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19.05.2020

"Holocaust Testimonies" - piece of gas chamber equipment

A piece of gas chamber equipment

The SS men push people into the chambers. “Fill them up good” orders capitan Wirth. The naked people are standing on the feet of others, 700-800 in area of 25 m sq. and a space of 45 cu. m. The doors close. The remaining passengers from the train are still waiting naked outside. Someone says to me: “Naked, and in the winter, they’ll catch their death!” “But that’s what they’re here for” – that was the answer! At this moment I suddenly grasp why this place is called “Hackenholt Foundation”: Hackenholt operates the “diesel” whose exhaust will kill these unfortunates! Hackenholt tries to start the engine. But he can’t do it. Wirth comes up. It’s obvious that he is afraid because I am a witness to this failure. Yes, I see everything and I wait. My stopwatch remembers everything: 50 minutes, 70 minutes, the engine still won’t work. People wait in the gas chambers. In vain. Their crying can be heard. […] After two hours 49 minutes – the stopwatch has recorded everything precisely – the engine starts.[…] 25 minutes pass; it’s the truth, many are already dead. […] After 28 minutes only a few are still alive. In the end, after 32 minutes, they are all dead! […] The dead are still in an upright position, like basalt columns; they could not move or bend over because there was no room at all. Even after death, individual families can be recognized, who still hold tight by the hands. With difficulty, they are separated from each other in order to empty the chambers for the next “load".

Excerpt from Kurt Gerstein’s report, R. Kuwałek, Death Camp in Bełżec, Lublin 2016, pp.250.

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