Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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in a slaughterhouse from which there was no escape and everybody clung to his own life,” and also because “it was better to save the victims from ... tortures” (the previous policy of exposing Jews to beatings, vicious dogs, and fiendish shouting); thus, “by taking over the task of the SS men, they rendered a last service to the death candidates.”

This same witness went on to say that when Sonderkommando Jews did tell arrivals that they were going to be gassed, “they became insane, so that we later preferred to keep quiet”5

He then described the sequence of the killing:  
After the arrivals were taken to the location next to the crematorium, they had to undress entirely because they were told they would have a shower. Then they were chased — often with beatings — by the SS into the so-called bath, which in reality was a gas chamber. This was a hermetically sealed room about 80 square meters large and about 2.25 meters high. There were two doors — one was the entrance, the other one served to take out the corpses. Through two little windows which were located right under the ceiling the Zyklon-B gas was thrown into the room by an SS man. The death agony of the people lasted about fifteen minutes* ....

Our task consisted of taking corpses on a stretcher to the ovens and to throw them into them. Every ten minutes four corpses were thrown in. When there were enough ashes gathered in the oven, we had to take them out (about once a week), pulverize them, and load them on the trucks. The ashes were then taken to the river Wisla and thrown in.6 
An SS judge investigating “corruption” in Auschwitz noted that the crematoria did not attract much attention:  
A large door led to the so-called undressing rooms. There were numbered seats and even wardrobe tickets. Arrows on the wall pointed to the shower rooms. The lettering was in six or seven languages Everything was shiny, as a mirror in this huge crematorium. Nothing pointed to the fact that only a night before thousands of people we gassed and burnt there. Nothing was left of them, not even a tiny piece of dust on the oven armatures.7 
The Sonderkommando worker explained further that, when relatively few people were to be killed, and “it didn’t pay to gas them,” an Unterscharführer (or sergeant) named Georgi “had the duty . . . of shooting the people personally.” Victims would be “brought out by two of us” to Georgi, who then “shot him or her from the back with a shot in the neck.” And later, when bodies were burned in open trenches because the crema- […toria]
* Most probably died a little more rapidly.   
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

Robert J. Lifton
ISBN 0-465-09094
© 1986
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