Safety: How Sonderkommandos could enter Chambers, touch bodies

Peter Myers, February 9, 2009; update May 1, 2009.

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Safety: How Sonderkommandos could enter Chambers, touch bodies

(1) Jesus told us the jews were liars, so stop printing their lies (2) Sinister German documents that "prove" mass exterminations were taking place at Auschwitz (3) Brian Renk's reply to Provan's booklet No Holes? No Holocaust? (4) Provan's experiment dealing with the issue of space (5) How the Sonderkommandos could touch the bodies; disposal of ashes (6) Ventilation made the Gas Chambers safe for workers to enter (7) How the Sonderkommandos could touch the bodies; disposal of ashes (8) Cyanide kills mammals much easier than insects; does not kill/disinfect bacteria (9) Delousing (insecticide) requires much more Cyanide than Gassing humans/mammals

(1) Jesus told us the jews were liars, so stop printing their lies

From: Olga Scully <> Date: 23.02.2009 01:20 AM

Peter, you are allowing a lot of RUBBISH into your emails. If you were an SS man, would you have poisonous gas come to your living quarters from such a short distance - 24 hours a day? Or would you put a gas chamber a mile or so away from the air you breathe?

Jesus told us the jews were liars, so stop printing their lies.

(2) Sinister German documents that "prove" mass exterminations were taking place at Auschwitz

From: bill Date: 23.02.2009 12:22 AM

Peter Myers persists in trying to dummy the facts to prop up the extermination legend.

He wants to pretend that there really are sinister German documents that "prove" mass exterminations were taking place at Auschwitz. He yaps about Himmler speeches "proving" that mass exterminations were taking place. (Just why a German official would make speeches about an extermination he was trying to keep secret-and then record the damning speech to fall into the hands of his political rival, Alfred Rosenberg, is something the erudite Mr. Myers does not attempt to explain). He tells us that the Germans were mass murdering every Jew in Russia - but cannot explain why the diaries of the German police chief, Himmler, proving this extermination, were whisked away to Russia, rather than being presented at the kangaroo Nuremberg Trial. He makes purely asinine arguments, such as that the German deportations from Hungary in 1944 cannot be explained as resettlements. (Does he stop to consider that if the Germans were really exterminating Jews, that they would hardly have left them unmolested until 1944? Does he stop to think that maybe the Germans considered leaving the Jews in Hungary to greet the advancing Red Army as a security risk? ) He swallows the Holocaust legend whole while straining at every gnat of an irrelevancy to try to make his case. Now he is quoting Van Pelt on whether crematory ovens give off smoke. Who cares? The real issue is whether they could have disposed of the claimed number of bodies. Since they obviously could not, then he confuses the issue with another irrelevancy. Ditto with the combination of shower heads with air tight doors. Again, who cares?

Please tell us, once again, Mr. Myers. How did all the non-Jews within the camps miss the exterminations? How did allied aerial reconnaissance miss it? Why were the Germans "gassing" their labor when they did not have enough of it? Why did Himmler order the death rate "reduced at all costs"? Where is the evidence in the death books of the camp? Where is the Prussian Blue in the so-called "gas chambers"? Why do the morgues have all the design characteristics of morgues and none of the design characteristics of real execution chambers? Why didn't the Germans simply machine gun the bastards as they did in Russia instead of wasting their time with "gassing"? If they had to use gas for some unexplained reason, why didn't they use the delousing chambers which could have been converted to real execution chambers had this been their intent? It would have been a lot easier than trying to convert morgues to an unintended purpose. And, oh yes, Mr. Myers. What was Adolf Hitler talking about when he told Hans Lammerer that he wanted the Jewish problem delayed "until after the end of the war"? How could he have delayed an extermination which was already taking place? Why did the Germans leave major Jewish populations in Belgium, the Netherlands and France basically alone until 1944? Did they forget that they were exterminating the Jews until allied propaganda reminded them? Why did the Germans build their extermination camp at Auschwitz in the middle of Polish farms and villages? Is that any way to conceal from the world the extermination that was supposedly taking place? And, oh yes, Mr. Myers, how is it that this massive extermination was taking place in the middle of the war without anyone knowing about it? The Germans kept it a secret, as in Heinrich Himmler tape recording speeches blabbing about what he was doing. Come on, Peter. Be a good little Jew boy and tell the readers about all the buildings at Auschwitz that the enlightened camp authorities will no longer let the public see. Tell us all about the camp theatre, brothel, swimming pool, library, hospital and other amenities for the poor kikes about to be "gassed". Tell us all the embarassing questions that keeping these premises secret from the public avoids. Tell us where all the "survivors" came from. Tell us how the Wehrmacht in Russia just could not find enough Red Army soldiers to engage in combat and just had to compensate by running around ten feet deep in the Russian snow looking for Jews to shoot in the winter months. Come on, Peter. Rise to the challenge. Your readers would love to hear the answers to the real questions. A complete history of the Auschwitz Construction Office is an idle exercise.

Reply (Peter M.):

> sinister German documents that "prove" mass > exterminations were taking place at Auschwitz

Christopher R. Browning supplies such documents; I will send his material in a separate email.

(3) Brian Renk's reply to Provan's booklet No Holes? No Holocaust?

Gas Chamber Controversy

Some Preliminary Observations on the Charles D. Provan booklet No Holes? No Holocaust?: A Study of the Holes in the Roof of Leichenkeller I of Krematorium 2 at Birkenau

By Brian Renk

The Provan booklet provides us with a wealth of interesting information regarding the alleged "Zyklon-B introduction holes" in the roof of Leichenkeller I. Mr. Provan has also drawn a number of contentious conclusions from the material evidence which he has presented as proof of the wartime existence of such holes.

I would like to draw attention to Mr. Provan's pronouncements on the seven "holes" as identified in his on-site archeological examination of the structure:

--The "hole" which Mr. Provan designates as number 1 was, in his own words, "made when pillar 1 pierced the [shifted] roof" during the explosion of 1945. The concrete pillar itself filled the new hole it created. This could not have been a "Zyklon-B introduction hole", and is not designated as such by Harry Mazal.

Hole number 2 (Mazal's hole number 1) is well known to revisionists, and we shall return to a study of the evidence of this hole in the analysis below. For now I shall mention that the explosive charge displaced this southern section of the roof more than one metre to the west. This is a significant displacement.

--The "hole" designated as number 3 is "a large crack running west to east where the roof broke its back on pillar 2". It could not have been a "Zyklon-B introduction hole", and is also ignored by Mazal as such. Significantly, the main roof slab is here separated by the crack into two distinct slabs to the north and south of the pillar. In the south, the slab has directionally shifted to the west, creating the hole engulfing pillar 1 to the east of the pillar's original position in relation to the roof . On the northern slab it is the opposite. This is because the explosive charges which destroyed the 3rd and 5th pillars created a directional explosive force which evidently sent the slab to the opposite (eastern) direction. At pillar 2, the axis from which the separated slabs shifted, there is a raised buckling of the roof on its eastern side coupled with a pronounced settling to the west on the northern slab. On the western side of the large crack ("hole" number 3) the roof slab is noticeably separated, and the southern slab can be seen to overlap the northern slab on the Provan photo.

The opposite directional shift of the southern and northern roof slabs can also be seen from recent air photographs of the ruins, such as those on Mazal's website at:

{no longer there, but is at}

A more illustrative photo is at:

--Hole number 4 was "also made when the roof broke on pillar 2", and a photograph shows the original rebar in place throughout, so it also was not a "Zyklon-B introduction hole". Mazal skipped this aperture as well. The position of the hole in its relation to the 2nd concrete support pillar is not surprising. It is nothing more than a random piece of concrete which broke away from its rebar under the force of the 1945 explosion.

--Hole number 5 is "a broken up area 295 cm north of pillar 2. It is "quite narrow", and Mr. Provan provides a photograph which clearly shows rebar encrusted with concrete running across it and, in another photo, the rubble which was blown onto the top of the concrete roof from the aperture. Clearly, this was not a "Zyklon-B introduction port", and is likewise ignored by Mazal.

--Hole number 6 (Mazal's hole number 2) is identified as existing within the formation of a large crack in the concrete roof running eastward from the remnants of what was the 3rd central support pillar, and we shall return to this below.

--Hole number 7, well-known to revisionists, is dismissed outright by Mr. Provan:

"The reinforcement bars of the concrete are still visible, they were just once cut and bent, but never removed. This hole has no cracks in its corners which definitely proves that it was chiseled in after this morgue was blown up". Mazal ignores this hole as well in his captioned photo published online.

--Hole number 8 (Mazal's hole number 3) is presented as a possible "Zyklon-B introduction hole", and is located next to the 5th central support pillar. More on this below as well.

To summarize, Mr. Provan dismisses outright the possibility that holes 1, 3, 4, and 5 were "Zyklon-B introduction holes"; holes 2, 6, and 8 are the only possible candidates as such.

The First Hole (number 2)

Mr. Provan found that the large hole near central support pillar 1 (hole number 2) has a large crack running from it (on one side some 50 cm in length), and considers this to be an indication that the hole existed before the building was dynamited. He holds the opinion that the cracks on either side of the hole exist because the hole itself existed prior to the demolition, and that the cracks were formed as a result of the explosive force which was exerted unto the pre-existing hole during the 1945 blast. There are serious problems with this assessment.

The crack(s) he necessarily claims are emanating from the hole can be seen to have singularly emanated from the present location of the central support pillar, which pierces the roof about 1 metre away from the edge of the present hole. Provan acknowledges that the explosion of 1945 lifted the roof up and over to its present position, ripping it away from the central support beam and to the west. The pillar was originally attached to the roof at the side of the present aperture.

Provan provides a photograph of the crack which runs from the central support pillar to the other side of hole number 2. The crack is very pronounced at its source, the central support pillar, and becomes progressively narrower as it approaches the hole. The same crack can be seen to continue until it runs out on the other side of the hole. This is clearly evident in the photographs appended.

For those without the booklet, a cropped version of this detail can be viewed at:

As Germar Rudolf wrote in 1993, "blowing up a building is an act of extraordinary violence in itself; cracks will therefore form and spread much more easily through any weak spots (such as, for example, any already existing holes)". With this in mind, it is important to understand that the cracks cannot be said to have originated from the edges of the hole under discussion. Contrarily, the existing hole appears to be a manual enlargement of the very hole created when the central support pillar was ripped away from the concrete roof during the explosion, and the manual enlargement was made easier by the pre-existence of the crack.

Our observation is bolstered by the fact that there is not more than one noteworthy crack running from the area pierced by the concrete pillar (Provan's hole number 1) to the present hole. If the present enlarged hole had existed prior to the explosion, even at 25 cm X 25 cm, there should be at least one crack emanating from the southeast corner of the hole to the southwest corner of the existing pillar or thereabouts. Instead, between the two holes there exists an intact concrete flap or protrusion, U-shaped, the integrity of which was tellingly not affected by the blast.

To summarize, the original formation of the crack running through the hole does not support Mr. Provan's argument. The subsequent enlargement of the hole was evidently facilitated by the large crack emanating from the point at which the shifted roof came to rest on the concrete pillar. Also, the absence of additional cracks and/or missing pieces of concrete between the north and south corners of the two sizeable holes suggests a post-war manual enlargement of the hole in question.

The Second and Third Holes (numbers 6 and 8)

There is a very wide and lengthy crack extending eastward from the area of the 3rd central support pillar. Mr. Provan indicates that the broken area within one metre of the immediate eastern side of the present location of the support pillar was a "Zyklon B introduction hole" (hole number 6).

This broken area can be viewed at:

Provan provides several photographs of this area, and in one of the photos marked "View: from the north"), we see that the concrete slab was severely ruptured in the blast of 1945, and that the large crack is several metres in length and also more than .2 to .3 metres wide.

The existence of such a notably large crack also suggests a possible time lapse in the pouring of the concrete roof at this point in the winter of 1942-43, as the integrity of the concrete bond would have suffered because of this. There is no absence of steel reinforcing bars in the area. Perhaps the necessary continuous concrete pour was halted for the day or for several important hours, causing a vulnerable stress point during the subsequent explosion of 1945. It is also obvious that very strong explosive charges were placed on the east side of the support pillar, contributing to the extensiveness of the damage. Provan writes:

"It should be noted that the central column to the west of both holes [6 and 8] is destroyed, with only the rebars remaining".

I suggest that a combination of the placement and power of the charges and a stress fracture, resulting from a discontinuous concrete pour, created the gaping crack at this area of the roof.

More importantly, the hole which lies immediately to the east of the pillar would have been created by the roof having been lifted and thrown to the east in the violent blast which destroyed the integrity of the pillar itself. With the destruction of the concrete pillar, so too the concrete in the roof was also pulverized at its original juncture with the pillar and appears as a hole to the east of the existing rebar, where the roof landed in its violent displacement.

The area around the 5th support pillar is a mess, and Mr. Provan's analysis of the area is rather abrupt. He provides a single photo with the following text:

"Hole 8, on left with rebar remnants of the central roof column visible immediately above. To the right, the shattered roof around the central roof column [view: from the east]".

He also writes:

"We consider it quite significant that holes 6 and 8 were located immediately to the east of the central roof column, each of them right next to a supporting pillar (in these cases pillars 3 and 5). It should be noted that the central column to the west of both holes is destroyed, with only the rebars remaining. The roof above the reinforcement bars is also destroyed in both locations".

One can only repeat the argument made beforehand concerning the area around the 3rd pillar: The existence of a pronounced aperture next to the concrete support pillar suggests nothing more than the displacement of the roof during the blast: the holes resulted from the pillars being extracted from their original perches in the roof and the concrete was forcibly removed from those areas.


It is noteworthy that nothing resembling remains of the fabled "concrete chimneys" has ever been found in the ruins of Krematorium II. Nor is there evidence of tar or sealant around any of the holes, necessary for waterproofing the roof around them, nor of the fabled "wire mesh" or "perforated sheet metal", or "concrete lids". Nothing.


Although there are a number of holes and cracks in the roof of Leichenkeller I of Krematorium II, none can be seen to have existed prior to the explosion of 1945.

This analysis does not attempt to address the contemporaneous photographs, the CIA published air photos or the testimonies. Mr. Provan presents for us an excellent analysis of the unsatisfactory quality of that evidence.

Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, Bradley R. Smith, Director - Post Office Box 439016, San Ysidro, CA 92143

(4) Provan's experiment dealing with the issue of space

From: patrick <> Date: 23.02.2009 04:07 AM

I want to deal only with Provan's experiment dealing with the issue of space in the one supposedly homocidal gas chamber. Both the experiment itself and Provan's conclusion are -IMHO- ridiculous. Below I have quoted the relevant passages from the long article about Provan.)

The experiment itself: Provan was dealing with willing and enthusiastic subjects. Would people who knew they were to be gassed have been so cooperative? Wouldn't any of them have fought back? I realize that many holocaust stories show the putative victims to have been incredible cowards, but such cooperation on the part of the soon-to-be-gassed is just not credible.

The conclusion: "If Gerstein was telling a truth so improbable, the other stuff had to be so, too. It happened." Excuse me, but isn't this just nonsense, i.e. a humongous non-sequitur?

Gersten's suicide in 1945: Did he receive assistance in committing suicide from the Nuremburg Show Trial Producers? Was he in Allied custody when he wrote this? The Show Trial Producers would not want such a person to be alive to retract his statements. I direct this question to other participants who might know the details better. END OF MY COMMENTS) ---


"Let's do an experiment," Provan told them.

The kids peeled to their underwear in an upstairs bedroom. Provan moved a chest of drawers and an old cabinet into a corner. The kids squealed and giggled as he crowded them into a tiny, tiny space he'd created.

He grabbed a doll to round the number out to five.

"I'm gonna' see how many kids can fit in a gas chamber!" he shouted.

After crowding the youngsters into the tiny space, Provan went downstairs to his parlor with a hand calculator, stretched out on the recliner, and did a little math.

The numbers worked. Those bizarre, impossible numbers worked.

"Then it dawned on me," Provan said. "He saw that. He saw that!" Gerstein saw those children, those old men, those mothers, he saw them jammed into a room, 700 or more at a time, bleeding, sweating, urinating in fear. He saw the doors open, saw bodies so tangled in death they lacked even the power to fall. If Gerstein was telling a truth so improbable, the other stuff had to be so, too. It happened.

Provan repeated his experiments several times. One night, he rented three mannequins from a clothing store near his home in Monongahela, Washington County. They lacked the suppleness of humans.

"Then it occurred to me -- what if the revisionists say I just made this up?"

So he built a 21-inch by 21-inch box the same height (74 inches) as the chamber in Belzec. He invited some friends over and crammed them in and took photos.

"I told them to wear some very thin clothes. We put the kids in pajamas," he explained, showing a photo reminiscent of the old college prank of jamming umpteen students into a telephone booth.

Having proved Gerstein's statement on chamber capacity, Provan set out to prove a trickier problem.

(5) How the Sonderkommandos could touch the bodies; disposal of ashes

From: Joe Fallisi <> Date: 23.02.2009 03:15 AM Subject: two questions

I just read carefully "Van Pelt on Rudolf's rejection of all eyewitness testimony" you posted yesterday. To my eyes Van Pelt's work is a serious one. But I have two questions.

1) Since the bodies of gassed people deeply absorbed the hydrogen cyanide ("The situation in the gas chambers was different. With its powerful ventilation system, and with the fact that most of the hydrogen cyanide was absorbed by the victims' bodies, the time could be reduced to 20 minutes") how the Sonderkommandos could manage with that while being with and touching the same bodies in the crematorium itself? Of course they didn't use there nor masks neither gloves - at least I imagine.

2) When, how and where was dispersed, after the incinerations, the huge amount of ashes and even probable remaining bones?

Reply (Peter M.):

Forced ventilation enabled those workers to enter.

(6) Ventilation made the Gas Chambers safe for workers to enter

[The Van Pelt Report]: Electronic Edition, by Robert Jan van Pelt

IX The Leuchter Report

"There were no exhaust systems to vent the gas after usage," Leuchter observed. Prompted by Christie, Leuchter repeated this, according to him, crucial piece of evidence at various points during his testimony. Discussing crematorium 2, he stated that he did not find any capability to ventilate the alleged gas chamber.

[Christie]: "In this on-site inspection, did you find any roof vent capabilities as indicated on the various drawings that were given?"

[Leuchter]: "there was no ventilation capability for this facility at all. ... Without a proper ventilation system, the basement of crematorium II could not have been used as a homicidal gas chamber.

[Christie]: "And can you tell us why you hold that opinion?"

[Leuchter]: "Yes, essentially for the same reasons that I felt that the mortuary at Krema I was not an execution gas chamber. The building was not sealed with tar or pitch in any manner. There was no ventilation system. ...

When, during cross-examination, Pearson confronted Leuchter with a letter written by the leader of the Auschwitz Zentralbauleitung, Karl Bischoff, which mentioned that Topf would proceed with "the installation in time for aeration [Belüftung] and ventilation [Entlüftung]" immediately when transport became available, Leuchter wrongly concluded that "this ventilation system was, in fact, the blower for the furnace. It had nothing to do with ventilating the alleged gas chamber area. Since Topf made it, we know they manufactured furnace equipment, crematory equipment." 767 Yet the plans of the crematoria show that built in the walls of the gas chamber were ducts indicated in the drawings as "Belüftung" and "Entlüftungskanal." The remains of this system can still be seen in the ruined east wall of the gas chamber of crematorium 3. Ignoring important evidence, and refusing to examine the blueprints in relation to the correspondence and the remains of the crematoria Leuchter had jumped to the wrong conclusion. There was a ventilation system.

If he had spent a little bit more time in Auschwitz, and consulted the archive of the camp, Leuchter would have been able to find independent confirmation in the testimony of Henryk Tauber, who had been a Sonderkommando in crematorium 2, and who had given testimony immediately after the war. ...

The ventilation system of the gas chamber was coupled to the ventilation ducts installed in the undressing room. This ventilation system, which also served the dissection room, was driven by electric motors in the roof space of the crematorium. 768

But Leuchter never even thought about cross-referencing his own observations, the German blueprints, and the testimonies of eye-witnesses. He could, for example, have found some use for the statements of the well-known Israeli artist Yehuda Bakon during the Eichmann trial. In 1943 the then fourteen-year-old Bakon had been imprisoned in the Czech family Camp in Birkenau, and there he had joined a squad of inmates who had to bring papers to be burned in the crematoria. As a result, he had been able to enter the buildings, and seen the gas chambers from within. In the summer of 1945, after his liberation, Bakon who was already a talented draughtsman at the time drew various views of Auschwitz from memory. He showed them during his testimony.

Attorney general: "What are you holding in your hand now?"

Witness Bakon: "This is a view of the gas chambers and also Nos. 1 and 2 which were underground, and what one saw above. They looked like water sprinklers; I was curious and examined them closely. I saw there were no holes in them, this was just a sham; at first sight it seemed to be an actual shower-head.

Above there were lights covered with wire, and in each gas chamber there were two pipes leading from the ceiling to the floor, and around them were four iron columns surrounded by strong wire. When the operation was over and the people were forced inside, the SS opened some device above, like a drainage pipe, and through it introduced Zyklon B."

Presiding Judge: "Did the gas remain in the middle of the chamber and spread from there?" Witness Bakon: "Yes." Judge Raveh: "Is that what we see in the centre of the picture." Witness Bakon: "Yes, there were two of these in each gas chamber in crematoria Nos. 1 and 2--that is to say, there were four; their dimensions were 40 x 40 centimetres; below were the ventilators and also holes for cleaning with water. Afterwards, when they dismantled the crematoria, we saw the ventilators separately." Presiding Judge: "Were these air vents?" Witness Bakon: "Yes. There were several openings. One opening was for the purpose of ventilation and one for washing the floor." Presiding Judge: "This drawing of the gas chamber will be marked T/1320." Attorney general: "In order to make it quite clear, Mr. Bakon, what purpose did this ventilation serve?" Witness Bakon: "The ventilation made it possible for other people to enter at once." Q.: "To ventilate the chamber after the killing?" A.: "Yes. The bodies were removed from the chamber, there was a lift there ...

The SS men who had been involved in the gassings had not been expandable, and Leuchter could have found some interesting testimony about the operation of the gas chambers from, for example, a well-known witness like Pery Broad, or a more obscure SS man like Hans Stark. Like Broad, Stark had been employed in the Auschwitz Political Department, better known as the "Camp Gestapo." Stark provided during the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial useful evidence about the procedures in the Political Department, and the various ways of execution. One of these was gassing in crematorium 1.

(7) How the Sonderkommandos could touch the bodies; disposal of ashes

From: Joe Fallisi <> Date: 23.02.2009 03:46 AM Subject: Re: two questions

Yes Peter, I had read. But this is as for the air, not as for the bodies themselves (that where for sure deeply impregnated of poison) - at least it seems to me.

Reply (Peter M.):

The workers wore gas masks;and they would probably have worn gloves, plus full-length shirts and pants.

Ashes were often thrown in the river:

{quote} 7.36Sonderkommando Salmen Gradowski kept a diary of his experiences at the camp which he buried in an aluminium can. Schlomo Dragon remembered where it was buried. Remarkably the can and its contents were found intact and dug up after the liberation of the camp. The can contained a notebook and a letter dated 6th September 1944. In the letter Gradowski explained that it was his aim to preserve a written account of what had happened at Auschwitz. He wrote that this task became even more important once the Nazis started to burn the bodies of those they had killed and to dispose of the ashes in the River Vistula. {endquote}

{quote} The ashes and remains of bones were removed from the ash- pit, ground in mortars, and, at first, thrown into especially dug ditches; but later, from 1943 onwards, bones and ashes were secretly carted to Zawadki at night, and there thrown into the river. {endquote}

(8) Cyanide kills mammals much easier than insects; does not kill/disinfect bacteria

TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF THE HOLOCAUST: Cyanide, Zyklon-B, and Mass Murder

Brian Harmon

Cyanide is most effective on warmblooded animals such as mammals, but is less effective on insects. While insect mitochondria and vertebrate mitochondria are not radically different, one thing is: Hemoglobin. Vertebrates carry oxygen in their blood via hemoglobin, while insects do not carry oxygen in their blood at all. Instead, insects have air tubules that carry oxygen directly to all cells in their body. Because cyanide poisons hemoglobin too, animals that use it are all the more susceptible. Also (while I am not sure of this) insects may be more tolerant of anaerobic metabolism than vertebrates.

Since cyanide binds to hemoglobin much in the same fashion as it binds cytochrome a3, cyanide takes hemoglobin out of commission as well {9}. With their oxygen carrying molecules bound by cyanide, vertebrates die all the faster from asphyxiation. Mammals are also very dependent on oxygen- utilizing metabolism, and will die in minutes if it is shut off. Insects, lacking hemoglobin, die more slowly as their cells must be starved of ATP. Insects may also be able to survive longer on anaerobic (non-O2 utilizing) metabolism. ...

Here's what Chemistry of Industrial Toxicology had to say about it (p94) [added emphasis is mine]:

"Hydrogen cyanide, or hydrocyanic or prussic acid, owes its toxicity not to its acidity but to the cyanide ion (CN-). Thus the soluble cyanides-- sodium, potassium,etc. -- are equally toxic in the same molar concentrations. Unlike carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide is a protoplasmic poison, killing insects and other lower [sic] forms of animal life. It does not kill bacteria, however. Hydrogen cyanide acts by inhibiting tissue oxidation, that is, by preventing useful employment of oxygen carried by the blood.

Cyanides are very rapid in their effects, killing instantly if present in sufficient amounts. It is this speed of action, rather than the minuteness of the fatal dose, which accounts for the reputation of cyanide as the most powerful common poison [..]

Hydrogen cyanide is used as a fumigant in dwellings, warehouses, and ships. Although such fumigations are potentially very dangerous, accidents can be avoided by proper precautions.

In high concentrations, hydrogen cyanide is absorbed through the skin; therefore complete reliance cannot be placed on a gas mask. After 1 hour exposure, 100 to 250 ppm of HCN are dangerous." [assumed the 100-250 ppm value is for absorption through skin]

Some things I'd like to point out:

Cyanide will not kill bacteria, and is completely useless for disinfecting a morgue or hospital. Its only medical use is to kill vermin (rats, mice, lice) that may harbor pathogens. Some Holocaust deniers claim that cyanide was used to disinfect "morgues" in Auschwitz. This is clearly a ludicrous notion.

The sources I listed make specific references to HCN's widespread use as a fumigant, and that it can be done easily with the right precautions.

Major Modes of Poisoning

HCN will pass through the skin, and poisoning can result. Absorption through the skin is a much slower process than through lungs, so a short exposure to skin is not very dangerous. It also takes a higher concentration of the gas {10}. Absorption of cyanide through the skin is not significant unless the concentration is high over a long exposure.

According to July 1993 issue of _American Family Physician_, cyanide poisoning through the skin is very rare: " Cyanide is absorbed through the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and skin. Symptoms can occur within seconds of HCN [cyanide gas] inhalation; ....Cyanide is readily absorbed through the mucous membranes and the eyes. Clinical cases of cyanide poisoning after dermal exposure are rare and most often have involved burns with molten cyanide salts or immersion in cyanide solutions." Cyanide poisoning through the skin is therefore not a significant mode of poisoning unless you have very high concentrations over a very long period of time. ...

For fumigation purposes, a German firm called Degesch made a product called Zyklon B. Zyklon B consisted of liquid HCN adsorbed onto a carrier -- "wood fiber disks, dia gravel, or small blue cubes [sic]" {12}. Although toxic, cyanide was hard to detect alone, so an irritant was added to the Zyklon to warn people of exposure.

A "typical" can of Zyklon contained 200 grams of HCN adsorbed onto the carrier, and was stored in metal tins marked with a death's head and warning that read: "Giftgas!" (Deathly poisonous gas!) {13}. Zyklon-B shipments to Nazi Death camps had the warning indicator removed, which would prevent people from detecting the gas's presence before it was too late ... The primary means of protection was a gas mask, and many different structures and temperatures pose no problem for fumigation. The Degesch manual is also known as Nuremburg document NI- 9912. ...

(9) Delousing (insecticide) requires much more Cyanide than Gassing humans/mammals

Zyklon-B is a powerful insecticide. It releases HCN, Hydrocyanic acid, a gas - Zyklon-B is the carrier, a material soaked with the gas; usually it comes in the shape of small pellets or disks. HCN is what causes death. While interacting with iron and concrete, it creates compounds ("Hydrocyanic compounds"). Leuchter concedes that these compounds were found in the ruins of the gas chambers in Auschwitz (as reaffirmed by the findings of the Polish government institute, which completely rejects Leuchter's conclusions - see Section 2.01).

HCN is extremely poisonous to humans. It is used in execution gas chambers in the US; the first such was built in Arizona in 1920. ...

There were two types of gas chambers in Auschwitz: those used for delousing clothes ("delousing gas chambers") and those used for killing people on a massive scale ("extermination gas chambers"). The delousing gas chambers were a standard feature, and were left intact by the SS (as opposed to the extermination gas chambers, which were dynamited in an effort to conceal criminal activity from the rapidly approaching Soviet Army). The deniers try to confuse the issue by mixing the two types of chambers. For instance, they show pictures of the doors for the delousing chambers, and note that they are too weak to withstand the pressure of people trying to escape. Of course, the doors for the extermination chambers are completely different, but that fact is quietly overlooked (see 2.06).

Disparities in Hydrocyanic Compound Levels

Holocaust deniers often claim that since more hydrocyanic compounds were found in the delousing chambers than in the ruins of the so-called "extermination" chambers at Auschwitz, and the reverse would be true if people were actually gassed there, it is clear that no gassings occurred.

But - HCN is far more effective on warm-blooded animals (including humans) than on insects, so the period of exposure to HCN is far longer for delousing clothes than that required for homicidal gassings, and a much lower concentration is necessary to kill people instead of insects.

A concentration of up to 16,000 ppm (parts per million) is sometimes used, with exposure times of up to 72 hours, to kill insects, but as little as 300 ppm will cause death in humans within fifteen minutes or so.

Breitman offers background information about the development of Zyklon B as a killing device, and provides clear evidence that the Nazis determined the effective Zyklon B concentration through a process of trial and error. (Get pub/camps/auschwitz/auschwitz.faq1)

When the difference in the concentration of gas required to kill insects and humans was mentioned in Leuchter's cross-examination in the Zündel trial, Leuchter responded: "I've never killed beetles. I, you know, I don't know. I haven't made computations for killing beetles" - Hardly the response one would expect from an "expert" on the subject...

Because of the relatively small concentrations required to exterminate humans as opposed to lice, and because of the far shorter exposure time required, the HCN in the gas chambers used to kill humans hardly had time to form chemical compounds on the walls.

The gas chambers were not very large (those in Kremas II and III were about 210 square meters), and the Zyklon B was dropped through four openings in the roof, spreading the gas very quickly. These openings are still visible in the ruins of the gas chambers, and rare photographs of them, taken while the camp was in operation, exist, and copies are readily available (Brugioni et al) from the sources noted in Section 6.1, below. Since the concentration used was higher than the lethal one, death was swift. (Get pub/holocaust/gifs/ krema4.gif - Krema IV was above-ground, and the Zyklon B was introduced through clearly visible slits in the walls. See also ~/gifs/ c_krema4.gif, which provides a closeup of the wall openings.

Leuchter's data is further suspect because the delousing chambers where he obtained his samples were left intact by the SS, while the extermination chambers were destroyed. Clearly, their walls were exposed to the elements for forty-five years, which would certainly effect the validity of the samples taken. (The ruins of Krema II are covered with about three feet of water during certain periods of the year, and HCN compounds would eventually dissolve under such conditions. Nonetheless, so many gassings occurred there that some of the compound did remain).

Summarizing, the walls of the extermination gas chambers were in contact with HCN for a much shorter time then those of the delousing chambers, and for the last 45 years were exposed to surroundings which dissolve the compounds, while the delousing rooms were not. Therefore it is obvious that less traces of compounds would remain in them. This debunks the major "amazing discovery" in Leuchter's report, which, in retrospect, wasn't 'amazing' at all.

This fact - that all, or most, of the compounds would vanish during 45 years of exposure - is quite clearly stated in the report written by the experts at the Cracow Institute of Forensic Research:

INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC RESEARCH In the name of Prof. Dr. Jan Sehn, Krakow Division of Forensic Toxicology

Krakow, 24 Sept. 1990 Westerplatte 9 / Code 31-033 Tel. 505-44, 592-24, 287-50 Telex 0325213 eksad ...

The hydrocyanic acid (HCN) that is released from the Zyklon B preparation is a liquid with a boiling point of about 27 degrees Celsius. It has an acidic character, and therefore forms compounds with metallic salts, which are known as cyanides. The salts of alkaline metals (such as sodium and potassium) are water soluble.

Hydrocyanic acid is a very weak acid, and accordingly its salts dissolve easily in stronger acids. Even carbonic acid, which is formed as a reaction of carbon dioxide with water, will dissolve ferro-cyanide.

Stronger acids, such as sulfuric acids, easily dissolve the cyanides. The compounds of cyanide ions with heavy metals are longer lasting. This includes the already mentioned Prussian blue, although this will also slowly dissolve in an acidic environment.

Therefore, one can hardly assume that traces of cyanic compounds could still be detected in construction materials (plaster, brick) after 45 years, after being subjected to the weather and the elements (rain, acid oxides, especially sulfuric and nitrogen oxides). More reliable would be the analysis of wall plaster [samples] from closed rooms which were not subject to weather and the elements (including acid rain).

The discovery of hydrocyanic acid compounds in samples of material which had been subject to the elements can only be accidental.

The deniers often claim that the gas chamber in Krema I was left intact, and therefore its walls were not exposed to the elements. Curiously, they also make great issue of the fact that Krema I was converted into an air-raid shelter, and then rebuilt by the Soviet Army, after the liberation of the camp, to reproduce its original shape, saying that it has been used to mislead the public, who were told that people were gassed in the building. (The logic of their holding both views when it seems advantageous to do so will perhaps escape you, but then logic has not been a demonstrated asset when it comes to Holocaust denial. See Section 3.0.)

The modification consisted of essentially removing some partitioning walls inside the gas chamber, which were added as a common feature of bomb shelters. Nontheless, this is the room in which people were gassed; there are still traces of cyanide on its walls, as Leuchter admits (he found traces in 6 of 7 samples).

But - the gas chamber of Krema I was used only for a short time, before the conversion. This, and the fact that "only" about ten thousand people were murdered within it, compared to three-hundred-fifty-thousand and four-hundred-thousand in Kremas II and III, explains why relatively small amounts of cyanide compounds remain. The other Kremas were destroyed by the SS prior to the Soviet liberation.

Finally, cyanide compounds were found on the ventilation grills of the extermination chambers, proving beyond doubt that gassing did take place within. ...

Leuchter arrives at his figures assuming that the people could occupy the gas chambers at a density of maximum 1 person per 9 square feet (!!) and that it would take a week (!!) to ventilate the gas chambers before they could be used for another mass execution. These assumptions are absurd. ...

Holocaust denial often claims that the "alleged" extermination chambers were actually morgues, and that Zyklon-B was used in them as a disinfectant.

This claim stems from the fact that Hydrocyanic compounds were found on the ventilation grills of the gas chambers in Krema II and III (the chemical analysis was carried out by Dr. Jan Robel of the Cracow Forensic Institute in December 1945, and was part of the evidence in the trial of Auschwitz commander Höss). This proves that gassing did take place in that chamber - but since this runs contrary to the deniers claims that it was an underground morgue, they claimed "a morgue is disinfected with Zyklon-B."

The Cracow Institute of Forensic Research report which followed release of the Leuchter Report is available within our archives.

Unfortunately for the people offering this assertion as truth, Zyklon-B is useless for disinfecting corpses, as it does not kill anaerobic bacteria - it kills only aerobic organisms.

Finally, the "morgue" is specifically referred to as a "gassing cellar" in a letter from the Auschwitz construction department to SS General Kammler, January 29, 1943. Why call a morgue "gassing cellar?" And why is the other underground room called "undressing cellar?" (see Pressac, p. 221; also The Final Solution: The Attempt to Exterminate the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945 - G. Reitlinger, South Brunswick, T. Yosellof, 1968, p. 158. These documents are reproduced in the "AUSCHWITZ" section of the file "Original Nazi Documents", together with other documents about the process of gassing in Auschwitz).

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