Questions about the Nazi Gas Chambers
Date: 27 Sep 1994 14:37:01 -0400
To the subject. A gas chamber designed for use with cyanide gas must have certain distinct engineering features to safely and adequately perform its job. You could not, as I think popular opinion concludes, simply choose and use some random building, special equipment is needed. To determine whether or not a particular collection of equipment was used or useable for a cyanide based gas chamber is something fairly easily done. Has anyone done that? I have read much about their use, but nothing of their documentation. If the documentation were only minimal, it might not have attracted my attention, but I was struck by the fact that the Germans, with a penchant for detail evidenced in their extensive crematory oven records, did not have a wealth of physical evidence on gas chambers available for the victors to peruse. In fact, it almost appears that there is nothing extant, an odd situation indeed.
If someone has factual information to offer on this subject I would be most interested in reviewing it.
Part of my interest stems from having heard conflicting statements about the physical nature of said chambers, and in several cases mechanistically impossible statements. I’m an engineer. I measure stuff and put it together to make my living. If someone says that they put a two-inch diameter rod through a ¼-20 threaded hole, my Tilt button automatically activates. It’s like the Kennedy assassination controversy. I don’t know what all happened in Dallas, but can guarantee from experience that one man did not fire three rounds from that bolt-action rifle in 5.6 seconds at a moving target with any degree of accuracy or repeatability. And that’s assuming he could even get that many rounds off in that time, this being no mean accomplishment. This anomaly didn’t lead me to conclude that Kennedy was not assassinated, only that the official version of events was in error, something the House of Representatives concluded as well several decades after the fact.
In that same vein, people who try to tell me that you could apply cyanide gas to 50 or 500 human bodies and then have workers physically move them within 30 minutes are going to get a big, “Say what!??!” from me because you just can’t do that. The gas clings to surfaces, needs to be neutralized not just ventilated, and there would be enough residual there to easily kill more people, possibly from simple contact. Talk to somebody who works in a petrochemical plant about how you treat cyanide compounds and gases to get some idea of the absolutely necessary precautions required. The technology involved is both old and well known to anyone working with the stuff. Another point is that to use slow-release insecticide pellets for the task would be an astoundingly inept approach, not at all capable of being applied on a mass scale for several clear reasons (dispersal time, temperature sensitivity, cost, and more). That sort of thing. Something that sounds plausible to an average audience but tweaks a technician’s antennae. If you're going to insist that neutered librarians be the only ones qualified to discuss history, then you've got to assign the nuts and bolts topics to somebody who understands the subject enough to determine if an oral statement about equipment and method of its use is likely, unlikely, or impossible.
I’d like to hear more detail on this if I am to continue supporting the tradition in this country that the Germans are possessed of some unique capability for evil, beyond that of other peoples. My examination of their past and present finds an almost medieval sense of honor quite at odds with some of the brutish attributations that have come from England and the United States steadily since the First World War. We have a long history of demonizing adversaries, an action I think is ultimately self-defeating.
— Doubting Thomas