Did anyone survive the German gas chambers?

I was asked this question by a young cousin of mine, and I had no answer. Google has lots of examples of people who survived by avoiding it, for reasons like inattentive or sympathetic guards or because the equipment broke down before they were to go in and the camp was liberated before it could be fixed.

Nothing about those who survived an actual gassing. Admittedly people tend not to survive those events, but since the Germans gassed literal millions, odds are someone somewhere did survive. (Did they keep an officer with a pistol to inflict the coup de grace to any survivors like in firing squads?)

I assume most if not all of the guards were armed, as were certainly the camp officers.

Apparently this movie was based on a true story The Grey Zone - Wikipedia

My understanding is that fellow inmate Jews (Soderkommando) were tasked with the work of leading them to the gas chambers under the ruse of ‘delousing’ and then collecting and cremating the bodies.

There is a movie called “The Grey Zone” that deals with this. They open the gas chamber and find a young girl unconscious but still alive. They bring her back to the prisoner barracks to try to hide and save her.

I don’t know if the story of the girl really happened but the Auschwitz prisoner uprising depicted in the film was a real historical event.

The death camps were created as a way for the Germans to not get their hands dirty as opposed to the early firing squads at places like Babi Yar. (“All I did was open the rail car door”, “All I did was point which direction to walk” etc.) Point being, there was probably not a German officer standing by to give the coup de grace and the scenario in the movie is not entirely implausible.

There were also gas trucks, that routed the exhaust from the engine into the sealed area in the back where the passengers were. The gas chambers were meant to relieve the extreme stress that these methods put on the men that had to carry out these orders.

The gas chambers were the end game of industrialized murder. It is believable that nobody escaped. Although I would love to be corrected

Wow! That’s an amazing story, including her not realizing at first that she had survived the gas chamber.

You don’t understand this part. She didn’t notice the people around her dropping like flies? :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

This quote from her (in @Velocity’s article) suggests maybe they didn’t:

“I just never realized I was in the gas chamber … it must not have worked.”

That seems to me to be suggesting the chamber wasn’t working correctly, and that’s why she survived.

That’s close to what I’ve read: the “gas trucks” were retro-fitted ambulances, and the screams and cries so unnerved the drivers that they unwittingly pressed harder on the accelerator; thus the vehicles arrived at the burial pits before all the inmates were dead.

They had several problems, according to the book I read. the smaller ones were retrofits. One problem was that the people fighting the exhaust being fed in caused to vans to leak, meaning they were inconsistent and unreliable as a weapon of murder. Another problem was that pressing on the accelerator with a cramped van full of dead bodies cause problems - the corpses for example voided their bowels when compressed, etc. so cleanup was a problem, and emptying out the vans was a problem. (For the gas chambers, they could use selected inmates themselves as labour to empty them.) Also, breakdowns were an issue with the vans.

the biggest problem was that the word would get out - whether it was mass shootings or killing vans, the locals would know, sometimes even come to see. Reports got out to the foreign press. Jewish residents began to hear of these problems and run away or hide.

The death camps were sold as “relocation” or “resettlement” not unlike the kind of persecution that Jews had been subject to frequently from a number of eastern European governments. As a result, they were cooperative in assembling and being ready to board trains, expecting harsh but livable conditions at the other end. The leaders of those Jewish communities were enlisted to have the people assemble for “evacuation”. Mass murder was carried out far away from prying outside eyes.

Efficiency. Shooting all the undesirables would take too long, tie up manpower, and use millions of rounds of ammunition. Other methods were attempts to increase efficiency. Death camps were the culmination of an optimization process.

On the topic of coup de grâce operatives, SS men at Treblinka examined all bodies leaving the gas chamber. Any groans or movements drew the response of a bullet in the head.