In late 1939, the Nazis began experimenting poison gas to eliminate people with mental problems;
Dissatisfied with the result, in June 1941 they experimented “gas vans”: sealed vans where gases were released.
The prisoners renamed them “death trucks“, in fact they were used for the Jews’ extermination (before the gas chambers).
This technique, however, did not meet the expectations of the Nazis because it did not kill enough Jews.
In the same year, a new method for extermination was used in Auschwitz: the Zyklon B, an insecticide capable of releasing a flammable gas that was used to disinfect the prisoners’ cells and uniforms. The most gruesome and perverse minds decided that it would also be useful for the prisoners’ elimination.
The Nazis then decided to use this gas as a definitive solution to achieve their goal: the extermination of the inferior race.
The gas killed all the people in the room in less than half an hour.
“The mass killing experiment was carried out in the underground shelters in block no. 11 on 250 hospital patients and about 600 Soviet prisoners of war.
The windows of the shelter were covered with ground. An SS member, wearing a gas mask, threw the contents of the crates of Zyklon B into the interior through the open door, then the door was locked. The next day, in the afternoon, several people were still found alive. So a larger quantity of Zyklon B was added, and the door was closed again until the evening of the following day. This time all the prisoners were found asphyxiated”.
In June 1942, a small farmhouse in Birkenau was converted into a gas chamber and destined for the elimination of Jews who were unable to work. In the meantime, new experiments made it possible to dose the gas in the most effective way and in July 1942 convoys of Jews began to flow into Auschwitz from all over Europe, destined for elimination.
When the two existing gas chambers were not enough, the construction of two other plants were contracted out to the company “Topf & Söhne” of Erfurt. The technicians had the idea of grouping the gas chambers and crematory ovens in the same buildings, so as to optimize the entire process of killing and the subsequent disposal of corpses.
The gas chambers in Auschwitz were located below ground level and the Zyklon-B was introduced through small slits, placed on the outer wall.
- Auschwitz-Birkenau museum and memorial – www.auschwitz.org
- Il nazismo e lo sterminio degli Ebrei-Poliakov (1954), p. 271