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To make the increasing numbers of the dead disappear without any eyewitnesses, in mid-1940 the SS started operating a crematorium within the camp. The basement rooms of this building were used as execution sites.

 The crematorium building from the outside. The brick chimney rises in the center of the picture.
Outside view of the crematorium. In the extension on the left is the dissection room of the pathology department, 1943. Photo: identification service of the Buchenwald concentration camp.
Two brick crematorium ovens, each with three openings in a row. Above the open doors, the bricks are black from soot. On the floor there are rails for carts leading to the openings. Three of the openings are closed.
Incinerators from the company Topf & Sons, 1943. Photo: Identification service of the Buchenwald concentration camp.
Dissection room of the pathology department in the annex of the crematorium. Center: Dissecting table. Left: Wash basin. Right on the wall: medicine cabinet with red cross.
Dissection room in the pathology department, 1943. Photo: Identification service of the Buchenwald concentration camp.
Photo from the center of the pathology office. The largest part of the room is taken up by a wall-sized shelf with organ preparations. To the right of it is a small desk.
Pathology office (Block 2) with human preparations, 1943. Photo: Identification service of the Buchenwald concentration camp.
A room, the floor of which seems to be covered with plain, metal urns, which are placed close to each other. Rust is visible on many of the containers.
Aschekapseln der Firma Topf & Söhne in einem der Leichenräume, 2022. Foto: Lukas Severin Damm.

Up until 1940, the SS had incinerated those who perished at the camp at the Weimar city crematorium. The Erfurt-based company Topf & Söhne developed special ovens for the Buchenwald concentration camp, which were based on trash incinerators. Ten ovens of this same kind were later installed at the concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. These ovens made it possible for the SS to burn a great number of bodies in a short period of time. From 1943 onward, the ashes of most of the dead were dumped into the surrounding area like garbage.

A side wing of the crematorium contained two pathology dissecting rooms. Here, the golden teeth of the deceased were extracted, and organs were removed as anatomical specimens, which were provided to universities. Another specialty was the production of macabre gift items, which members of the SS bestowed on one another: human skin –preferably tattooed—was cut from the bodies, tanned, and worked into everyday objects.

The morgue beneath the crematorium was one of the execution sites of the camp. Here the SS strangled some 1,100 men, women, and teens on wall hooks, usually Gestapo detainees but also concentration camp inmates.

In the yard at the back, the SS stored its mobile show gallows, with which they carried out public hangings outside the camp for the Gestapo.

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