On my first day at Auschwitz
I witnessed the gassing operation
An SS officer offered to show me the process
and explain the procedure
When we arrived at the building
a group of prisoners were sitting outside
They had not been allowed to enter
as their clothing was so filthy
The order was given to undress
I could see by their reaction
that they knew what was coming
They pleaded piteously with the guards
they were directed down steps
and through an underground changing-room
into to a gas chamber
An airtight door was bolted behind them
There was a small round window
through which one could see
We had to wait a while
for the temperature inside to rise
The operators explained to me the reason
Apparently heat increased the efficiency of the process
Eventually the lights were switched off
Two SS Disinfectors standing on the roof above
emptied several tins of Zyclon B crystals down two tubes
These tubes were perforated and ran down into the chamber
Due to the darkness inside
it was impossible to see the gassing
But when the crystals were exposed to the air
They started to vaporise and the screaming started
Then slowly the sound died away
After about twenty minutes all was quiet
The extractor fans in the ceiling were switched on
and after another twenty minutes the door was opened
Covered in their blood and excrement
the bodies were twisted together
to form a large pyramid
the strongest on top
Jewish prisoners wearing gas-masks
entered the chamber.
They prised the bodies apart with metal bars
before hosing them down.
Hooks at the end of the bars
were inserted into the mouths
and the bodies were dragged outside
for stacking in the corridor.
From there they were loaded
onto the metal platform of a lift
which carried them up to the next floor
for examination and cremation.
Dentists extracted the gold teeth,
dropping them into tins of acid
to dissolved bone and tissue.
Then orifices were searched for valuables.
Finally the bodies were loaded onto trolleys
which ran them up to the ovens,
allowing the crematorium staff
to slide them directly into the flames.
Cremation took twenty minutes.
When the ashes had cooled
they were loaded onto lorries
then driven to the Vistula for disposal.
I found it a most disturbing experience
and I wrote in my diary that night
This must be the anus mundi
The anal orifice of the world