Website Note: We shall shortly (by the end of 2002) post the entire 150 page British Army Intelligence dossier on Aumeier, erstwhile commandant of Auschwitz, in text and pdf form. This was the file which (like the Hoess interrogations) Pelt never bothered to read when writing his famous history of Auschwitz. [Check this link.]
Aumeier's testimony is particularly interesting because it does not square with the officially approved history of the camp. Most of the posted material is in German but see:
(b) Extermination of the Jews in Gas Chambers
Auschwitz earned its notorious reputation as "Vernichtungs-lager Auschwitz" from Nov 42 onwards. In that month the gassing of some 50-80 prisoners took place very secretly. It was done in the mortuary which was attached to the crematorium. The organisers of this were the commandant, the camp doctor and Ustuf Grabner. Some medical orderlies wore also present. Aumeier knew nothing this extermination and was only taken into the confidence of the Camp comd the next day. That day the camp doctor, Grabner, Hessler, Schwarz and Aumeier were summoned to the commandant office when the comd told then under the strictest secrecy that a he had received an order, from the RFSS via the RSHA in BERLIN that all Jewish prisoners who were infirm, sick or incapable of work were to be gassed in order to prevent further spreading of diseases. The commandant mentioned that the previous night the first exterminations had been carried out and that it was found that the improvised gas chamber did nothing like meet the needs so that in the erection of the new crematoria in Birkenau gas chambers will have to be built as permanent fixtures. The whole affair was "Geheime Reichssache" and they were warned that any indiscretion on the subject or careless talk would on the orders of Himmler be punished by death. On the strength of this they had to sign a statement that they were warned and instructed to that effect and this document was kept under lock and key in the office of the comd. Any additional members that joined the gang later were likewise put into the picture and warned by Ustuf Grabner and their documents were under his supervision. Aumeier states that the general reaction at the briefing was that of shock at such drastic measures but that they were nevertheless very excited. In the ensuing days three or four more exterminations took place in the Stammlager but the means were really inadequate for their ambitious designs. It was usually done in the late evening hours.
In the mortuary there were 2 or 3 ventilation shafts. Through these cyclone gas was poured by the medical orderlies who were protected by gas masks. The initiated members were not allowed to approach the spectacle for self protection, in case any gas might leak out of the chamber.
The victims arrived with their transports and were received into the camp by the members of the political Abteilung who sought out their prey. All those for extermination were segregated and told to undress for disinfection and de-lousing. They were then marched of to the gas chamber under the pretext of having a bath and the doors were securely locked behind them. The medical orderlies then poured in the lethal gas and the guards(selected by Aumeier) marched off. Aumeier was told that the death struggle only lasted about one minute. It must be noted that the prisoners never had the slightest idea of their dreadful fate. The children were mostly with their parents and the babies were invariably carried by their mothers.
On the following day the gas chamber was opened and ventilated, and this was also an opportunity for sightseeing by the specially selected sadists. Aumeier states that oven this cold-blooded extermination was too much for their refined senses, so that they had to retire to their casino where they indulged in the consumption of alcohol.
c. Further gas chambers in Birkenau
As has been mentioned before, in order to comply with the demands for extermination further Gas chambers were erected in Birkenau near the place where the mass graves were. For this purpose, they converted two empty houses which were fitted out in accordance with the results of former experiences. This work was done by Bauleitung. One house had two, the other one four gas chambers. The two houses were later known as "Bunker I" and "Bunker II". Each chamber was designed to cater for 150 victims. The first exterminations there took place early in Jan 43. By this time Sonderkommando had been set up of highly reliable -men under Ustf Grabner, who was directly responsible to the Camp comd. The exterminations as such were the commitment of Ustuf Hessler. The scene of the crime was separated by a series of notices marked: "Sicherungsbereich. Zutritt strengstens verboten. Der Lagerkommandant". When gassings were in progress a chain of sentries was put up around the whole area. To minimise any publicity only eight men were used. In Birkenau any child under eleven years was automatically murdered by these means. Sicherungsführer (Security offrs) of the guards during Aumeier's time were Hastuf Schwarz, Hastuf Hofmann, Ostuf Schwarzhuber, Ostuf Sell, Ostuf Müller, Ustuf Grabner, Ustuf Jostinger, Ustuf Hessler, Ostuf Pfütze, Haschaf Palli and Aumeier.
The day on which the chambers were ventilated (i.e. the day after the gassing took place) the medical orderlies under the direction of the camp dentist started an organised mutilation of the corpses, i.e. the removal of all gold teeth, and in the case of women the hair was cut off. Whether any skin was removed for the manufacture of lampshades as happened in other camps, is unknown to Aumeier.
After the mutilation had ceased a Häftlingskommando consisting of hulky, well-fed and strong Jewish prisoners came in under Hessler and removed the corpses to the crematorium. These prisoners were guarded by the Sonderkommando and were kept completely isolated from all other prisoners. In some cases the bodies were burnt. in the pits which were previously used when the order to bury all bodies was carried out.
In Apr 43 the new crematorium in Birkenau was ready and consisted of eight ovens. By this time the ingenuity of the Sonderkommando had reached its peak in that below the crematorium the gas chambers were situated and were large enough to cope with 800 prisoners at one time. In front of the gas chamber were the undressing rooms. To save time the "Bunker" was fitted out with a proper airing and ventilating mechanism so that one could enter the chamber already after some five or six hours. The bodies were placed on a lift and taken to the floor above and slid straight into the oven for immediate burning. All valuables belonging to the victims were sent to BERLIN (ss W. u. V.H.A.). Likewise were the teeth and hair. Clothes, in so far as they were of use to the prison , were retained and partially issued to the prisoners.
May 43 saw the opening of another crematorium where exterminations were carried out alternatively. The actual gas chamber was a little smaller and could only hold 500 victims. Yet a third crematorium was under construction when Aumeier left and was similar in every respect to Crematorium II. It had only five ovens.