Apppendix B - Dimensions of the New Gas Chmabers

The primary source used for the sizes of the gas chambers was the work of Arad, primarily: Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka (Reference 1). Figure B1 shows a plan view of the new gas chamber building based on the dimensions put forth by Arad. He states that there were 10 chambers, each 4 by 8 meters [13 x 26 feet] arranged five to a side along a central corridor. If it is assumed that the corridor was 3 meters [10 feet] wide, the building would have been about 21 by 20 meters [69 x 65.6 feet], not factoring in the thickness of the walls. The motor room housing the engine used to generate the poison gases was assumed to be the same size as in the old gas chamber building, namely 4 meters [13 feet] square. It should be noted that there are discrepancies in other sources not only in the sizes of the gas chambers but in their number. Arad notes that Ruckerl assigns only six chambers to the new building.

Arad also states that the doors opening into the corridor were 90cm wide, and that those opening to the outside were 2.5 meters [8 feet] wide. I assumed that the brick walls were 20cm [8 inches] thick. It is also assumed that the corridor had to be at least 2.2 meters [7 feet] wide for the inside doors to clear one another when opening. Factoring these dimensions, one arrives at a plan view having maximum overall dimensions of 18 by 21.4 meters [59 x 70 feet]. Viernik testified that the chambers were 7 by 7 meters [23 x 23 feet] on a side. In the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem he said the following (Reference 22, P1205):

Q. What was the length of the large building containing the gas chambers?

A. The gas chambers of the large building were seven by seven. The entire building was thirty-six metres in length and eighteen metres wide.

Q. You could not see the inside of the building of the gas chambers?

A. When the doors were open, I did see them.

Q. When they removed the dead bodies, could you look inside the gas chambers?

A. Yes. The doors were open - they were open almost completely, and when they were opened, the dead bodies fell out, since they had been lying there crowded together. Into a room of 1.90 metres, they forced many inside.

Q. Can you describe the inner structure?

A. It was a room. The floor was somewhat sloping. When the people inside were suffocated, they used to wash the floor with a hosepipe or a bucket of water. When they removed the bodies, they had been suffocated.

Q. Where did the gas enter?

A. That is in the sketch. Here was the gas engine, the engine which forced the gas in. And there were pipes with valves. They would open the valve into the chamber where the people were. There was an engine of a Soviet tank standing there, and in this way the gas was introduced. Here were the doors where people entered from one side, and, on the other, this was the large door which opened along almost the entire wall. And, after forty to forty-five minutes had passed, they would stop, they would open the door, and the dead bodies would fall out. And here was a spare engine next to the three. Numbers 1, 2, 3 and 26 were the engines that generated the electricity, and there, too, there was a motor.

Elsewhere, Viernik cites the sizes of the doors, figures which are the same as Arad's. If one uses Viernik's figures, the building would have been about 17 by 36 meters [56 x 118 feet] - the corridor again 2.2 meters wide. Arad was no stranger to Viernik, and quotes him in the chapter describing the construction of the gas chambers, Reference 1, P120: so I assume that he had good reason to discount Viernik's numbers.

Arad notes that there is also disagreement on the number of chambers. He mentions that the new gassing building may have had only had six chambers Reference 1, P119:

The motor room is simply assigned the same dimensions as the one in the old facility: 4 X 4 meters [13 x 13 feet]. Viernick testified in the Eichmann trial that there were four engines in this room. Two or more of these motors were hooked to electric generators and furnished electricity to the camp. One was kept in reserve. Figure A2 shows a likely candidate for the engines used (captured eight cylinder diesels used as the power plant in the T34 Soviet tanks) ... This engine is large. It appears to be about one meter [10 feet] long, so with four motors, ancillary electric generators, and control panels all housed in this room, it must have been crowded. It is therefore quite possible that the room was larger than what the plan view shows in figure B1.