Oral History

Miso (Michael) Vogel describes the crematoria at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Miso's family lived in Topol'cany. The Hlinka Guard (Slovak fascists) took over the town in 1939. In 1942, Miso was deported to the Slovak-run Novaky camp. Later in the year, he was deported to the Auschwitz camp in Poland. He was forced to labor first in the Buna works and then in the Birkenau "Kanada" detachment, unloading incoming trains. As the Allies advanced in late 1944, prisoners were transferred to camps in Germany. Miso escaped during a death march from Landsberg and was liberated by US forces.


But the camp itself, this was really and truly the death factory. Birkenau had four crematorias, two gas chambers, two, two crematorias on one side of the road, two gas chambers, two crematorias on the other side of the road. And the railroad tracks went right into, close to the crematoria. And the whole camp could see. You could see the flames--not just the smoke--you could see the flames from the chimney. And, well, of course, when they were burning the Muselmaenner, the people that were skeletons, only the smoke. But when there were fat people, with still fat on them, there were flames.

  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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