Establishment of Block 13, renumbered in 1941 as Block 11
The political department of the camp, or the Gestapo, operates in Block 13, or 11, respectively. The building serves as a torture chamber for prisoners, for their internment in the basement, for meetings of the Military Court, as well as for the executions of those sentenced in the adjacent courtyards between Blocks 10 and 11. Those executed are led to the ground floor, are forced to strip naked in the washroom, and are shot in the head in the courtyard. The cadavers are then piled up near the gate, and after the executions are finished, are loaded onto a lorry and transported to the crematorium.
The first commandant of the Gestapo is 35-year-old SS-Unterscharführer (Junior Squad Commandant in English) Maxmilian Grabner.
The most frequent executioner is 27-year-old SS-Oberscharführer (Senior Squad Commandant in English) Bernard Palitzch, who shoots those sentenced to death in the nape of the neck with a small-calibre rifle.
The construction of both camps is feverishly worked on. The prisoners take the brunt of the work, the hospitals are full of malnourished human ruins. The number of executions increases, and those who are too weak to work are next to be murdered.
Every four to six weeks, the court-martial from Katowice, chaired by Doctor of Laws Rudolf Mildner, arrives to the camp. Prisoners and those arrested in the camp’s environs are put before the court. These are usually rebels from Upper Silesia. Most of the sentences are death. Sometimes, they shoot the sentenced between Blocks 10 and 11; sometimes, when there is a greater number, they are shuttled off directly to the morgue of the crematorium. There, they must completely undress and are then shot to death. Their bodies are immediately cremated in the two ovens.
In the basement of Block 11 in Auschwitz I, the experiment using Zyklon B takes place. Over 600 Soviet prisoners and 250 gravely ill Polish people are crowded into the tight cells of the basement, and then the gas crystals are thrown into the room. Most of the men choke to death within twenty minutes, others survive the torture and are then shot.
The basement of Block 11 is cleaned out. The work commando is divided into four groups. The first, donning gas masks, tows out the cadavers into the courtyard. The second undresses them, the third puts them on trucks, and the fourth drives them off to the crematorium.