This is the LAST post about Auschwitz.
The next four photos were taken from the same spot just looking in different directions.
Below: The Gallows
Shortly after the war, camp commander Rudolf Höss was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Survivors requested that he be executed at Auschwitz, and in 1947, he was hanged here. The gallows are preserved behind the crematorium, about a hundred yards from his home where his wife, Hedwig, loved her years here, and read stories to their children, very likely by the light from a lamp with a human-skin lampshade. The family decorated their home with furniture and artwork stolen from prisoners as they were selected for the gas chambers.
From 1940 to 1944, the Höss family lived in a two-story gray stucco villa on the edge of Auschwitz — so close you could see the prisoner blocks and old crematorium from the upstairs window. Hedwig Höss described the place as 'paradise.' They had cooks, nannies, gardeners, chauffeurs, seamstresses, haircutters and cleaners, some of whom were prisoners.
There were five children, three girls and two boys. Brigitte was the daughter who ended up living quietly on a leafy side street in Northern Virginia and worked in a Washington fashion salon.
Soon after she was hired, Brigitte says, she got drunk with her manager and confessed that her father was Rudolf Hoss. The manager told the store’s owner. The owner told Brigitte that she could stay, that she had not committed any crime herself. What Brigitte did not know, at least not until later, was that the store owner and her husband were Jewish and had fled Nazi Germany after the Kristallnacht attacks of 1938.
Höss introduced Zyklon B containing hydrogen cyanide to the killing process, thereby allowing soldiers at Auschwitz to murder 2,000 people every hour. He created the largest installation for the continuous annihilation of human beings ever known.
The photo on the left is of Höss taken during his detention in 1945 - 1946. The one of above was taken of him just a few minutes before his hanging.
Up to 700 people at a time could be gassed here. There were vents in the ceiling where the SS men
dropped the Zyklon-B. The facility could burn 340 bodies a day, so it took two days to burn all the bodies from one round of executions. The Nazis didn't like this inefficiency, so they built four more huge crematoria at Birkenau.
I did not take any photos inside !
As I stood there, I remembered the quote as I walked through the gate earlier that day which said, "Work Sets You Free." New arrivals were told the truth, "The only way out of Auschwitz was through the crematorium chimney."
This photo below is the entrance to Birkenau.
This is the guard tower shown in several scenes in Schindler's List.
In 1941, realizing that the original Auschwitz camp was too small to meet their needs, the Nazis began a second camp in the nearby farm fields. The original plan was for a camp that could hold 200,000 people, but at it peak, Birkenau held about 100,000. They were still adding onto it when the camp was liberated in 1945.
And so, I will leave you with one of the last things I saw as I left this place . . .
"If you should survive, don't forget to tell the World of our destiny."
---an Auschwitz prisoner