after two hours, it stuttered to life. "Up till then people were alive in
these chambers .. another 25 minutes went by. True, many were now dead. After 28
minutes, only a few were still alive. At last after 32 minutes, everyone was
dead. Finally, all were dead like pillars of basalt, still erect, not having any
place to fall", Kurt Gerstein later wrote.
The outside doors to the gas chamber were opened and the bodies taken out. "One
could tell families even in death. They were still holding hands, stiffened in
death so that it was difficult to tear them apart to clear the chamber for the
next load," Gerstein wrote.
the corpses of the Jews were tossed into large trenches, they were searched for
valuables in the form of gold teeth or gems or gold hidden in the vagina or
rectum. Gerstein was shown the processing of the dead: "With gold to the
left - without gold to the right .. Dentists hammered out gold teeth, bridges
In the midst of them stood Captain Wirth. Hew as in his element, and
showing me a large can full of teeth, he said: "See for yourself the weight
of that gold! It's only from yesterday and the day before. You can't imagine
what we find every day - dollars, diamonds, gold. You'll see for yourself!"
Gerstein forced himself to watch the final process. The bodies were
flung into trenches, each some hundred yards long, conveniently located near the
gas chambers. He was told that the bodies would swell from gas after a few days,
raising the mound as much as six to ten feet. Once the swelling subsided, the
bodies would be piled on railway ties covered with diesel oil and burned to
Horrified Kurt Gerstein decided to sabotage or at least slow down the Holocaust,
to tell the world about the Nazi genocide:
prayed with them and cried out to my God and theirs. How glad I should have been
to go into the gas chambers with them! How gladly I should have died the same
death as theirs!
Then an SS officer in uniform would have been found in the gas chambers. People
would have believed it was an accident and the story would have been buried and
forgotten. But I could not do this yet. I felt I must not succumb to the
temptation to die with these people. I now knew a great deal about these murders."