Pits of Boiling Human Fat

Deposition made by Henryk Tauber in the Polish Courts

  • In Auschwitz, on 24th May 1945, Jan Sehn, examining judge in Cracow, member of the Central Commission for the Investigation of Hitlerite Crimes in Poland, at the request of, in the presence of and with the participation of the vice-prosecutor of the Cracow Regional Court, Edward Pechalski, pursuant to Article 254 and in connection with Articles 107 and 115 of the Criminal Code, interrogated former Auschwitz concentration camp prisoner 90124.

The dentists, recruited from among the prisoners, looked into all the mouths except those of the children. When the jaws were too tightly clamped, they pulled them apart with the pincers used to extract the teeth. The SS carefully checked the work of the dentists, always being present. From time to time they would stop a load of corpses ready for charging into the furnace and already operated on by the dentists, in order to check the mouths. They occasionally found a forgotten gold tooth. Such carelessness was considered to be sabotage, and the culprit was burned alive in the furnace. I witnessed such a thing myself. A dentist, a French Jew, was burned in this way in Krematorium V. He fought and cried, but there were several SS and they threw themselves on him, overpowered him and put him in the furnace alive. This punishment was often inflicted on members of the Sonderkommando, but it was not the only one. There were many others, such as immediate shooting, being thrown into water, physical torture, beating, being rolled naked on gravel, and other punishments. Such things were done in the presence of all the members of the Sonderkommando in order to intimidate them. I remember another case that took place in August 1944 in Krematorium V. When the shifts were changing over, they had found a gold watch and wedding ring on one of the labourers, a man from Wolbrom called Lejb. This Jew, aged about twenty, was dark and had a number of one hundred thousand and something. All the Sonderkommando working in the crematorium (Kr V) were assembled, and before their eyes he was hung, with his hands tied behind his back, from an iron bar above the firing hearths. He remained in this position for about one hour, then after untying his hands and feet, they threw him in a cold crematorium furnace. Gasoline was poured into the lower ash bin and lit. The flames reached the muffle where this Lejb was imprisoned. A few minutes later, they opened the door and the condemned man emerged and ran off, covered in burns. He was ordered to run round the yard shouting that he was a thief. Finally, he had to climb the barbed wire, which was not electrified during the day, and when he was at the top, the head of the crematoriums, Moll, first name Otto, killed him with a shot. Another time, the SS chased a prisoner who was not working fast enough into a pit near the crematorium that was full of boiling human fat. At that time, the corpses were incinerated in open air pits, from which the fat flowed into a separate reservoir, dug in the ground. This fat was poured over the corpses to accelerate their combustion. This poor devil was pulled out of the fat still alive and then shot. To satisfy the formalities, his body was carried to the block where the death certificates were issued. The next day, the corpse was brought back to the crematorium, where it was incinerated in a pit.