[Moderator note for clarity:
For the new readers, the crematorium chimneys under question here could not have given off flames unless there was a fire underway indicating a serious malfunction that would have been destructive to the crematorium at Auschwitz-Birkenau. For more see:
http://codoh.com/library/document/1662. Thanks. M1]
These are the ones I have thus far:
1. Polish resistance report dated June 22, 1943
At the present time, there are three large crematoria at Birkenau, for 10,000 bodies per day, which burn corpses all the time and are called ‘Eternal Fire’ by the local population.”
2. F. Friedman, This was Oswiecim. The story of a murder camp, The United Jewish Relief Appeal, London 1946, p. 55
The gas chambers worked day and night. The crematorium chimneys belched not only smoke, but pillars of fire, three to four metres high.
3. Nyiszli, Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account
While they sorted us out for transportation I had a chance to look around. In the light of the dying sun the image glimpsed earlier through the crack in the box car seemed to have changed, grown more eery and menacing. One object immediately caught my eye: an immense square chimney, built of red bricks, tapering towards the summit. It towered above a two-story building and looked like a strange factory chimney. I was especially struck by the enormous tongues of flame rising between the lightning rods, which were set at angles on the square tops of the chimney. I tried to imagine what hellish cooking would require such a tremendous fire. Suddenly I realized that we were in Germany, the land of the crematory ovens. I had spent ten years in this country, first as a student, later as a doctor, and knew that even the smallest city had its crematorium.
So the “factory” was a crematorium. A little farther on I saw a second building with its chimney; then, almost hidden in a thicket, a third, whose chimneys were spewing the same flames. A faint wind brought the smoke towards me. My nose, then my throat, were filled with the nauseating odor of burning flesh and scorched hair.
Annihilation time had come for the 4,500 inhabitants of the Gypsy Camp. The measures taken were the same as those taken for the liquidation of the Czech Camp. All the barracks were quarantined. SS guards, leading their police dogs, invaded the Gypsy quarters and chased the inhabitants outside, where they were made to line up. Rations of bread and salami were distributed.The gypsies were made to believe that they were being shipped to another camp, and they swallowed the story. A very easy and efficacious way of calming their fears. No one thought of the crematoriums, for then why would rations of food have been distributed?
This strategy on the part of the SS was dictated neither by pity nor a regard for those condemned to death, but merely by their desire to expedite a large group of people, without any unnecessary incidents or delays, to the gas chambers, guarded by a relatively small patrol. The strategy worked to perfection. Everything went off as planned. Throughout the night the chimneys of number one and two crematoriums sent flames roaring skyward, so that the entire camp was lighted with a sinister glow.
4. Wiesel, Night
On the third night, as we were sleeping, some of us sitting, huddled against each other, some of us standing, a piercing cry broke the silence: ”Fire! I see a fire! I see a fire!" There was a moment of panic. Who had screamed? It was Mrs. Schächter. Standing in the middle of the car, in the faint light fil- tering through the windows, she looked like a withered tree in a field of wheat. She was howling, pointing through the window: “Look! Look at this fire! This terrible fire! Have mercy on me!” Some pressed against the bars to see. There was nothing. Only the darkness of night. It took us a long time to recover from this harsh awakening. We were still trembling, and with every screech of the wheels, we felt the abyss opening beneath us. Unable to still our anguish, we tried to reassure each other: “She is mad, poor woman…” Someone had placed a damp rag on her forehead. But she nev- ertheless continued to scream: “Fire! I see a fire!” Her little boy was crying, clinging to her skirt, trying to hold her hand: “It's nothing, Mother! There's nothing there…Please sit down…” He pained me even more than did his mother's cries. Some of the women tried to calm her: “You'll see, you'll find your husband and sons again…In a few days…” She continued to scream and sob fitfully. “Jews, listen to me,” she cried. “I see a fire! I see flames, huge flames!” It was as though she were possessed by some evil spirit. We tried to reason with her, more to calm ourselves, to catch our breath, than to soothe her: “She is hallucinating because she is thirsty, poor woman… That's why she speaks of flames devouring her…” But it was all in vain. Our terror could no longer be contained. Our nerves had reached a breaking point. Our very skin was aching. It was as though madness had infected all of us. We gave up. A few young men forced her to sit down, then bound and gagged her. Silence fell again. The small boy sat next to his mother, crying. I started to breathe normally again as I listened to the rhythmic pounding of the wheels on the tracks as the train raced through the night. We could begin to doze again, to rest, to dream… And so an hour or two passed. Another scream jolted us. The woman had broken free of her bonds and was shouting louder than before: “Look at the fire! Look at the flames! Flames everywhere…” Once again, the young men bound and gagged her. When they actually struck her, people shouted their approval: “Keep her quiet! Make that madwoman shut up. She's not the only one here…” She received several blows to the head, blows that could have been lethal. Her son was clinging desperately to her, not uttering a word. He was no longer crying. The night seemed endless. By daybreak, Mrs. Schächter had settled down. Crouching in her corner, her blank gaze fixed on some faraway place, she no longer saw us. She remained like that all day, mute, absent, alone in the midst of us. Toward evening she began to shout again: “The fire, over there!” She was pointing somewhere in the distance, always the same place. No one felt like beating her anymore. The heat, the thirst, the stench, the lack of air, were suffocating us. Yet all that was nothing compared to her screams, which tore us apart. A few more days and all of us would have started to scream. But we were pulling into a station. Someone near a window read to us: “Auschwitz.” Nobody had ever heard that name. THE TRAIN did not move again. The afternoon went by slowly. Then the doors of the wagon slid open. Two men were given per- mission to fetch water. When they came back, they told us that they had learned, in exchange for a gold watch, that this was the final destination. We were to leave the train here. There was a labor camp on the site. The conditions were good. Families would not be separated. Only the young would work in the factories. The old and the sick would find work in the fields. Confidence soared. Suddenly we felt free of the previous nights' terror. We gave thanks to God. Mrs. Schächter remained huddled in her corner, mute, untouched by the optimism around her. Her little one was stroking her hand. Dusk began to fill the wagon. We ate what was left of our food. At ten o'clock in the evening, we were all trying to find a position for a quick nap and soon we were dozing. Suddenly: “Look at the fire! Look at the flames! Over there!” With a start, we awoke and rushed to the window yet again. We had believed her, if only for an instant. But there was nothing outside but darkness. We returned to our places, shame in our souls but fear gnawing at us nevertheless. As she went on howl- ing, she was struck again. Only with great difficulty did we suc- ceed in quieting her down. The man in charge of our wagon called out to a German officer strolling down the platform, asking him to have the sick woman moved to a hospital car. “Patience,” the German replied, “patience. She'll be taken there soon.” Around eleven o'clock, the train began to move again. We pressed against the windows. The convoy was rolling slowly. A quarter of an hour later, it began to slow down even more. Through the windows, we saw barbed wire; we understood that this was the camp. We had forgotten Mrs. Schächter's existence. Suddenly there was a terrible scream: “Jews, look! Look at the fire! Look at the flames!” And as the train stopped, this time we saw flames rising from a tall chimney into a black sky. Mrs. Schächter had fallen silent on her own. Mute again, indifferent, absent, she had returned to her corner. We stared at the flames in the darkness. A wretched stench floated in the air.
5. Testimony of Rudolf Vrba in The World at War, episode 20. (In the same episode, Rita Boas Koupman speaks of "flames until the sky" but does not specify that they came from chimneys.)
6. Langbein, People in Auschwitz, p. 349 - testimony of Kaduk, Broad and Bartelmes
‘‘We really did not know anything about Auschwitz and the extermination of
the Jews.’’ This is what many witnesses who occupied high positions in the
government or the party when the Auschwitz crematoriums burned day and
night told the Frankfurt judges. Such assurances can be heard not only in Ger-
man courtrooms. Many people who had high rank and standing in the Third
Reich afterward endeavored to demonstrate that the extermination of human
beings had been a well-kept secret of the ss. Kaduk gave them a drastic re-
sponse when he let loose one day during the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial: ‘‘When
the ovens were burning, the leaping flame was five meters high and could be
seen from the railroad station. That station was full of civilians. No one said
anything. There also were furlough trains that often stopped in Auschwitz for
a while. Sometimes the whole station was fogged in; then the Wehrmacht offi-
cers looked out the window and asked why there was such a sweet smell. But
no one had the courage to ask, What’s going on? There is no sugar refinery in
this place. Why are these chimneys here?’’
Pery Broad restrained himself during the trial, but at the preliminary ex-
amination he did not mince words. ‘‘The pitch-black smoke clouds could be
seen and heard for kilometers. The stench was simply unbearable. The flames
that came from the chimneys of the crematorium could also be seen from afar.
In those days (1944) I had the impression that people were no longer trying
to keep these things secret or to camouflage them.’’ Adolf Bartelmes, a rail-
road official in Auschwitz, also confirmed that the flames could be seen from
a distance of fifteen or twenty kilometers and that people knew that human
beings were being burned there. From the busy railroad tracks it was possible
to see columns of inmates escorted by ss men.
7. Langbein, People in Auschwitz, p. 118
Thomas Geve reports that
in the spring of 1944 Hungarian Jews in Birkenau desperately inquired about
the children’s camp. When these new arrivals were separated from their chil-
dren in the selection, the ss calmed them by saying that the children would
be housed in a separate children’s camp. Every day the women saw flames
coming out of the chimneys of the nearby crematoriums and were pursued
by the odor of burned human flesh, and yet they refused to believe the truth.
Occasionally children were allowed to live, and so the mothers regarded this
as an indication that the lies of the ss might be the truth after all.
8. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 26
I inquired from prisoners who had been there for some time where my colleague and friend P had been sent.
"Was he sent to the left side?"
"Yes," I replied.
"Then you can see him there," I was told.
"Where?" A hand pointed to the chimney a few hundred yards off, which was sending a column of flame up into the grey sky of Poland. It dissolved into a sinister cloud of smoke.
"That's where your friend is, floating up to Heaven," was the answer. But I still did not understand until the truth was explained to me in plain words.
9. Paul Steinberg, Speak You Also: A Survivor’s Reckoning (New York, 2000), pp. 97–98; quoted in Friedlander, The Years of Extermination
And while this strange debate [over engaging in an uprising or not] is going on the Hungarians arrive, whole trainloads of them, two or three a day. . . . Almost all transports wind up in the gas chamber: men, women, children. The labor camps are stuffed to bursting; they wouldn’t know what to do with more workers. . . . The crematoria are going full bore around the clock. We hear from Birkenau that they’ve burned 3,000, then 3,500, and last week up to 4,000 bodies a day. The new Sonderkommando had been doubled to keep everything running smoothly between the gas chambers and the ovens, day and night. From the chimneys flames shoot thirty feet into the air, visible for leagues around at night, and the oppressive stench of burnt flesh can be smelt as far as Buna.
10.Yitzhak Cohen http://www1.yadvashem.org/exhibitions/a ... ssing.html
11. Martin Weiss http://www.ushmm.org/museum/publicprogr ... 80&lang=en - although it's not entirely clear if he means to have his flames coming out of the chimneys or separate from them.
12. Miso Vogel http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/media_oi.php?MediaId=1187
13. testimony of Henryk Tauber
But there were also cases when we put a greater number of bodies into the muffle. Eight Muselmänner also found space in a muffle. We burned these greater loads during air raids, unbeknown to the crematorium Kapo: we did this so there would be larger flames coming out of the chimney and the aviators would notice this.
14. Gideon Grief, We Wept Without Tears. testimony of Eliezer Eisenschmidt.
In the spring and summer of 1944, when British and American aircraft overflew Auschwitz, we let the fire billow up the smokestacks because we hoped the pilots would notice it and bomb the crematoriums.
15. Irving Roth http://www.dailytexanonline.com/person/irving-roth
“I look ahead, and I see distant flames coming out of chimneys,” Roth said. “Twenty-four hours after I arrived in Auschwitz, I had no grandfather, I had no grandmother, I had no aunt and my 10-year-old cousin was nothing but smoke and ashes.”
16. Arnold Friedman, testimony at the Zundel trial
17. Magda Herzberger http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Holocau ... 003758.asp
18. Peter Avram Zuckerman http://www.hpn.org/pazpax/pazholocaust.html