The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/auschwitz/cyanide/alternative-gasses

From Fri Jul  5 15:14:50 PDT 1996
Article: 48465 of alt.revisionism
From: (Mark Van Alstine)
Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Re: Actions of the Righteous and Who Needed Zyclone B
Date: Fri, 05 Jul 1996 09:08:11 -0700
Organization: rbi software systems
Lines: 315
References: <>
X-Newsreader: Yet Another NewsWatcher 2.0.5b5

In article <>, (tom
moran) wrote:

>                                [Repost]

Correction: [Compost]. Tommy has obviously been digging through his
garbage again to find something to cover for his intellectual paucity. Too
bad he doesn't realize his article is just as rancid as it was the the
first time he posted it!


> ...The 300,000 tons of chemical weapons now submerged in the Baltic
Sea's greenish brown waters....

Hmmm. That's sounds like it's bigger than the entire U.S. chemical weapons
arsenal produced during WWII. (i.e.  Mustard gas, phosgene, lewisite,
white phosphorous, carbonyl iron, and tear gas.)

[Herr Moran's gratuitous and habitual insults against the Allies snipped]

> One wonders why the Nazis would have resorted to using Zyclone B pellets 
> to exterminate people, in lieu of poison gases they surely had? 

Well, Tommy, do you know exactly what kinds chemical agents the Nazis had
stockpiled? Perhaps nerve, mustard, and blood agents?

The Nazis had three nerve agents: Sarin, Tabun, and Soman. They were
developed by prior to WWII. The first agent developed, and the easiest to
manufacture, was Tabun. 13,228 tons (12,000 tonnes) of Tabun were produced
>from  1942-1945. The production of Sarin was low, being produced in a pilot
plant, and only about 0.55 ton (0.5 tonne) was made by 1945. Evidently,
Soman, was not produced in any quantity. (Well, that leaves only
286,771.45 tons to go....)

Sarin, Soman, and Tabun, in their pure states, are colourless and oderless
liquids. Their volatility varies widely. Sarin is an easily volatile
liquid (comparable to water), and is mainly absorbed via the respiratory
system. The volatilities of Soman and Tabun are less that of of Sarin.
Sarin is also very soluble in water whereas Soman and Tabun are much less

The toxic effect depends both on the concentration of nerve agent in the
air inhaled (C) and the time of exposure (t). In extremely high
concentrations there is a simple relationship, C t, which gives a certain
toxic effect (e.g. death.) Inhalation of Sarin vapor with a concentration
of 100 mg/m3 for one minute gives the same result as inhalation of 50
mg/m3 for two minutes. However, at low concentrations this relationship
does not apply- the human body is capable, to some degree, of
detoxification. In order to obtain a similar effect, it is then necessary
to have a longer period of exposure. The values given in the table below
for toxicity of nerve agents apply to high concentrations: 

                                                  LCt50         LD50
                                                Inhalation      Skin
                                                mg.min/m3    mg/individual
Tabun (O-ethyl dimethylamidophosphorylcyanide)     200          4,000
Sarin (isopropyl methylphosphonofluoridate)        100          1,700
Soman (pinacolyl methylphosphonofluoridate)        100            300

The above values are estimates of the doses which have lethal effects on
humans. LD50 is the the dosage at which 50% of the exposed population will
die. A different metric is used for inhalation: the product of the
concentration (C) and the length of exposure (t). Again, L stands for
lethal and 50 for 50%. The toxicity sequence is the same for the two
routes of exposure but the differences in amounts are much greater in skin
exposure. This difference is caused by the more volatile nerve agents
evaporating from naked skin before being absorbed. If the evaporation is
prevented, e.g., by tightly fitting clothing, the difference will be less.

In comparison, the concentration and effects when inhaling hydrogen
cyanide are as follows:

   (mg/m3)         Effect

     300           Immediately lethal
     200           Lethal after 10 minutes
     150           Lethal after 30 minutes
   120-150         Highly dangerous (fatal) after 30-60 min.
    50-60          Endurable for 20 min. - 1 h without effect
    20-40          Light symptoms after several hours

Sarin, Soman, and Tabun can only be manufactured in laboratories, though
very sophisticated equipment is not needed (it has similar a manufacturing
process as insecticides). They are, however, extremely dangerous to
manufacture and handle.

         Property           Tabun    Sarin    Soman

 Molecular weight           162.1    140.1    182.2
 Density g/cm3 25 C         1.073    1.089    1.022
 Boiling-point C              247      147      167 
 Melting-point C              -50      -56      -42
 Vapour pres. mm Hg 25 C     0.07      2.9      0.3
 Volatility mg/m3 25 C        600   17,000    3,900
 Solubility in water % 25 C    10      100        2

Sarin, Soman, and Tabun can be washed and rinsed away or removed by heat
treatment. Water, with or without detergents, as well as organic solvents
such as fuel and paraffin. Emulsified solvents in water can be used to
dissolve and wash them from equipment. 

When decontaminating by washing, care must be taken in regards to the
nerve agent remaining toxic in the decontaminant unless the nerve agent
has first been destroyed. When washing with water - especially with hot
water and detergent -Sarin, Soman, and Tabun will be decomposed to some
extent through hydrolysis. Detergents containing perborates are
particularly effective in destroying them. Without an addition of
perborates in the detergent, they may still remain toxic unless the pH of
the water is sufficiently high.

The most important decontamination measure naturally concerns the
individual. If it is suspected that skin has been exposed to nerve agents,
especially Tabun, then it must be decontaminated immediately (within a
minute). The most important factor is time; the method used in
decontamination is of minor importance. Good results can be obtained with
such widely differing means as talcum powder, flour, soap and water, or
special decontaminants. 

In complete decontamination, clothes and personal equipment must also be
decontaminated. If clothing was been exposed to nerve agent contamination,
especially the more persistant Tabun, then extreme care must be taken when
undressing to avoid transferring the nerve agent to the skin. 

Immediate decontamination of personal and small equipment is generally
done with individual decontaminants. However, these substances are only
capable of decontaminating nerve agents on the surface. The
decontamination is mainly to prevent further penetration into the material
and to decrease the risks of handling the equipment. 

The nerve agents Sarin, Tabun, and Soman easily penetrate different
materials and into crevasses and will be difficult to reach by methods
only designed for superficial decontamination. When a nerve agent has
penetrated into the surface, it is necessary to use some kind of
deep-penetrating method in decontamination. If such a method cannot be
used, then it must be realised that the equipment cannot be used for a
long period. Depending on the type of nerve agent used and prevailing
temperature and precipitation (water solubility), the
"self-decontamination" may take many days or even weeks. The absorption
into the surface and natural chemical degradation are important factors
influencing the self-econtamination period. 

Example of self-decontamination times for contamination on metal surfaces and on
a typical (non-resistant) paint at +15 C, 4 m/s and 2 mm large droplets:

Substance                  No contact risk
                         Liquid          Gas
Untreated metal surface
Soman                    < 5 h          < 5 h

Painted metal surface
Soman                    3-4 h       1,5 days

Examples of persistence times for ground contamination. There is
frequently a residue of nerve agents which have penetrated the soil after
the above-mentioned
periods. Residues have been found after three times longer than listed:

Agent     Persistance @ -10 C    Persistance @ +15 C
Sarin       8 hours                30 min
Soman       2 days                  5 hours
Tabun       4 days                  1 day

Cyanide     2 min                   0 min

As you can see, Tommy, nerve agents are very nasty. They are dangerous to
handle, difficult to decontaminate, and they are persistant. Furthermore,
a dosage of 300 mg/m HCN inhaled is quite lethal and is easily comparable
to the effectiveness of nerve agents. Using persistant nerve agents in an
enclosed space such as a gas chamber and requiring people to dispose of
the contaminated bodies would pose a lot of complications and require
extensive chemical protection and decontamination resources. Not to
mention that transporting nerve agents to and handling them at a camp like
would pose a significant risk of accidental exposure to the SS and the 
slave laborers there. 

The other agents the Nazis had stockpiled were mustard agents. The effects
of mustard agents are delayed, so the first symptoms do not occur until
between 2-24 hours after initial exposure. Mustard agents are liquid at
room teperature, with low volatility, so they don't turn into a gas (and
therefore get inhaled) as easily as HCN does. Mustard agents are also not
very water soluable, which means clean-up would be difficult and time
consuming. Once in solution, the dissolved mustard agent will decomposes
by hydrolysis. Bleaching-powder and chloramines, however, will react with
(dissolved) mustard agents and speed up this process. (One wonder's if
this means there is mustard gas on the Baltic sea bed, and that even if it
leaked, would pose a real hazard and not simply decompose?) 
Immediate fatality from acute exposure to mustard agent was actually low
in WWI. The dose needed to directly kill a person via inhalation is about
50 times larger than the dose giving acute mortality upon poisoning with
the nerve agent Soman. People who die from exposure to mustard agents
typically do so after a few days or even weeks later. This, of course,
would throw a wrench into the Nazis' extermination process if, after
gassing prisoners, it took several days or weeks for them to die. (A quite
agonizing death, btw). Death by mustard agents is neither fast nor
painless. Nor is it nearly as certain as death by HCN. Nor are mustard
agents as "clean" as HCN is, requiring more time and resource for
decontamination efforts. 

Physical Properties of Mustard Agent

Molecular weight, Dalton       159.1
Density, g/cm3                  1.27
Boiling-point C                  217
Melting-point C                   14
Vapour pressure mm Hg at 25 C   0.11
Volatility mg/m3 at 25 C         900
Solubility in water % at 20 C   0.06

Toxicity of Mustard Agent

Inhalation:    LCt50  1,500 mg*min/m3
Skin exposure: LCt50 10,000 mg*min/m3
Smallest blister-causing dose on skin: 0.02 mg

Blood agents such as phosgene gas have similar properties to mustard
agents. Phosgene is a colorless, fuming liquid below 47 degrees F (8.2
degrees C) and a colorless, nonflammable gas above 47 degrees F. It is
shipped as a liquified, compressed gas. At high concentrations, its odor
can be sharp and suffocating. Phosgene is hydrolyzed slowly by moisture to
form hydrochloric acid and carbon dioxide. 

Inhalation is the major route of phosgene toxicity. Phosgene's odor
provides  sufficient warning of dangerous concentrations, but its
irritating quality can be mild and delayed, which may allow persons to be
exposed for a prolonged interval. Phosgene is heavier than air and may
cause asphyxiation in poorly ventilated or enclosed spaces. When phosgene
gas contacts moist or wet skin, it can cause irritation and erythema. High
airborne concentrations also can cause corneal inflammation and
opacification. Direct contact with liquid
phosgene causes skin and eye burns. 

Because phosgene is poorly water soluble and hydrolysis tends to be slow,
victims inhaling low concentrations of the gas experience no symptoms or
only mild irritation of the upper airway. Lack of irritation allows
victims to inhale the gas deeper into the lungs and for a prolonged
period. Direct cytotoxicity leads to an increase in capillary permeability
resulting in large shifts of body fluid with a resultant decrease in
plasma volume. When phosgene hydrolyzes, it forms hydrochloric acid which
causes epithelial damage and cellular necrosis in the bronchi and small
bronchioles. After an asymptomatic interval of 30 minutes to a few hours,
chest pain, bronchospasm, hypoventilation, and bradycardia can develop. A
latency period of up to 24 hours may occur before profound damage
manifests as dyspnea, hypoxemia, and severe transudative (noncarcliogenic)
pulmonary edema. Hemolysis in pulmonary circulation can cause capillary
plugging that leads to corpulmonale and death. 

Those in contact with phosgene vapor should wear a self-contained
breathing apparatus. Chemical-protective clothing and gloves are required
if contact with liquid phosgene or its concentrated vapor is possible or
if they will be handling victims with phosgene-soaked clothing or skin.  

Immediately dangerous to life or health = 2 ppm 
Molecular weight                        = 98.9 daltons 
Boiling point (760 mm Hg)               = 47 degrees F (8 degrees C) 
Vapor pressure (67.1 degrees F)         = 1215 mm Hg 
Gas density                             = 3.4 (Air = 1) 
Slightly water-soluble 

All in all, nerve, mustard, or blood agents would have made a very poor
means of mass killing in homicidal gas-chambers. Mustard agents were not
nearly as effective as Zyklon-B (HCN) was in killing and would have posed
a much
more significant risk to the personnel running and serving the killing

> Well we can only assume that Zyclone was used to kill typhoid
> carrying parasites at the camps and this is why it was found there.

No, Tommy, that is a absurd fantasy (and CONTINUED mispelling of Zyklon
B!) of your construction. The fact is that Zyklon B was found to be the
best agent for mass-killing available and Ho"ss chose to use it. The fact
that it was _also_ used as a fumigant for pest-control is hardly
suprising, since that was what Zyklon B was _origionally_ made and used
for. That it was also a very effective and fast method for homicidal
gasing was simply due to the fact that HCN kills by interferring with
cellular metabolism. A cellular metabolism common to organisms like
insects and mammals. 

> It was the only thing that could be pointed to identify as a source for the 
> gas story.   

Indeed Zyklon B was the only source for the homicidal agent that could be
identified at Auschwitz. Tests of the remains of the homicidal gas
chambers show evidence of HCN traces consistant with homicidal usage.
Eyewitness testimonies clearly tell of Zyklon B being used to kill people
in these homicidal gas chambers. DEGESCH invoices show that Zyklon B
WITHOUT LACRYMAL was shipped from Dessua (one of two Zyklon plants) to

This last point is quite interesting in that ALL Zyklon B used in pest
control application had a lacrymal added to it for safety reasons. The
Zyklon B used for homicidal purposes did not. 


"Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes 
not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties--but
right through every human heart--and all human hearts." 

-- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, "The Gulag Archipelago"

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.