Szlama Dragon, from Pressac, pp. 161.
Maurice Benroubi, from Pressac, p. 162:Deposition recorded on 10th May 1945 by Judge Jan Sehn, concerning Bunker 1:
«Five hundred [in actual fact 800] metres further on [from Bunker 2] there was another cottage designated Bunker 1. This was also a small brick house divided into just two parts and able to contain altogether 2000 naked persons. [Manifest exaggeration by the witness, practically the rule among all the early accounts. Hoess gives the figure of 800: a «technician« of death, he knew what he was talking about, even if he also tended to massage the figures through «professional pride»] These rooms each had one entrance door and a small window. Near Bunker 1, there was a small barn and two huts. The pits were much further on. They were connected to this Bunker
 by narrow gauge rails.»
Pressac adds (at p. 163):We left the camp. We passed through small clearings, a little wood. About every 300 metres there was a watch tower.
Suddenly, a deportee left the ranks and started running in the direction of the camp shouting «Nein, nein/no, no, I want to go back to the camp». We stopped, an SS man shouted to him to come back. He did not obey, the SS shot him. Four deportees went to fetch him. Three hundred metres further on, another deportee did exactly the same as the first. I could not understand a thing... [it should be pointed out that Mr. Benroubi at the time of his deportation did not speak or understand German, Yiddish or Polish. He was familiar with only French, Spanish and Greek. He describes himself as «a deaf and dumb man in the middle of a fire». Frequently it was not until after the event that he realised what had happened.]
...Ten minutes later, I saw in the distance big heaps of corpses, as if there was a death factory near by. As we approached, we could see them better. They were all mixed up together like wooden dummies. Some had their cheeks torn. Their gold teeth had been extracted. There were women, children, babies.
We marched 200 metres and stopped in a clearing. Two SS officers were there and gave orders to the SS men. Further on about one hundred Sonderkommando men were pushing platforms of 3m by 2m mounted on wheels [along a narrow gauge railway, linking the two gas chambers of Bunker 1 with the first graves of the Birkenwald] and on these platforms there were corpses lying one on top of the other. They put them in front of graves about 20m long, 3m wide and 2.50m deep.
There were about ten graves ready to receive the martyrs. Parallel to these open graves there were some that had been covered with earth and these extended over about 300 metres. It could not have been long since they were covered over. On the earth in places there were trickles of light coloured decomposed fat mixed with blood. After receiving orders, the Capos split us into groups. Some of our comrades took picks and shovels and jumped into the graves. As for me, I went with other comrades to join the Sonderkommando to transport the corpses like them. The men of the Sonderkommando received us with stone throwing and called us all sorts of names. They laughed and amused themselves like criminals, making themselves accomplices of the SS to please them. Basically, it was that, the nazi regime... all of a piece.
In this Kommando, the Capos, the SS and the Sonderkommando all hit us, and threw us on the heaps of bodies to laugh at our fear. The SS fired on us and every day we had to take to assassinated comrades back to the camp to be counted at the evening roll call.
At midday the Sonderkommando ate separately and we ate far from them, almost a double ration and a few potatoes. There was also a distribution of bread from a convoy, stale and even mouldy. Some comrades exchanged non-mouldy bread for mouldy in order to have a bigger quantity. Little pools of water formed in the graves and as we were very thirsty, we quickly jumped down and lapped up the water and climbed out again very fast. We were reduced to the state of animals...
One morning, we had hardly arrived and were getting ready to pick up the picks and shovels, when an SS who was waiting for us ordered the guards to keep marching and to follow him. We crossed the entire clearing and took the track along which the wagons arrived...
We arrived in another clearing. There were two big concrete blocks [the buildings known as «Bunker 1» ] at least 20m wide and perhaps as many long. Near these blocks there were three mountains of bodies. One of men, one of women and one of children under ten.
The Sonderkommando men received us as on previous occasions with stone throwing and abuse. We stopped in front of the big heaps of corpses and the Capos made us understand that we had to load the corpses on the wagon platforms and transport them to the empty graves. We rushed to the wagons and started working like mad... for what mattered most was to get away from the gas chambers...
One morning, the doors of the Bunkers, as they called them, were open. I noticed that there were shower heads and along the walls clothes hooks. I remember that a comrade made signs to me to make me understand that we should never look in that direction, which meant also, «if you don't want to be shot at by a sentry, don't look.. In fact I saw that all the comrades were working with their backs to the Bunkers to avoid giving even the slightest glance towards the two extermination Bunkers...
One day, arriving at work, I saw electricians installing lamp posts by the empty graves and fitting big lamps. I immediately realised that there were also going to be night shifts...
The same day, 4th September 1942, after the roll call, there was a «selection» and contrary to what normally happened every time there was a selection, this time the nazis chose the strongest, the most healthy.
We waited a good hour before departing. A comrade said to me: «What are you doing amongst us? Didn't you hear the order that those who worked in the Sonderkommando were not to step out of the ranks?. I was dumbfounded...
After two hours march we arrived at the Jawischowitz camp.
Milton Buki (Majlech Michal), from Pressac p. 163:Additional details
I had a conversation, recorded on magnetic tape, with Mr. Benroubi. These additional details come either from his personal account, or in response to the questions he was asked.
Arrival at the Bunker I gas chambers and reception of the victims:
On Bunker 1:«The children - about 50 or 60 - were holding hands in ranks of five and arrived at the Bunker accompanied by about ten deportees in civilian clothes, glad to be with them. The members of the Sonderkommando greeted them kindly. Some people had babies in their arms and the Sonderkommando helped them, advancing towards them some hundreds of metres before the gas chamber with a friendly attitude, like when you receive members of the family.»
«To give the deportees confidence and make them enter the showers, i.e. the gas chambers, quietly, the Sonderkommando bandits were dressed in white and acted as if they belonged to the hospital service.
And yet, if one dared a furtive glace:«The Bunker was a brick-built house, with the windows filled in... We had to turn our backs to the Bunker when we picked up the corpses, never look at the gas chambers... »,
«Twenty metres from me, there was a door still open, of the rolling or sliding type, and beyond it on one side a ground floor door through which we could see shower heads. From the back no writing was visible. The Sonderkommando took the people out of the gas chambers and twenty metres away made them into separate piles of women, children and old men.»
«There was no odour around the gas chambers, nor the graves, despite the trickles of fat that oozed out of them.
Moshe Maurice Garbarz, from Pressac pp. 163-64:Declaration made before a notary on 15th December 1980 in Jerusalem under reference No. 623/80. Extracts concerning Bunker 1:
This witness certainly never knew that he had worked at Bunker 1, but two details prove that he did: «a red brick cottage», this is the red house and «a few steps» to climb for access to the opening where the Zyclon-B was introduced is a detail not reported by S. Dragon but confirmed by his drawing. The witness speaks of one gas chamber and one access door. Looking at the drawing of Bunker 1, it can be seen that an observer situated below and to the left would be able to see only one door (D 1) and only one side opening for introducing the toxic gas (01). The gassing took place in chamber K 1. The period, December 1942, indicated by the witness for his time at Bunker 1 is correct. Before November 1942, the bodies were not incinerated, afterwards they were.«On 10th December 1942, I... was arrested by the Germans and transported to Auschwitz where I arrived on the 12th of that month...
The next morning at 5 o'clock, an SS officer accompanied by several men ordered us to go outside and took us to a brick farmhouse on the edge of a wood. In front of this house there were about 40 corpses of shot [?] men. We loaded these bodies onto trolleys mounted on narrow gauge rails. The door of the house was then opened by an SS man. We saw that the interior was full of corpses, some lying some standing and others hanging onto one another. About twenty minutes or perhaps half an hour after the door was opened, we were given the order to remove the bodies and load them on the trolleys.
The bodies were all naked and some had blue stains on them. We took the trolleys to a grave about 40 metres long and I think about 6 metres wide which was about 100 metres [actually 300 to 400] from the house. Before the grave there was another group of deportees who threw the bodies into the hole... We learned that we formed part of a group called a «Sonderkommando« whose job was to transport the bodies of the gassed to the grave...
While, on the first occasion, we were taken to the house after the gassing had already taken place, later we were already there when the convoy arrived. Under these conditions I was able to see the whole process. The men, women and children were made to undress in a shed near the house. They were then obliged to walk very quickly or even run between two ranks of SS who had dogs. In this way they reached the open door of the house and went in. They were told that it was simply a shower for disinfection purposes, after which they would be admitted to the camp to work there under normal conditions. When the interior of the house was absolutely full, the door was closed. Doctor Mengele who was often [present] or another doctor replacing him, gave an SS man the order to inject the gas. To do this he climbed several steps by the side wall of the house and introduced through a little chimney [opening] the contents of the can that he opened with a knife. About twenty minutes after the injection of the gas, the door was opened and the work of removing the bodies commenced about half an hour afterwards. After being taken back to Block 11, we could see the flames that consumed the bodies in the grave.»
For our readers -- There is a not particularly intelligent critique of these statements in "Neither trace nor proof: The seven Auschwitz 'Gassing' sites according to Jean-Claude Pressac," by Enrique Aynat, published by the Institute for Historical Review, vol. 11, p. 177 and available on-line at:Written with his son Elie and published by editions Pion in Paris in 1984 under the title «Un Survivant». Trapped like Mr Benroubi, Mr Garbarz escaped from the work at Bunker 1 in the same way as he did: through being detailed for the Jawischowitz coalmine.
[Extracts from «Un Survivant»:
[Extracts from «Un Survivant»:(1) DEPARTURE FOR THE MINE [page 119]
However, while Mr. Benroubi was unaware of his «luck» which he in fact thought was a misfortune, Mr Gabarz knew exactly what he was doing. The two men worked almost side by side as from 4th September 1942, without ever getting to know one another.By the seventh day, / had lost my last hope of escaping, it was finished, l was trapped... In the evening, for some unknown reason, we came back to the camp a little earlier. Perhaps our SS had a lot of work and preferred to avoid leaving us hanging about over there. We had hardly gone through the gate when the camp loudspeakers made an announcement:
For me, it was a case of leaving my present kommando or dying there. Seeing the gassed victims and wallowing in the reddish mud was absolutely unbearable and made me ill. I made my decision: «if they catch me, too bad! I'm going to die!».Volunteers are wanted for a coalmine, but the seven electricians must not present themselves.»
They lined us up before an SS doctor. We undressed so that he could check that we were not «musulmans», that is that there still remained some flesh on our buttocks. In addition, he made us jump over a ditch 50 or 60 centimetres wide; for me it was child's play, but not for all the deportees. Fortunately our SS man was not there, otherwise he would have recognised me.
(2) THE SONDERKOMMANDO [pages 109 to 115]
One morning the work of our electrician kommando was interrupted: inspection. We had to line up in a single row and not in fives. An SS came along. He chose seven deportees, including myself and Grastain (the future chief electrician of Jawischowitz). We seven had no idea what job awaited us. All we knew was that it was electrical work. I was scared: «Now they're going to see that I know nothing about electricity, that I'm an amateur and a bad one at that».
The SS did not ask if we were real tradesmen. I noticed other strange things: I had never seen such a small kommando, seven people! What is more, an SS took the place of Capo and then not an ordinary SS man, but an Unterscharführer, the equivalent I think, of a sergeant...
But back to my new kommando. The SS was marching three metres from us. I don't know whether he was afraid of being attacked or whether he was simply trying to avoid breathing our smell. Contrary to habit, he said nothing. He did not accuse us of marching too slowly or incorrectly. If l had not learnt to know the SS, / would have thought that this one was a man like other men, and not a machine for killing and torturing.
Once only, during the march, he addressed us in friendly terms, too friendly, wit the voice of a father addressing his children, explaining our future privileges. Each of us would have three cigarettes and a bottle of beer or another drink of our choice (the water there was terrible). We would eat our fill and in a week's time, if we worked well, we would have new clothes and the official right to wash ourselves, we couldn't wish for a better fate.
All seven of us, on arrival, without exchanging a word, understood why our SS had been so benevolent. Immediately my stomach turned over. We saw big rectangles traced on the ground twenty or thirty metres wide by fifty or sixty metres long. In one of them the ground was stained red. Three regularly spaced posts with reflectors on top stood in the middle. The second rectangle was a simple outline on the ground, the soil was the normal colour and instead of the posts, three holes had been dug.
The SS explained: «You see the installation here (he pointed at the posts in the first rectangle.) Over there (he showed the second rectangle) the same thing. You're the electricians, get to it».. Then he withdrew thirty or forty metres. Why so far? I do not know. Perhaps the previous kommando had revolted?
We began our work. Our team of seven included only two real professionals. One had been given special hooks to hoist himself to the top of the posts. He disconnected the electricity and brought down the wires and the reflector. Then we got ourselves into position to pull out the posts. And then wallow in the red, and the red was blood. The first contact with it gave us the shivers and we lost the power to speak. And yet we already knew about it. But between knowing and experiencing there is just no comparison. Underneath us there were men like us and, for sure, the team of our seven predecessors was also beneath our feet...
We carried the three posts, wedged them in the holes that had already been dug and installed the reflectors. This first day we scarcely worked three hours. Then we stayed shut in the hut where we ate. We were forbidden to look at what was happening outside.
The second day we were on the site a little earlier than the first. We had to wait at a distance while the besonderkommando [that's what my comrades and I called it in Yiddish: the German word is Sonderkommando «special Kommando«] finished its work - work that I shall describe for you in a moment.
As the days went by our Unterscharführer became more and more negligent in his surveillance of us. What was the point? It was impossible for us to escape. So we saw everything without really trying to.
We saw a sort of barn closed on three sides, identical to those where our farmers keep the hay, and not far from it three or four pretty little buildings like country houses, only the first of which was close enough to be clearly visible.
The convoys arrived, adult men and little boys together, women, girls and babies together. They went, completely naked, in groups of twenty towards the little house. Despite the distance, we could see that they were not afraid. A strange kommando, dressed in white, led them: four men only, plus two SS. When the people had entered the house, they were shut in by a fairly strong door.
When the door was well and truly bolted, an SS passed with a can (the can I saw looked exactly like a pot of paint) and disappeared from our eyes, hidden by the house. Then, we heard a bang, that of some opening, a trap door rather than a window. Twice, after this bang, we heard the prayer SHEMA ISRAEL («LISTEN ISRAEL, Eternal is our God, the Eternal is one...» a basic Jewish prayer], then we heard cries, but very faintly.
From time to time, at the last minute, just before disappearing behind the door, the people understood. I saw one group of men revolt. The case had been foreseen: a kommando of four or five people was waiting beside the entrance and pushed them inside while an SS used his revolver to shoot some in the head.
The external aspect of the little house was so ordinary that such incidents were very rare. In seven days, I saw only one revolt with my own eyes. But others took place, for several times, from afar, we heard the same characteristic sound of a shot at point blank range.
But let us return to the morning of the second day. The rectangle where we had the previous day installed the posts had been dug out and transformed into a kind of empty swimming pool with cleanly cut edges, about one metre fifty deep. The ground had been left around our posts to stop them falling.
Some rails were installed, starting one metre from the little house. As soon as the Jews were gassed, a new team came along and added rails as far as the edge of the swimming pool. This group also belonged to the besonderkommando. The men of this kommando ate well; they were properly dressed. They lived entirely separately and no longer returned to our camp to sleep. The SS said that in a week we would be enrolled with them. So I now had less than a week in which I had to try something, however desperate.
We saw the special kommando put platform trolleys on the rails. Then they brought out the men, women and children who had been gassed to load them on these flat wagons. In order not to lose any on the way, they stacked them like sacks of flour, five widthways, five lengthways.
Their work was tough and their Capo, a German, would not allow a moment's rest. He was constantly crying: ,,Schneller! Schneller! (Faster! Faster!) otherwise I'll wipe you out, I'll gas you on the spot!» and he kicked them. All the men, women and children were very quickly thrown in the hole and covered with earth.
Then we went into action, wallowing in human blood to recover the lamp posts. I could not understand why the corpses bled. The pressure when they heaped earth on them? Or the effect of the gas? My six companions had received almost new shoes, but not me because my mountain shoes were still in good condition.
At night, another kommando certainly came to dig a new swimming pool around and in the light of our lamp posts because we found it the next morning on arriving. I never saw this kommando, but a comrade said that once he was in a group that had this task. He was taken from his hut, with many other deportees, perhaps 200. They did not belong to the besonderkommando but were from the camp and had not guessed the purpose of this hole.
On the fourth day we were allowed to approach the special kommando at the door of a gas chamber. What we saw shocked us. Whole families holding together in bunches. Dead children still clinging to their mothers, and separating them was a horrible task. All of them had bulging eyes and twisted horrified faces. That day they had brought a transport of women with their children. It seemed to us that most of them had strangled their children and we could understand that watching the child's agony would be unbearable. They had preferred to shorten the suffering by killing them with their own hands.
For the men of the besonderkommando, it must have been just as bad. We imagined one of them by chance seeing his mother or sister or father or wife or a member of his family. What could he do? Nothing.
One day Grastain, the electrician, went into one of the little houses to repair a wire and told us: .«The interior is empty and very dark, without any windows. I didn't have time to look in detail, I was too scared. «
From our position, we could see the victims only at the moment when they arrived near the closest gas chamber. Some of us thought that they took off their clothes in the bam, but I disagreed. In there they would have discovered a store of masses of hair, classified by colour, stocks of dolls, spectacles, clothing, everything well sorted and neatly stocked. They would realise that it was a trap. Furthermore, the women would refuse to undress in public. No, in my opinion there were, a little further away and hidden from our eyes, huts where the people undressed before passing behind the barn without ever seeing its contents...
Recently I have been trying to collect all my memories of the gas chambers into a coherent whole. But in my head they appear as a series of photographs, clear and fixed. I can look at them one at a time, but have difficulty in arranging them logically:
So, the hole was enormous, designed to bury several thousand Jews. In any case if it had contained only a few corpses, the ground would not have been impregnated with blood. Now, four houses and twenty persons per house was not enough to fill such a swimming pool.
I believe that the besonder worked a good part of of the night. We saw only the last group of victims, the previous ones being already buried in the grave. However, such an explanation does not agree with another of my memories: one morning on arriving / went to the edge of the grave. I was made to back away, but I had a chance to see the depth and it was still empty. I think that that particular night, the besonder for once had rested and that the grave was simply going to be filled with the bodies of comrades killed in the camp. It was necessary to get rid of the bodies and at the time the Krematorium was still not completed.
These little gassing houses belonged to the first type of installation at Birkenau. They were later replaced by industrial gas chambers where a thousand people at a time were liquidated and then not buried but immediately passed on to the Krematorium. I fortunately was not a witness of that, but was informed indirectly.
On the other hand, I learnt from the mouth of an eye witness, Erko Hajblum (a prisoner with the number 49269 who had not come from Pithiviers but from Beaune-la-Rolande) what happened to our swimming pools for corpses. I leave him to tell the story:Two months later I met a deportee still employed on disinterring the dead. No more mud: the ground had frozen. The soil and the bodies had to be broken up with pickaxes.,,When the first Krematorium furnace was operational, the victims were removed to be burnt. I was in the kommando that disinterred the dead, thousands of dead.
We waded through a mixture of putrifying bodies and mud. We should have had gas masks. The bodies seemed to come up to the surface, as if the ground didn't want them. What you went through, Maurice, is nothing beside that. After a week I thought / was going mad and decided to commit suicide by letting myself die, as many comrades had done around me.
I was saved by a friend who worked at Kanada, the big Birkenau sorting centre. He couldn't stand seeing all these clothes and personal objects coming from gassed Jews. He succeeded in getting into the bricklayer kommando as an instructor, and he gave me his place.
In it, Aynat states:
According to this logic, if six students were asked to describe their high school auditorium and the descriptions differed, the auditorium never existed. ("Ergo, based on the sources provided, it is not possible in the case of the auditorium to maintain its historical reality.") I'd like to take the discussion beyond this primitive stage of denial.In short, as authority for the existence and functioning of a gas chamber in Bunker 1, Pressac provides only six testimonies. These testimonies are generally very vague, and when by exception they are specific on some point or another, contradictions arise. Ergo, based on the sources provided by Pressac, it is not possible in the case of Bunker 1 to maintain the historic reality of any execution gas chambers.
Consequently, I ask the posters who do not believe the statements to tell the readers whether they think the witness is lying or mistaken. If the witness is claimed to be lying, please provide proof of that claim. If the witness is supposed to be mistaken, please provide a reasonable alternative explanation for the descriptions.
If the statements are supposed to be the result of an ongoing 50 year multi-national conspiracy, please provide specific evidence for that proposition.