GERMANY: Dachau Prison

Randy Black writes: Christopher Jones may wish to re-think his comment that there were no gas chambers at Dachau. Close to the end of 1933, 4,821 registered prisoners had arrived in Dachau. By 1945, 206,206 prisoners had been registered. The total number of dead may never be known. Soviet prisoners of war were summarily executed by the thousands, civilians were assigned by the Gestapo to the camp for "Sonderbehandlung" ("Special Treatment," a Nazi euphemism which signified "killing"), and a great many died in evacuation marches and death marches. These deaths were never registered. The International Tracing Service in Arolson reports 31,591 dead among the prisoners that were registered. (8)

By early 1942, the death rate outstripped the capacity of the old crematorium originally built by Topf & Söhne. The manufacturer's name is quite visible on the doors of the furnaces. <photo 11> <> <photo 12> <>  Plans were drawn up in April, 1942 for a more efficient four-furnace crematory which, from its early planning days, incorporated five gas chambers. (14)<photo 13> <> <photo 14> <> <photo 15> <>  On July 23, 1942, the order was issued from the SS Headquarters in Berlin to commence construction of the crematorium at a cost of RM150,000. <photo 16> <>  
The new crematorium incorporating five gas chambers -- four of which were designed specifically for fumigation and a fifth for homicidal purposes -- was completed in 1943. ibid.

It may come as a surprise to many readers that Baracke X incorporates five gas chambers, all of which were included in the original design. These were built and exist to this date. Most visitors to the Dachau Camp, drawn by horror to the main entrance of the crematorium and to the large room designated as a disguised homicidal gas chamber, rarely venture beyond these areas. The chamber (room # 8) is located next to a mortuary room, which in turn connects to the large area housing the four huge furnaces.

There are, however, four additional chambers which figure prominently in the original drawings of the new crematorium (Baracke X) . These are located on the southern side of the building and were specifically designed and constructed for fumigation or disinfestation. <photo 26> <> <photo 27> <>  The overcrowding of Dachau brought serious problems to the inmates, the most dangerous of which was lice-borne typhus. These four gas chambers were specifically designed to fumigate clothing, bedding, blankets, etc., using a well-proven technique: hydrogen cyanide gas in the form of Zyklon-B pellets. These chambers were identical in design as those proposed for the same purpose at Auschwitz.

Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: February 1, 2005