The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Forensic specialist examines gassing victims

"The majority died of natural diseases of one kind or the another. However, we did probe into such questions as, 'What happened to those prisoners who became psychotic at Dachau? What did the Gestapo do with them?' Well, they took those people to the crematorium. First, however, they were taken to a big windowless building next to the crematorium where the ceiling was covered with false shower heads. The victims were then ordered to strip and take a 'shower.' Outside the building, guards dropped in cyanide pellets. Then they'd blow the cyanide gas out and remove the bodies next door to the crematorium ovens. I think this is what happened to most of the truly psychotic prisoners and those they considered unruly and unmanageable and who, in the Gestapo's opinion, were incorrigibles. But, in my opinion, only relatively few of the inmates I personally examined at Dachau were murdered in this manner. Still, medical facilities were totally inadequate. When people fell hopelessly ill and death was imminent, and when they grew so weak they could no longer work or function, they were taken to the cyanide room for disposal. The Nazi called them 'mercy killings' because there was no hope of them getting well. Actually, the Germans considered them a liability, and extermination was the answer." ('Crime Doctor,' McCallum & Larson, p. 61. ISBN 0-916076-20-2; Library of Congress Catalog Number: 78-16403)

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