The first provisory gas chamber, known as the “Little Red House,” (from the color of its red, brick walls), went into operation in March 1942. With a floor space of about 90 sq. m., it was divided into two gas chambers. SS men poured Zyklon-B through openings in the side walls. Two barracks stood nearby, where the victims undressed before their deaths. The bodies of the victims were initially buried and later, beginning in September 1942, burned in the open air.
In this building in 1942-1943, SS men murdered tens of thousands of Jewish men, women, and children who had been deported to Auschwitz from many European countries. The victims arrived from France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Bohemia, Slovakia, Norway, Yugoslavia, and Poland. More than 300 Polish prisoners from the penal company were also murdered there on June 11, 1942, in reprisal for an attempt at mutinying and escaping from the camp. Gypsies were also murdered in the “Little Red House.”
A new complex of gas chambers and crematoria went into operation in Birkenau in 1943, as a result of which the SS stopped killing people in the “Little Red Bunker.” The building and barracks were dismantled and the ground plowed over to erase all the evidence.
Europe is generally agreed to be the birthplace of western culture, including such legendary innovations as the democratic nation-state, football and tomato sauce.The word Europe comes from the Greek goddess Europa, who was kidnapped by Zeus and plunked down on the island of Crete. Europa gradually changed from referring to mainland Greece until it extended finally to include Norway and Russia.Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights. In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states. Text by Steve Smith.