The beginning of the revisionist controversy in France: 1974-1978
At the beginning of 1974, I sent a letter, on the letterhead of the Sorbonne (where I was teaching at the time), to a good many historians and specialists from around the world. Here is the text of that letter:
May I take the liberty of asking you your feelings, your personal feelings, with regard to a particularly delicate point of contemporary history: do Hitler's gas chambers seem to you to have been a myth or a reality? Would you perhaps also be so kind as to tell me explicitly in your answer what credence, in your opinion, should be given to the "Gerstein report;" to the confession of R. Höss; to the testimony of Nyiszli (should we say Nyiszli-Kremer?); and, in a general way, to what has been written from that point of view on Auschwitz, on the gas known as Zyklon B, on the initials "N.N." (Nacht und Nebel or Nomen Nescio?), and on the phrase "final solution?" Has your opinion as to the possibility of there having been gas chambers changed since 1945, or is it the same today as it was twenty-nine years ago?
Up to now I have been unable to find any photographs of gas chambers which seem to offer any guarantee of authenticity. Neither the Paris Centre de documentation juive nor the Munich Institut für Zeitgeschichte has been able to furnish any to me. Would you perchance know of any photographs that shed light on the question?
My thanks in advance for your response and if possible your assistance.
Among those to whom I addressed my letter was a Dr. Kubovy, the director of a Jewish documents center in Tel Aviv. Dr. Kubovy, however, though I was unaware of it at the time, was deceased. His heirs turned my letter over to the Yedioth Aharonoth, a daily newspaper, which published it in abbreviated form on 26 May 1974. In France, the Tribune juive repeated the story on 14 June of the same year. Then, a satirical weekly, the Canard enchaîné, did so as well on 17 July. The Sorbonne authorities denounced my "allegations," and I was ultimately expelled from my professional association.
For three years the media followed a policy of silence. But during those three years, while continuing my research, I continued sending to Le Monde and to a few other publications a constant stream of letters on the problem of the gas chambers and genocide.
It was then that Le Monde decided to go on the offensive against historical revisionism. Journalist Pierre Viansson-Ponté devoted a venomous article to the French version of Richard Harwood's booklet, Did Six Million Really Die? ("Le Mensonge" [The Lie] 17/18 July 1977, page 13). I thereupon redoubled my efforts and inundated Le Monde with letters. In August of 1977, the magazine Historia published a letter of mine in which I spoke of "the imposture of the genocide." In June of 1978, a publication of the extreme right, Défense de l'Occident, directed by Maurice Bardèche, the author of Nuremberg ou la Terre promise [Nuremberg or the Promised Land] (1948) and Nuremberg II ou les Faux Monnayeurs [Nuremberg II or the Counterfeiters] (1950), published an essay to which I had given the title "The Problem of the Gas Chambers."
The pressure mounted.
In 1978, Pierre Viansson-Ponté renewed the attack and recommended the taking of legal action against the revisionists ("The Lie (continued)," Le Monde, 3/4 September 1978, page 9). On 28 October, the magazine L'Express published a memorable interview with Darquier de Pellepoix, former Vichy police commissioner in charge of Jewish problems, who was then a refugee in Spain. He was supposed to have stated: "I am going to tell you what really occurred at Auschwitz. There was gassing. Yes, it is true. But it was lice that were gassed" (page 173). There is ample reason to think that the interview in question was only staged and was the work of a discredited journalist, Philippe Ganier-Raymond, a man previously convicted, due to my intervention, of altering signed texts of Louis-Ferdinand Celine. It is likely that certain circles in France, uneasy to learn that a university professor was so actively engaged in bringing his revisionist arguments before the public, had decided to light a counter-fire, in order one day to be able to present R. Faurisson as following in the footsteps of the "Nazi" Darquier de Pellepoix. The newspaper Le Matin de Paris in turn took up the challenge, incriminating me directly and by name (16 November 1978, page 17). All the media, in unison, now unleashed an attack. Indignation against the heretic assumed such proportions that a Jewish journalist and some Jewish organizations went so far as to suggest using violence against me. I was then teaching at Lyons University 2. On the 20th of November I was twice violently attacked. The press related the facts in their well-known way.
In France we have, at least in principle, what is known as the "right of reply." By virtue of this right, any person named or designated in a newspaper can, under certain precise conditions, demand the publication of a "text in right of reply." Le Monde was thus compelled to publish a text at the end of which I slipped in the following sentences:
I await a public debate on a subject that is evidently being avoided: that of the "gas chambers." I ask Le Monde, as I have been begging it to do for four years now, to publish at least my two pages on "The Auschwitz Rumor." The moment has come. The time is ripe.
It was obvious that the readership of Le Monde would not have understood the refusal of their newspaper to publish the two pages in question. It seemed that Le Monde, all said and done, had fallen into its own trap. For two years it had treated a revisionist member of the teaching profession either with calumny or with silence. Now it was obliged, against its will, to let that professor speak. On 29 December 1978, Le Monde thus published "The Auschwitz Rumor" (or, "The Problem of the Gas Chambers"):
No one questions the utilization of crematory furnaces in certain German camps. The very frequency of epidemics throughout Europe required the cremation, for example, of the cadavers of typhus victims (see photos).1
It is the existence of "gas chambers," veritable human slaughterhouses that is questioned. And this questioning has been on the increase since 1945. The major news media are now well aware of it.
In 1945, official historical knowledge affirmed that "gas chambers" had been in operation in the former Reich as well as in Austria, in Alsace as well as in Poland. Fifteen years later, in 1960, historical science revised that judgment: "gas chambers" had been in operation "above all" (?) only in Poland. That excruciating revision of 1960 reduced to naught a thousand "testimonies," a thousand "proofs" of supposed gassings at Oranienburg, at Buchenwald, at Dachau, at Ravensbrück, at Mauthausen. Brought before the judiciary machinery of the English or the French, the directors of Ravensbrück (Suhren, Schwarzhuber, Dr. Treite) had acknowledged the existence of a "gas chamber" and even vaguely described its functioning. A comparable scenario for Ziereis at Mauthausen, or for Kramer at the Struthof. After the death of the guilty, it was discovered that the gassings had never taken place. Ah, the frailty of the testimonies and the confessions!
The "gas chambers" of Poland — in the end it will surely be admitted — were no more a reality. It is to the judiciary machinery of the Poles and the Soviets that we owe the essentials of our information about them (see, for example, the amazing confession of R. Höss: Commandant à Auschwitz).
Present-day visitors to Auschwitz or to Majdanek discover buildings represented as "gas chambers," where any gassing would have ended in a catastrophe for the gassers and their associates. A mass execution by gas is by no means to be considered identical to a suicidal or accidental gassing. In order to gas even a single prisoner, a prisoner tied hand and foot, the Americans employ a highly technical procedure, and that in a reduced space from which the gas, after it has been used, is drawn out in order thereafter to be neutralized. How, therefore, could one at Auschwitz, for example, put two thousand (and even three thousand) persons in a space of 210 square meters (!), then pour (!) on them granules of the common and virulent insecticide called Zyklon B; and finally, immediately after the death of the victims, send a work party without gas masks into those premises saturated with hydrocyanic acid to take out the cadavers permeated with cyanide? Documents all too little known show moreover: (1) that the building the Germans presumably blew up before they left was just a typical morgue (Leichenkeller), below ground (to protect it from the heat) and provided with a single small door for entry and exit; (2) that the Zyklon B could not be evacuated by rapid ventilation, and its evaporation required at least twenty-one hours. While we possess thousands of documents on the Auschwitz crematories, including invoices down to the pfennig, for the "gas chambers," which seemingly were right alongside the crematories, we possess neither a construction schedule, nor a study, nor an order, nor a plan, nor an invoice, nor a photo. In the course of a hundred trials (Jerusalem, Frankfurt, etc.), it has not been possible to come up with a thing.
"I was at Auschwitz. There were no 'gas chambers' there." We rarely hear witnesses for the defense who dare utter those words. They are prosecuted. Even now, in 1978, anyone in Germany who testifies in favor of Thies Christophersen, the author of The Auschwitz Lie, risks being sentenced for "insulting the memory of the dead."
After the war, the International Red Cross (which had made its investigation of "the Auschwitz rumor," the Vatican (which was so well informed on Poland), the Nazis, the collaborators, and many others besides, all declared: "The 'gas chambers'? We didn't know." But how can one know things when they didn't exist?
Nazism is dead, quite dead, along with its Führer. Today the truth remains. We dare to proclaim it. The nonexistence of the "gas chambers" is a piece of good news for poor humanity. Good news it would be wrong for us to keep hidden any longer.
Le Monde accompanied my words with an impressive array of other articles that were uniformly hostile to revisionism — and which automatically afforded me a new right to reply. On 16 January 1979, Le Monde published my right of reply under the title of "A Letter by Mr. Faurisson," that read:
Until 1960, I believed in the reality of those gigantic massacres in "gas chambers." Then, upon reading Paul Rassinier, a former Resistance partisan deportee and author of Le Mensonge d'Ulysse, I began to have some doubts. After fourteen years of personal reflection, then four years of an intensive investigation, I became certain, like twenty other revisionist authors, that I was facing an historical lie. I have visited and revisited Auschwitz and Birkenau, where one is shown a "reconstituted gas chamber" and ruins said to be "crematories with gas chambers." At Struthof (Alsace) and at Majdanek (Poland), I have examined the buildings presented as "gas chambers in their original condition." I have analyzed thousands of documents, particularly in the Center of Contemporary Jewish Documentation of Paris: archives, shorthand reports, photographs, written testimonies. I have tirelessly pursued specialists and historians with my questions. I have sought, though in vain, one single deportee capable of proving to me that he had, with his own eyes, really seen a "gas chamber." My principal wish was not for an illusory abundance of proofs; I was prepared to be content with one proof, with a single proof. But I never found that proof. What I did find, on the other hand, were a lot of false proofs worthy of witchcraft trials and serving to bring dishonor on the judges who accepted them. And afterwards I found silence, embarrassment, hostility and, finally, calumnies, insults, and blows.
The replies provoked by my brief article on "The Auschwitz Rumor" are ones I have encountered repeatedly in my eighteen years of research. I do not question the sincerity of their authors, but I say that these ready answers are rife with errors long since pointed out by men such as Rassinier, Scheidl, and Butz.
For example, in the letter of 29 January 1943 quoted to me (a letter that does not even bear the customary "secret" stamp), Vergasung does not mean "gassing," but "carburetion." Vergasungskeller designates the basement room where the "gas" mixture is made that supplies the crematory furnace. These furnaces, together with their aeration and ventilation equipment, came from the Erfurt firm of Topf and Sons (NO-4473).
Begasung designated the gassing of clothing in sterilizers. If the gas employed was Zyklon B — a preparation of "B [lausäure]" i.e., prussic or hydrocyanic acid — they were spoken of as "blue gas chambers." They had nothing to do with the supposed "slaughterhouse gas chambers!"
The journal of Dr. Johann Paul Kremer must be quoted correctly. Then it will be seen that when he speaks of the horrors of Auschwitz, it is in allusion to the horrors of the typhus epidemic of September-October of 1942. On 3 October, he writes: "In Auschwitz itself, the inhabitants of entire streets have been struck down by typhus." He himself contracts what he calls "the Auschwitz illness." Germans die of it. The sorting out of those who were ill and of those in good health: that was the doctor's "selection" or one of the forms of his "special action." This sorting took place either inside the buildings or outside. Kremer never wrote that Auschwitz was a Vernichtungslager, that is to say, in the terminology invented by the Allies after the war, an "extermination camp" (meaning: a camp equipped with a "gas chamber"). In reality he wrote: "It is not for nothing that Auschwitz is called the camp of the annihilation (das Lager der Vernichtung)." In the etymological sense of the word, typhus does annihilate those whom it strikes. Another grave error in quoting: for the date of 2 September 1942, Kremer's manuscript reads: "This morning at 3 o'clock, I took part outside for the first time in a special action." Historians and magistrates traditionally delete the word "outside" (draussen) in order to make Kremer say that the action was taking place in a "gas chamber." Lastly, the horrifying scenes in front of the "last bunker" (the yard of Bunker no. 11) are executions of those condemned to death, executions that the doctor was obliged to attend. Among those condemned are three women who have arrived in a convoy from Holland: they are shot.
The buildings of the Birkenau Kremas were perfectly visible to everyone. Many plans and photos prove it and likewise prove the utter physical impossibility for these Kremas to have been "gas chambers."
If, apropos of Auschwitz, people are once again going to cite miraculously rediscovered confessions, memoirs, or manuscripts (all documents known to me already), I wish they would show me in what way their imprecise details differ from the imprecise details of all the documents that made the Allied military tribunals say there were "gas chambers" in places where eventually they ended up admitting there had never been any: for example, anywhere within the area of prewar Germany!
I have cited the industrial documents NI-9098 and NI-9912. They should be read before bringing the "testimonies" of Pery Broad and R. Höss against me or, for that matter, the "confessions," after the war, of J. P. Kremer. Those documents establish that Zyklon B was not one of the gases classified as ventilable; its manufacturers were compelled to admit that it is "difficult to ventilate, because it adheres to surfaces." Premises that have been cyanized with Zyklon B may not be entered for a chemical test to see that the gas is gone until twenty or so hours have elapsed, even if one is wearing a mask equipped with a "J" filter — the most efficient of filters. Mattresses and blankets must be beaten in the open air for one or two hours. Well, Höss writes: "Half an hour after the gas had been thrown in, we opened the door and turned on the ventilation equipment. We began taking out the cadavers immediately." Immediately (sofort)! And to add that the work crew charged with handling the two thousand cyanized cadavers entered that building (still full of gas, isn't that so?) and took out the bodies "while eating and smoking," that is to say, if I rightly understand, without even a gas mask. It's impossible. All the testimonies, however vague or conflicting they may be on the rest of it, all agree on this point: the crew opened the room either immediately or "a little after" the death of the victims. I say that this point, all by itself, constitutes the touchstone of false testimony.
In Alsace, the "gas chamber" of the Struthof is interesting to visit. Right there on the spot we read the confession of Josef Kramer. It was through a "hole" (sic) that Kramer poured "a certain quantity of hydrocyanic salts," then "a certain quantity of water": together they released a gas that killed in about a minute. The "hole" that we see today was so crudely chiselled that four of the tiles are broken. Kramer made use of a "funnel with a spigot." I don't see how he was able to keep the gas from coming back through that rough hole, nor how he could tolerate having the gas go out the chimney to spread beneath the windows of his villa. You go into the next room and there they explain that affair of the cadavers preserved by Professor Hirt in "formaldehyde vats" which are, in fact, just sauerkraut and potato vats with loose-fitting hinged lids made of wood.
Even the most commonplace weapon, if it is suspected of having been used to kill or wound someone, becomes the subject of an expert judicial appraisal. One notes with astonishment that as monstrous a criminal weapon as these "gas chambers" are, they have never been the subject of an official expert appraisal (either judicial, scientific, or archeological), in a report that may be examined.
If by some misfortune the Germans had won the war, I suppose that their concentration camps would have been presented to us as reeducation camps. If I contested that presentation of the facts, I should no doubt be accused of objectively playing into the hands of "Judeo-Marxism." I am neither objectively nor subjectively a Judeo-Marxist or a neo-Nazi. I feel admiration for the French who courageously fought against Nazism. They were defending a good cause. Today, if I affirm that the "gas chambers" did not exist, it is only because the hard duty of being truthful obliges me to say it.
The controversy would go on for a long time thereafter, but without the newspaper granting me the slightest opportunity to reply to the innumerable incriminations to which I was subjected. Thus began what would later be called "the wave of revisionism" (Courrier international, 13 January 1994, page 38).
My article and my letter in Le Monde (29 December 1978 and 16 January 1979) presented a peculiarity in the history of historical revisionism: in them, I put the emphasis more on scientific arguments than on historical arguments. In effect, I called upon:
- architectural plans that I had discovered in the Auschwitz Museum,
- two documents on the disinfestation procedure using Zyklon B, and
- the procedure followed in execution gassings in the United States.
I think that this recourse to arguments of a physical and chemical order in great part explains the uneasiness of the antirevisionists at that time.
In the following will be found a further exposition devoted to the two previously mentioned documents on the disinfestation procedure with Zyklon B, as well as an exposition on the procedure used in executions by gassing in the United States.
Disinfestation gassings in Germany
The first document is dated 1942. It was registered by the Allies on 25 July 1947, that is to say, several months after the end of the first and most important Nuremberg trial and three months after the hanging of Rudolf Höss. Its file number is: NI (Nuremberg, Industrialists) - 9098. It concerns a brochure published in Germany, during the war, by Degesch (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schädlingsbekämpfung, German Pest Control Company). It bears the title: Acht Vorträge aus dem Arbeitgebiet der Degesch (Eight Reports from Degesch's Field of Activity). It praises the attributes of eight gases produced by the company that are used in Germany and sold abroad. The most active of these gases is Zyklon B. Because of its high toxicity, it is reserved for fumigation on a large scale: the fumigation of barracks, silos, ships, for example. It is described as highly toxic and as attacking cellular tissue. It may be employed only by personnel who have undergone a course of special training, and such personnel must work wearing a gas mask. This gas mask must be equipped with a "J" filter, which is the most effective filter (the lowest rated filter bears the letter "A"). The distinctive color of this filter is blue-brown. To verify that there is no longer any Zyklon B in the area where it has been employed, the detection is done with "Benzidin-Kupferacetat." But the essential point, for me, of this brochure is point no. 7, describing the product. Point no. 7 reads as follows:
Lüftbarkeit: wegen starken Haftvermögens des Gases an Oberflächen erschwert u. langwierig. (Ventilability: difficult and long because the gas adheres strongly to surfaces.)
In this brochure made to praise the products of Degesch and to promote their success abroad, the author is compelled to admit that Zyklon B has a serious drawback for so toxic a gas: it is difficult to ventilate because it strongly adheres to surfaces (consequently, in the case of interest to us here, it would adhere just as well to the walls, to the ceiling, to the floor of the "gas chamber" as to the bodies of those "gassed"!).
The second document bears no date because it concerns a sort of prospectus of four very large pages divided into fourteen sections. It was registered by the Allies on 21 August 1947. The identification number is NI-9912. It is titled: Richtlinien für die Anwendung von Blausäure (Zyklon) zur Ungeziefervertilgung (Entwesung) [Instructions for the employment of hydrocyanic acid (Zyklon) for the extermination of vermin (disinfestation)]. From this very detailed text, which is reproduced below, I shall here consider only the following few points:
- In section IV, we are particularly reminded that we must not only make certain that the gas mask filters are not only at hand but in good condition;
- In section V, we are particularly reminded that the disinfestation squad shall consist of at least two members and that they must at all times be ready to show their certificates of aptitude;
- Section VI describes the equipment: 14 things were required in addition to the gas mask;
- Section VII is titled: "Planung einer Durchgasung" (Planning Fumigations). The operation was preceded by a meticulous examination of the roof of the building to be gassed, the windows, the air shafts, breaks in the walls. It was thus necessary to locate anything that would be difficult to seal, then seal it carefully;
- There are 12 items in section VIII; one of them points out that it will be necessary to remove the door keys;2
- The gassing time (from 6 to 32 hours, depending upon the temperature) and the quantity of gas required to kill the vermin are indicated in section XI;
- In section X we read: make certain that there are guards posted outside the building; take measures to protect the neighborhood; post placards in several languages and marked with a death's head; let the authorities know the date chosen for the fumigation;
- Section XI is essential. It describes the airing process. Members of the fumigation squad must go into the premises wearing their masks. But their stay is to be very brief. They must be able to reach pure air in the shortest possible time. So, on each floor, they will open only what they can open without difficulty. Should there be difficulty in opening a window, it is not necessary to keep trying; in such case it is advisable to wait until most of the gas has been evacuated, several hours later. Notwithstanding that the time of their stay inside the building is to be brief, after the opening up of each floor, or partial opening if necessary, the fumigation personnel should go out into the open air, take off their masks and rest for ten minutes in the fresh air. The airing should continue for at least 20 hours;
- Section XIV says that premises which have been fumigated may in no circumstances be put back into use in less than 21 hours after airing was started. In fact, after the first twenty hours, it is necessary for the fumigators to go back into the building for an hour once again, wearing their masks, and reclose the doors and windows. During that hour, rooms with heating facilities must be brought up to a temperature of at least 15°C. Then, at the end of the hour, the fumigators, wearing their masks, must proceed with a test to make certain there is no gas remaining. A paper strip having a colorimetric scale of reference serves them as a check. If it is confirmed that no more gas remains, the premises may be declared accessible, but under no circumstances may anyone sleep in a room that has been fumigated in the night following the fumigation.
Still remaining are all those things that could have become more saturated with hydrocyanic acid than the plaster, woodwork and painted surfaces: blankets and mattresses, for example. Special care must be used in dealing with these. Regulations are strict on this point. The fumigators must shake or beat the blankets and mattresses for at least one hour and insert the indicator strip between blankets and mattresses that have been placed on top of each other.
Translation of Doc. No. NI-9912
Office of Chief of Counsel for War Crimes
Directives for the Use of Prussic Acid (Zyklon) for the Destruction of Vermin (Disinfestation).
Properties of prussic acid. (hydrocyanic acid)
- Prussic acid is a gas which is generated by evaporation.
- Boiling point: 25 degree Centigrade.
- Freezing point: -15 degrees Cent.
- Specific gravity: 0.69
- Steam density: 0.97. (Air: 1.0)
- The liquid evaporates easily.
- Liquid: transparent, colorless.
- Smell: peculiar, repulsively sweet.
- Extraordinarily great penetrative powers.
- Prussic acid is soluble in water.
Danger of explosion.
- 75 g prussic acid 1 cbm air. (Normal application approx. 8-10 g per cbm, therefore not explosive). Prussic acid may not be brought into contact with an open flame, glowing wires etc., because then it burns up slowly and loses all its effectiveness. (carbonic acid, water and nitrogen are formed).
Toxic effects on warm-blooded animals.
- Since prussic acid has practically no indicative irritant effect it is highly toxic and very dangerous. Prussic acid is one of the most powerful poisons. 1 mg per kg of body weight is sufficient to kill a human being. Women and children are generally more susceptible than men. Very small amounts of prussic acid do not harm the human body, even if breathed continuously. Birds and fishes are particularly susceptible to prussic acid.
Toxic effects on insects.
- The effects of prussic acid on insects do not depend on the temperature to the same extent as that of other gasses, that is, it is also effective in low temperatures (even at 5 degrees Cent.) The eggs of many insects, particularly of bugs and lice, are more susceptible than the full-grown insects.
Toxic effects on plants.
- The degree of toxicity depends on the type of vegetation on the plants. Plants with thick leaves are less susceptible than those with thin ones. Mildew and dry-rot are not killed by prussic acid. Prussic acid does not destroy bacteria.
Method of using prussic acid.
- Zyklon is the absorption of a mixture of prussic acid and an irritant by a carrier. Wood fibre discs, a reddish brown granular mass (Diagriess — Dia gravel) or small blue cubes (Erco) are used as carriers.
- Apart from serving its purpose as indicator, this irritant also has the advantage of stimulating the respiration of insects. Prussic acid and the irritant are generated through simple evaporation. Zyklon will keep for 3 months. Use damaged cans first. The contents of a can must all be used up at once. Liquid prussic acid damages polish, lacquer, paint etc. Gaseous prussic acid is harmless. The toxicity of the prussic acid remains unchanged by the addition of the irritant; the danger connected with it is however considerably decreased.
- Zyklon can be rendered inoffensive by combustion.
- Slight poisoning:
Dizziness, headache, vomiting, general feeling of sickness, etc. All these symptoms pass if one immediately gets out into the fresh air. Alcohol reduces resistance to prussic acid gassing, therefore do not drink alcohol before fumigation.
Prescribe: 1 tablet Cardiazol or Veriazol in order to prevent heart disorders, if necessary repeat after 2-3 hours.
- Severe poisoning.
The effected3 person will collapse suddenly and faint. First Aid: fresh air, remove gas mask, loosen clothing, apply artificial respiration. Lobelin, intermuscular 0.01 g. Do not give camphor injections.
(page 2 of original)
- Poisoning through the skin.
Symptoms as for 1. Treat in the same way.
- Stomach poisoning.
Lobelin intermuscular 0.01 g.
Protection against gas.
- When fumigation with Zyklon use only special filters, e.g. the filter insert "J" (blue-brown) of the Auergesellschaft Berlin or of the Dracgerwerke,4 Luebeck. Should gas seep through the mask, leave the building immediately and change filters after also checking the mask and its fit to see whether they are tight. The filter insert is exhausted if gas enters through the mask. If using filter "J", first move around in the open air for approx. 2 minutes so that a certain amount of moisture from the breath may gather in the filter insert. Under no circumstances should filters be changed inside gas-filled rooms.
- A disinfestation squad consisting of at least 2 members is employed for each disinfestation project. The fumigation chief is responsible for the fumigation. His particular duties are inspection, airing, release and safety measures. The fumigation chief is to appoint a deputy in case he has to leave. The orders of the fumigation chief are to be followed without delay.
- Untrained persons or persons who are trained but who do not yet hold a certificate may not be called in to work on gassing operations, nor may they be taken into gas-filled rooms. The fumigation chief must also know where to contact his personnel. Every person must at all times be able to prove that he has official authorization of the use of prussic acid for extermination purposes.
- Each member must at all times carry with him:
- His own gas mask.
- At least 2 special filter inserts against Zyklon prussic acid.
- The leaflet "First Aid for prussic acid poisoning."
- Work order.
- Authorization certificate.
- Each disinfestation squad must at all times carry:
- At least 3 special inserts as extra stock.
- 1 gas detector.
- 1 instrument for injecting Lobelin.
- Lobelin 0.01 g. ampules.
- Cardiazol, Variazol tablets.
- 1 lever or pickhammer for opening the cans of Zyklon.
- Warning signs as per regulation.
- Material for sealing.
- Sheets of paper to serve as pads.
- All equipment is to be keep clean and in good order at all times. Damage to equipment is to be repaired at once.
- Can the fumigation be carried out at all?
- Type of building and situation.
- Condition of roof.
- Condition of windows.
- Presence of heating shafts, air shafts, breaks in the walls, etc.
- Determine the kind of vermin to be exterminated.
- Calculate the space. (Do not rely on drawings but take measurements yourself. Take only outside measurements, include walls)
- Prepare personnel.
(Remove domestic animals, plants, food and drink (Genußmittel), undeveloped photographic plates, and gas mask filters.)
- Find which opening will be particularly difficult to seal.
(Air shafts, drains, large openings which have been boarded up, roofs.)
- Settle necessary safety measures.
(Guarding, work detachment for sealing)
- Fix the date for the fumigation and the time for clearing the building.
- If necessary, arrange safety measures for the neighborhood in good time.
- Notify authorities.
Preparation for fumigation:
- Open all doors, closets, drawers, etc.
- Pull bedding apart.
- Remove all liquids (remains of coffee, washing water etc.)
(page 3 of original)
- Remove all food.
- Remove all plants and domestic animals (aquaria etc.)
- Remove all undeveloped photographic plates and films.
- Remove adhesive plaster, all medical supplies, whether open or in paper bags (particularly coal).
- Remove all gas mask filters.
- Prepare for check on results.
- Clear out personnel.
- Take over keys (every door key.)
The strength of the gas and time required for it to take effect depend on
- the type of vermin
- the temperature
- the amount of furniture in the rooms
- the imperviousness of the building
- For inside temperatures of more than 5 degrees Cent. it is customary to use 8 g prussic acid per cbm.
- Time needed to take effect: 16 hours, unless there are special circumstances such as a closed-in type of building, which requires less time. If the weather is warm it is possible to reduce this to a minimum of 6 hours. The period is to be extended to at least 32 hours if the temperature is below 5 deg. Cent.
- The strength and time as above are to be applied in the case of: bugs, lice, fleas etc., with eggs, larvas and chrysalis.
- For clothes-moths: temperatures above 10 deg. Cent. 16 g per cbm and 24 hours to take effect.
- For flour-moths: same as for bugs.
Fumigation of a building.
- Check that everybody has left the building.
- Unpack the boxes of Zyklon. Make the appropriate amount ready for each floor.
- Distribute the cans. One man to go into the building and receive the cans that have been brought up by the work detachment and to distribute them. (Have them put next to the pads.)
- Dismiss the work detachment.
- Post the guard. Fumigation chief to instruct guard.
- Check that sealing and clearing have been completed.
- Put on gas masks.
- Open the cans and pour out their contents. The contents are to be spread thinly so that the Zyklon can evaporate quickly and the necessary density of the gas can be achieved as soon as possible. This process is to start on the top floor but the cellar is to be dealt with before the ground floor, should the cellar have no exit. Rooms which have been dealt with should as far as possible not be re-entered.
The processing is to be done slowly and calmly. The staircase particularly should only be used slowly. The processing may only be interrupted in an emergency.
- The exit door to be locked, sealed (do not forget the lock), and its key handed over to the fumigation chief.
- On the door fix a warning sign with the legend "Danger — Poison Gas. Danger to life, no admittance." This warning sign is to be in several languages if necessary, and in any case it must be marked with at least 1 death's head, clearly visible.
- Gas masks, apparatus for resuscitation, and gas detectors are to be kept available at all times. Every member of the fumigation squad must know where these objects are located.
- At least 1 member of the fumigation squad must always remain near the building which is being fumigated. The guard must be notified of his position.
- The airing is connected with the greatest danger for those participating and others. Therefore it must be carried out particularly carefully and a gas mask should always be worn. The airing should [take?] place according to the following principles: pure air should always be within reach in the shortest possible time and the gas should flow out to that side where it cannot endanger people who are not participating. Should the airing be difficult one trained man should remain in front of the building in order to watch how the gas is blowing away.
- Take care to see that no strangers remain in the vicinity of the building.
- Post the guards in such a way that they are not annoyed by the gas as it blows out, but can still watch the entrances to the building.
- Put on gas mask.
- Enter building. Close door, but do not lock it.
- First open the windows on that side of the building where there is no wind. Air floor by floor. Start on the ground floor and after each floor take at least 10 minutes' rest.
- The doors leading to the corridor, connecting doors between rooms, and windows must be opened in each room [In den einzelnen Räumen]. Should there be difficulty in opening any of the windows they should only be opened after most of the gas has blown away.
(page 4 of original)
- Partitions and other methods used to seal the room which cannot be replaced quickly should only be removed after most of the gas has blown away.
- Care should be taken to see that the heating system and water pipes do not freeze should there be frost or danger of it.
- Rooms with valuable contents, such as clothing stores etc. may be locked again as soon as the windows have been opened.
- Windows and doors that have been opened should be fastened in such a way that they cannot slam.
- Covers in chimneys may be removed after the provisional release of the building.
- The airing should continue for at least 20 hours.
- The guard should remain near the building during the whole of this time.
- A fumigated room may be released provisionally as soon as the paper strip of the gas detector is of a lighter blue than the center pattern, when the doors and windows are open. Only work concerned with airing and clearing up may be done in the rooms that have been provisionally released. Under no circumstances may anyone rest or sleep in these rooms. The doors and windows must be left open all the time.
Clearing up after provisional release.
- Remove remains of Zyklon from the fumigated rooms. They should generally be sent back to the factory in the same way as cans and boxes. Before boxes are sent back from the fumigated rooms the inscription "Poison" must be removed from them. Damp, wet or soiled remains as well as damaged cans may not be sent back under any circumstances. They may be thrown on a rubbish or slag heap, but may never be emptied into drains.
- Mattresses, straw palliasses, pillows, upholstered furniture, and similar items must be shaken or beaten for at least one hour in the open air (if rainy at least 2 hours in the hall) under the supervision of the fumigation chief [oder seines Beauftragten].
- If possible the stuffing of straw palliasses should be changed. The old stuffing may not however be burnt, but may be re-used after it has been aired for a further period.
- Should the chimneys have been covered from above, these coverings must be removed carefully since otherwise there is a danger that the fires in the stoves and hearths will not have sufficient draught, which may cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
- After the final release has been made, two copies of a fumigation report are to be filled in the proscribed manner. The following points in particular should be shown:
- Volume of fumigated rooms.
- Amount of Zyklon used.
- Name of fumigation chief.
- Names of other personnel.
- Time required for gas to take effect.
- Time at which disinfested rooms were released.
- Under no circumstances less than 21 hours after airing was started.
- All items removed for beating are to be taken back into the room.
- Doors and windows to be closed for one hour.
- In rooms with heating facilities a temperature of at least 15 deg. Cent. must be produced.
- Gas detecting. The paper strip may not show a darker blue than the lightest color, even between blankets and mattresses that have been placed on top of each other, or in rooms that are not easily accessible and which it is difficult to air. Should this not be the case, airing must be continued and the check for gas repeated after a few hours.
- The check for gas must be made in each room of buildings that are again to be used as sleeping accommodation as soon as possible. Under no circumstances may anyone sleep in a room that has been fumigated in the night following the fumigation. The windows must always remain open during the first night that the room is used again.
- The fumigation chief or his deputy may not leave the building until the very last room has been finally released.
Issued by the Health Institution of the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia in Prague.
Certificate of Translation.
I, Dorothea L. Galewski, ETO # 34079, hereby certify that I am thoroughly conversant with the English and German languages; and that the above is a true and correct translation of document No. NI-9912.
Dorothea L. Galewski
These two texts concerning the use of Zyklon B are abundant proof that the Höss texts are absurd. It is totally inconceivable that men, even provided with special masks, could go into a room full of Zyklon and for two whole hours handle cadavers which were themselves saturated with Zyklon. We come up against a series of utter physical impossibilities.
Homicidal gassings in America
Gas chambers called "execution gas chambers" are used by some of the states of the United States for the execution of men sentenced to death. Hydrogen cyanide is the gas that is always used. That is precisely the gas that the Germans have used since 1922 for the destruction of parasites in buildings, ships, silos … or again in special gas chambers called disinfestation gas chambers. The commercial name of the product, based on hydrocyanic acid, is "Zyklon," meaning "cyclone." The most widely known of these products is called "Zyklon B." Legend has it that during the Second World War, the Germans, particularly at Auschwitz, made use of Zyklon B not only as an insecticide, but also as a chemical means of physically exterminating Jews.
Those who were allowed to make such a terrible accusation, in the Nuremberg trial and other trials of the same sort, ought to have demanded an expert's report on the criminal weapon supposedly utilized by the Germans. They did not do it, save in the case of the Struthof-Natzweiler (Alsace), where the report of Professor René Fabre, in December 1945, revealed that the supposed gas chamber was not a homicidal gas chamber. They ought likewise, for comparison, to have examined the gas chambers of American penitentiaries and to have had questions about the procedure to be followed in executing an individual with hydrogen cyanide. They did not do that either. But the most extraordinary thing perhaps is that the revisionists themselves seem not to have thought of making a study of the American gas chambers. The German revisionists, armed with all their German science, and above all their chemistry, had nonetheless been especially timid in the domain of chemical investigation; and the American revisionists, for all they knew that in their own country prisoners were executed with hydrogen cyanide, they, too, neglected the chemical argument and, in particular, the argument of the American gas chambers.
It was about 1977 when I myself thought that it was absolutely necessary to examine those gas chambers. I already knew well enough the procedures followed in disinfestation or delousing by means of Zyklon B, and I had particularly studied documents on the subject relative to the Degesch gas chambers. But experience had taught me to distrust reasoning by analogy. It doesn't follow from the fact that you know how to utilize hydrogen cyanide to disinfest a dead material such as textiles or clothing that you know how to kill live beings with the same gas.
Around the middle of 1978, I turned to an American attorney, Eugene Brugger, with a request that he undertake a survey of penitentiaries possessing gas chambers. Mr. Brugger conducted his investigation with the greatest of care. He sent the penitentiaries two detailed questionnaires. He received answers from six of them, which he communicated to me. Upon the mere reading of the responses and the documents accompanying them, it became inescapably obvious that the supposed Nazi gas chambers ("in the original state," "reconstructed," or "in a state of ruin") were no more than impostures, and that the alleged stories of homicidal gassings at Auschwitz were simply inventions of wartime propaganda. The execution of a single individual in an American gas chamber requires machinery so complicated that it is unthinkable that the Germans, for their part, could execute hundreds of thousands of people in "gas chambers" as crude as those shown to the tourists at Auschwitz or that are described for us so succinctly at times by the witnesses.
The first execution of a condemned man by means of gas took place in Carson City (Nevada) in 1924. It very nearly turned into a catastrophe. The reason for that mishap is worth thinking about, because it lets us gauge the naivete of most people — including the scientists, engineers and even toxicologists at times — who talk about the Nazi gas chambers. These people tend to forget that, of all weapons, poison gas is probably the most difficult to utilize, especially when it is applied to human beings.
It was apparently around 1917 that Americans infatuated with humanitarian ideas first imagined that execution by a lethal gas would constitute a procedure at once more humane, more discreet, and more easily accomplished than by a firing squad, hanging, or by the electric chair. They were mistaken. To kill oneself with gas may be relatively easy (although many attempts at suicide by gas end in failure, in an explosion, or in a catastrophe for others around), but to kill someone other than oneself with gas without incurring risks is particularly difficult.
On the battlefields of Europe in the First World War, it often came to pass that the use of gas against the enemy turned round on the one using it. More recently, a disaster like that of Bhopal, in India, demonstrates to what degree, despite the progress of science, we still but poorly control the utilization of certain particularly toxic gases. Still today, seventy years after the experience of Carson City, the number one problem of the American gas chambers remains that of airtightness! It must be understood that hydrocyanic acid has the peculiarity of eating its way right into the seals. It is customary after every execution to change all the seals preparatory to a new execution or a new test.
I have explained the procedure of gassing executions in the United States elsewhere and so shall not now return to it. Here I shall content myself with providing eight photographs of the gas chamber of the Baltimore penitentiary which I had already published in France in 1980, together with their explanations, and adding a few complementary observations. Before that, however, it would no doubt be well to anticipate certain objections that might be summed up as follows:
If the American gas chambers are so complex, isn't that just due to a propensity — a most American propensity — towards an abundance of precautions, towards scientific sophistication, regard for the condemned man and even, in these latter years, concern for the environment? Whereas the Germans, brutal and primitive, had no consideration at all for their victims.
That argument isn't worth much. It is true that over a period of time the technology of the American gas chambers has benefitted from the newest advances of science; for example, instead of a simple stethoscope, the doctor who monitors the condemned man's heartbeat now has an electronic stethoscope at his disposal. But if we review all the details of that technology (taking for example an American gas chamber of the nineteen thirties, forties or fifties) and eliminate all the details that may be due either to an excess of sophistication or consideration for the condemned person, we discover that the simple necessity of protecting those who are using the gas chamber requires draconian measures, much more so than with gas chambers which serve for the disinfestation of clothing. Indeed, at the end of the disinfestation process, the molecules of hydrogen cyanide that have accumulated in the clothes may be expelled without too much difficulty: currents of hot air and cold air dispel a large part of the molecules, and the garments may be beaten, whereas at the end of the execution of a person by the same gas, it is extremely difficult to dispel the molecules because they have become encrusted in the skin, fat and humors: and the cadaver can neither be heated nor beaten to expel the gas. In this case, there is need of special instruments and of a special procedure. The doctor and his two assistants who are going to enter the gas chamber containing the prisoner's corpse must first wait for swiveling ventilators and a powerful suction system to scavenge and expel the gas that is still in the gas chamber. This gas is expelled towards a scrubber where it is neutralized (at least partially). After a more or less long wait, the doctor and his two assistants, wearing gas masks, aprons, and rubber gloves, must decontaminate the cadaver and its clothes. The doctor begins by shaking the cadaver's head of hair; next the two assistants, using a great deal of water, proceed to wash the corpse itself, including the body's natural openings, and without forgetting the bend of the arms and the legs: not at all comparable to the disinfestation of clothing!
At the beginning of 1988, Ernst Zündel, a Toronto (Canada) revisionist, asked me to send him the letters that I had received from the different American penitentiaries that had gas chambers. Thanks to those letters, his attorney, Barbara Kulaszka, was able to get in touch with Bill Armontrout, the director of one of the penitentiaries, who told him that the best gas chamber specialist in the United States was Fred Leuchter, who lived in Boston.
At the request of E. Zündel, I met with F. Leuchter in Boston. I discovered that he, like almost all Americans, believed in the existence of the Nazi gas chambers without ever having asked himself any questions about the exact nature, the configuration and the functioning of these extraordinary chemical slaughterhouses that were capable, if one believed the legend, of performances that would far outstrip the performances of the American gas chambers. F. Leuchter, to whom I showed some photographs and some documents concerning the supposed Nazi gas chambers, began to ask himself some questions. He quickly became aware that there was a problem with the Nazi gas chambers. Later he agreed to go to Toronto and there analyze the question more closely, in particular by examining the mock-ups that E. Zündel had got Hans Beisner to construct with the help of the plans I had found at Auschwitz in 1976. He agreed to go to Poland, fully resolved to clear up the matter, and brought back his famous report on the presumed gas chambers of Auschwitz and of Majdanek.
Visit to a gas chamber
On 14 September 1979, I made a tour of the gas chamber of the penitentiary of Baltimore (Maryland), escorted by Lieutenant Walter Farrier. The latter had not taken part in an execution, and what he told me, consequently, was simply what he had been obliged to learn in case he should have to carry out an execution. He instructed a prisoner, James F. P…, to take eight photographs according to my directions. Those photographs may be seen hereunder.
The Baltimore gas chamber was built in the fifties, but from the documents I have obtained from other penitentiaries, it did not differ essentially in technology from the gas chambers of the thirties or forties.
The lieutenant provided me with a full explanation of the gas chamber, with regard to its functioning as well as to the execution of a condemned man the treatment of the corpse. His explanations corroborated what I had drawn from my written documents (with some variations, at times surprising, just as we always find among "specialists" or pretended such). I ascertained, for example, that although a few milligrams of cyanide are sufficient to kill a man, in a gas chamber, as a matter of fact, it takes up to one or two pounds of cyanide, because the entire space of the chamber must be filled with the lethal gas (which complicates the operation of evacuating such large quantities). He likewise explained to me why the chamber had to be made of steel, the window panes of Herculite glass (with a device to prevent them from steaming).
My tour ended, he asked me the reason for my curiosity. I replied that I was interested in the Nazi gas chambers. He said to me then: "Terrible! Have you seen 'Holocaust?'" He wanted to talk about the soap opera devoted to the supposed genocide of the Jews. Here was a sensible man who had just finished explaining to me how complicated and dangerous was the execution of a single person by means of gas in the United States, and now this same man apparently had no difficulty believing that it had been the easiest thing in the world, in Germany, to gas thousands of people a day for a period of years.
In the course of the following years, I would come to realize that even engineers, toxicologists, physicians, scientists and professors, even specialists in the disinfestation of clothing with hydrogen cyanide, were naive in that respect. There is an especially disconcerting form of credulity that affects even men of great learning.
The best technical work on the American gas chambers that I can personally recommend is The Third Leuchter Report: A Technical Report on the Execution Gas Chamber at Mississippi State Penitentiary, Parchman, Mississippi, Prepared for Ernst Zündel, December 6, 1989, IV-72 pages, Samisdat Publishers Ltd., 206 Carlton Street, Toronto, Ontario, m5a 2l1 (Canada).
At my suggestion, on page 2, E. Zündel placed side by side the door of the gas chamber of that penitentiary and the door of the supposed gas chamber of Auschwitz I: a miserable little glass door. The juxtaposition of the two photographs speaks for itself.
On the subject of the first execution in a gas chamber, that of Gee Jon at Carson City (Nevada) in 1924, and on the subject of some others among the first executions in the United States, one may read Frederick Drimmer, Until You Are Dead / The Book of Executions in America, Citadel Press Book, 1990, page 54.
The gassing procedure
Taking a direct part in the execution of the condemned man are a doctor, installed in a small room close to the gas chamber, and, in another small room, two operators. The document shown below recapitulates very succinctly the work of the two operators. The doctor, for his part, must also have his own procedure check sheet.
|A. To ready chember:|
|1. Two (2) days|
|2. Two (2) officers|
|3. Sixteen (16) working hours|
|B. Chamber readied:|
|1. Seals||( )||( )|
|2. Scrubber chemical mixed ( 7 H lbs. caustic soda to 15 gallons of water||( )||( )|
|3. Scrubber loaded||( )||( )|
|4. Scrubber motor running||( )||( )|
|5. Mixed acid and water for generator (3 qts. sul. acid, 5 qts. water)||( )||( )|
|6. Mix and hold caustic solution in bucket||( )||( )|
|7. Check and have cyanide ready||( )||( )|
|8. Check position of:||( )||( )|
|a. Drop lever, no. 1 (Should be closed)||( )||( )|
|b. Fresh air intake, no. 2 (should be closed)||( )||( )|
|c. Intake from acid mixing, no. 3 (should be closed)||( )||( )|
|d. Drain valve pot from generator, no. 4 (closed)||( )||( )|
|e. Scrubber pipe, no. 5 (should be closed)||( )||( )|
|f. Ammonia valve on tank (should be closed)||( )||( )|
|g. Beakers filled (distilled water and 1 % phenolphtalein)5||( )||( )|
|h. Scrubber pump motor running||( )||( )|
|i. Chamber exhaust fan running||( )||( )|
|D. Execution steps:|
|1. Man placed and strapped in chair||( )||( )|
|2. EKG leads applied||( )||( )|
|3. Cyanide placed on top of closed generator||( )||( )|
|4. Chamber sealed||( )||( )|
|5. Chamber vacuum checked (should be 1.5")||( )||( )|
|6. Intake valve no. 3, from acid mixing pot, opened||( )||( )|
|7. Interval for acid in and report from Chemical room||( )||( )|
|8. Intake valve no. 3 closed||( )||( )|
|9. Safety bucket — caustic soda into acid and mixing pot||( )||( )|
|10. Drop lever no. 1 opened and jarred effecting dropping of cyanide into acid||( )||( )|
|11. Gas generated — execution effected||( )||( )|
|E. Clearing chamber:|
|1. Open no. 5 valve (scrubber pipe)||( )||( )|
|2. Allow twenty (20) minute interval (gas being discharged through scrubber)||( )||( )|
|3. Safety mixture emptied into gas generator by opening no. 3 valve||( )||( )|
|4. Open no. 4 valve (exhaust from gas generator and clear water running from acid mixing pot through gas generator exhausted into sewer when no. 4 valve opened)||( )||( )|
|5. Stop recirculating fan||( )||( )|
|6. Ammonia valve, no. 4, open to four (4) pound pressure. (Permit ammonia to run two (2) minutes)||( )||( )|
|7. Close ammonia valve no. 4||( )||( )|
|8. Beaker should indicate ammonia content (should change from pink to purple to show circulation)||( )||( )|
|9. Crack no. 2 valve (fresh air intake — only air into chamber)||( )||( )|
|10. Gradually open no. 2 valve (take two (20) minutes to open completely)||( )||( )|
|11. Allow no. 2 valve to remain open from twenty (20) to thirty (30) minutes||( )||( )|
|12. Open chamber door||( )||( )|
|13. Hose down||( )||( )|
|14. Empty chamber (body removed)||( )||( )|
Table 1 shows the official procedure authorities must follow at the Maryland State Penitentiary, Baltimore, when one prisoner is gassed. The first part of the procedure alone takes 16 hours (step A, readying the chamber), with more time needed for steps B, C, and D, and then at least an hour for step E (clearing the chamber and removing the body). Utmost care must be used to prevent severe injury to the gassers. Nothing resembling a homicidal gas chamber has ever been found in occupied Europe to execute one man, let alone to execute hundreds of thousands of victims at Auschwitz or Majdanek.
Furthermore, Table 1 is only the check list, and not the full procedure. Things are more complicated than they seem here. Take for instance the 47th and last step: Empty chamber (body removed). This entails: the doctor and the two assistants go into the chamber wearing gas masks, rubber aprons, and rubber gloves; the doctor shakes the hair of the prisoner to remove as many of the hydrogen cyanide molecules as possible (in spite of the fan and the ammonia, not all of the gas has been expelled yet); the two assistants must wash the body very carefully with a hose, especially the mouth, but also all the other openings of the body without forgetting the bends of the arms and knees.
This information was given to me by the Lieutenant who gave me a tour of the place.
In France, the fire of the controversy was ignited in 1974 ; then it quickly went out, at least in appearance, but it was smoldering beneath the ashes. Why did it flare up again in 1978 with such virulence and never to die out again since that time?
One can imagine a number of motives as much dependent on the actions of revisionists in France and elsewhere as on the reaction of the antirevisionists.
For my part, I would propose an hypothesis: it was from the moment when I used arguments of a material nature (based on physical, chemical, topographical and architectural considerations) that the opposing side really felt itself in danger. In the letter that I addressed, in 1974 , to Dr. Kubovy and to a lot of other historians and specialists, my arguments were still implicitly of an historical nature. On the other hand, in the letters which I later sent to Le Monde and, in particular, in my article on "The Problem of the Gas Chambers or the Rumor of Auschwitz,"' I entered onto more solid ground. Calling upon 1 ) the plans of the crematories of Auschwitz-Birkenau, 2 ) documents on disinfestation gassing with Zyklon B, and 3 ) the American system of execution in gas chambers, I abandoned the too shifting ground of history for the firmer ground of science. It is because of that, it seems to me, that the opponent lost his footing and, in his panic, has since responded with manifestations of collective schizophrenia as well as with incessant intimidation and the creation of diversions, showing thereby that he wished at any cost to avoid the risk of a debate which — with good reason — he felt was lost in advance.
Baltimore Gas Chamber captions
- The room where the witnesses to the execution stand. The gas chamber is hexagonal; here, three windows are visible. The door on the right leads to a corridor which to the left goes around the three windows that are not visible in this photo and to the right leads to two small rooms: one for the doctor and one for the two operators.
- Through one of the windows of the witness room one can see the supporting pillar of the gas chamber. The gas chamber and the pillar are both made of steel. The windows are especially thick. At the very bottom can be seen some parts of the machinery.
- The chair for the condemned man with its fastenings: at the right, one of the three places provided for containers of phenolphtaline.6 Under the chair is located the crucible where the pellets of cyanide are put. From the outside of the chamber, they operate a lever which causes the pellets to fall into a bath of sulphuric acid. On the right, on the floor, the grilled duct leading to the machinery and the operators' room.
- The door leading into the gas chamber: especially heavy, it closes with a hand wheel in order to obtain a good hermetic seal.
- The same steel door, seen from the side with the hinges: it is in order to avoid the risk of implosion that the gas chamber is constructed in this way. The risk of implosion comes from the fact that it is necessary, during the execution, to create a partial vacuum in the chamber in order to obtain a good hermetic seal.This partial vacuum decreases the tendency of the gas to leave the room, makes the gas rise more quickly toward the condemned man, and increases the proportion of gas in the chamber. On the left the door to the doctor's room can be seen.
- The exhaust fan on top of the gas chamber.
- At the end of the corridor, the mixer where the hydrogen cyanide is neutralized. The residue will be expelled through a chimney located on top of the penitentiary. On the right can be seen the window of the room for the two operators.
- The room for the two operators; the products used are not visible here. They are stored partly in that room and partly in the doctor's room.