who moreover made false claims about these Zyklon B introduction shafts (see the entry on him).

The many material and documented features that refute the claim that this morgue in its original state could have been a homicidal gas chamber are conveniently overlooked:

  • The morgue was connected to the furnace room with a swinging door that could not be made airtight and could not be locked safely against a panicking crowd.
  • The wall separating the morgue from the washroom was only 15 cm thick, hence one row of bricks. No massive, gas-tight and panic-proof steel door could have been anchored in such a thin wall.
  • The room had no other door, hence the victims could not have entered it from the outside. They had to walk through rooms where corpses would have been piled up awaiting autopsies or cremation – an absurd thought.
  • A powerful ventilation system for this room was delivered in late 1941, but it was never installed and rusted away in a warehouse. Instead, the SS made do with a much weaker makeshift solution, designed for a morgue, and installed at an earlier time when even the orthodox narrative concurs that no homicidal use was anticipated yet. In other words: the SS had no need for a powerful ventilation system. However, had they carried out mass gassings with powerful poison gasses, they certainly would have quickly installed the system delivered in late 1941.

None of it ever happened, because no gassing happened.

(For more information, see Mattogno 2016c; 2020, pp. 13-38)

Current Orthodox Narrative

The current orthodox Auschwitz narrative is based primarily on a series of articles by Polish historian Danuta Czech published in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They were republished in an expanded and slightly updated version as a book in 1989 (German) and 1990 (English). Czech’s version is complemented by additional insights added by French historian Jean-Claude Pressac (1989, 1993), some of which the orthodoxy accepted, others not. The timeline of extermination events is as follows in this narrative (set in italics, followed by critical remarks):

Section enlargement of the floor plan of Crematorium I of 10 April 1942, showing the washroom with adjacent walls with grey circles added to highlight the walls’ width of 15 cm, unfit to hold a panic-proof massive steel door.
  1. On 29 July 1941, Rudolf Höss, at that time the Auschwitz Camp’s commandant, received an order from Himmler to turn Auschwitz into Germany’s center for the annihilation of the Jews. However, there is no proof of such an order, or Höss meeting Himmler. Höss insisted after the war that the meeting was either in May or June 1941, in any case before the war with the Soviet Union (before 22 June 1941). Höss repeatedly stated that Himmler chose Auschwitz, because the other camps killing Jews at that time – Belzec, Treblinka and Wolzek – could not cope with the task. Höss moreover claimed that he then visited Treblinka to learn how to improve things. However, the Belzec Camp was opened only in March 1942, the Treblinka Camp in July 1942, and no camp named Wolzek ever existed. In other words, the severely tortured Höss made it all up. (See Mattogno 2020b, pp. 184-204 for details.)
  2. Between 3 and 5 September 1941, the first (experimental) gassing using Zyklon B occurred in the basement of Block 11, which consisted of a series of prison cells. 600 Soviet PoWs and 250 sick Polish inmates were the victims. However, the first Soviet PoWs arrived at Auschwitz only in early October 1941, and only more than a month later was a decision made that the fanatical communists among them – some 300 – were to be executed… by shooting. Furthermore, the multifarious witness accounts on this alleged event are extremely disparate, including the one by Höss, extracted with torture. Czech cherry-picked claims from various sources, discarded the majority of claims made, and constructed a completely fictitious event from it. (See the entry on the “first gassing” for more details.)
  3. On 16 September 1941, 900 Soviet PoWs were gassed in the morgue of the Main Camp’s crematorium, presumably starting a phase of gassings in that building lasting until early 1942. However, and again, Soviet PoWs arrived at Auschwitz only in early October, and a decision to execute some of them was made only in November. Czech relied on the confused and contradictory statements by Rudolf Höss. (For more on this, see Mattogno 2016c, pp. 54-57; 2020b, pp. 213-215.) Subsequent claims of gassings in that building (Czech has only one entry on 15 Feb. 1942) are based on testimonies by Rudolf Höss, Pery Broad and others (not listed by Czech). However, a detailed analysis of all the disparate claims made about this shows that not a single witness is trustworthy, and that the claims fly in the face of documental and material evidence as well as what was physically possible. (See the section on Crematorium I in the present entry for details.)
  4. On 20 March 1942, an old farmhouse near the newly established Birkenau Camp was converted into a gassing facility containing two gas chambers. In the spring of 1945, Polish judiciary christened this facility “Bunker 1.” Subsequently, gassings are said to have been carried out only there, allegedly because gassings at the main camp were too conspicuous to be kept a secret. Thousands of deportees are said to have been gassed on arrival without being registered. The victims were allegedly buried in nearby mass graves. However, a detailed analysis of all the disparate claims made about this shows that not a single witness is trustworthy, and that the claims fly in the face of documental and material evidence as well as what was physically possible. No evidence exists that a building in the claimed area was ever adopted by the camp administration and converted to anything. Instead, all extant buildings of Polish farmers were razed to the ground when the area was prepared for the camp’s huge hospital section, Construction Sector III. Furthermore, all transports of Jews allegedly killed in this facility in the first half of 1942 were invented out of thin air. Up to early July 1942, all Jews of documented transports were registered. Hence, none of them were gassed on arrival. In spite of Himmler’s alleged order to Höss of June 1941, no extermination policy of Jews existed. (For more details, see the entry on bunkers, as well as Mattogno 2016f.)
  5. On 30 June 1942, another old farmhouse near the growing Birkenau Camp was converted into a gassing facility containing four unequally sized gas chambers. In the spring of 1945, Polish judiciary christened this facility “Bunker 2.” This facility is said to have been added to increase the mass-murder capacity. The victims were allegedly buried in nearby mass graves. However, a detailed analysis of all the disparate claims made about this shows that not a single witness is trustworthy, and that the claims fly in the face of documental and material evidence as well as what was physically possible. Although a building existed in the claimed area, the ruin’s foundation walls disprove all claims about the facility’s appearance. (For more details, see the entry on bunkers, as well as Mattogno 2016f.)
  6. On 17 July 1942, Himmler attended a gassing at Bunker 2, and ordered the murder of all Jews unfit for work. However, Himmler’s diary and the lack of any incoming Jewish transports that could have been gassed prove that Himmler cannot have witnessed a gassing. (See Mattogno 2016d, pp. 16-25; 2020b, pp. 242-250.) Moreover, how can Himmler have ordered to kill all Jews unfit for work, if he had issued an order back in June 1941 to kill all Jews without exception? (See Mattogno 2020b, pp. 188-195.) Himmler’s claimed gassing attendance plus the new order of “only” killing those unfit for work has been asserted only by the severely tortured Rudolf Höss, whose various postwar statements are riddled with contradictions, anachronisms and impossibilities.
  7. Between 21 September and 30 November 1942, some 107,000 corpses buried in mass graves near the bunkers of Birkenau were exhumed and burned on pyres in pits. Air photos show that mass graves did indeed exist in Birkenau, but their size indicates that only the victims of the typhus epidemic can have been buried in them, which, due to a lack of cremation capacity, could not be cremated in the old crematorium in late spring and summer of 1942. Due to the high groundwater level at Birkenau, these graves were indeed exhumed, and their contents burned on pyres. (See the entry on mass graves.)
  8. Between 14 March and 25 June 1943, the four Birkenau crematoria, equipped with large homicidal gas chambers, became operational. Their claimed capacity was around 4,500 bodies per day (Czech 1990, p. 429). As a result, Bunker 1 was demolished tracelessly around that time, while Bunker 2 was temporarily retired. However, a thorough technical study of these cremation facilities shows that their theoretical maximum capacity was “only” about 920 bodies per day. (See the section on Birkenau in the entry on crematoria.) Also note that Bunker 1 popped into existence without a trace, and vanished into oblivion without leaving a trace as well. Neither claim on Bunker 1 is supported by any documental or physical evidence.
  9. Crematoria II and III each had two underground morgues, one of which was used as the victims’ undressing room, the other as a gas chamber. Zyklon B was poured into this room through four openings in the morgue’s roof. There is a long string of witnesses who testified about this, most of whom have made diverging, contradictory and frequently preposterous statements about these facilities and other topic concerning Auschwitz, lending them a very low credibility. (See section Auschwitz of the entry on witnesses.) Pressac (1989, 1993) specialized in collecting so-called “criminal traces” in extant documents allegedly supporting the orthodox narrative. However, a detailed study of these documents and their context proves that none of them support any homicidal claim. (See more on those in the entry on criminal traces.) Moreover, several documents demonstrate that the crematoria’s morgues were available 24/7 to store corpses of inmates who had died from numerous causes throughout the camp. They cannot have served both as gassing facilities and as corpse-storage facilities. While the latter fact is supported by documents, the former claim is not. (For more details on this, see the entry on morgues.)
  10. Crematoria IV and V each had a corridor and two rooms in an annex, whose purpose is not stated in any extant plan or document. The two rooms (and maybe also the corridor) were used as homicidal gas chambers. Zyklon B was poured into these rooms through hatches in the walls. However, the situation here is similar to that described for Crematoria II and III. (See the entries on criminal traces and witnesses.). Moreover, the ventilation system ordered for both facilities was not installed, demonstrating that poison gas cannot have been used in them. A few documents show that a large shower facility was built in one of the rooms, and a “gas chamber” in the other. In German pre-war and wartime documents, the term “gas chamber” always referred to fumigation chambers. Hence, the annex was probably planned to be a hygienic center, with inmate showers and a disinfestation facility. It may not have been finished to that effect due to other, better facilities becoming available (such as the Zentralsauna and the microwave delousing device.)
  11. On 9 May 1944, Bunker 2 was reactivated. Large pits were dug in its vicinity, and also north of Crematorium V, where thousands of Jews deported from Hungary were burned every day in open-air incinerations from mid-May until early July 1944, because the crematoria’s capacity was insufficient for the great influx of Jews from Hungary. The whole area was blanketed in thick smoke. However, German and Allied air photos of that time prove that to be wrong. There were no large pits anywhere, smoking or not, and the crematoria’s chimneys didn’t smoke either.
  12. On 26 November 1944, Himmler ordered the destruction of the Auschwitz crematoria, hence also the end of all gassing activities. However, there is no such order. There is only a postwar affidavit by a person not involved – Kurt Becher – claiming that Himmler prohibited the extermination of Jews “sometime between mid-September and mid-October 1944”. Crematoria are not mentioned. (See the entry on Kurt Becher for more details.) Czech shifted that date to end of November and changed the contents of that claimed order, so that, in her narrative, she could keep sending Jews to the gas chambers well after mid-September and mid-October 1944.

When it comes to mass-murder claims, both Danuta Czech’s opus magnum and Jean-Claude Pressac’s works mendaciously misrepresent the historical record in an astonishing way. (For more details, see the entry on Danuta Czech and on criminal traces.)

The entry on Auschwitz in Gutman’s 1990 Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, written by two scholars (Shmuel Krakowski and Jozef Buszko) who had not specialized on Auschwitz, ignores Czech’s studies and those published by other historians from the Auschwitz Museum (such as Franciszek Piper and Wácław Długoborski). As a result, this contribution contains many embarrassing omissions and mis­takes, even from an orthodox point of view, some of which are (see Gutman 1990, pp. 107-119):

  • The experimental “first gassing” of 3 September 1941 took place in a “relatively small gas chamber […] built in Auschwitz I,” meaning the Main Camp, when in fact it allegedly happened in all of the prison cells of the already existing and unaltered basement of Block 11 in that camp.
  • Subsequently, larger and permanent gas chambers were built in Birkenau. The alleged homicidal gas chamber inside the old crematorium at the Main Camp, the Auschwitz Museum’s most prized exhibit to this day, is not given a single word.
  • Starting in March 1942, Jews were unloaded at the railway ramp (the German word for which is misspelled as rampa; correct: Rampe) located inside the Birkenau Camp. However, the Birkenau railway ramp was finished only in early May 1944. Before that, all transports were unloaded at a railway ramp near Auschwitz Station, a mile away from Birkenau.
  • The two “bunkers” of Birkenau are not mentioned at all.
  • The Topf Company built the large Birkenau gas chambers. In fact, Topf built the cremation furnaces, one forced-draft device (which malfunctioned, so they had to take it back), and the ventilation systems for all crematoria. The Birkenau crematorium buildings were built by the Huta Company.
  • “At least 1,600,000 people were murdered” in Birkenau alone. However, today’s orthodox estimate is around one million.

This comes from the world’s most exquisite collection of orthodox Holocaust scholars! (The 2000 Encyclopedia of the Holocaust by Robert Rozett and Shmuel Spector, both prodigious contributors to Gutman’s 1990 encyclopedia, is basically a condensed version of Gutman’s work, with so few details in its entry on Auschwitz – and anything else, for that matter – that it is completely devoid of any specific information about anything.)

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