The Gas Chamber  

       
   

 

Take pause from your busy life for just a few moments and try to imagine what it must have been like to know this was the last room you would ever be in or that its stark light would be the last you would ever see. Do you ever wonder what it was like, what it felt like to be gassed?

This chamber in Mauthausen was built in the basement, below the sick quarters. It was completed and used by the spring of 1942. On the other hand, the sick quarters were only half completed at war's end. The SS would cram 120 persons into this chamber, seal the doors and pump in carbon monoxide. Inefficient as it was, the prisoners often died of suffocation rather than the gas. “Consequently, when the doors were opened to remove the bodies, it was found that the dead were covered not only with excrement and blood, but their eyes protruded from their heads and their bodies stiffened into grotesque positions.” [1]


[1] Evelyn Le ChÈne, Mauthausen, The History of a Death Camp, London: Methuen, 1971 (in Konnilyn G. Feig, Hitler's Death Camps, London: Holmes & Meyers, 1979).