The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/aktion.reinhard/treblinka/hoess-at-treblinka

Source: _The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: a history of Nazi Germany,
Wiiliam L. Shirer; ISBN 0-449-21977-1; pp. 1260-1262

"...For a time there was quite a bit of rivalry among the S.S. leaders as
to which was the most efficient gas to speed the Jews to their death.
Speed was an important factor, especially at Auschwitz, where towards the
end the camp was setting new records by gassing 6,000 victims a day. One
of the camp's commanders for a period was Rudolf Hoess, an ex-convict once
found guilty of murder, who deposed at Nurenberg on the superiority of the
gas he employed.

   The "Final Solution" of the Jewish question meant the complete 
   extermination of all Jews in Europe. I was ordered to establish 
   externimation facilities at Auschwitz in June 1941. At that time 
   there were already in the general government of Poland three other 
   exterminatin camps: Belzec, Treblinka, and Wolzek...

   I visited Treblinka to find out how they carried out their 
   extermination. The camp commandant at Treblinka told me that he 
   had liquidated 80,000 in the course of half a year. He was 
   principally concerned with liquidating all the Jews from the 
   Warsaw ghetto.

   He used monoxide gas and I did not think that his methods were 
   very efficient. So when I set up the extermination building at 
   Auschwitz, I used Zyclon B, which was a crystallized prussic acid 
   which we dropped into the death chamber from a small opening. 
   It took from three to fifteen minutes to kill the people in the 
   death chamber, depending upon climatic conditions. 

   We knew when the people were dead because their screaming stopped. 
   We usually waited about a half hour before we opened the door and 
   removed the bodies. After the bodies were removed our special
   commandos took off the rings and extracted the gold fom the teeth 
   of the corpses. 

   Another improvement we made over Treblinka was that we built our 
   gas chambers to accomodate 2,000 people at one time, whereas at 
   Treblinka their ten gas chambers only accomodated 200 people each.

"Hoess then explained how the victims were 'selected' for the gas
chambers, since not all the incoming prisoners were done away with--at
least not at once, becuase some of them were needed to labor in the I.G.
Farben chemical works and Krupp's factory until they became exhausted and
were ready for the "final solution." 

   We had two S.S. doctors on duty at Auschwitz to examine the 
   incoming transports of prisoners. These would be marched by 
   one of the doctors, who would make spot decisions as they walked 
   by. Those who were fit to work were sent into the camp. Others 
   were snt immediately to the extermination plants. Children of 
   tender yars were invariably exterminated since by reason of their 
   youth they were unable to work.

"Always Herr Hoess kept making improvements in the art of mass killing.

   Still another improvement we made over Treblinka was that at 
   Treblinka the victims almost always knew that they were to be 
   exterminated, while at Auschwitz we endeavored to fool the victims 
   into thinking that they were to go through a delousing process. 
   Of course, frequently they realized our true intentions and we 
   sometimes had riots and difficulties. Very frequently women would 
   hide their children under the clothes but of course when we found 
   them we would send the children to be exterminated. 

   We were required to carry out these exterminations in secrecy, 
   but of course the foul burning of bodies permeated the entire area 
   and all the people in the communities knew that exterminatins were 
   going on at Auschwitz

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