A Tale of Three Gassings

      What you are going to read are three different descriptions of the "discovery" of the utility of Zyklon B in mass extermination. Where you would expect to find the stories to be complimentary and to shed light upon each other we find just the opposite.
      We find unexplainable contradictions. In one case we find an unexplainable identical mistake on color based upon a common misconception. We find different people and numbers of people involved.
      We even find an absolutely impossible detail thrown into one story. It is a truly amazing comparison.
Naumann, Bernard. Auschwitz. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1966, as cited in Conot1 KL Auschwitz as seen by SS Hoess, Broad and Kremer, second edition, Museum w Oswiecimu, 1978, pp. 92-952 Nizkor Auschwitz FAQ
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Although Hitler ordered that Jews and commissars were to be screened out before they reached POW camps, the procedure proved impractical, and many were not 'selected' before they arrived in the Reich. Those weeded out were then sent to concentration camps for execution. At Auschwitz, to which Russian prisoners were dispatched to clear land and build factories, the officers and 'commissars' were initially executed one at a time with a shot in the back of the neck at the so-called Black Wall, adjacent to the Bunker (camp prison). This was a laborious procedure that wore on the nerves of the SS executioners. In October 1941, however, an SS officer named Arthur Johann Breitwieser "The gassing was carried out in the detention cells of Block 11. Proctected by a gas mask, I [Höss] watched the killing myself.       Auschwitz had been receiving trainloads of Soviet commissars and other POW's who were subject to liquidation. Höss's men had shot previous shipments of Russian prisoners, but on September 3 Höss's enterprising subordinate Hauptsturmführer Fritsch Note that different people are involved in the different stories. In one case it is a Breitweiser, in the other it is Fritsch, and in another it is Höss himself.
noticed that one of his companions, charged with delousing the camp laundry, was instantly knocked out when exposed to a whiff of Zyklon B, the gas that was used as a disinfectant. It would be by gas, but we did not know which gas and how it was to be used. Now we had the gas, and we had established a procedure.       thought of an expedient new method based on the camp's own experience. The buildings, many of them former Polish army barracks, were full of insects, and the camp administration had previously brought in the Hamburg pesticide firm of Tesch and Stabenow to get rid of them.
      Two experts had fumigated particular buildings with a patented insecticide, Zyklon B, a crystalline form of hydrogen cyanide that turned gaseous when exposed to the air. (Höss, "Commandant of Auschwitz," 175. Interrogation of Höss, 14 May 1946, NA RG 238, M-1019/R 28/63)
      In the first story the companions of this officer are doing the delousing. In the second story, Höss and Eichmann had already decided to use a gas but strangely did not know what gas they were going to use. In the third case professional exterminators did the fumigation.
      Note also that person knocked out with one whiff of a deadly poison but recovers. This is contrary to the pathology of cyanide poisoning.
      Note further that it is not a crystaline form of hydrogen cyanide, rather liquid hydrogen cyanide absorbed into wood pulp3.
      To Breitwieser, this seemed to offer the possibility of more efficient and less time-consuming executions. After ordering the half-submerged lower level of the Bunker sealed, Breitwieser had several cans of the blue pellets,           Note that these pellets is given as blue even though, wood pulp is grey. Cyanide itself is colorless but its common name in German translates as blue acid4.
which vaporize when exposed to air, dropped in among the one thousand Russians awaiting execution.         On September 3 Fritsch decided to experiment. First he crammed five or six hundred Russians and another 250 sick prisoners from the camp hospital into an underground detention cell.       Note that both the number and the composition of the people differ.
which vaporize when exposed to air, dropped in among the one thousand Russians awaiting execution. In the crowded cells, death came instantaneously the moment the Zyklon B was thrown in. A short, almost smothered cry, and it was all over.... Then the windows were covered with earth. SS men wearing gas masks opened the Zyklon-B canisters to remove what looked like blue chalk pellets about the size of peas, creating a cloud of poison gas.
      After they left, the doors were sealed.(Höss, Commandant at Auschwitz, 173. See also Yehuda Bauer, "Auschwitz," in Jäckel and Rohwere, eds., Der Mord an den Juden, 167-68) Höss wrote later that death was instantaneous. Perhaps that was what he was told. But he was not present to witness the event; he was away on a business trip.
      Note that the first story appears to indicate dropped in from above as in some other stories while another has a "walked among" indication. In another it is thrown in.
      Note in the third story there is a clear indication of a visible cloud of gas but of course the gas is invisible.
      Note also that this separate and independent story also invents a false blue color.
      Note also Höss clearly states that he watched the instant death in one story yet another claims Höss was not even there.
Two days later the camp inmates detailed to remove the bodies were met by a fearsome sight. In the crowded cells, death came instantaneously the moment the Zyklon B was thrown in. A short, almost smothered cry, and it was all over...       Other sources indicate that even the next day not everyone was dead, and the SS men had to release more insecticide. Eventually all the prisoners died. When Höss returned to Auschwitz, he heard about the successful experiment. On Eichmann's next visit to Auschwitz, Höss told him about the possibilities of Zyklon-B, and, according to Höss, the two decided to use the pesiticide and the peasant farmstead for extermination.(Höss, Commandant, 175. From the History of KL Auschwitz, New York, 1982, I, 190)(Breitman, 203)       Here we have a strange set of disagreements. The first story told of immediate unconscioussness in his "discovery" but in the next part of the story we see that did not in fact happen. In the second story there was near instaneous unconsciousness as the first story begins with. The third story insists upon some being alive the next day. The first and third appear to like the two day time frame.
Men with contorted faces had locked themselves together in their death agonies, torn out each other's hair, and bitten off their fingers. Their flesh and their clothes had fused into gelatinous blobs that sometimes disintegrated when the members of the detail tried to pick them up. (Naumann, pp. 59, 112, 134.)           Here we have a description worthy of Steven King. Except that it has mistakes that Steven King would never make.
      Go back and read about the statement that someone was knocked out with one whiff of the gas. Note here that apparently they regain consciousness before they die. And then they have all kinds of horrible self-inflicted injuries.
      And then somehow this particular cyanide does what no other cyanide has ever done and which can not be replicated. It somehow fuses flesh and clothing into gelatinous masses.
      When impossible things are claimed to have happened rest assured someone is making up a story.

      We have three different people getting the idea to use it but in two cases it is done by camp personnel and in one case professional fumigators are brought in.
      In one story it is 1000 Russians. In the other case we have 750-850 Russians and sick people.
      We have pellets dropped in from above, thrown in through the door, and spread by people walking around inside.
      In no case where numbers are mentioned is the room large enough to hold even the lowest number of people.
      In one story there is a very strange pathology of cyanide poisoning (instantly knocked out but recovering later for the hair pulling and finger biting.) In another story death is instantaneous while the third story they may or may not have died immediately. No horrifying details are noted.
      In one story the impossible gelatinous blobs are included while the the others do not include them or anything out of the ordinary.
      One has to wonder how people who implicitely believe one story will deal with the other stories and the conflicts between them. Rather it is nearly impossible to understand how so many people can believe all three stories at one time.
Footnotes

1also found on Nizkor, sort of a holocaust database but it may be purged by the time you get there. It conflicts with the story they approve. They do not provide full attribution of the original work.
2 "The gassing was carried out in the detention cells of Block 11. Proctected by a gas mask, I watched the killing myself. In the crowded cells, death came instantaneously the moment the Zyklon B was thrown in. A short, almost smothered cry, and it was all over.... I must even admit that this gassing set my mind at rest, for the mass extermination of the Jews was to start soon, and at that time neither Eichmann nor I was certain as to how these mass killings were to be carried out. In would be by gas, but we did not know which gas and how it was to be used. Now we had the gas, and we had established a procedure." "KL Auschwitz seen by the SS Hoess, Broad, Kremer", second edition, Museum w Oswiecimu, 1978, pp. 92-95.
3 Zyklon for Pest Control, A publication of the Degesh company which was the manufacturer of Zyklon as well as the manufacturer of stationary and portable delousing chambers that used it.
      During the war the company advertised that it's equipment had been used to delouse the possesssions of 25 million people.

Composition
      In ZYKLON pure (98%-99%) liquid hydrocyanic acid is chemically stabilized and absorbed in a porous, inert material. It is supplied in snippets or discs prepared from wood pulp. Snippets generally are preferred as in view of their larger surface they give off the gas more rapidly. Upon request also discs can be supplied. The aborbent material can easily be collected at the end of the fumigation.


4The common mis-identification is generally attributed to this common name, blausäur, blue acid. The naming is related to its reaction with iron that produces the pigment, prussian blue. Acids produce a sour (säur) taste.