The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/nyms/dthomas/diesel-retreat-03

From: (Jamie McCarthy)
Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: DThomas's comments on diesel -- analysis
Date: Thu, 09 Jan 1997 17:32:59 -0500
Organization: Voyager Information Networks, Inc.
Lines: 652
References:  <>


It appears this must be one of the "matters in which [you] have both
interest and knowledge," which you told us on Dec. 11 that you would
consider debating.

I do hope you stick with this and see it through.  I would hate to get
involved in a civil debate with you, and then have to watch the response
be silence, or changing the subject.  That's very frustrating for me.

I'll go through your article point-by-point.  Allow me to outline your
claims and my reply as follows:

      + Is high carbon monoxide necessary?
      + Is a high fuel-air ratio possible?
         - Would particulate exhaust ruin the engine?
         - Would a load be required?
      + Were gasoline engines better?
      + Was producer gas better?
   * SUMMARY (DvdThomas) wrote:

> Jamie wrote:
> >Mr. Moran, we've been told by Fritz Berg and a handful of other
> >Holocaust-deniers, in this forum, that gassing with engine exhaust
> >was incredibly wasteful -- that there was a fuel shortage, that
> >it took precious oil to keep the engines running.  They say why on
> >earth would precious diesel fuel be used to kill people when
> >German trucks were parked on the streets for lack of gas?
> >
> >Therefore, they say, the Holocaust never happened.
> I'll take your word that Berg said that

Thanks, it saves time :-)

> (and also take exception to your
> description of him as a "Holocaust-denier"),

Well, since you bring it up, I'll ask you the same question I
recently asked your colleague Richard Widmann.

Bradley Smith tells us, at :

   For half a century the gas chambers have been at the heart of the
   holocaust story. The two are absolutely inseperable. No gas
   chambers, no holocaust. That's the equation.

My interpretation of "the two are absolutely inseparable;  no gas
chambers, no Holocaust" is that to deny one is to deny the other. Thus,
strictly speaking, according to Smith -- since Berg denies the gas
chambers, he denies the Holocaust.  Do you agree with my reasoning,
and if not why not?

> but it isn't and never was a
> factor in the main points he makes.  Diesel engines are an extremely
> inefficient way to generate carbon monoxide.

Splendid!  I'm pleased that you're taking an interest in the subject.

Now, let's take a look at the arguments you present.


> Their normal operating
> characteristics just aren't conducive to its formation at lethal levels. 

There's the first argument:  the diesel engine must be run at a rich
fuel-air ratio, which was impossible.

The problem is that it's just not true.

   Is high carbon monoxide necessary?

Yes, running at a rich fuel-air ratio does indeed produce very toxic
exhaust.  True, gasoline engines (as opposed to diesel engines) can
produce more carbon monoxide (CO).  But, a diesel's oxygen output can
easily be reduced under 10%, which is rapidly fatal.

Furthermore, there are NxOx compounds that are very dangerous as well --
250 to 500 ppm of NO2 or N2O4 will do you in quickly.  The specific NxOx
compounds weren't individually broken out and quantified in the sources
Berg cited for his paper, so he is not justified in ruling them out.
Also, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide have a synergistic effect;
while CO2 is not poisonous by itself, it exacerbates the effect of CO.
Berg does not take this into account.  And, finally, the blistering heat
and choking smoke of the exhaust being pumped into the gas chambers
would not do the victims any good.

In fact, as Berg himself points out, some testimonies do indicate that
the victims were blue.  This points toward suffocation from lack of
oxygen.  It's also much easier to make a diesel produce low O2 than high
CO, so the whole argument about CO is largely a red herring.

Here's what Berg says on that:

   If the Jews were not murdered with carbon monoxide from Diesel
   exhaust, could they have died instead from the effects of reduced
   oxygen in Diesel exhaust? Such a theory would at least be
   consistent with the claim that the corpses were "blue." A bluish
   coloring to certain parts of a corpse is indeed a symptom of death
   from lack of oxygen.

If you keep reading, Berg goes further than merely saying that the
oxygen-deprivation theory is "consistent" with the blue color -- he says
that it is the _only_ possible theory:

   [...] any possible death from Diesel exhaust would have been
   due to lack of oxygen, which would in turn have caused a bluish
   appearance of the corpse [...]

Since some witnesses' reports indicate a pink color, which in turn tends
to indicate CO poisoning, I'm not sure I'd state the case as strongly as
Berg does.  But, for argument's sake, I'll grant that oxygen deprivation
is what we need to look most closely at, though it is surely not the
_only_ causative factor.

Thus granted, the question is:  what fuel-air ratio must have been
achieved by the Nazis to kill by lack of oxygen?  Again, the answer is
in Berg's own paper:

   At full load, which corresponds to a fuel/air ratio of 0.055, the
   oxygen concentration in the exhaust of any Diesel is 4%.

Berg also says that, below concentrations of about 6%, the victims
stop breathing, which, let's assume, means death.  There's our answer --
a ratio of 0.055 or more is more than sufficient.  Four percent oxygen
will kill quite effectively, by itself, with some room to spare.

   Is a high fuel-air ratio possible?

And achieving that high ratio is very easy.  One simply has to rev the
engine up fairly high, so it doesn't stall, and block the air intake
with a piece of cardboard.  (This was the method used by Pattle et al.
in their paper for the British Journal of Industrial Medicine.)  Or
unscrew the fuel pump plunger a few turns, so it injects more fuel. 
(This was the method used in the experiments cited in the Holtz-Elliot
paper which Berg himself used.)

It's not rocket science.  We'll see more on this below.

But, you and Berg give two reasons why this simple method could not
have been used.  Let's examine them.

   Would particulate exhaust ruin the engine?

The first reason given is that particulates (solids) would ruin the

> A diesel engine would have to be operated at such a rich air/fuel ratio
> that there would be rapid buildup of solids in the cylinders which would
> ruin the engine.  It isn't a lengthy process, it would occur within hours,
> or at most, days.

Well, no one will argue with you that running a very rich fuel-air
mixture is not _good_ for the engine.

But then, the Nazis didn't really care whether their engines broke down,
since they were scavenged (by most accounts) from Russian tanks.

The question is, how long would it take for this buildup of solids to
make the engine unusable?

Quantification is absolutely necessary here because we are dealing with
tiny amounts.  According to Berg's own sources (Elliott-Davis, p. 345),
solid material is measured in grams per hour.  And nearly all of that is
flowing right out the tailpipe.  "...the quantities of material sticking
in an engine in the form of deposits amounts to possibly 0.0001% or
0.01% of the fuel burned.  The 0.0001% figure corresponds to an engine
with a normal life while the 0.01% figure means short engine life due to
heavy deposits."

Their graph shows solid exhaust rising from a normal amount of around
1 gm/hr to somewhat under 20.  Does this mean the engine life is reduced
by a factor of twenty?  If the normal engine life expectancy is twenty
years, then did the Treblinka engines year?  That wouldn't
conflict with any of the information we have -- after all, "short engine
life" in the real world would mean a motor that breaks down after only
five years.

And, would routine maintenance on the engines -- simple cleaning --
improve the life expectancy?  We don't know.

But!  You say that engine breakdown "would occur within hours, or at
most, days."  So presumably you have some quantification of how solid
buildup destroys an engine, and how this relates to the fuel-air ratio
used.  This is exciting news, because I have yet to see any mention of
"hours, or at most, days" in any of the articles which I've read on the
subject over the past three years.

So I'd appreciate it if you could present this evidence.  Thanks.

   Would a load be required?

Your (and Berg's) second reason why the simple method of blocking the
air intake could not have been used is that the engine would have to be

> In addition, the engine would have to be run at 80% to
> 100% of full load, rather a difficult thing to do for a stationary mounted
> unit.  A dynamometer type loading device would have to be installed. 
> There is again no record or mention of the presence of this large,
> expensive, and highly specialized item in any supply records, statements
> or testimonies.  

There are several erroneous assumptions in this, the main one being that
a dynamometer would be required to brake an engine.  Any mechanical
device which does work would suffice, of course, such as an electric
generator.  No "expensive and highly specialized item" is required.
Berg, in fact, says this.

But the main error is simply that Berg is wrong.  The engine need not be
run at full load if one wishes to tweak the fuel-air ratio by blocking
the air intake.

Let me repeat myself:  Berg is wrong.

Now, if you would like to contact Berg and have him defend his thesis,
you are welcome to do so.  Berg has already left alt.revisionism after
making some nasty comments about how ugly Jews were, so he might not be
happy to take your call.  Then again, he might.  Who can say?

How do I know Berg is wrong?  I asked some questions of an acquaintance
who was involved for a time with the design and development of engines at
a British diesel engine manufacturing company.  (I have been meaning to
make this available on the web earlier, and I shall do so as soon as I
find the time.  I'll share his name and full qualifications as soon as I
obtain permission from him.)

I wrote to him.  Among my questions was this comment, on page 5:

   Berg makes the further claim that fuel/air ratio is directly
   related to the load placed on the engine, and that diesel engines
   canot be "tweaked" the same way gasoline engines can.

I then quoted Berg:

   Please explain to me if you think you can, how you can run a
   Diesel "rich" at part-load as well as at full-load?  What do you
   mean?  I think you are simply confusing Diesel engines with
   gasoline engines.

My source commented:

   The claim on page 5 that fuel/air ratios cannot be altered is
   incorrect.  The fuel injected is under governor control, so is
   linked to speed.  Thus a small drop in engine speed, as load is
   applied, will result in more fuel being injected to provide the
   additional energy required.
   However, it would be possible to alter the governor/fuel pump
   relationship to produce an excess of fuel.  The volume of fuel
   injected for each engine power stroke is controlled by rotating
   the fuel pump plunger which has a helical spill groove.  This
   controls the effective fuel pump stroke hence the volume of fuel
   injected.  The result of overfuelling would be an excess of
   exhaust smoke, i.e. high hydrocarbon emissions, together with
   an increase in CO.

Seems pretty straightforward to me.  Berg is, quite simply, "incorrect."
Furthermore, Berg offers no credentials for himself as an engine
designer or technician.  Nor does he have footnotes for his claim to me,
quoted above, nor for his assertion that loading the engine is the only
way to increase fuel/air ratios.

My source continues:

   The injectors would soot up quite quickly.  But for an engine
   which is being run to the death (and for the death) the period
   required to stop and clean injectors would not be a problem. 
   Neither would the internal condition of the engine give cause for

Here is one more thing which Berg has failed to take into account:
simply cleaning the injectors will alleviate his concern (and yours)
about excess smoke rendering the engine useless.

We have just seen that the two objections raised by you and Berg are
both invalid.  The first is unquantified when quantification is
absolutely necessary.  The second is based on an assertion by Berg which
is both unreferenced and false.

As my source says:

   In short I do not believe that the engines were loaded -- let
   alone overloaded.  They could be overfuelled in the full speed -
   no load state.

And, as Berg says:

   At [...] a fuel/air ratio of 0.055, the oxygen concentration in
   the exhaust of any Diesel is 4%.

Berg says that this corresponds to "full load," but as we have
seen, this is false.  High fuel/air ratios can be attained at
"full speed - no load."  Berg is wrong.

At this point I must ask you to reexamine your claim that there was
no lack of oxygen.  You seem to disagree with these conclusions, but
you failed to present any evidence.  What you did present was:

   Lack of oxygen in diesel exhaust???  Daniel, you know as much about
   engines as you do about other technical matters you attempt to
   address.  The limit approaches zero.  And in your ignorance you
   persist in braying out "liar" like a mantra.  Jeez, get a clue guy.

Do you stand by these assertions, and if so, why?


So, now that we have shown that diesel engines are quite capable of
extinguishing human life, what arguments remain?  Well, not much.
The only arguments left are that diesel would have been inefficient,
and that the ever-efficient Germans would have chosen something
better to kill people with.

This argument is very weak on its face.  If something happened, it
happened, and there is no need for it to make sense.  The Nazis did many
things which did not make sense.  The slaughter of the Jews itself was
absurd.  To claim that because some details were absurd, they therefore
did not happen, is ridiculous.

Even if one were to pretend for the sake of argument that not a single
Jew was deliberately murdered, just the mere roundup, transportation,
and incarceration of children and old people was senseless and highly
wasteful of resources.  Yet even the revisionists admit this happened.

Furthermore, this argument is especially weak because the gas chambers
of Treblinka and the other Reinhard camps were _not_ the zenith of this
supposed German efficiency.  Auschwitz holds that distinction, and at
Auschwitz, the more powerful poison in Zyklon-B was used.  Diesel gas
chambers could have been improved upon -- and, tragically, were.

   Were gasoline engines better?

DThomas continues:

> Gasoline engines, on the other hand, are excellent sources of carbon
> monoxide, as evidenced by the frequency of suicides using automobile
> exhaust.  Gasoline was also in short supply in wartime Germany,

An excellent reason, then, for not using gasoline engines!

Also, I understand that gasoline itself is more highly refined than
diesel fuel, so it would be cheaper and easier to use diesel engines
for that reason.

   Was producer gas better?

> a fact
> that caused them to invent and build a half-million or more "producer gas
> generators" which were small add-on modules that could be mounted on
> vehicles to provide fuel for their modified engines.  This was done in
> great numbers to solve the problem of petroleum shortages.  Producer gas
> powered vans, trucks and buses were a standard mode of transportation
> throughout Germany and occupied Europe and Russia.  
> Wood chips were burned in a converter chamber whose output was a flammable
> mix of gases that contained high levels of carbon monoxide, 25% on the
> average (carbon monoxide is also flammable).  This gas mix was lethal in
> its produced state and found limited use as a fumigant, probably for rats,
> not insects.  The drawback of course is that it's also highly flammable,
> and in quantity, explosive.

Highly flammable, yes -- a fact which Berg mentions but does not
emphasize, because he also suggests that the producer-gas vehicles would
have been used to kill:

   The gaswagons [...] would have been far superior for mass murder
   to any conventionally powered vehicles [...]

The fact is that pumping producer gas into a room would turn it into a
giant Bic lighter.  Carbon monoxide has an extremely large flammability
range:  anywhere from 12 to 75%.  And as Berg says:

   The combustible gas produced in this way always contained between
   18% and 35% carbon monoxide.

Why on earth would the Nazis have wanted something so flammable?  And,
given that we've already shown that diesel engines would suffice, why
would they replace a solution that worked with one so dangerous?

> However, it is a simple matter to set such an
> engine so that its exhaust emits carbon monoxide in reduced but still
> deadly levels that would kill quickly without the risk of explosion.  

You don't give references, and I'd like to hear how this gas could have
been used "without risk."

Ironically, one of the claims made in the Leuchter Report -- to which
your own web site offers a link! -- was that HCN was explosive and
therefore would have been too dangerous to use in the Kremas, near the
cremation furnaces:

   The building is too damp and cold to utilize Zyklon B gas
   effectively.  The gas would have reached the ovens, and after
   killing all the technicians, would have caused an explosion and
   destroyed the building.

Leuchter says this about hydrocyanic gas, whose minimum explosive
concentration is TWO HUNDRED times greater than the toxic concentration.
By contrast, carbon monoxide is flammable at TWICE the same toxicity
level.  (HCN: 56000/300 ppm for "a few minutes" by the Merck Index;
CO: 12/6.4 percent for "less than" 3.75 minutes by Berg's math.)

We needn't even mention how it's more dangerous to handle a gas which is
continually produced under pressure, as opposed to one that comes in
measured quantities from a can.

So, DThomas, may I ask what your reference was for the claim that this
gas "would kill quickly without the risk of explosion"?

> Given the ready availability of the producer gas vehicles and the fact
> that their operation required only ordinary wood chips, they would have
> been an obviously more practical choice than either of the other two types
> of engines or, for that matter, Zyklon-B.

True.  Except for that little problem with turning buildings (and the
victims inside) into torches.

But since you raise the argument of practicality, you must remember that
the producer gas vehicles had an alternative use, as vehicles.
Meanwhile, there were hundreds of functional engines sitting in Soviet
tanks -- and foreign engines were not "plug-and-play" with any German
vehicles or machines, so they could serve little other use.

> Yet, aside from stories of
> field use of "killing vans" in which the alleged victims were placed in
> the back of such trucks for gassing in a limited area of the Eastern Front
> and one or two other locations, there is absolutely no mention of their
> use in camps for this purpose in the historical record.  No mention in
> German records, and no claims by purported witnesses.  (The former, by the
> way, would naturally be the case if there were no gassing chambers.)

If there were such testimonies, I suspect Leuchter and Berg would be the
first to criticize them because of the severe danger of explosion.  (And
they'd be right to do so.  Except no such impossible testimonies exist.
Too bad for the revisionists, I suppose.)


> All
> you have is the diesel claim, which I understand is beginning to be
> revised to gasoline by some of the sanctioned historians, no doubt in
> quiet reaction to the improbability of a diesel being able to do what has
> been claimed.  

Thank you for bringing this up.

You "understand" this to be true because Berg has told you so.  But, as
Holocaust-deniers often do, Berg is hiding important facts in an attempt
to distort the historical record.  It is vital that we look at exactly
how Berg distorts the truth, because I believe it casts his credibility
into serious question.

Berg claims that "several leading holocaust proponents" -- and he gives
six of them by name -- are trying to pull a fast one on their readers.
He says they are "taking great pains to drop the Diesel claim and
replace it with the view that the engines were not Diesels but
conventional gasoline engines which simply burned Diesel fuel."

Berg's sole evidence for this is a few pages in their book
_Nationalsozialistiche Massentoetungen durch Giftgas_, 1983, which was
translated into English as _Nazi Mass Murder_ in 1993.

In those pages, the editors quote part of the Gerstein statement.  Just
as is done elsewhere in the book, they use only the parts they find
relevant and omit the rest.  This is because the book is not just a
collection of documents:  it is an edited work, and it attempts to
present somewhat of a narrative flow.

The editors used portions of, by my reckoning, the first half of the
statement -- about five hundred words -- where Gerstein describes his
arrival, then the Jews' arrival, at the Belzec camp.  They omitted the
second half, in which Gerstein mostly described the murder operation
itself.  Instead, they chose to use Professor Pfannenstiel's affidavit
to describe that, presumably for reasons of flow and so that the reader
would not suspect there was only one testimony concerning the gassing.

Now, it just so happens that the second half of Gerstein's statement
contained two references to the diesel engine, and one reference to
diesel oil being poured over the bodies.  And, part of what was omitted
in the first half happened to mention the diesel engine as well.

Coincidence?  Not to Berg.  He is convinced that this 1983 book contains
the seeds of a great conspiracy to remove the "inconvenient" diesel
engines from history and substitute gasoline engines instead!

Now, keep in mind that the editors never state what type of engine was
used -- because, to most people, this is an insignificant detail.  And
also note that Pfannenstiel's testimony, which rounds out the account of
the gassings, specifically says:

   Der Motor selbst befand sich nicht in einem besonderen Raum,
   sondern stand offen etwas erhoeht auf einem Podium. Er wurde mit
   Dieselkraftstoff betrieben.

Or, in the English translation (_Nazi Mass Murder_, Kogon et al., 1993,
p. 130):

   The engine itself was not in a separate room but stood in the open,
   raised on a platform.  It was a diesel engine.

It is true that Pfannenstiel's description, "Er wurde mit
Dieselkraftstoff betrieben," means literally "it ran on diesel fuel."
This is obviously just a way of saying "it was a diesel engine." 
Suppose I told you, "I once had a Volvo that ran on diesel" -- would it
ever cross your mind that I was trying to fool you into thinking I
really put diesel fuel into a regular gasoline engine!?

Of course not.  And if the editors really were trying to pull a fast one
on the world -- if they were taking great pains to start a massive
campaign to "revise" history and replace diesel by gasoline, they
obviously would not have allowed that sentence to be translated:
"it was a diesel engine"!

Not to mention the other places in the book where diesel engines are
mentioned quite explicitly.  See p. 163 in the German edition.

But, now that you know the whole story, read Berg's description of this
supposed conspiracy:

   Several leading holocaust proponents are now taking great pains to
   drop the Diesel claim and replace it with the view that the
   engines were not Diesels but conventional gasoline engines which
   simply burned Diesel fuel, presumably to make the engines more
   deadly than if they had only burned regular gasoline. This
   amazing transformation has appeared in a recent book in Germany
   entitled Nationalsozialistiche Massentoetungen durch Giftgas. ^34
   The book was a joint project of 24 of the most eminent scholars on
   the subject, including such notables as Eugen Kogon, Hermann
   Langbeing, Adalbert Rueckerl, Gideon Hausner, Germaine Tillion and
   Georges Wellers. The book represents the current state of the art
   of holocaust mythomania and has already been recommended by the
   World Jewish Congress in London. ^35  The new, "revised" version
   of the holocaust says, in effect, that Gerstein and the others
   were mistaken when they had claimed that Diesels were used to kill
   Jews at Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor.  The claim now is that
   gasoline engines were used.             ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

This last sentence is an invention.  This "claim" is simply not made.

Berg continues:

   The clumsy juggling of evidence which characterizes this book is
   exemplified by the fact that although the Gerstein statement
   refers to diesel engines four times, the portion of the Gerstein
   statement which is quoted in this supposedly definitive rebuttal
   of the revisionists does not mention Diesels at all, nor does it
   even describe the alleged killing process. ^36 For a description
   of the killing process that Gerstein supposedly witnessed, the
   book gives a piece of postwar testimony by Dr. Pfannenstiel in
   which there is also no mention of the use of Diesels, but only of
   the use of Diesel fuel in the engine. How one could possibly have
   operated a gasoline engine with Diesel fuel is, of course, left to
   the imagination.

Whose imagination?  No one was asked to imagine this, because the book
never said any such thing.

The impact on Berg's credibility is, I think, obvious.

> And, yes, I know of the report from a British medical journal in the
> fifties in which several animals were killed with diesel exhaust in a
> scantily documented experiment.  All that proves is that it is, as stated
> earlier here and elsewhere by Berg, marginally possible to push a diesel
> to its limits and achieve lethal levels of CO in its exhaust *FOR A VERY
> SHORT PERIOD OF TIME*, something I do not recall the report addressing.

Again, a total lack of quantification, where quantification is
desperately needed.  The report fails to support your point that the
engines self-destructed after "hours, or at most, days."

Because this effect was not mentioned, DThomas, you assert again that it
must be "*A VERY SHORT PERIOD OF TIME*."  I don't believe a nonmention
of something is evidence that it must be true.


I should point out that, because historians have already established
the facts about the killing at the Reinhard camps, the burden of proof
is on Berg (and you) to demonstrate that they could not have occurred.
To be proper skeptics, we must carefully consider the issues which Berg
raises -- but we must also insist that this heavy burden be met.  That
means quantification of his claims.  Berg has done an admirable job of
providing numbers in his original article, but unfortunately, he was
wrong on several key assumptions, rendering his work useless.  Now, if
he (and you) intend to continue to defend his claim, which I assume is
the case, we must still insist that quantification be given wherever

This article will be HTML'ized with footnotes to sources and URLs,
hopefully within the next week or two.  I'll post a followup to this
thread when that's done.

Meanwhile, DThomas, I would like to see your evidence for your claim
that running very rich would render an engine useless in "hours, or at
most, days."  Ideally it would consider the case of the injectors being
cleaned, perhaps on a regular basis.

I'd also like you to expound on what you mean by this:

   it is a simple matter to set [a producer gas] engine so that its
   exhaust emits carbon monoxide in reduced but still deadly levels
   that would kill quickly without the risk of explosion.

What's that simple technique?

Finally, if you see fit, a comment on the term "Holocaust-denier," in
the context of what Smith said, would be appreciated.  I know it's off
topic;  I apologize and promise never to do it again.  ;-)

Posted;  not emailed by DThomas's previous request.
 Jamie McCarthy        Co-Webmaster of

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.