The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

For what purpose was, and is, this gas manufactured?

28. For what purpose was, and is, this gas manufactured?

The IHR says:

For the extermination of the typhus-bearing louse. It is used to fumigate clothing and quarters. It is readily available today.

Nizkor replies:

That's right. But it was also used to kill people on a massive scale. HCN (hydrocyanic acid, the gas released by Zyklon-B) has a "side effect" which the SS found very useful: it kills human beings quite well.

In fact, the same concentration kills humans and other mammals much faster than it kills lice and bugs. The concentration used for delousing, 8-10 grams per cubic meter, kills humans very quickly, though it takes up to 32 hours to get rid of bugs and clothes moths. Even when a lower concentration is used, death comes swiftly.

In fact, HCN is used to kill people in gas chambers today, in the United States.

A rather technical paper on the nature and mechanism of cyanide is available.

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