BOTTOMLESS PITS ( GENRE: HISTORICAL FICTION)
By Neel Anil Panicker
“Doesn’t look like a World War prison, right?”
I looked at Alfred, my tour guide, and nodded.
Proper lights, walls freshly painted, coated in vibjyoric colours,
the floors, cemented and glistening; long ventilated corridors___the works__all this a long shot away from the vision that I had of a Nazi prison cell.
“This is only for tourists. It’s what we show to the first time tourist, the dilettante time traveller”, the obviously well read guide continued continued.
“Round the corner is Nazi Germany’s worst kept secret: the infamous B Block”.
I had read about it in college as part of my collge based research into the World Wars.
I knew about the existence of these underground bunkers, knew they were pea sized semi-darkened cells that were called “torture chambers”; the place they sent you when they wanted you to die, albeit pianfully and slowly, but surely.
“Madam, what you are about to see is the cell where Hitler’s SS gassed over 650 Russian POWs and 200 Poles in one single night. Their weapon was …”
‘Enough, I am calling it off.’
“But madam , this is “The Auschwitz 1 camp tour”. It is the one people die to undertake. You have come this far. Please finish the tour.”
‘No, I would die if I were to continue any further’, I replied and stormed out of the bunker.
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HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: https://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/Tour/Auschwitz1/Auschwitz06B.html
The first tests using Zyklon-B had been done in August 1941 in one of these basement cells. These experiments were done long before the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” was planned at the Wannsee conference on January 20, 1942. Zyklon-B was, at that time, being used extensively in the Auschwitz concentration camp, and at most of the other camps, as an insecticide to kill body lice in clothing in an effort to prevent typhus epidemics. During World War I, there were devastating typhus epidemics on the eastern front in what is now Poland, so the Nazis took special precautions to prevent epidemics in the crowded concentration camps.
The subjects of this first mass killing on September 3, 1941 were 600 Russian POWs and 250 sick prisoners. According to my tour guide, testing done in the previous months had determined the right amount of Zyklon-B needed to kill a room full of people. In a book entitled “Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp,” edited by Israel Gutman and Michael Berenbaum, it was stated that the murder of 600 Soviet Prisoners of War and about 250 sick prisoners took place in Block 11 between September 3rd and September 5th. The authors also quoted from a report by the prisoner underground which said that 600 Soviet prisoners and 200 Poles were gassed in Block 11 on the night of September 5th and 6th.