Zyklon characteristics

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David E M
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Zyklon characteristics

Post by David E M » 17 Feb 2004 22:44

[This post was split from the "Japanese Nazis" thread]

Would it be true to say that Zyklon A and Zyklon B are almost identical?. Except Zyklon B has no smell?. I know natural gas has no odour, what you can smell is an induced chemical.
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xcalibur
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Post by xcalibur » 18 Feb 2004 03:55

Zyklon B is HCN gas. Approximately 30-65 % of people are unable to detect its signature odor which is that of "bitter almonds", depending on concentration. It may well have been that the manufacturer added a chemical, that is, odor marker to the comercial product as a safety precaution.
There are allegations that the marker was requested to be dropped in some shipments of the gas. I haven't seen conclusive proof for this assertion as yet, although I'm not sure it really proves anything: Once you've got folks in a gas chamber who cares what they smell?

Obviously at Belzec, etc, they were going to smell diesel fumes. Not any way to disguise that, so why bother ?

OTO, it may also be that there were other chemical constituents to the commercially available ZB that might have made the death throes more agonizing and that these were therefore requested to be dropped.

I'll have to talk to one of my "chemistry betters" and come back to this...

ChristopherPerrien
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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 18 Feb 2004 05:52

I'll have to talk to one of my "chemistry betters" and come back to this...



Working on a doctorate in Organic Chemistry, "betters"?

Any way me just being a "layman chemist". I have read (Ian Hogg's "Gas" 197?) that one of the first effects of "Prussic acid" is that it deadens the nasal nerves immediately so in any "good?" concentration it has no smell. i.e. Only trace concentrations can be smelled. Or unless a marker has been added.

As to the cyanide having a "smell of bitter almonds" that can be found in novels from the 1800's , so it is not some new marker smell, as back then the ideas of "risk-free world" and "deep-pocket liability" were non-issues, chemical markers for safety are a fairly recent idea.

michael mills
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Post by michael mills » 20 Feb 2004 13:51

Both Zyklon A and Zyklon B were insecticides containing Hydrogen Cyanide as the killing agent.

Zyklon A was a liquid, and was designed to be sprayed onto the item to be disinfested, eg onto fruit trees.

Zyklon B was a later development, designed to be safer to use than Zyklon A. The liquid HCN was adsorbed into a carrier, usually granules of diatomite, or cardboard tablets, or pieces of plaster, and sealed in cans.

When the cans were opened and the granules spread onto the floor of the area to be disinfested, the HCN began to evaporate as a gas, eventually reaching the lethal level. Since the gas evaporated slowly, the disinfestors could open the cans, spread the granules and get out of the area being disinfested before the HCN concentration in the air reached a dangerous level.

Zyklon B contained two warning agents, both irritants similar to tear gas. The first agent evaporated faster than the HCN; it would irritate the throat of any person in the area, warning him that the HCN gas was evaporating and becoming dangerous.

The second agent evaporated more slowly than the HCN, and remained in the air after the HCN had dispersed; it warned any person entering a disinfested building that HCN had been used there, and there might still be dangerous pockets lingering about.

A variant of Zyklon B without the warning agents was produced, for use with food and other items that could be damaged by the agents. Since that variant was far more dangerous to use than the normal variant, the cans containing it carried the warning "ohne Warnstoff".

Also, in the course of the war, the amount of the warning agent in the normal variant of Zyklon B was reduced due to wartime shortages, making its use more dangerous; accordingly, a circular was sent to the sanitation departments of all concentration camps, advising that the warning agent had been reduced and that greater precautions in the use of Zyklon B needed to be taken.

The idea had been spread that the variety of Zyklon B without the warning agent was developed for the purpose of homicidal gassing, but that is a canard. Any variant of Zyklon B or A can be used homicidally.

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Post by Dan » 20 Feb 2004 14:20

Two warning agents? Are you sure Michael? I thought only Chloropicrin was used. When I first graduated my company put me to work on a grandfather clause application for the continued use of Chloropicrin in the usually scentless Methyl Bromide that we use as a soil biocide. It was added both as a warning agent and as a synergant. A German firm sent me some data from the interwar years which involved measuring the length of dog's saliva at different concentrations. Germany was set up to produce this as they used it as a war gas in the first war. I've never heard of anything besides Chloropicrin used in Zyklon, though.

The stuff really does clear a room, I got too near a pipe leak one time and my chest contracted forcing the air out, and my eyes became very painful and watery.

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David E M
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Post by David E M » 20 Feb 2004 22:25

This is getting too deep for me, Mike seems to have his facts right though, I thought B was the same as A with the marker removed.
I have learned something - what a wonderful place this is.
Cheers guys and thanks.

pjoseph
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Re: Zyklon characteristics

Post by pjoseph » 22 Mar 2013 15:08

Maybe an unrelated question...

Is there any information on how much a can of Zyklon B cost? I have heard that in Crematoria 2,3 at Auschwitz they used about 6 cans worth. Also though on reading the witness testimony, there seems to be a consistent theme that "when there were not enough people to gas" they simply shot them singly, implying that Zyklon B was not cheap... ( ? )

Is there any cost information? Can it be converted to today's Euro or Dollars reliably?

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wm
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Re: Zyklon characteristics

Post by wm » 22 Mar 2013 17:25

The Polish Wikipedia says 5 Reichsmarks per kilogram in 1944. Just before the war it was an equivalent of 50 kg of potatoes, 1.5 kg of butter or 8 hours of low paid work.

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pacifritz
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Re: Zyklon characteristics

Post by pacifritz » 23 Mar 2013 21:55

I remember one of the survivors [possibly from Treblinka] in the epic SHOAH documentary recounting all the blue crystals everywhere on the concrete floor around all the corpses, the first time he was ordered to help dispose of the victims' bodies.

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Re: Zyklon characteristics

Post by pjoseph » 02 Apr 2013 22:57

Thanks for the info. on the costs.

Zyklon was not used in Treblinka, must be Auschwitz you are thinking off.

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wm
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Re: Zyklon characteristics

Post by wm » 03 Apr 2013 10:29

If I'm not mistaken a few years ago the price was €25 per kilo, cheaper if ordered in 180 kg drums.

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