michael mills wrote:It was a rumour that became very widespread, and also quite detailed.
I would think that the "security forces" would have encouraged and reinforced such rumours, the more grisly the more productive, from their point of view.
michael mills wrote:The first reports that filtered through about mass-killings at Belzec described electrocution as the killing method.
Such reports, including quite detailed but historically untrue descriptions of the electrocution methodology (one such being an electric current fed through a large metal plate forming the floor of a water-filled pit on which hundreds were killed at a time), can be found in publications that appeared during the war.
It is unknown how the stories of mass-killing by electrocution arose. It is unlikely that they were manufactured out of thin air.
It seems to me most likely that the accounts arose from confusion between description of trainloads of Jews being taken to camouflaged camps where they disappeared, and description of German installations with heavy-duty electrical connections.
What we can be certain of is that mass-killing by electrocution has never been documented as a methodology used by German authorities.
Since there weren't any survivors yet to deliver first hand accounts, I think it's quite reasonable for the people that were left behind to speculate as to what happened to those who were deported. We have to rationalize things, and electrocution is as good a guess as any.
Some "revisionists" make a big deal out of the rumours of "steam" being used to kill at various camps. However, diesel exhaust creates visible fumes, and I believe that Zyklon-B can form a blue cloud, and in any event, the warmth emiting on a cold day could all cause "steam like" clouds to eminate from the killing facilities when the doors were opened. A casual observer seeing this process from a distance, and not wanting to ask about what they probably shouldn't be seeing, could definately have started a rumour like this that is credible.
I can't really figure out the electrocution thing, although it might be related to the fact the camps were surrounded by electrified wire, but I've got nothing but my own feeling for that.