Was the gas chamber humane and did the Nazi's intend it to be so?

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122025278
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I was always under the impression that the method the Nazi's used to kill Jews, the gas chamber, was a horrible death, the last moments likely akin to that scene from The Rock when a ball of nerve gas bursts in a guys mouth and well, death is anything but painless and quick... Then there were the stories of Jews bypassing the gas chambers and being put into ovens in the crematorium and burnt alive.

However, the gas the Nazi's actually used, Zyklon B, from what I gather, would have induced unconsciousness very quickly and then death - not a painful and long drawn out one. Indeed the discovery that Zyklon B would be lethal was an accident, it was produced as a cleaning agent and when mixed with chemicals or used in the wrong way, it could kill. Remember the gas chamber used as a method of executing criminals in developed countries specifically because it was supposedly a more humane method.

Did the Nazi's deliberately look for a gas that caused the least suffering as possible? A documentary I watched showed that in SS reports they found methods of execution such as shooting or explosives as too ghastly and caused them to experiment with gas, originally exhaust fumes from a car, specifically the carbon monoxide gas which has the effect of making you feel fatigued and ultimately falling unconscious and you aren't even aware of it.

Whatever method they used it was still murder and extremely terrifying, but did they deliberately go out of there way to look for a humane method, since there are obviously many other ways which would have caused so much more suffering than the one they chose or did it just happen that Zyklon B was quick, cheap and any relatively positive effects were simply a by-product?
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angelbones
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They didn't intend for it to be humane. It was quick and they were able to kill a lot of people at once.
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*custardcream
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No idea but subscribing!
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122025278
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(Original post by angelbones)
They didn't intend for it to be humane. It was quick and they were able to kill a lot of people at once.
Do you have a link?
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Clare~Bear
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I don't think being humane towards people they hated and thought should be exterminated was one of their priorities.

It was probably easy to make, cheap, quick and easy to use. I don't think the Nazis would have wanted to kill people that they thought were the scum of the earth in a humane way, when they basically tortured them in concentration camps.
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Dux_Helvetica
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It was meant to be systematic. There is evidence of scratch marks at the ceilings of gas chambers as the victims struggled to reach untainted air (that doesn't sound very humane). And even if the gas chambers themselves were 'humane', the dire conditions in which the prisoners were kept prior to being gassed were certainly not. The emphasis was on efficient and mass-murder.
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MathematicsKiller
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No. They also lined people up in front of massive graves and shot them down.

I don't think being humane was on their list.
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mabrookes
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(Original post by angelbones)
They didn't intend for it to be humane. It was quick and they were able to kill a lot of people at once.
I think the question should also include if they intended it not to be humane as well, or if they really did not care about either of those factors and just wanted quick.

It seems strange they would just want quick and that was the only criteria, as I would have thought there would be quicker ways than gassing people in groups systematically. I have no idea if the OP is actually just trying to be controversial but it is a good question.
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LMAC
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I've been in a gas chamber they disguised as a shower room, and I've seen the scratch marks on the wall. It's far from humane.
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TheHansa
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"Shouting and screaming of the victims could be heard through the opening and it was clear that they fought for their lives."[30] When they were removed, if the chamber had been very congested, as they often were, the victims were found half-squatting, their skin colored pink with red and green spots, some foaming at the mouth or bleeding from the ears

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zyklon_B

Who knows?

The gas was used because shooting them a point blank range was ghastly, but this because it was effecting the moral of Hitler's army.
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angelbones
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(Original post by 122025278)
Do you have a link?
http://abcwwii.wordpress.com/the-letters/z-zyklon-b/

"By interfering with the creation of ATP, Zyklon B kills its victims from the inside out, all the way down to the cellular level. Its victims literally felt their bodies die, piece by piece."



I can probably find you more if you like.
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jada897
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I agree it was meant to be an industrial method of killing and I don't think they cared about it being human for the victims, they did however want it to be more 'humane' for the killers as before this the Einsatzgruppen began to have mental problems when they shot victims.
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Captain Hindsight
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You have to remember the Nazis (especially top SS officers and Hitler) didn't see Jews as people. They saw them as this sub-human race who should be exterminated (propaganda compared them to vermin/rats). The Nazis first tried to kill the Jews by firing squads but this wasn't effective enough. This idea of gas chambers removes any personal attachment to the victims. If you think about it, it was the Jews themselves who ran the camps (each assigned different jobs). It was the Jews who cut the hair, Jews who put the bodies in the crematoriums. Sure, the Nazis ran the camp but in terms of who actually killed the Jews it was the person who put the gas pellets into the chamber and this can't really be linked into the Nazis but instead rather the person who did it. The significance however of the gas chambers was that it was a much more economical way of exterminating the jews, it was an industrialised killing. It was organised and regimented, and extermination, like production, was systematic. The way the Nazis ran the gas chambers with the industrialisation of how they killed the Jews is almost like the way they produced X amount of steel, bauxite ore, rubber etc. a year. the personal association connected to the deaths were removed and it became almost like a business.
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angelbones
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(Original post by mabrookes)
I think the question should also include if they intended it not to be humane as well, or if they really did not care about either of those factors and just wanted quick.

It seems strange they would just want quick and that was the only criteria, as I would have thought there would be quicker ways than gassing people in groups systematically. I have no idea if the OP is actually just trying to be controversial but it is a good question.
No, I think the main benefit of it was that it was quick.

Shooting people into mass graves could arguably be more humane (a bullet straight to the head will usually kill you straight away), although I guess there'd be psychological trauma from seeing everyone else get shot and die and knowing it would be your turn next... Gas was fast, systematic, and saved ammunition.
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riley.joe96
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it was quick and it worked and it suited the the Nazi's perfectly. They weren't really the sentimental type were they?
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username818763
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It is far from humane, they only used gas chambers because they were much much more effective and cheaper. Bear in mind that the Nazi's used the Einsatzgruppen before 1941 to kill their victims using guns however using ammunition was costing the Reich too much therefore Himmler implemented the gas chambers.
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DH-Biker
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No, it wasn't quick. They used Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen Cyonide.

The former was first used to exterminate handicapped Germans, whom were locked in trucks and then the pipe was attached in through a vent from the exhaust. That is obviously Carbon Monoxide, its effects on the human body's respiration system are well known.

Zyclon B (Hydrogen Cyonide) was the primary gas used, however. First used on Russian PoWs then later used on Jews to provide a quick, extremely painful method of wiping them out. Gasses weren't, as many seem to think, the primary method of execution in the Death Camps to any member of society Germany deemed unatural and unworthy of life. Machine gunning entire lines of people was the primary method, gasses were considered expensive whereas they could mass produce millions of MG42 rounds. Gasses weren't as widespread nor as favoured as many believe, but it was extremely effective.

But no, it was absolutely not meant to be humane. They also used Chlorine Gas and even combined Zyclon and Chlorine in tests. It would've caused immense amounts of pain, especially Chlorine Gas. It wasn't used as a humane option, the humane option was to kneel them down and put a round through their head, or line them up and attempt a shot at each head in the line. But Gasses were used as a painful, yet quick and easy to mass-kill, method of execution.

Accounts from several Death Camp Marshals reviewed that they joyfully used gasses because of the screams. I read that from an extract a while back, I'll try and find the source. The people were monsters, though there's a famous quote that the medical documentation the Nazis collected during tests advanced medical science by two decades. At the cost of nine million lives, one still doesn't deem it a worthy loss of life, which is why they rarely bang on about how much they learnt during.
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catoswyn
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(Original post by 122025278)
I was always under the impression that the method the Nazi's used to kill Jews, the gas chamber, was a horrible death, the last moments likely akin to that scene from The Rock when a ball of nerve gas bursts in a guys mouth and well, death is anything but painless and quick... Then there were the stories of Jews bypassing the gas chambers and being put into ovens in the crematorium and burnt alive.

However, the gas the Nazi's actually used, Zyklon B, from what I gather, would have induced unconsciousness very quickly and then death - not a painful and long drawn out one. Indeed the discovery that Zyklon B would be lethal was an accident, it was produced as a cleaning agent and when mixed with chemicals or used in the wrong way, it could kill. Remember the gas chamber used as a method of executing criminals in developed countries specifically because it was supposedly a more humane method.

Did the Nazi's deliberately look for a gas that caused the least suffering as possible? A documentary I watched showed that in SS reports they found methods of execution such as shooting or explosives as too ghastly and caused them to experiment with gas, originally exhaust fumes from a car, specifically the carbon monoxide gas which has the effect of making you feel fatigued and ultimately falling unconscious and you aren't even aware of it.

Whatever method they used it was still murder and extremely terrifying, but did they deliberately go out of there way to look for a humane method, since there are obviously many other ways which would have caused so much more suffering than the one they chose or did it just happen that Zyklon B was quick, cheap and any relatively positive effects were simply a by-product?
Initially the Nazi's soldiers and officers killed groups of people by shooting them or blowing them up close to their towns and villages. However they noted that this was creating a bad effect on the soldiers who began to show signs of distress and disobedience and it also risked alerting the local population. They therefore wanted a method that -de-humanised the victims as much as possible and distanced their own soliders from the act. They came up with the concentration camps and gas chambers because these allowed large numbers of people to be processed by only a few soldiers and guards and behind 'closed doors'. They did not have a concern about humane methods in order to reduce sufferring as such but they did want to reduce the potential for protest from their own troops/population.

That is why the concentration camps always involved a degree of propoganda and denial with the Nazi's calling them 'work camps' and torturous, needless medical experiements on children, pregnant women and the like were dressed up as 'research' and medical treatment.

The gas used falls into this category and allowed their own people involved in the concentration camps to persuade themselves that somehow this was a 'quick, efficient death'.

There is a famous speech by the head of the SS where he says the SS are not brutal but very sensitive people and are only doing what is necessary to cleanse the German lands and save the human race from the scourge of the Jews. They are noble in his view because they kill people not with pleasure but out of neccesity. He said they wanted to avoid sufferring as it was an extra burden for the German SS man to endure as he went about this task. Of course they caused unspeakable suffering to millions but they seem to have required a narrative to fool themselves into thinking they were not inhuman after all and keep in place their sense of righteousness.

Hope this helps.
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IcedTea&PotNoodle
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I wish it was for the reason that it was more humane. I've been to Auschwitz and I've seen inside a gas chamber. When you see the scratches from where people were clawing at the walls, you'll know it was not humane. The reason why the Nazis used the gas chambers was because it was quick, not because it was humane. They could shove the naked ghost like human beings into a room and waste no ammo in destroying innocent adults and childrens lives. Then they were shoved into burning pit or ovens. It was a killing factory, there were no human rights involved in it. If you've never heard of treblinka, google it and you'll know what I mean.

Edit: Don't forget this is not the only way they killed people. There were far more inhumane ways of doing it. The Nazi's wanted to do things as quickly and cheaply as possible. They believed they were killing vermin, that's why they duhumanised their prisoners so that they wouldn't have to feel bad about it afterwards.
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acedlol
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I'm so glad they were considerate by using a humane gas.

It's not like we should be gassing them in the first place.
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