Diary of Johann Paul Kremer

September 1-5, 1942

This document is one page from the most famous "insider" views of the Nazi extermination process: the diary of SS Dr. Johann Paul Kremer.

Dr. Kremer arrived at Auschwitz on August 30, 1942, where he replaced a doctor who had fallen sick. His diary is remarkable not only for its explicit mentions of the gassing process, but for the way which Kremer continues to relate the everyday things one might find in any diary: where he lunched, what he ate, what films he saw, etc.

This diary page covers only five days, and includes his first witnessing of a "special action" (gassing).


Translation:

Wrote off to Berlin for officers' cap, belt, suspenders. In afternoon attended block gassing with Zyklon B against lice.
 
September 1, 1942
For the first time, at 3:00 A.M. outside, attended a special action. Dante's Inferno seems to me almost a comedy compared to this. They don't call Auschwitz the camp of annihilation for nothing!
 
September 2, 1942
For the first time, came down with the diarrhea with vomiting and colic-type attacks of pain which have hit everyone here in the camp. It cannot be the water as I have not drunk a drop. Also the bread cannot be responsible, as those who have eaten only white bread (special diets) have also come down with it. Most probably the reason is the unhealthy continental and very dry tropical climate with its dust and masses of vermin (flies).
 
September 3, 1942
To combat the diarrhea: 1 day of gruel and peppermint tea, followed by a week's special diet. Charcoal and Tannalbin at intervals. Already considerably better.
 
September 4, 1942
In the morning attended a special action from the women's concentration camp (Muslims); the most dreadful of horrors. Master-Sergeant Thilo (troop doctor) was right when he said to me that this is the anus mundi. In the evening towards 8:00 attended another special action from Holland. Because of the special rations they get a fifth of a liter of schnapps, 5 cigarettes, 100 g salami and bread, the men all clamor to take part in such actions. Today and tomorrow (Sunday) work.
 
September 5, 1942


Transcription:

Von Berlin schriftlich Führermütze, Koppel und Hosenträger angefordert. Nachmittags bei der Vergasung eines Blocks mit Zyclon B gegen die Läuse.
 
1. September 1942
Zum 1. Male draussen um 3 Uhr früh bei einer Sonderaktion zugegen. Im Vergleich hierzu erscheint mir das Dante'sche Inferno fast wie eine Komödie. Umsonst wird Auschwitz nicht das Lager der Vernichtung genannt!
 
2. September 1942
Zum 1. Male an der hier im Lager jeden befallenden Durchfällen mit Erbrechen und kolikartigen anfallsweisen Schmerz erkrankt. Da ich keinen Tropfen Wasser getrunken, kann es hieran nicht liegen. Auch das Brot kann so nicht schuld sein, da auch solche erkranken, die nur Weißbrot (Diät) zu sich genommen haben. Höchstwahrscheinlich liegt's an dem ungesunden kontinentalen und sehr trockenen Tropenklima mit seinen Staub- und Ungeziefermassen (Fliegen).
 
3. September 1942
Gegen die Durchfälle: 1 Tag Schleimsuppe und Pfefferminztee, dann Diät für eine Woche. Zwischendurch Kohle und Tannalbin. Schon erhebliche Besserung.
 
4. September 1942
Heute nachmittag bei einer Sonderaktion aus dem F.K.L. (Muselmänner): das Schrecklichste der Schrecken. Hschf. Thilo (Truppenarzt) hat Recht, wenn er mir heute sagte, wir befänden uns hier am anus mundi. Abends gegen 8 Uhr wieder bei einer Sonderaktion aus Holland. Wegen der dabei abfallenden Sonderverpflegung, bestehend aus einem fünftel Liter Schnaps, 5 Zigaretten, 100 g Wurst und Brot, drängen sich die Männer zu solchen Aktionen. Heute und morgen (Sonntag) Dienst.
 
5. September 1942

Diary of Johann Paul Kremer, September 1-5, 1942


The reproduction of this page was taken from Death Books From Auschwitz: Remnants, Vol. I, Appendix, 1995, p. 185.

An English translation of this document beyond this one page can be found in "The Good Old Days": The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders, Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen, and Volker Riess, Eds., 1991, pp. 256ff. Kremer's diary and testimony are put in context in Nazi Mass Murder, Eugen Kogon, Hermann Langbein, and Adalbert Rückerl, Eds., 1993, pp. 149-50, 153-4.

It is unknown to us whether the underlining of key words was performed by Dr. Kremer or by a postwar cataloguer of this document, or perhaps an archivist. (In particular, it would seem odd for Dr. Kremer to have underlined "Zyclon B," though reasonable explanations might be hypothesized for the others.) In any case, we have textually reproduced the underlining as shown.

After the war, Dr. Kremer testified about his diary. An extract is found in "The Good Old Days", p. 258:

Particularly unpleasant was the gassing of the emaciated women from the women's camp, who were generally known as 'Muslims'. I remember I once took part in the gassing of one of these groups of women. I cannot say how big the group was. When I got close to the bunker [I saw] them sitting on the ground. They were still clothed. As they were wearing worn-out camp clothing they were not left in the undressing hut but made to undress in the open air. I concluded from the behaviour of these women that they had no doubt what fate awaited them, as they begged and pleaded to the SS men to spare them their lives. However, they were herded into the gas chambers and gassed. As an anatomist I have seen a lot of terrible things: I had had a lot of experience with dead bodies, and yet what I saw that day was like nothing I had ever seen before. Still completely shocked by what I had seen I wrote in my diary on 5 September 1942: 'The most dreadful of horrors. Hauptscharführer Thilo was right when he said to me today that this is the anus mundi', the anal orifice of the world. I used this image because I could not imagine anything more disgusting and horrific.

SS-Doctor Kremer at a hearing on 18 July 1947 in Cracow