Use of gas in the Crimea?

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Zebedee
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Use of gas in the Crimea?

Post by Zebedee » 06 Jun 2006 15:48

cf viewtopic.php?t=85388


There appear to be eyewitness accounts that at Sevastapol and other sieges in the Crimea, that the German forces used a gas of some sort. I am well aware that such accounts are very possibly flawed due to things such as post-war revisionism or even just a misunderstanding of what was actually being used (heavy smoke could cause similar choking symptoms).

Are there any credible sources who can confirm or deny the claims, and if confirm, which gas was used?

edit: I have tried to search for a thread on this subject but the one cited above is the only relevant one I could find. I would welcome any link or merger into a thread which is currently open on this subject.

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Post by Kim Sung » 06 Jun 2006 16:12

I've been searching for sources for the German poison gas use at Adzhimushkay for more than 8 months. But I couldn't find any more than the following sources.

1. http://www.pobediteli.ru says that there was gas attack in June 1942 in which some hundred cilvilians were killed. To get more corroborating data on the gas attack in Adzhmushkay, I sent an e-mail to the administrator of this site 7 months ago, but there has been no reply so far.

2. Diary of a dead defender at Adzhimushkay as Oleg Grigoryev posted above some months ago

viewtopic.php?t=85388&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=45

Oleg Grigoryev wrote:Image

Lieutenant Trofimenko was one of the defenders – according to his diary gas attack (whatever it was) happened on May 24th 1942 .

it has been 8 hours… gas mask don’t work anymore… they are keeping pumping
I am not going to describe what happened in hospital at central.. the same as here huge number of corpses … this is all hopeless

http://left.ru/2003/13/patrioty89.html

It seems that prevailing onion that C_CI3_NO2 was used (chlorpeckrin –in Russian nomenclature) – not a combat chemical weapon but can be quite deadly non the less.


3. Alexei Kupler's Two among Two Millions (Алексей Каплер: Двое из двадцати миллионов)

4. Catherine Merridale's Ivan's War pp. 148~150

In mid-May the last remnants of Mekhlis' army boarded small boats and set off across the five-mile strait toward the mainland. But the German advance had been so swift that many remained trapped in limestone hills behind the town. These men and women looked down on the strait below- they must have dreamed of walking of it - and knew there could be no escape. But what came next was anguish of a kind that even this war would see only once or twice. It was typical because it involved individual courage, and shattered faith, and then a cruel waste of life. It was unique because the drama took place underground. The heroes of the story found their graves in a maze of tunnels deep within Crimea's rock.

The officers of the Special Section, hardened agents in the mold of Mikhail Ivanovich and the OSMBON, took charge at once. Barking their orders and fingering loaded guns, they gathered every straggler and mustered the men. Then they produced a group of local guides, people who knew the landscape and its secret caves. These men led the entire company into a quarry, an enormous labyrinth of pits and tunnels from which the stone to build a fortress for the port's defense had been taken eighty years before. This cave city would now become the soldiers' home. Three thousand people, including nurses and refugees from Kerch, huddled away into the darkness. They dragged their horses and their guns, they carried bundles of supplies. If they had glanced behind them as they shuffled down into the earth, they would have glimpsed the grassy steppe, the blue spring light, burgeoning yellow tansy, and the crimson splashes of the first poppies. These colors would have been the last that they would see. Few would blink in daylight again or even feel a cool breeze on their skin.

The cave city was organized. That is, the men from the Special Section knew their work. They split their men into detachments and assigned clear tasks to each. Some were organized into sentry rotations, others sent off down dank tunnels to look for hidden exits, search for water, or scrape together any food or fuel. The men in charge made their headquarters in the largest, safest cave. The hospital was set up in the deepest one. It was soon needed. Without a regular supply of food, the refugees began to eat flesh of horses that had died in the escape. Three months later this meat was still the only food they had. At first scouts from the quarry made raids to the surface, seizing whatever they could steal and harrassing the German guards who watched over the site, but in a few weeks all that stopped as well. The quarry people were trapped. As they waited for death, they lit their darkness with thin, stinking candles made from burning strips of rubber tire.

The Germans planted explosives around the exits from the site. Rocks and splinters rained down on the fugitives below. Then poison gas was released into the tunnels, killing all but a few score of the Soviet defenders. These last died hungry and despairing in the next few weeks, but they did not surrender. In Soviet myth, the quarry at Adzhimushkay became another Leningrad, a Brest fortress, a place where heroes held out to the last. But in fact these brave men and women had no choice. Although some of the officers, the Special Section men with their revolvers and their survival training, must have escaped and reported the tale, the others were forced to remain. They were kept in the pit at gunpoint, threatened with death by comrades from their own side. If they would not behave like heroes, choosing a noble end, they would die from a Soviet bullet in the neck.


5. Our fellow member AMVAS' homepage

http://rkkaww2.armchairgeneral.com/Mult ... ushkai.txt

The Soviet authorities didn't know about the gas attack until the survivors told their story to them after the war. If they take any soil samples then, it was too late to get meaningful data because three years have already passed. And there were innumerable German atrocity cases, so I assume that there was no reason that the Soviet government concentrated on this specific incident.

What I can say about this gas case is that it is highly probable that the Germans used gas at Adzhimushkay.

Anyway, if you take a very more careful attitude on the use of poison gas in Adzhimushkay than me, I'll respect that.

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Post by Zebedee » 07 Jun 2006 03:31

Thanks for collating the sources found in the original thread Kim Sung :)

Just to go through them as sources:

1) Just a statement that gas was used. No sources used to support the statement.

2) I don't understand Russian but from the portions translated, it is very ambiguous. What was being pumped? And by whom and how? Should the diary be read as an 8 hour long gas attack? That must have been a tremendous undertaking - where is the supporting evidence?

3) Again, I don't know of the supporting sources for Kupler.

4) Merridale's assumption that everyone died apart from the few who 'must' have escaped to tell the tale just seems odd. Everyone died because they were forced to stay and so they died from the gas but those forcing them to stay managed to escape a place where even sallies from the exits were prevented. That's a low threshold for accepting something as historical fact.

5) A statement but no sources used to support the statement.

So essentially, it boils down to one diary entry which may or may not be accurate. No recollections from Germans present, no documentary evidence from the Germans on what they used, no soil samples taken, no investigation by the Soviet authorities, no complaints registered through a neutral party, no records of the supposed escapees reporting gas being used.

Which returns me to my OP - has anyone heard of or have access to supporting evidence?

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Post by Kim Sung » 07 Jun 2006 14:04

Regarding this gas use case, Russian or Ukrainian members can give more information.

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Post by Simon Orchard » 07 Jun 2006 15:13

It seems like a logical though horrific way to deal with the problem. I too wonder what substance might have been used. What about carbon monoxide?

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Post by Kim Sung » 07 Jun 2006 15:23

Our fellow member Oleg Grigoriyev said chemical substance used at Adzhimushkay was C_CI3_NO2.

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Post by Simon Orchard » 07 Jun 2006 18:18

Kim Sung wrote:Our fellow member Oleg Grigoriyev said chemical substance used at Adzhimushkay was C_CI3_NO2.


No, postwar research came up with Chloropicrin as a 'best guess' of what might have been used.

I think finding out which German unit or units were involved might be the key to getting to the bottom of this

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Post by Kim Sung » 08 Jun 2006 07:28

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

Chloropicrin is a slightly oily, colorless or faintly yellow liquid of the formula CCl3NO2. Its freezing point is -69.2 °C and its boiling point is 112 °C, where it partially decomposes to phosgene and nitrosyl chloride. It is denser than water. It is more toxic than chlorine but less than phosgene. Its CAS number is [76-06-2][1].

Chloropicrin vapor is highly poisonous if inhaled, and is used for military purposes as a poison gas, in organic synthesis, in fumigants, in fungicides and insecticides, and for the extermination of rats. Chloropicrin is a relatively stable liquid that is prepared by the reaction of picric acid with calcium hypochlorite, by the addition of nitrogen to chlorinated hydrocarbons, or by chlorinating nitromethane. In environment it undergoes photolysis.

Chloropicrin was used in World War I as a chemical weapon, called PS by British, Aquinite by French, and Klop (green cross) by Germans. See also Use of poison gas in World War I.

Chloropicrin is used for fumigation, to sterilize soil and seed.

As a chemical warfare agent it is known as PS and it is a powerful irritant from the group of pulmonary agents. It causes lachrymation, vomiting, bronchitis, and pulmonary edema; the lung injury can be fatal. Very low concentrations cause burning sensation of the eyes, which may serve as a warning. Because of its relative inertness and the small size of its molecule, chloropicrin penetrates gas mask filters. It then causes vomiting, which makes the victim remove the gas mask. For this reason, it is often mixed with other chemical weapons.



http://education.yahoo.com/reference/en ... y/chloropi

Colorless oily liquid used as a poison gas. It is a powerful irritant, causing lachrymation, vomiting, bronchitis, and pulmonary edema; lung injury from chloropicrin may result in death. Trace amounts in the air cause a burning sensation in the eyes, which serves as a warning of exposure. Chloropicrin is more toxic than chlorine but less toxic than phosgene. It is relatively inert and does not react with the chemicals commonly used in gas masks. It has been extensively used as a vomiting gas by the military. It is also used industrially in small amounts as a warning agent in commercial fumigants and as an insecticide and disinfectant for grain. Chloropicrin has the formula CCl3NO2. It boils at 112캜 with partial decomposition to phosgene and nitrosyl chloride.



http://www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/rtkwe ... oropicrin'

http://www.oehha.ca.gov/air/chronic_rel ... oropicrin'

http://extoxnet.orst.edu/pips/chloropi.htm

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Post by Zebedee » 08 Jun 2006 07:49

Thanks for the link Kim Sung. But did the Germans have a stockpile? Was any issued to units in the Crimea? Something like that would leave a massive paper trail which would show up. It's just odd that no-one has picked up a hint of that trail in the past sixty years.

If it had happened in the chaos of the last few month of the war, fair enough, but this was at the time when the Nazis were still documenting brass tack usage (hyperbole yeah I know).

Which leads me to thinking maybe it doesn't exist, which then leads me to believe that the events may not have involved any gas at all but could just be a mistaken belief written in one diary.

As Simon Orchard asks, it might be an idea to find out which units were in the are at this time and then try to work backwards from that. I'm thinking 11th Army for May 1942. But I'll have a root and see what I can locate.

edit: well, that was quick ;)

11th Army left Crimea on 1 September and were on security duty in the Crimea for the few months prior to that. So time to find out which unit was where.

http://www.feldgrau.com/AOK.php?ID=11

edit 2: and this forum again proves to be a mine of useful information:

viewtopic.php?t=39829

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Post by Sergey » 08 Jun 2006 08:14

I hear about usage of chemical weapons by German army during WW2 first time. I searched Ruusian internet and found, that gas was allegedly used against partisans to push them out from undeground caves (and not only in Crimea).

http://www.grani.ru/War/Arms/Chem/m.92685.html

В ходе Второй мировой войны 1941-1945 гг. вермахт использовал отравляющие вещества на Восточном фронте - в операциях против советских партизан в Одессе и в Крыму.


Usage of chemical weapons is not something special. Later the Americans used them in Vietnam against partisans too.

http://www.senat.org/konkurs-vuderzki/121.html

Интересный случай произошел с Александром Митрофановичем Пушкаревым. После войны жил и работал во Львове, женился, вырастил дочь. И однажды в конце семидесятых на выставке, посвященной годовщине Победы, увидел свою фотографию военных лет, сделанную в партизанском отряде, в 1943 году.

12-летним мальчишкой Саша стал разведчиком партизанского отряда им. Ворошилова, был награжден медалями «За боевые заслуги», «Партизану Отечественной войны 1 степени», «За Победу над Германией».

В 1943 году фашистский карательный отряд применил против партизан отравляющий газ. Последствия отравления серьезно отразились на состоянии здоровья Александра Митрофановича.


There is a concrete name - Alexandr Mitrofanovich Pushkarev. During the war he (12 yo partisan then) suffered from German gasses.

http://gym6.narod.ru/1/610/kerch.html

В Малых каменоломнях подземный гарнизон возглавил старший лейтенант М.Г. Поважный. С мая до конца октября, сжигаемые жаждой, травимые газами, голодные, в сырости и холоде сражались воины гарнизона.

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Post by Kim Sung » 08 Jun 2006 12:42

If what Sergey said is true, the popular belief that the Germans didn't use poison (or choking) gas during WW2 is a myth.
Besides Adzhimushkay and Brest, there might be other plausible cases of gas attack in the Eastern Front.

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Post by Kim Sung » 08 Jun 2006 12:46

Sergey wrote:I hear about usage of chemical weapons by German army during WW2 first time. I searched Ruusian internet and found, that gas was allegedly used against partisans to push them out from undeground caves (and not only in Crimea).

Even Russians don't know these gas use cases well. Why aren't these gas cases known to Russians?

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Gas Attack at Brest Fortress

Post by Kim Sung » 08 Jun 2006 12:50

http://www.brest.by/ct/

30 июня после длительного обстрела и бомбежки, завершившихся ожесточенной атакой, гитлеровцы овладели большой частью сооружений Восточного форта, захватили в плен раненых. В результате кровопролитных боев и понесенных потерь оборона крепости распалась на ряд изолированных очагов сопротивления. До 12 июля в Восточном форту продолжала сражаться небольшая группа бойцов во главе с Гавриловым, позже, вырвавшись из форта,- в капонире за внешним валом укрепления. Тяжело раненные Гаврилов и секретарь комсомольского бюро 98-го отдельного противотанкового артиллерийского дивизиона, заместитель политрука Г.Д. Деревянко 23 июля попали в плен. Но и позже 20-х чисел июля в крепости продолжали сражаться советские воины. Последние дни борьбы овеяны легендами. К этим дням относятся надписи, оставленные на стенах крепости ее защитниками: "Умрем, но из крепости не уйдем", "Я умираю, но не сдаюсь. Прощай, Родина. 20.11.41 г.". Ни одно из знамен воинских частей, сражавшихся в крепости, не досталось врагу. Знамя 393-го отдельного артиллерийского дивизиона закопали в Восточном форту старший сержант Р.К. Семенюк, рядовые И.Д. Фольварков и Тарасов. 26.09.1956 года оно было откопано Семенюком. В подвалах Белого дворца, Инженерного управления, клуба, казармы 333-го полка держались последние защитники Цитадели. В здании Инженерного управления и Восточном форту гитлеровцы применили газы, против защитников казармы 333-го полка и 98-го дивизиона, капонира в зоне 125-го полка - огнеметы. С крыши казармы 333-го стрелкового полка к окнам были спущены взрывчатые вещества, но раненные взрывами советские воины продолжали стрелять до тех пор, пока стены здания не были разрушены и сровнены с землей. Противник вынужден был отметить стойкость и героизм защитников крепости. В июле командир 45-й немецкой пехотной дивизии генерал Шлиппер в "Донесении о занятии Брест-Литовска" сообщал: "Русские в Брест-Литовске боролись исключительно упорно и настойчиво. Они показали превосходную выучку пехоты и доказали замечательную волю к сопротивлению".


On 30 June after prolonged firing and bombing, that were completed by the bitter attack, Hitlerites mastered the large part of the construction of eastern fort, took into custody of injured. As a result of bloody it is combat and the carried losses the defense of fortress was decomposed into a number of the isolated center of resistances. Until 12 July in east to fort continued to battle the small group of soldiers headed by Gavrilov, it is later, after being pulled out from the fort, in the caponnier after the external shaft of strengthening. Heavily ranennye Gavrilov the secretary of Komsomol bureau 98- GO of individual anti-tank artillery battalion, the deputy of political instructor G.D. Derevyanko on 23 July burn into captivity. But also later than the 20th days of July in the fortress continued to battle Soviet soldiers. The recent days of fight are fanned by legends. These days include the inscriptions, left on the walls of fortress by its defenders: "let us die, but from the fortress we will not leave", "I die, but I do not surrender. Good-bye, the native land. 20.11.41 g.". None of the banners of the military parts, which were being battled in the fortress, was reached to enemy. The banner 393- GO of individual artillery battalion they buried in east to fort the Senior Sergeant OF R.K. Of semenyuk, series I.D. Of fol'varkov and Tarasov. 26.09.1956 years it was dug up Semenyukom. In the basements of white palace, engineering control, club, barracks 333- GO of regiment the last defenders of citadel were held. In building of engineering control and east to fort the Hitlerites used gases, against the defenders of barracks 333- GO of regiment and 98- GO of battalion, caponnier in the zone 125- GO of regiment - flamethrowers. The explosives were gone down from the roof of barracks 333- GO of rifle regiment to the windows, but ranennye by explosions Soviet soldiers continued to shoot until the walls of building not are destroyed and srovneny with the earth. Enemy was forced to note durability and heroism of the defenders of fortress. During July the commander of 45-1 German infantry division General shlipper in the "report about the occupation Brest- it is Lithuanian" it reported: "Russians into Brest -Litovske fought exceptionally persistently and persistently. They showed the excellent training of infantry and proved the remarkable will to resist ".


Where is barracks of the 333rd regiment and the 98th battalion located in the CG map below?

Image
Last edited by Kim Sung on 08 Jun 2006 12:59, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Simon Orchard » 08 Jun 2006 12:54

Here's a good overview of the quantities of chemical agents produced by Germany.
http://www.prague2003.fsu.edu/content/pdf/232.pdf

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Post by Kamen Nevenkin » 08 Jun 2006 20:15

On 13 June 1942 Generaloberst Franz Halder made the following entry in his diary:

"General Oksner. Report on the participation of the chemical troops in the battle for Kerch. The attitude of the enemy states to the fighting poison gases. (An increasing interest.) Conditions of the antigas defence at Volkhov..."

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