Concrete remnants excavated from the crematorium at Chelmno killing center
a: Height: 25.000 inches (63.5 cm) | Width: 61.000 inches (154.94 cm) | Depth: 54.000 inches (137.16 cm)
b: Height: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm) | Width: 14.000 inches (35.56 cm) | Depth: 4.000 inches (10.16 cm)
c: Height: 0.375 inches (0.953 cm) | Width: 1.375 inches (3.493 cm) | Depth: 1.250 inches (3.175 cm)
The concrete remnants were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1989 by the Muzeum Okręgowe w Koninie.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Muzeum Okręgowe w Koninie
Concrete fragments recovered from a crematorium foundation at Chelmno killing center in German-occupied Poland, during an archaeological excavation in 1986 and 1987. Killing operations at Chelmno commenced on December 8, 1941. Prisoners were taken to a camp at a manor house (Schlosslager) in the village to undress and relinquish their valuables. They were then loaded into a gas van where they were killed. The van was then driven 2.5 miles northwest of the village to a camp in the Rzuchowski forest (Waldlager), where the bodies were dumped into mass graves. The large number of corpses created a threat of disease and discovery by Allied forces, so the bodies were exhumed and burned in seven primitive pit furnaces. In the fall of 1942, the furnaces were replaced with two open-air crematoria consisting of concrete foundations topped by a grate of train rails. The construction of the crematoria was overseen by an SS officer named Johannes Runge. In March 1943, transports to Chelmno stopped, and the manor house and open-air crematoria in the forest were demolished. Deportations to Chelmno resumed from June to July 1944 to facilitate the liquidation of the Łódź ghetto. In this second phase, the entire killing process was carried out in the forest camp, necessitating the construction of new buildings. The Germans abandoned the camp on January 17, 1945, having killed over 172,000 people. The excavations of 1986-87, and later work have identified additional furnaces, crematoria, and mass graves at the site.
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a. 13 pieces of a concrete fragment. The pieces are irregular in size and shape, and two are significantly larger than the rest. Some of the pieces have smooth, finished sides. The concrete is light gray in color, with an aggregate consisting of pea gravel in various shades of white and gray. Some of the larger pieces have corroded, bent strands of metal wire, strapping, rebar, and a hook protruding from the unfinished sides. Some pieces also have orange-brown rust stains. b. Bag containing light gray cement dust and fragments. The fragments are irregular in size, shape, and actively disintegrating into dust. Mixed in with the concrete are small pieces of other materials, including paper, grass, leaves, and twigs. c. Three small fragments of light gray cement. The pieces are irregular in shape and contain inclusions of various shades of white and gray.