The Diesel Gas Chambers: Ideal for Torture – Absurd for Murder

1. A Cause for Public Controversy[1]

The prosecution of the American citizen John Demjanjuk directed the public interest towards an aspect of the ‘Holocaust’ which had gone practically unnoticed before. Demjanjuk was accused of having murdered of at least 875,000 Jews with Diesel exhaust at the alleged extermination camp Treblinka in 1942/43.[2] Whereas before, it had been fixed in people’s minds that the National Socialists had murdered their victims primarily in gas chambers using hydrocyanic acid (Zyklon B), the notion that considerably more victims had been killed with Diesel exhaust now became more and more predominant. An article from the pen of one of the best-known American columnists – Patrick Buchanan, a former assistant to President Ronald Reagan – has remained highly controversial to this day. Buchanan disputed the claim that Diesel engines could kill people at all.[3] His sweeping statement was far too general to be correct and brought him massive criticism.[4]

In early 1992, a working paper authored by Walter Lüftl, President of the Federal Austrian Chamber of Engineers, described mass murder with Diesel exhaust as a “sheer impossibility“.[5] Shortly afterwards, he substantiated his view of the relative harmlessness of Diesel exhaust in an article[6] which was attacked by the opposing side.[7]

2. Introduction

In any trial of even the most ordinary murder, one can expect an abundance of information about the murder weapon. One would therefore expect the Allied and German post-war trials about murder – as novel and as bestially spectacular as the mass murder of millions of Jews in gas chambers – to provide the most extensive and precise documentation possible.

But although there is a vast literature, based in large part on those trials, including many ‘eyewitness accounts’ and ‘documents’ covering the most diverse aspects of the Holocaust story, nonetheless, as far as the actual mechanics of the extermination process are concerned, about all one ever finds is an occasional short and vague description.

More than fifty years have elapsed since the end of World War Two. The Holocaust specialists have had more than enough time and opportunity to examine documents and alleged mass murder sites as well as the testimony from the most extensive trials in the entire history of the world. Throughout this period they have certainly been active, and yet they have found little. Aside from a few bits and pieces of so-called ‘confessions’ and ‘eyewitness testimony’, they have, in fact, found next to nothing. The vast information gaps regarding the actual mechanics of the alleged extermination process should arouse the gravest suspicions.

The information gaps are bad enough; what is far worse is that the bits and pieces of information, which one does find are simply incredible. To characterize the alleged mass murder methodology as ‘hare-brained’, ‘crackpot’, or ‘weird’ is to understate the situation. The more one examines scientifically what little evidence there is, the more obvious it becomes that the people who repeat the Holocaust story in one form or another have no idea as to what they are talking or writing about. The testimony of the so-called eyewitnesses is especially weird. The statement by Kurt Gerstein, which for a long time was widely used by the Holocaust specialists, is probably the best example of such testimony, but all of the other ‘statements’ or ‘confessions’ are as bad, if not even worse.

The absurdities of the various alleged extermination methods do not in and of themselves prove that the Holocaust did not happen, but they should at least persuade reasonable people to ask for some strong corroborating evidence before they let themselves believe such a monstrous tale. That other evidence such as documents ordering the killing of Jews with gas, or hard physical evidence such as workable gas chambers – not just ordinary rooms that have been mislabeled – is totally absent should make it quite obvious that something is seriously wrong. The ‘gas chambers’ of Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor were all allegedly destroyed before the war ended. Those in Auschwitz and Majdanek as well as those in the camps in the Reich proper are ordinary rooms (mortuaries, shower rooms, delousing chambers) that have been labelled ‘gas chambers’ in spite of their obvious design and function.[8]

To concoct horrible, but conveniently vague, eyewitness accounts of mass murder is easy. To have such tales accepted about a defeated enemy nation after a brutal war during which the vast media resources of the victors had already succeeded in portraying the enemy as thoroughly depraved and wicked is also easy. On the other hand, it is not at all easy to explain how one could possibly commit mass murder with Diesel exhaust.

3. The Exterminationist Position

Table 1 is from The Destruction of the European Jews by Raul Hilberg, published in 1961. The table summarizes the views of practically all generally accepted, ‘consensus’ writers on the Holocaust story of the last 20 years. The camps listed are the only ones, which are today regarded as ‘extermination’ camps.

The fourth column from the left shows that in almost all of the camps, the killing operation supposedly used carbon monoxide, or CO. In Auschwitz the killing operation supposedly used only hydrogen cyanide, or HCN. Of the five camps where carbon monoxide was supposedly used, the vast majority of victims are said to have been killed in just three camps, namely Treblinka, Belzec, and Sobibor. It is in those three camps that the vast majority of CO-victims were allegedly killed. It is there that the carbon monoxide was supposedly generated by Diesel engines. The number of Jews who were supposedly killed in Kulmhof (Chelmno) or Lublin (Majdanek) are relatively small compared to the numbers for Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor. The gas vans supposedly employed in Russia also used Diesels.

On the basis of these numbers of victims, which are generally accepted today, one can say that nearly two-thirds half of all the alleged Jewish victims of German gas chambers were supposedly gassed with Diesel exhaust. In other words, the Diesel gas chambers are the most important gas chambers, in terms of the numbers of alleged victims.


Table 1: Characteristics of the Death Camps According to Raul Hilberg[9]




Type of Killing Operation

Number of Victims*



Higher SS and Police Leader (Koppe)

gas vans (CO)



Lublin district

SS and Police Leader

gas chambers (CO)



Lublin district

SS and Police Leader

gas chambers (CO)



Lublin district

WVHA (SS Economic-Administrative Main Office)

gas chamber (CO, HCN)



Warsaw district

SS and Police Leader

gas chambers (CO)



Upper Silesia


gas chambers (HCN)

one million[12]

*Updated figures were added here; cf. the appropriate notes.

For at least several months in 1939 and 1940, Diesel engines had supposedly been used in Germany as part of the euthanasia program to kill Germans who were feebleminded or incurably ill. The experience gained from this early use of Diesels for euthanasia was allegedly applied later by some of the same people involved with the euthanasia program, such as Reichsamtleiter Viktor Brack and Kriminalkommissar Christian Wirth, to kill Jews in Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor in eastern Poland. According to Hilberg, it was Wirth who constructed the “carbon monoxide gas chambers” for the euthanasia program on the orders of Brack, who was “actually in charge of the [euthanasia] operation.” Then in the spring of 1942, Brack ordered Wirth to Lublin where “Wirth and his crew immediately and under primitive conditions began to construct chambers into which they piped carbon monoxide from Diesel motors.”[13]

In the National Broadcasting Corporation’s television miniseries ‘Holocaust’, which was essentially a dramatization of the generally accepted Holocaust story, there were several references to the use of Diesel engines for mass murder. In one scene, Dr. Bruno Tesch, who in real life had been a highly qualified chemist and was hanged after the war by the Allies,[14] explains to Eric Dorf, a fictional SS officer administering the extermination program, that one of the advantages of Zyklon B over carbon monoxide is that Zyklon B “won’t clog machinery – and there’s no apparatus to break down, as in carbon monoxide.” In another scene, Rudolf Höß, the commandant of Auschwitz, is about to start a Diesel engine when Eric Dorf explains to him that he will not need the Diesel any more because he has ordered another substance, namely Zyklon B.

4. The Gerstein Statement

The statement of Kurt Gerstein remains a major cornerstone of the Holocaust legend. Gerstein was an Obersturmführer (First Lieutenant) in the SS and a mine surveyor by profession with a graduate degree in engineering. When he surrendered to the French, he supposedly gave them a prepared statement dated April 26, 1945. He had been elevated to the status of ‘righteous gentile’ by the Israelis and various Jewish writers for having at least tried to alert the world to the ‘Nazi’ extermination program. As H. Roques pointed out,[15] six different versions of the Gerstein Statement have been found to date, and published by various researchers often in grossly distorted and mutilated form.[16] However, since parts of Gerstein’s statements range from the fantastically incredible to the downright impossible, and since he allegedly committed suicide in a French prison after having offered himself in vain as an informer to the French, the trend in recent years has been to dissociate from him as ‘witness for the prosecution’. Nonetheless his statements are the only ones which give at least a few technical details of the alleged Diesel gassings.

The following text is an excerpt of the Gerstein Statement as given in the English translation in Harvest of Hate by Léon Poliakov. Aside from a rather brazen ‘error’ on the part of Poliakov, namely the claim that 700 to 800 bodies were crowded into 93 square meters (1,000 sqf) instead of only 25 square meters (269 sqf) which is the way the original document actually reads), it is probably no worse a translation than any of the other versions which can be found:[16]


“SS men pushed the men into the chambers. ‘Fill it up’, Wirth ordered; 700-800 people in 93 [sic; original claims 25] square meters. The doors closed. […]Then I understood the reason for the ‘Heckenholt’ sign. Heckenholt was the driver of the Diesel, whose exhaust was to kill these poor unfortunates.[17] SS Unterscharführer Heckenholt tried to start the motor. It wouldn’t start! Captain Wirth came up. You could see he was afraid because I was there to see the disaster. Yes, I saw everything and waited. My stopwatch clocked it all: 50 minutes, 70 minutes, and the Diesel still would not start! The men were waiting in the gas chambers. You could hear them weeping ‘as though in a synagogue’, said Professor Pfannenstiel, his eyes glued to the window in the wooden door.[18] Captain Wirth, furious, struck with his whip the Ukrainian who helped Heckenholt. The Diesel started up after 2 hours and 49 minutes, by my stopwatch. Twenty-five minutes passed. You could see through the window that many were already dead, for an electric light illuminated the interior of the room. All were dead after thirty-two minutes!

Jewish workers on the other side opened the wooden doors. They had been promised their lives in return for doing this horrible work, plus a small percentage of the money and valuables collected. The men were still standing, like columns of stone, with no room to fall or lean. Even in death you could tell the families, all holding hands. It was difficult to separate them while emptying the room for the next batch. The bodies were tossed out, blue,[19] wet with sweat and urine, the legs smeared with excrement and menstrual blood.”

It is not physically possible to crowd 700 to 800 people into a space of only 25 square meters, i.e., 28 to 32 people per square meter.[20] It was not a peephole through which Professor Pfannenstiel supposedly looked into the gas chamber – it was a window. And it was a window in a wooden door – not a gas-tight steel door as one might expect. Supposedly there were wooden doors on two sides of at least one of the gas chambers. We are told that the intended victims were still alive after almost three hours in the gas chambers before the Diesel even started, so there must have been many air leaks into the chambers or else the Jews would have been asphyxiated without the aid of any Diesel.

There is no mention anywhere of the intended victims trying to break out. Wooden doors with glass windows would hardly have held up against a united effort to break out. Surely Prof. Pfannenstiel, with ‘his eyes glued to the window’, would have noticed if some of the people had been trying to smash through. But nevertheless we are told that the victims had enough presence of mind to form groups of family members and hold hands and sufficient oxygen to weep.

Apparently Dr. W. Pfannenstiel, Professor of Medicine at Marburg, had been sent to Belzec and other camps as medical adviser to improve health care in the camps. After the war he was repeatedly interrogated regarding his visit with Gerstein to Belzec. He was charged in two cases, but never convicted. In his court-room statements, which we have available, he never directly disputed Gerstein’s account, but in a private letter he described the Gerstein Statement as “highly dubious rubbish in which ‘fantasy’ far outweighs fact.”[21] He also wrote that due to the persecution and slander to which he was exposed, he did not wish to comment further on the matter publicly. In other words, his acceptance of the Gerstein Statement during his interrogations may not have been because it was in fact correct,[22] but rather because Pfannenstiel wished to avoid further trouble.

According to the last sentence of the text quoted, the bodies of the victims were “blue“. Here we have a major flaw as far as the death-from-carbon-monoxide theory is concerned because victims of carbon monoxide poisoning are not blue at all. On the contrary, victims of carbon monoxide poisoning are a distinctive ‘cherry red’ or ‘pink’.[23] This is clearly stated in most toxicology handbooks and is probably well known to every doctor and to most, if not all, emergency medical personnel. Carbon monoxide poisoning is actually very common because of the automobile and accounts for more incidents of poison gas injury than all other gases combined.

The Gerstein statement, to its credit, makes no claim that carbon monoxide was the lethal ingredient in the Diesel exhaust. It is the exterminationists, i.e., the people who try to uphold the Holocaust story, who insist that death was due to the carbon monoxide in the Diesel exhaust. The recurrence of references to ‘bluish’ corpses in several other examples of so-called ‘eyewitness testimony’ from West German trials merely demonstrates the ‘copy-cat’ nature of much of that testimony. That such testimony has been accepted by West German courts specializing in Holocaust-related cases and by the Holocaust scholars, apparently without any serious challenge, merely demonstrates the pathetic shoddiness of those trials and of the ‘scholarship’ pertaining to the subject in general.

If the corpses had indeed appeared ‘blue’, death certainly would not have been due to carbon monoxide poisoning. A ‘bluish’ appearance could have been an indication of death from asphyxiation, i.e., from lack of oxygen. In this article we will investigate that possibility and we will see that in any Diesel gas chamber, although death from lack of oxygen is very unlikely, it is nonetheless far more likely than death from carbon monoxide.

According to Léon Poliakov, a French-Jewish historian who has written at length in support of the Holocaust story,


“[…] there is little to add to this description [the Gerstein Statement], which holds good for Treblinka and Sobibor as well as for the Belzec camp. The latter installations were constructed in almost the same way and also used the exhaust carbon monoxide gases from Diesel motors as death agents.”

According to Poliakov, more than a million and a half people were killed with Diesel exhaust.[24]

5. Toxic Effects of Carbon Monoxide

To investigate the Diesel gas chamber claim, the two most important questions are:

  • How much carbon monoxide is actually needed to kill a human being in half an hour?
  • Does Diesel exhaust ever contain that much carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide poisoning has been thoroughly studied since about 1920 when it was carefully examined in order to determine the ventilation requirements of tunnels for motor vehicles, particularly for the New York City metropolitan area in such tunnels as the Holland Tunnel. Since the early 1940s, it has been widely accepted on the basis of the research of Yandell Henderson and J. S. Haldane that given a normal oxygen content of the air, an average carbon monoxide concentration of ‘0.4% and above’, as shown on the last line of Table 2, is the amount needed to kill people in ‘less’ than one hour of continuous exposure.[25] Concentrations of 0.15%/vol. to 0.20%/vol. are considered ‘dangerous’, which means they might kill some people in one hour, especially if those people have, for example, weak hearts. But in order to commit mass murder in a gas chamber, one would require a concentration of poison gas sufficient to kill not merely a portion of any given group of people, but rather, sufficient to kill all.

The vagueness introduced by Henderson’s use of the term ‘less’ is unfortunate. It arises from the fact that although Henderson and others were able to test for non-lethal effects in a laboratory with a high degree of accuracy, the lethal effects could not be tested in the same way. The lethal effects and the corresponding CO levels were determined on the basis of careful extrapolation of carboxy-hemoglobin levels over time from non-lethal tests on humans and from some lethal tests on animals.

Although the test results for lethal effects are not as precise as one might wish, they are nonetheless sufficiently accurate to support some important conclusions about the Diesel gas chambers.

According to the exterminationists, the gassing was always done in about half an hour or less.[26]]

Table 2: Toxic Effects of Carbon Monoxide[27]

Parts of carbon monoxide per million parts of air

Carbon monoxide
in %/vol.

Physiological effects



Allowable concentration for an exposure of several hours

400 to 500

(0.04 – 0.05)

Inhalation for up to 1 hour without appreciable effect

600 to 700

(0.06 – 0.07)

Appreciable effect after exposure of 1 hour

1,000 to 1,200

(0.10 – 0.12)

Indisposition but no dangerous effects after exposure of 1 hour

1,500 to 2,000

(0.15 – 0.2)

Dangerous concentrations for exposure of 1 hour

4,000 and above

(0.4 and above)

Fatal in exposure of less than 1 hour

In order to determine how much carbon monoxide would be needed to kill in only half an hour, instead of a full hour, one can use the widely accepted rule of thumb known as ‘Henderson’s Rule’, which is:


%/vol. CO × exposure time = Constant for any given toxic effect.
In other words, for any given toxic effect, the poisonous concentration must be inversely proportional to the time of exposure. This means that to kill in half an hour, one would need twice the concentration that one would need to kill in a full hour. Applying this rule to the ‘0.4% and above’ needed to kill in ‘less than one hour’, we get 0.8%/vol. and above as the concentration needed to kill in less than half an hour.[28]

Applying the same rule to the 0.15 to 0.20%/vol. which is ‘dangerous’ for one hour of exposure, we get 0.3%/vol. to 0.4%/vol. as the amount of CO which is dangerous for half an hour of exposure.

What all this means is that to have any kind of practical gas chamber using carbon monoxide as the lethal agent, one would need an average concentration of at least 0.4%/vol. carbon monoxide, but probably closer to 0.8%/vol. We should keep ‘0.4% to 0.8%’ in mind as benchmark numbers to which we will refer shortly.

It is important to note that these data hold true only in the presence of a normal oxygen content of the air! If one were to reduce the oxygen content by half, for example – i.e., from the normal 21%/vol. to only 10.5%/vol. – then any given concentration of CO will have twice the effect. Then even a concentration of 0.2%/vol. would suffice to kill in one hour. So in order to determine the actual effectiveness of a given concentration of CO, it is necessary to see it in relation to the oxygen content present. To use the values shown in our tables and graphs, therefore, one must determine the CO content that would have the same effect with a normal oxygen level as the actual CO content with reduced-oxygen. This concentration, which we call the effective CO-concentration, or c(COeff), is determined by the actual CO-concentration (c(CO)) times the relation of the normal oxygen content (21%) to the actual oxygen content (x%/vol.):


c(COeff) = c(CO) × 21%/vol. O2
x%/vol. O2

Another important consideration is always the average concentration over the entire time of exposure, not some quantity of poison measured in pounds or cubic feet. In our current discussion this is a problem, since to determine the concentration one must know the volume of the fumigated room, which is not possible here due to the lack of information about for the alleged Diesel gas chambers. Neither is it possible to solve this problem by determining an absolute quantity of poison instead of a concentration value. The few data regarding gas chamber size, which we do have, for example from the Gerstein Statement, are so unbelievable that there is no point in trying to work from them.


Graph 1: Toxic effect of small amounts of carbon monoxide.[29]Left: original chart; right: additional values extrapolated by the author. (Click to enlarge)

Graph 1 gives the symptoms of various low-level carbon monoxide exposures as a function of time of exposure. The highest CO concentration discussed is 600 ppm (parts per million). 600 ppm is another way of saying 0.06%/vol. The chart shows that after one hour of exposure to an average concentration of 600 ppm of CO, one would experience a headache, but not a throbbing one. Even after 100 hours of exposure, the worst that one would experience would be unconsciousness, but not death. However, after only half an hour of exposure to 600 ppm, no symptoms are indicated at all – not even a mild headache. We should keep ‘0.06%’ in mind as another benchmark number to which we will refer later in this chapter.

To obtain more reliable data about the effects of a higher CO content in exhaust than those extrapolated here, one can consult accident and suicide statistics. Accident or suicide victims who died from carbon monoxide are frequently tested for the carboxy-hemoglobin (Hb× CO)[30] concentration in their blood.

What the National Socialists (actually or allegedly) wanted to achieve with their carbon monoxide gas chambers is called by toxicologists the ‘LD100’, the lethal dose for killing 100% of the victims. The concrete implications of this can be seen from the statistical analysis of a study of 100 deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Table 3 shows the Hb× CO levels of carbon monoxide victims from the 1950s.

In the literature of toxicology, 60% Hb× CO is generally cited as the fatal level (cf. Graph 1). According to Table 3, more than ¼ of all people would be dead at this concentration. Almost another 50% die at levels up to 70% Hb× CO, and the last quarter not until the concentration has increased up to 80% Hb× CO. So if one wanted to build an effective CO execution gas chamber which, in keeping with eyewitness testimony, kills everyone concerned within half an hour – even the young, healthy people with good nerves – then this chamber would have to reliably induce a level of 80% Hb× CO. An average CO content of 0.4% by volume in the gas chamber air would be the absolute minimum required (cf. Graph 1). In the following we shall see whether this concentration can be supplied by a Diesel engine.

6. The Diesel Engine

6.1. Introduction

Even though information as to the engine type and size would be considered essential in the investigation of any ordinary murder, such details are unfortunately too much to expect when one is dealing with the Holocaust. The most frequent claim is that the engines were Diesels from Soviet tanks.[32] In lieu of better information, one has to investigate the broader and more difficult question of whether or not any Diesel ever built could possibly have done the abominable deed.


Table 3: Hemoglobin-Carbon Monoxide Level of CO-Victims[31]


Age of Victims [years]

Hb× CO [%]

18-30 30-40 40-50 50-60 60-70 70-80 80-90 Sum






Total: 14 4 12 22 19 20 9 100

If Gerstein had claimed that the carbon monoxide was generated by gasoline engines, then his story would be more credible. Gasoline engines can indeed kill rather easily and with little or no warning because their exhaust is almost odorless. Although Diesel engines look very much like gasoline engines, at least to most people, they are actually quite different. Any mining engineer or mine surveyor, such as Gerstein was, should certainly have been able to easily distinguish between the two types of engines. For one thing, the sound of Diesels is so distinctive that almost anyone can with a little experience recognize them with his eyes closed.

Another peculiarity of Diesels is that when in operation they usually give warning of their presence – their exhaust generally smells terrible. The intensity of the smell or stench has no doubt given rise to the thoroughly false impression that Diesel exhaust must therefore be very harmful.

Although Diesel exhaust is not totally harmless, it is in fact one of the least harmful pollutants anywhere, except for some possible long-term carcinogenic effects which are totally irrelevant for the operation of a gas chamber to commit mass murder. Diesel emission levels have always been well within the current air emission standards of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency without requiring any modifications or accessories.[34] Diesels have always produced far less than 1%/vol. carbon monoxide, which is the current standard for all internal combustion engines. Gasoline engines have only met the same standard after many years of intensive research and after the addition of many complex accessories (catalytic converters) and engine modifications.


Graph 2: Comparison of carbon monoxide emissions from Diesel and internal combustion engines.[33] (Click to enlarge)

Graph 2 compares carbon monoxide emissions from Diesel and gasoline engines. The latter are sometimes also called spark ignition engines. Clearly the logical choice between the two types of engines as a source of carbon monoxide would always have been the gasoline engine. From spark ignition or gasoline engines, one can easily get 7%/vol. carbon monoxide, but from Diesel engines one can never get even as much as 1/2%/vol. with liquid fuels except during overloading.

Carbon monoxide emissions from internal combustion engines are commonly plotted as functions of air/fuel ratio or fuel/air ratio. Fuel/air ratio is merely the reciprocal of air/fuel ratio.[35] It has generally been accepted by the auto industry and by environmentalists that the CO level of Diesel exhaust is related chiefly to these ratios and not to other factors such as rpm.[36]

An air/fuel ratio of 100:1 for example, means that for every pound of fuel burned, 100 pounds of air are drawn into the engine. However, only about 15 pounds of air can ever react in any way chemically with each pound of fuel regardless of the air/fuel ratio or even the type of engine. This means that at an air/fuel ratio of 100:1 there are always about 85 pounds of air, which do not react. These 85 pounds of excess air are blown out of the engine without undergoing any chemical change at all. As far as the excess air is concerned, the Diesel engine is nothing more than an unusual kind of blower or compressor.

Gasoline engines always operate with an air deficit. As a result of this deficit, the reaction process in a gasoline engine can never go to completion; a relatively large proportion of carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide is always formed.

Diesels always operate with excess air. At idle, Diesels operate with air/fuel ratios as high as 200:1. At full load, the air/fuel ratio is only down to 18:1. Because of the abundance of air, there is always far greater opportunity for the fuel to burn to completion, thereby producing very little carbon monoxide as compared with gasoline engines. Also, what little carbon monoxide is produced in the cylinders of a Diesel is subsequently diluted even further by the excess air.

As soon as one understands of the differences between Diesel and gasoline engines, it becomes obvious that the logical choice as a source of carbon monoxide would always be the gasoline engine. The Diesel engine is always an inherently ludicrous choice as a source of carbon monoxide.

6.2. Divided Chamber Diesels

There are basically two types of Diesel engines: divided combustion chamber engines and undivided combustion chamber engines.

The divided chamber category of Diesel engines is generally subdivided into precombustion chamber designs and turbulent cell designs.

Graph 3 shows a pair of emission curves for Diesels with divided combustion chambers (Engine A and B).[37] These curves were the result of exceptionally careful and extensive tests made in the early 1940s in the United States by the U.S. Bureau of Mines to determine whether or not Diesel engines could operate in underground mines without endangering miners.[38] The conclusion of the U.S. Bureau of Mines as stated in many reports throughout the intervening years has always been that Diesels may operate underground in non-coal mines subject to USBM approval of the engines and the mechanical arrangements in which the engines are employed. Today, Diesels are used in U.S. coalmines also.

The lower curve in Graph 3 is for a pre-combustion chamber Diesel engine (Engine A). The upper curve is for a turbulent cell Diesel engine (Engine B). The lowest fuel/air ratio always corresponds approximately to idle and a ‘no-load’ condition. At idle, neither of these types of Diesels could produce enough carbon monoxide to even give a headache after half an hour of continuous exposure.

As one starts to impose loads on these engines, thereby in effect increasing the fuel/air ratios, the carbon monoxide levels actually decrease at first. Only as one approaches full load, represented by the solid heavy line in the figure, do the carbon monoxide levels rise significantly to a maximum of 0.1%/vol. at a fuel/air ratio of 0.055. The solid vertical line represents the safe maximum set by engine manufacturers.

Graph 3: CO emissions from two different types of Diesel engine: a precombustion chamber Diesel (A), a turbulent cell Diesel engine (B).[38] (Click to enlarge)

Graph 4 (bottom): CO emissions from an undivided chamber Diesel engine (C)[39](Click to enlarge)

Graph 5: Composition of the exhaust from combustion engines.[41] The heavy vertical line marking a fuel/air ratio of 0.055 (air/fuel ratio 18:1) has been added by the author. (Click to enlarge)

6.3. Undivided Chamber Diesels

The emission curve in Graph 4 (Engine C) shows that an undivided chamber Diesel still produces only about 0.03%/vol. carbon monoxide at idle, which is not enough to cause a headache after half an hour of exposure.[39] However, as increasing loads are imposed on such an engine, the carbon monoxide levels do eventually rise rather sharply, and at full load, represented by the heavy vertical line, the carbon monoxide level is indeed at about 0.4%/vol. In other words, here we have a Diesel which looks as if it could have been used to commit mass murder in half an hour.

The problem for this engine, and for all Diesels, is that to operate at full load continuously for long periods, such as half an hour at a time, would involve severe risks of fouling and damage from accumulated solids inside the cylinders. If operating at lower and safer fuel/air ratios than 0.055 (air/fuel ratio 18:1), which would also be lower loads, the carbon monoxide emission levels drop very dramatically. For example, at 80% of full load, which is generally regarded as the safe maximum for continuous operation and which occurs at a fuel/air ratio of about 0.045 (air/fuel ratio @ 22:1), the carbon monoxide level is only 0.13%.

That the emission curves in Graphs 3 and 4 are indeed typical of all Diesel engines over the last fifty years is attested to by the fact that these particular curves have been referred to in countless journals and books on Diesel emissions to this very day. In other words, there are no better examples of Diesel emissions. To be sure, there are many other test results, which one can find in reputable automotive journals such as the Society of Automotive Engineers Transactions. But if one takes the trouble to look through the SAE Transactions of the last fifty years, as well as through other journals, one will not find any examples of worse carbon monoxide emissions than the curve in Graph 4 for engine C. Our analysis of engine C represents the worst case that can be found anywhere for any Diesel engine.[40]

6.4. Oxygen in Diesel Exhaust

Is it possible that the Jews in the gas chambers died from the effects of reduced oxygen levels in the Diesel exhaust? Such a theory would at least be consistent with the claim that the corpses were “blue“. A bluish coloring to certain parts of a corpse is indeed a symptom of death from lack of oxygen in the absence of CO. However, this theory is not very likely, because the victims would then have had to suffocate in the gas chambers without any gassing.

Diesels normally operate with a great excess of air. Normal air contains 21%/vol. oxygen. In Graph 5 (previous page) we see that the oxygen concentration corresponding to idle in the exhaust of any Diesel engine (divided or undivided chamber), shown at the right of the Graph at an air/fuel ratio of 100:1 (fuel/air ratio 0.01), is 18%, which is just a few percent less than one finds in normal air.[41]At full load, which corresponds to an air/fuel ratio of 18:1 (fuel/air ratio 0.055), the oxygen concentration in the exhaust of any Diesel engine is 4%.

Probably the best discussion of the effects of reduced oxygen levels, or asphyxia, is provided by Henderson and Haggard, according to whom an oxygen content of less than 10%/vol. causes loss of consciousness, and one of less than 6%/vol. is fatal.[42] According to Haldane and Priestley, “air containing less than 9.5 per cent of oxygen would ordinarily cause disablement within half an hour.”[43]Disablement is still not death.

Clearly there is no magic number below which death would occur, or above which life would continue. However, for any gas chamber relying upon reduced oxygen as the killing method, one would have to reduce the oxygen to below 9.5%/vol. – perhaps even below 6%/vol. It is also clear that the effects of any given oxygen level are also dependent on the CO level, exactly analogous to the relationship that has already been shown for the effective CO-concentration (Section 5).

From Graph 5 we see that to reduce the oxygen concentration in the exhaust to just 9%, any Diesel would have to operate at a fuel/air ratio of about 0.04 (air/fuel ratio 25:1), which corresponds to about 3/4 of full load. To reduce the oxygen concentration to as low as 6%, a Diesel would have to operate at close to full load. In other words, any Diesel gas chamber relying on the reduction of oxygen as a killing method would have to operate at more than 3/4 of full load.[44]

From the above it should be obvious that over most of their operating ranges, Diesels discharge sufficient oxygen so that one can literally inhale pure Diesel exhaust and survive on the oxygen in the exhaust. From idle to at least 3/4 of full load, Diesel exhaust contains sufficient oxygen to sustain human life for at least half an hour.

6.5. Combined Effects of Carbon Monoxide and Reduced Oxygen

Table 4 shows the carbon monoxide levels, for various load ranges, of the Diesel engine type with the worst emission values, i.e., Engine C from Graph 4. Since the oxygen content of the exhaust decreases with increasing load, it too must be considered, as already set out in the previous. The relation between the O2 content in the exhaust and the normal oxygen content of the air (21%) produces the aforementioned factor FO2 with which the actual CO content must be multiplied in order to determine the toxicologically effective CO content (see Section 5).

This shows that the desired, high effective CO content that guarantees the death of all the victims within half an hour (‘0.4 to 0.8%’) can only be attained near full load.


Table 4: Effective CO-Content of Diesel Exhaust[45]

Load range

Fuel/Air (Air/Fuel) Ratio

O2Content [%/vol.]

COmaxContent [%/vol.]


COeff[%/vol.] at 21%/vol. O2

Full load

0.055 (18:1)
0.05 (20:1)

Heavy load

0.04 (25:1)
0.033 (30:1)

Partial load

0.029 (35:1)
0.025 (40:1)

Light load

0.0167 (60:1) 16.0 0.050 1.31 0.066


0.01 (100:1) 18.0 0.060 1.17 0.070

6.6. Engine Loading

Merely to impose a substantial load on any engine is far from easy. For example, if one has a truck, a full load can be imposed on the engine by first filling the truck with a heavy cargo and then racing the vehicle up a steep hill at maximum speed with the accelerator to the floor. Under that condition one would probably be putting out about 0.4%/vol. CO from the exhaust pipe if the truck’s engine were an undivided chamber Diesel. However, if the truck is parked in a driveway, it is far practically impossible to impose any significant load on the engine. Simply ‘racing’ the engine with the transmission in neutral will put no more than a few percent of load on the engine. Letting the clutch slip and stepping on the accelerator may impose a somewhat greater load on the engine – but the clutch will rapidly burn out. Jacking up the rear end of the vehicle and applying the brakes while racing the engine will impose a somewhat greater load – but the brake linings will rapidly burn out.[46]

The only way to realistically impose a significant load on any engine is by attaching to the engine some kind of brake dynamometer or other loading device, such as a generator with an electrical load.

Brake dynamometers could have become available and the Germans must have had many, but they are hardly the kind of equipment that one finds in typical auto repair shops even today. They are generally only available in well-equipped engineering testing laboratories. They cost much more than the engine to which they are attached, since they are not mass-produced.

An electric generator arrangement seems more plausible since Treblinka and Belzec would have needed electricity, even if only to keep the barbed wire charged and the lights burning, and also because in those days the rural areas of these camps in eastern Poland were probably not connected to a public power supply. However, such an arrangement suggests a continuous operation of both the generator and the Diesel engine, which is contrary to the Gerstein Statement. According to that statement, the engine had to be started just for the gassing. There is nothing in the statement to even remotely suggest that the engine served any other purpose than to kill Jews. If it had had a dual purpose, for example to also drive a generator, one could have expected some comment about the lights going on as the gassings began – but there is nothing of the sort. In fact, eyewitnesses for the Treblinka camp claim that the same building where the ‘gassing Diesel’ was housed also contained a second engine which operated independently of the first and which supplied electrical power to the camp.[47] In other words, these accounts specifically show this generator not to be related to those engines that were allegedly used to produce poison gas, just as accounts of the poison gas engines never suggest any other, continuous use of those engines. On the contrary: accounts describing the engine being started, the command given to the engine operator to start the engine – “Ivan, water!” (Treblinka) – or similar events for Belzec (“Heckenholt Foundation“) appear not only in the Gerstein Statement, but run like a central theme through all of the eyewitness literature.

From documents of the Central Construction Management of Auschwitz (Zentralbauleitung), we know that the SS provided this camp with emergency power facilities as back-up in the event of power failure from the public network, and that these emergency power facilities were German Diesel engines with 440 hp continuous capacity for 250 kW current generators.[48] In other words, the witnesses state explicitly that the power facilities were constantly running under some load in Treblinka due to the lack of a power connection to a public network, and that these engines operated in addition to the gassing engines, which were put into operation only sporadically. This is already an indication that something is wrong with this story. Anyone with any expertise would have used the exhaust of the generator engine which was already in operation and running under load, instead of trying to use an additional engine for gassing purposes, especially a Russian tank engine which would have been impossible to repair in the event of break-down.

6.7. Artificial Reduction of Oxygen

An effect similar to engine loading can be attained by ‘choking’ the air supply to the engine.[49] In their toxicological studies, Pattle et al. used this method to simulate a Diesel engine running under load because sufficient loading of the engine in stationary operation required too much equipment and expense. The engine operating at idle and under light load had produced no CO poisoning at all of the test animals.[50] However, with a constricted air supply the engine was difficult to start, and fired only unreliably after starting; it operated properly only after a warm-up period. The CO content of the exhaust never exceed the 0.22%/vol. benchmark. After purging the experimental gas chamber repeatedly with the exhaust, the authors exposed 40 mice, 4 rabbits and 10 guinea-pigs to the exhaust. The animals took 3 hours and 20 minutes to succumb to CO poisoning.[51]

The killing time in this experiment might have been reduced a little if the air intake of the engine were reduced further after a warm-up period. However, to kill the animals within half an hour after the start of the gas inflow,[52] i.e., easily 7 times as fast as in the experiment described, the CO content would have to have been increased to at least 0.4%. The massive reduction in air intake required to achieve this, however, would no doubt negatively affect the engine firing to such a degree that it would stall. Thus, reducing the air intake is also not a viable solution to our problem.

As Table 4 shows, the CO content of 0.22%, which was used throughout the entire gassing time in this animal experiment and which could not be increased further, corresponded to an effective CO content of 0.77%/vol. at 21%/vol. oxygen, or operation at the lower end of the full load range. But despite this high concentration, which should have killed all the animals in half-an-hour based on our theoretical analysis given earlier, the last of the 54 laboratory animals took three hours and 20 minutes to die![50] This shows that even a constant effective concentration of 0.77%/vol. CO is unable to kill all victims within half an hour.

6.8. Diesel Smoke

One characteristic of Diesel engines is that they tend to smoke, especially at low air/fuel ratios. This is not due to any inherent inefficiency of Diesels. On the contrary, Diesels are as a rule extremely efficient. The smoke is primarily the result of the nature of Diesel combustion and the heavier fuels, which are used – as compared with gasoline engines.

The solid heavy lines in Graph 3-6 represents the smoke limit that manufacturers have found necessary to protect their engines from excessive wear. As a practical matter, a Diesel cannot be operated to the right of the vertical lines in Graphs 3 and 4 (fuel/air ratio of 0.055 = air/fuel ratio of 18:1) with liquid fuels because the internal accumulations of smoke solids would destroy the engine within a short time and would stall the engine.[53] Many manufacturers are more conservative and limit their engines to fuel/air ratios below below 0.050.

Diesel engines can operate safely at fuel/air ratio above 0.055 (air/fuel ratios below 18:1) only if they are burning a clean gaseous fuel. This is the only way to avoid the buildup of solid material within the cylinders. The data shown to the right of the vertical line were only gathered because the researchers at the U. S. Bureau of Mines chose to test engines for theoretical reasons with gaseous fuel far beyond the normal (manufacturer recommended), full load settings of the respective engines.[54] The data for clean gaseous fuel is irrelevant to our analysis because if the Germans had had a gaseous fuel for the Diesel engines – for example, pure CO – they could have sent that gas directly to the gas chamber. Using a Diesel engine as some kind of intermediate step would have made no sense at all. Such an arrangement could only have made the gas far less toxic. Since carbon monoxide is highly combustible, any carbon monoxide going into the Diesel would have been largely consumed within the engine.

Graph 6: Liquids and solids exhausted from engine per hr, and measured smoke.[55] The heavy vertical line marking a fuel/air ratio of 0.055 (air/fuel ratio 18:1) has been added by the author. (Click to enlarge)

Diesel smoke contains a liquid phase and a solid phase. The liquid phase generally gets blown out of the engine with the exhaust and, therefore, does no harm to the engine. But if enough solid material is also produced, and rapidly enough, some of that material will accumulate in the cylinders where in just a few minutes it can severely damage the piston rings and valves and cause the engine to simply self-destruct and stop. The amount of solids produced by Diesel engines increases dramatically just below a air/fuel ratio of 18:1 (fuel/air ratio > 0.055). For this reason, manufacturers as a rule equip the fuel injection pumps with stops so that the engines can only operate above 18:1 or 20:1 (below 0.055 or 0.050).

Operating any Diesel engine near the maximum load recommended, regardless of the particular design or engine type, would have produced significant amounts of smoke. Smoke is generally also noticeable immediately after start-up, even at idle or under light load, when the engine has not yet had time to reach its normal operating temperature.

Pattle et al. have found that an engine running at less than half load and producing 0.22%/vol. CO also produces extremely pungent, tear-inducing smoke which, if piped into a gas chamber, would reduce visibility to a mere foot or so.[50]

It should be no great surprise that there is no mention of any smoke from the Diesel – black, white, dense or otherwise – anywhere in the Gerstein statement or in any of the postwar trial testimony. Can we really believe that the Jews allegedly locked in the gas chambers would have patiently withstood this irritant?

6.9. Aldehydes, Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrous Oxides and Hydrocarbons

There are other pollutants in Diesel exhaust besides carbon monoxide. These are primarily aldehydes (OCHR), sulphur dioxide (SOSO2), nitrous oxides (NOx, max. 0.1%), and hydrocarbons (CxHy). The smell or stench for which Diesel engines are notorious is caused by trace amounts of certain hydrocarbons and aldehydes which the most modern analytical instruments can barely identify, let alone measure. The sensitivity of the human nose to these compounds is, however, extremely high and out of all proportion to the actual quantities present. Some of the hydrocarbons contained in the exhaust are carcinogenic and thus represent a potential long-term hazard, but they are irrelevant to our study.

The sulphur dioxide content of the exhaust, which can be fairly high for sulphurous fuels, causes irritation of the respiratory tract, but these irritations cannot become critical within the time frame at issue here.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), if present in high concentrations, can cause edema of the lungs after half an hour’s exposure, but it is fatal only after about 24 hours.[56] One-time, brief exposure to the lower concentrations of NO2 merely causes irritations of the lungs and mucous membranes, as do any sulphur oxides potentially present, so that we do not need to consider them further. Nitrogen monoxide (NO), on the other hand, has physiological effects similar to CO.[57] Unlike CO, however, its concentrations decrease with decreasing oxygen concentrations in the combustion process, i.e., with higher load, and do not attain any levels critical to health.[58] Furthermore, NO converts quite rapidly to NO2,[59] so that the NO concentration enhances the effects of the CO in the exhaust only imperceptibly.

The peroxide-(ozone-)forming effects of nitrous oxides near ground level as well as the carcinogenic components of Diesel exhaust were the reason that Diesel engines have recently also been subjected to strict emission guidelines. They supposedly pose a danger to human respiration. This is why the studies conducted in Germany of health hazards posed by Diesel exhaust were almost entirely confined to analyses of the proportions of smoke solids and non-combusted hydrocarbons.[60]

6.10. Carbon Dioxide

If the Jews were not killed with carbon monoxide or from a lack of oxygen, could they have died instead from the effects of carbon dioxide? Carbon dioxide is not any more poisonous than ordinary water. Most toxicology handbooks do not even mention it. When mentioned at all, it is generally classified as a ‘non-toxic, simple asphyxiant’. There are occasional accidental fatalities where carbon dioxide is directly involved. Death in almost all such cases is caused by a lack of oxygen. The lack of oxygen arises from the fact that the carbon dioxide is much heavier than oxygen and will, especially in an enclosed space, displace oxygen in the same way that water will displace air in the lungs of a drowning man. The actual cause of death in either situation is not the carbon dioxide or the water, but rather the lack of oxygen in the blood. One symptom of this kind of death is a bluish appearance of the skin.

Carbon dioxide can be beneficial and therapeutic.[61] It is commonly used in clinical medicine as a harmless stimulant for respiration. For this purpose it is supplied under pressure in cylinders (Carbogen) containing oxygen and 7%/vol. carbon dioxide.[62] Normally, when a person exhales, the air leaving the lungs contains about 5.5%/vol. carbon dioxide.

Levels of 3%/vol. carbon dioxide are quite tolerable for exposures lasting several days. For example, in the 1950s the U. S. Navy experimented with gas mixtures containing 3%/vol. carbon dioxide and 15%/vol. oxygen, i.e., 25% less oxygen than in normal air, for use in American submarines with exposures lasting up to several weeks.[63]

For Diesel engines, the carbon dioxide level at or near idle is only about 2%/vol. and gradually increases to about 12%/vol. at full load as shown in Graph 5 (page 447). A carbon dioxide level of 12%/vol. may cause cardiac irregularity and may therefore be dangerous for people with weak hearts.[64] In contrast to Diesels, gasoline engines already produce 12%/vol. at idle. In general, if enough oxygen is available, a carbon dioxide level even as high as 12%/vol. is not likely to cause death. It is generally accepted that only carbon dioxide concentrations greater than 20 to 30%/vol. are dangerous.[65] However, when the carbon dioxide level is as high as 12%/vol. in Diesel exhaust, the corresponding oxygen level is dangerously low.

The real danger to life from Diesel exhaust arises not from any secondary components, but strictly from the combined effects of CO and reduced oxygen.

7. Diesel Gas Chamber Operation

7.1. The Concentration of Poison Gas

If the exhaust pipe from a Diesel engine is connected to a gas chamber, the carbon monoxide concentration will initially be extremely low and the oxygen level will be high. (Since the doors of a gas chamber had to be opened to remove victims already killed and to allow the next intended victims to enter, fresh air had to enter the chamber also.) As the Diesel engine starts and as more and more Diesel exhaust fills the gas chamber, the carbon monoxide concentration will gradually rise to the same level as one finds directly inside the exhaust pipe of the Diesel engine, without ever exceeding that level.

It is impossible to determine from the Gerstein Statement how long it would have taken before the CO concentration in the gas chamber equalled that in the exhaust because Gerstein does not provide nearly enough information about the engine or alleged gas chamber in Belzec.

We do have somewhat better information for Treblinka. The eyewitness statements that have been gathered and published to date about the gas chambers there are numerous indeed, albeit contradictory at times. However, it is generally alleged that the larger and thus the more important of the two gas chamber buildings in Treblinka consisted of 10 chambers. Each chamber measured 8 m in length, 4 m in width and 2 m in height, totalling 320 m2 in area and a volume of 640 m3. The chambers were allegedly filled with the exhaust from only one Russian Diesel tank engine of 38.86 l cubic capacity.[66] The total area of 320 m2 could not have held more than 3,200 persons at one time.[67] Given an average body volume of 75 l, these people would have taken up a space of 240 m3, leaving about 400 m3 air volume.

The Russian Diesel tank engines of those days had a maximum speed of 2,000 rpm.[68] Since a four-stroke engine discharges the contents of its cylinders only every second revolution, an engine running at this speed blows an exhaust volume of one thousand times its cubic capacity into the chamber per minute, i.e., 38.86 m3. Therefore, after a little more than ten minutes enough exhaust would have been discharged to replace the entire air volume of the gas chambers only once. The eyewitnesses claim that the gas chambers were sealed hermetically, in other words, they were air-tight,[47] but this is impossible, since there must have been some openings through for the excess gas to escape.[69] However, since not only the fresh air would have escaped through holes or cracks, but some of the Diesel exhaust as well, and since the victims would have consumed some of the carbon monoxide by their respiration, a two-fold replacement of the room volume with Diesel exhaust seems reasonable to fill the chamber entirely with the exhaust. At 2,000 rpm, therefore, one cannot expect that the CO content of the chamber would have reached the level of the exhaust itself in anything under 20 minutes after the start of the gassing procedure. If a reduction of air intake had produced a 0.24%/vol. CO content in the exhaust in the worst case, then the average CO concentration in the chamber would have approximated 0.12%.[70] The full 0.24%/vol. CO would have been available for no more than the last ten minutes of the gassing, which took 30 minutes at most. However, neither the 20 minutes at 0.12%/vol. on average, nor the additional 10 minutes at 0.24%/vol. CO, suffice to kill human beings in such short time periods.

In the animal experiment previously described,[50] a real CO concentration of 0.22%/vol. which was already established at the start and which, considering the reduced oxygen content, corresponded to an effective CO concentration of about 0.77%, took more than three hours to kill all of the test animals. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that in a similar gassing attempt with human subjects and with an only gradually increasing CO concentration, the majority of the people locked into the alleged gas chambers would still be alive after one or even two hours. This result would have been a fiasco.

7.2. Noise and Vibration

In addition to their smoke and smell, Diesel engines are notorious for their intense noise and vibration. Because of their higher compression ratios, lower rpms, and the type of combustion, the amount of vibration that Diesels produce is substantially greater than that of any comparably sized gasoline engine. The noise and vibration are among the major reasons why Diesels have not generally been used in automobiles.

If the 12-cylinder, V-type Diesel engine from a typical Soviet T-34 tank with a rated capacity of 500 hp had been mounted on the floor of a small building and had been operated for half an hour at more than 3/4 of full load, i.e., at more than 375 hp, then the noise and vibration would have been at least as noteworthy and as wildly spectacular as the wailing of any Jews – and yet, there is no mention of any such noise or vibration in the Gerstein Statement or in any of the post-war trial testimony.

7.3. Diesels for Mass Murder?

Without expert understanding of the basic characteristics of Diesel engines, the method that would have come to mind most readily for any would-be mass murderer would have been to simply mount a Diesel engine on the floor of a building and direct the exhaust into some adjoining rooms without any provisions for artificial load on the engine. Such an arrangement would have annoyed the hell out of any group of intended victims, but would have given them nothing worse than a headache. The headache would have been due to the stench and smoke and noise but certainly not to carbon monoxide or to lack of oxygen. As a method for committing mass murder it would have been a complete failure.

For any Diesel arrangement to have been even marginally effective for mass murder, it would have required an exceptionally well-informed team of individuals to know and do all that was necessary. They would have had to be familiar with the carbon monoxide and oxygen emission curves for their particular engine. Such information is probably not known even today by most engineers. The Diesel gas chamber designers would also have had to know either 1) how to impose and maintain an engine load of more than 3/4 of full load on their engine since anything less would just not have been enough, or 2) how to combine the artificial reduction of the oxygen supply with a certain degree of engine loading to achieve the same effect. If they had overloaded the engine, or had operated it for too long at or near full load (more than 80% of full load is generally considered unsafe for continuous operation), they might after each gassing have had to overhaul and perhaps replace the engine because of fouling and damage from engine smoke. Merely to gather and assemble the appropriate equipment, including the equipment for imposing and controlling an artificial load, would have been a major undertaking which would have required the expertise of experienced engineers, not just ordinary auto mechanics. The mounting of the engine (500 hp!) on the floor of the building would have required a proper foundation with some provision to isolate vibrations so as to avoid tearing the building apart.

The all-important question is: if any persons had been smart enough and resourceful enough to know and do all that was necessary to make a workable Diesel gas chamber, then why would they have bothered with a Diesel engine in the first place? For all their efforts they would have had a gas chamber, which would still have been only marginally effective at its morbid task. For all their efforts they would have had an average concentration of less than 0.4%/vol. carbon monoxide and more than 4%/vol. oxygen. Any common, ordinary gasoline engine without any special attachments would easily have given them ten times as much carbon monoxide at idle as any comparably sized Diesel at full load, and this fact is and was well know by all engineers! Any common, ordinary gasoline engine would easily have given them 7%/vol. carbon monoxide and less than 1%/vol. oxygen. If one had tampered with the carburetor, one could have had as much as 12%/vol. carbon monoxide by merely turning one small screw, namely the idle-mixture adjustment screw. Comparing the two types of engines with both operating at idle or under light load, the difference is even more dramatic. At idle or under light load any common, ordinary gasoline engine without any special attachments would easily have given more than one hundred times as much carbon monoxide as any comparably sized Diesel.

The Diesel gas chamber story is incredible on these grounds alone. However, the story becomes even more incredible when one discovers that far better sources of carbon monoxide, better even than gasoline engines, were readily available to the Germans. Those other sources did not require either Diesel fuel or gasoline.

8. Half a Million Poison Gas Generators on Wheels – Never Used for the Mass Murder!

During World War Two most European countries relied for most of their non-military vehicular transport upon vehicles which used neither gasoline nor Diesel, but burned solid fuels such as wood, coke, or coal instead. The solid fuel, which was generally wood, was first converted into a mixture of combustible gases by burning in a generator, usually mounted at the rear of the vehicle. The gases were then withdrawn from the generator by engine suction and burned in a modified gasoline or Diesel engine located at the front of the vehicle. The combustible gas produced in this way always contained between 18%/vol. and 35%/vol. carbon monoxide. But the exhaust of engines operated with this gas never contained more than 0.3%/vol. CO, since nearly all of the CO was consumed in the engine.[71]

In German-speaking parts of Europe, these vehicles were called Generatorgaswagen, or simply Gaswagen. If they burned wood, which most of them did, they were also called Holzgaswagen, which translates literally as ‘woodgaswagons’. In English-speaking countries these vehicles were generally called ‘producer gas vehicles’. However, they could just as appropriately have been called ‘poison gas vehicles’, because that is precisely what they were – the gas they produced was extremely poisonous. The operation of these vehicles required special safety procedures as well as special government-approved training and licensing of the many hundreds of thousands of drivers who drove these vehicles daily throughout most of the war in German-occupied Europe.[72]

Every driver of a producer gas vehicle was required to know and comply with the following guidelines and to keep them at hand in the vehicle:[73]

Illustration 1: A typical gaswagon which had originally been a conventional bus but which was subsequently retro-fitted with a gas-generator and a Saurer engine.[74]


“Safety Guidelines for Producer Gas Vehiclesdated November 28, 1942.

The gas from the gas producing facility contains up to 35% carbon monoxide (CO). Carbon monoxide can be fatal at concentrations as low as 0.1% when inhaled. For this reason – especially while starting the fire or during refilling – there is a danger of poisoning!

Start and refill the gas producer only out-of-doors! Do not linger unnecessarily near the blower discharge. Do not let engines run in garages.

Responsibilities of the supervisor and driver:

All persons who work with producer gas generators are required to learn and conform to the necessary procedures for a safe and orderly operation. The manufacturer’s operating instructions must be strictly followed and kept available within the vehicle. Furthermore, these safety guidelines must also be kept with the vehicle documents for each producer gas vehicle. […emphasis as in original]”

Illustration: 2: Saurer BT 4500 with producer gas generator.[76] A Saurer truck similar to this type allegedly was used for mass murder in Kulmhof/Chelmno – not with producer gas, but incredibly with its exhaust gas.[87]

Illustration 3: Austro-Fiat 4 D 90 A, producer gas generator as standard fitting.[76]

Illustration 4: Another German war-time producer gas truck form Saurer (Type 5 BHw)

Wherever possible, liquid fuels had to be reserved for the military, at least for the duration of the war. But this poison gas technology would also be useful when peacetime returned. The interest with which even Adolf Hitler himself followed the developments in producer gas technology is demonstrated by the following statement, made by him on the occasion of a demonstration of Mercedes-Benz heavy goods vehicles with Mercedes-Benz gas producers for coal:[75] 

“Vehicles of this kind will retain their special significance after the war as well; for given the trend towards increasing motorization, we will never have a surplus of liquid fuel and will always be dependent on imports. The additional domestic fuels thus benefit our own national economy.”

As early as autumn 1941 some 150,000 generator vehicles were in use in Germany and the areas controlled by her; the conversion of these vehicles to this fuel source resulted in a monthly savings of about 45 million liters of liquid fuel. The goal was “to free every bit of dispensable fuel for the Wehrmacht.[77] By the end of the war the total number of producer gas vehicles in the then German-occupied parts of Europe had risen to more than 500,000.[78]

On May 30, 1942, Reichsmarschall Göring established a “Generator Central Office” for his Four-Year Plan, with the task


“to boost generator production, to determine new types on the basis of the fuel situation at hand, to develop new solid fuels for use in the generator, and to develop suitable processes for preparation and low-temperature carbonization etc.”[79]

Göring stated:[80]


“I refer to the explanations in my aforementioned decree, regarding the urgency of making Germany as well as the occupied territories and dependent lands largely independent of liquid fuel as quickly as possible, and would ask you to vigorously support the efforts of the Central Office through the increased use of generators.”

Illustration 5The Imbert-Generator was the most widespread producer gas generator of the Third Reich, here in mass production on an assembly line in Cologne 1943.[81]

As the war continued, conversion to solid fuel became more and more pressing. On September 22, 1942, Reich Minister Speer, acting in his capacity as plenipotentiary for armament matters (GBRüst), ordered the conversion of all medium and heavy goods vehicles and omnibuses in all German-occupied regions.[82] One year later the GBRüst’s amendment of September 13, 1943 eliminated all exemptions. Now the conversion of all civilian vehicles was mandatory.[83] After the war, in a long report about German oil production, the U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey stated that even some of the best German tanks, 50 Königstiger, had been operated with producer gas just before the war’s end.[84]The vast number of producer gas vehicles in use throughout German-occupied Europe, as well as the fervor with which the Germans developed new vehicles and uses for this gas technology, are facts which undermine the Holocaust story as a whole. If the Germans had ever intended to commit mass murder with carbon monoxide, they would without a doubt have employed this superb gas technology long before they would ever have used anything as idiotic as Diesel exhaust.

Eichmann and the other ‘transportation experts’ who were involved in the ‘total solution of the Jewish problem’, which indeed was primarily a transportation problem, would certainly have been fully aware of these vehicles and their unique properties. For example, each generator had a startup blower which was operated with either a small electric motor or by hand. It would have been ridiculously easy to attach a hose or the like to the exhaust of the blower in order to channel poison gas into a cellar, a barracks or a prison -, but nowhere in all the extensive Holocaust literature is any such technology even suggested.

And all this despite the fact that this selfsame producer gas technology with its highly poisonous carbon monoxide gases actually was used in the Third Reich to gas rats and other vermin. According to the public health literature from the Third Reich, this fumigation technology, produced and distributed by the firm of Nocht-Giemsa, was “very common.[85] And yet, no one thought of using this obvious, practical, effective, simple and cheap technology on humans!

Illustration 6: German war-time producergas generator made by Kromag

9. Gas Vehicles for Mass Murder?

9.1. The Diesel Vans of Chelmno

The gas generator vehicles are not the same as the ‘gas vans’ that were allegedly used for mass murder in Chelmno and by the Einsatzgruppen in Russia, despite the ironic circumstance that the word used in German for both kinds of vehicles is sometimes the same. According to all the ‘evidence’ that has been submitted, the murderous ‘gas vans’ were ordinary heavy goods vehicles whose Diesel exhaust, generated in idle, was allegedly used as lethal gas. On the whole, the ‘gas vans’ story is built on a strange document known as IMT Document PS-501 and which in my scientific opinion is a fake. It is based on an innocuous letter from SS-Untersturmführer Becker to SS-ObersturmbannführerWalther Rauff. This letter mentions modifications to an S-vehicle[86] of unknown use and purpose. It seems to have been rewritten, and endowed with several changes in content so as to give it incriminating significance. Further, there are several different versions of this ‘document’, which has been critically assessed in the present volume by Ingrid Weckert.[87]

9.2. Origins of the Diesel Story

The Diesel murder probably originated in mid-1943 Soviet propaganda. A short time earlier, the German discovery of the massacre of Katyn had exposed the Soviets’ true colors as ruthless murderers of innocents. Moreover, the Germans had openly invited internationally renowned forensic scientists so that these could perform their own examinations of the victims of Katyn.[88]

To avenge themselves on the Germans for the embarrassment of Katyn, the Soviets staged show trials a few months later in Char’kov and Krasnodar. In the course of these trials the unfortunate German prisoners provided ‘confessions’. However, the Soviets denied any and all non-Soviet experts access to the alleged sites of the massacres. At the start of these trials the Soviets accused the Germans of having driven civilians into the countryside in Diesel trucks. After these trucks containing the victims were parked, the Diesel engine exhaust was allegedly piped into the interior, and the victims expired shortly thereafter.

In this scenario – given the worst possible case – the Diesel engines would have only been operating at fast idle. The CO concentrations under such conditions would hardly have sufficed to cause a headache in half an hour.

Some of these trucks were said to have been manufactured by the firm of Saurer.[87] The ironic part of this tale is that even before the war, Saurer was arguably the manufacturer of the world’s best and most efficient producer gas trucks. During the war, this Swiss-Austrian firm continued its lead in the heavy vehicle market over the firms of Mercedes, Opel and Ford, who were also manufacturing producer gas vehicles. More than 6,000 Saurer trucks were built during the war, and most, if not all of them were operated with producer gas and Diesel. How absurd it is that anyone with even a minimum of technical understanding should have tried to use the exhaust from these trucks for murder, when the fuel itself was a thousand times more lethal!

Illustration 7: Design of an Ostmark producer gas generator. (Click to enlarge.)

A television series, produced during the collapse of the Soviet Union and aired in the United States in 1993, provided further insight into the Soviet origins of the gas vans tale. The four-part broadcast was titled “Monster: A Portrait of Stalin in Blood.” At one point in the second part, entitled “Stalin’s Secret Police“, KGB officer Alexander Michailov claims that the gas trucks were invented in Moscow by Isai Davidovich Berg – no relation to this author – and were already in use a few years before the war. According to Michailov, these may have served as a model for Hitler’s SS and the Gestapo. The air-tight trucks probably used exhaust high in CO; Diesel engines were not mentioned. This is easily explained, since all pre-war trucks in the Soviet Union had only gasoline engines. There were no Diesel engines, since the entire transportation system in the USSR was based on earlier, western engine types such as that of Ford Motor Co. More than likely the Soviet allegations of gas trucks are based on the Soviets’ own mass murder technology, to which they added Diesel engines so as to make them seem even more sinister and, most of all, to make their origins appear ‘more German’.

The gas van story is merely an adaptation by the Holocaust propagandists of some documentary materials relating to the perfectly innocent use of producer gas vehicles, supported of course by appropriate ‘eyewitness’ testimony generated after the war. It is within the gas van story that one clearly sees in miniature the evolutionary process of the larger, general Holocaust story.

10. An Empire Built On Coal, Air and Water

In addition to the producer gas technology, the Germans had the world’s most advanced coal gasification technology.[89] One of the first steps in the coal gasification processes was to produce carbon monoxide from coal. The carbon monoxide could then be used either as fuel or as an intermediate step in the synthesis of other products.


“War-time Germany was an empire built on coal, air and water. 84.5% of her aviation fuel, 85% of her motor fuel, more than 99% of all her rubber, 100% of her concentrated nitric acid – the base substance for all military explosives – and 99% of her no less important methanol were synthesized from these three raw materials. […] Coal gasification facilities, where coal was converted into producer gas, were the body of this industrial organism.”[90]

Illustration 8: German war-time
producer gas coach.

Illustration 9 (below): widespread German war-time logo for producer gas technology

Because of Germany’s isolation from adequate sources of petroleum and natural rubber, she had already converted much of her industry during World War One to use coal as a substitute source of hydrocarbons for making synthetic liquid fuels as well as a vast assortment of chemical substances, including synthetic rubber. Millions of tons of carbon monoxide were produced as part of this technology and would have been more than enough to kill the entire population of Europe many times over.

Coal gasification plants were located in all of Germany’s industrial regions. One region containing several such plants was Silesia, where the abundance of coal had for more than a century been the basis of that region’s industry. One Silesian facility was the I. G. Farben plant at Auschwitz, a small portion of whose carbon monoxide could easily have been diverted through a small pipeline to Auschwitz-Birkenau only a few miles away. But no one alleges that carbon monoxide was ever used for mass murder at Auschwitz although that would have been an ideal place for it. For mass murder at Auschwitz, the Germans supposedly used a completely different substance: Zyklon B.[91]

11. The Failure of Scholarly Evasion

A marvellous attempt at evasive action took place almost fifteen years ago in the Holocaust story. A prominent group of Holocaust ‘scholars’ tried to drop the Diesel claim by not even mentioning the engine type any longer or, alternately, by referring only to gasoline engines. This amazing transmutation took place in the book Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas, published in Germany in 1983.[92] The book represents the state of Holocaust mythomania in the first half of the 1980s and was recommended by the World Jewish Congress in London.[93]

The clumsy juggling of evidence, which characterizes this book, is shown by the fact that although the Gerstein Statement refers to Diesel engines four times, the portion, which is quoted in this supposedly definitive rebuttal of the Revisionists, does not mention the Diesels at all, nor does it even describe the alleged killing process.[94] For a description of the killing process that Gerstein supposedly witnessed, the book gives a piece of post-war testimony by Dr. Pfannenstiel in which there is also no mention of the use of Diesels, but only of the use of Diesel fuel in the engine.[95]How one could possibly have operated a gasoline engine with Diesel fuel is, of course, left to the imagination. The fact is that any gasoline engine simply would not operate with Diesel fuel (and vice versa).

A fatal flaw in this intermediate, non-Diesel version is the retention of the recurrent claim that the corpses were ‘blue’. Although any possible death from Diesel exhaust would have been due to lack of oxygen, which would in turn have caused a bluish appearance of the corpse, death from gasoline engine exhaust would ‘only’ have been due to carbon monoxide and could ‘only’ have caused a distinctive ‘cherry red’ or ‘pink’ appearance. Although Pfannenstiel’s post-war testimony is generally less wild than the Gerstein Statement, nonetheless he and other ‘eyewitnesses’ also repeated the claim that the corpses were ‘blue’.[96]

Anyone who reads the complete Gerstein Statement critically must realize that this ‘statement’ poses grave problems for the revised version of the Holocaust tale. That this ‘statement’, even in a severely and fraudulently abbreviated form, was included in Massentötungen at all only shows how desperately the Holocaust scholars are scraping together anything and everything to support their monstrous fantasy. They have precious little. The ‘Gerstein Statement’ is still their best evidence.

The new ‘revised’ version of the Holocaust story is even more absurd than the old version. Although it might be remotely possible for an engineer to mistake a gasoline engine for a Diesel engine, how could anyone mistake ‘red’ for ‘blue’? Perhaps they were all color blind?

The Diesel gas chamber claim is rubbish – apparently some of the Exterminationists, including Raul Hilberg, recognize that now. However, the alternate claim that gasoline engine exhaust was used instead is rubbish also, since it contradicts the only ‘evidence’ that is available, namely the statements of the witnesses. For this reason the Holocaust pundits have returned to the old story: the 1993Enzyklopädie des Holocaust[97] agrees with the Jerusalem verdict[98] about Demjanjuk’s alleged crimes in Treblinka as well as with the findings of German courts:[99] They were Diesel engines![100]

12. Conclusion

It must be conceded that it would have been theoretically possible to commit the deeds alleged for Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor with Diesel engines. However, it would have required an inordinate amount of expertise and determination as well as technical apparatus to impose or simulate sufficient load on the Diesel engines – which is not even remotely indicated by the eyewitness testimony. Even if all these conditions had been met, the would-be murderers would ultimately have had an arrangement which at best (worst?) would still have been only marginally effective at its morbid, hours-long task. No doubt: it would be hard to imagine a mass murder method more awkward and more inefficient than this one. Even if it is conceivable that some deranged minds had tried for a time to commit murder with Diesel exhaust, after a few tries it would have become apparent to even the most demented fiend that something better was needed.

Illustration 10: New Russian Word admits frankly: The Revisionists have the “air superiority”; Diesel exhaust is unsuitable for mass murder! Here the issue of February 28, 1995: “Ideology Holocaust” (Проверка Катастрофой. Click to enlarge.)

If the ‘Nazis’ ever had intended to commit mass murder with CO, then they would doubtless have availed themselves of the ubiquitous producer gas technology. Five hundred thousand wood gas vehicles are the incontrovertible proof that the Diesel claim is absurd and unbelievable.

Eventually, the Establishment historians might be ready to accept the “sheer impossibility” (Lüftl[6]) to commit mass murder with Diesel exhaust. At least according to Novoje Russkoje Slowo (New Russian Word),[101] a New York daily newspaper edited by and for emigrated Russian Jews, the world’s most renowned Holocaust historian Prof. Raul Hilberg is quoted as follows:


“The Nazis did not manufacture soap from human fat, and did not kill their victims with Diesel exhaust. All these rumors were circulated in 1942, but we have the duty to thoroughly separate these rumors and fabrications from the facts and truth. Little lies provide fodder for the deniers and act against us.”

Ultimately, the burden of proof for the mass gassing allegations must be on the accusers. Until now, their best evidence for CO gassings has failed to meet the most basic standards that credible evidence must pass to satisfy reasonable people.



[1] This chapter is an expanded and revised edition of F. P. Berg’s article “The Diesel Gas Chambers – Myth Within a Myth“, The Journal of Historical Review (JHR) 5(1) (1984), pp. 15-46 (online:
[2] The history of, and public reactions to this travesty of justice are described in the following chapter by A. Neumaier.
[3] New York Post, March 17, 1990; The Washington Times, March 19, 1990; repeated on “This Week with David Brinkley“, ABC television, Sunday, Dec. 8, 1991.
[4] The New Republic, Oct. 22, 1990; G. F. Will, Newsweek, March 4, 1996.
[5] Cf. the chapter by W. Rademacher, this volume, as well as afp, “Österreicher bestreitet Holocaust“, Süddeutsche Zeitung, March 13, 1992, p. 10; Neue Kronenzeitung, April 20, 1993; “Ein rauhes Lüftl“, Bau 5/1995, p. 8; “Rechte Gutachten“, Profil, June 20, 1994; E. Kosmath, letter to the editor, Bau 11/1994; ARA, “Lüftl wieder in Kammer, ‘Schwieriges Problem’“, Standard (Vienna), Sept. 19, 1994.
[6] W. Lüftl, “Sollen Lügen künftig Pflicht sein?“, Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 41(1) (1993), pp. 13f. (online:
[7] J. Bailer, in Brigitte Bailer-Galanda, Wolfgang Benz, Wolfgang Neugebauer (eds.), Wahrheit und Auschwitzlüge, Deuticke, Vienna 1995, pp. 99-118, here 100-107; cf. G. Rudolf, “Zur Kritik an ‘Wahrheit und Auschwitzlüge’“, in Vrij Historisch Onderzoek (ed.), Kardinalfragen zur Zeitgeschichte, Vrij Historisch Onderzoek, Postbus 60, B-2600 Berchem 2, 1996, pp. 91-108, here 98-102 (online:; English:
[8] Cf. the chapters by G. Rudolf, this volume.
[9] R. Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, Quadrangle Books, Chicago 1961, p. 572; German ed.: Die Vernichtung der europäischen Juden, Olle & Wolter, Berlin 1982, p. 604.
[10] Updated with information from the official German Institut für Zeitgeschichte (Institute for contemporary History).
[11] Maximum figure given by F. Golczewski in W. Benz, Dimension des Völkermords, Oldenbourg, Munich 1991, p. 495.
[12] From 9 million to 680,000, depending on the source. At the moment, 1 million is the officially espoused figure; cf. the chapter by G. Rudolf and E. Gauss, this volume.
[13] R. Hilberg, op. cit. (note 9), Eng. ed. p. 562.
[14] William B. Lindsey, “Zyklon B, Auschwitz, and the Trial of Dr. Bruno Tesch”JHR 4(3) (1983), pp. 261-303 (online:
[15] H. Roques, Faut-il fusiller Henri Roques?, Ogmios Diffusion, Paris 1986 (cf. online: ACHR/ACHR.a.html); abbrev. German ed.: H. Roques, Die “Geständnisse” des Kurt Gerstein, Druffel, Leoni 1986 (online:; cf. D. Felderer, JHR 1(1) (1980), pp. 69-80; D. Felderer, JHR 1(2) (1980), pp. 169-172 (online: & …/2/Felderer169-172.html); C. Mattogno, Il rapporto Gerstein – Anatomia di un falso, Sentinella d’Italia, Monfalcone 1985; cf. Raul Hilberg, “Expert’s admission: Some gas death ‘facts’ nonsense“, Toronto Sun, Jan. 17, 1985.
[16] An example of gross distortions is L. Poliakov, Harvest of Hate, Schocken Books (Holocaust Library), New York 1979, p. 195 (French ed.: Bréviaire de la Haine, Calman-Levy, Paris 1951, pp. 220ff.).
[17] According to Y. Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, University Press, Bloomington 1987, p. 123, the real name of this Heckenholt was Lorenz Hackenholt. Besides Hackenholt, Arad is claiming that Ivan Demjanjuk was the one in charge with operating the Diesel gas chambers in Treblinka, ibid., p. 86. In light of the disastrous outcome of the Demjanjuk affair it is now obvious that most of the eyewitness accounts used by Arad are not worth much. It appears that Arad’s book, published when the Demjanjuk case was not yet settled, is nothing else than a propaganda work for influencing the public.
[18] This sentence is missing from the version given by H. Rothfels (ed.), “Augenzeugenberichte zu den Massenvergasungen“, Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 1 (1953), pp. 177-194. Instead, Rothfels substituted: “A strictly personal observation then follows.
[19] Version T2, H. Roques, op. cit. (note 15), German ed. p. 57.
[20] Even closely crowded, 10 people per square meter are the maximum; cf. E. Neufert, Bauentwurfslehre, Vieweg, Wiesbaden 1992, p. 27; cf. U. Walendy, Historische Tatsachen no. 29, Verlag für Volkstum und Zeitgeschichtsforschung, Vlotho 1985, p. 12: 46 persons will fit onto the 4.44 m2 load area of a heavy-goods vehicle, according to Quick, April 25, 1985.
[21] Letter from Pfannenstiel to P. Rassinier, dated Aug. 3, 1963, published in W. Stäglich, U. Walendy, “NS-Bewältigung“, Historische Tatsachen no. 5, Historical Review Press, Southam (GB) 1979, p. 20.
[22] Theory of E. Nolte in Streitpunkte, Propyläen, Berlin 1993, pp. 309f.
[23] Regarding the toxicology of carbon monoxide, cf. e.g.: W. Forth, D. Henschler, W. Rummel, K. Starke, Allgemeine und spezielle Pharmakologie und Toxikologie, 6th ed., Wissenschaftsverlag, Mannheim 1992, pp. 756ff.; S. Kaye, Handbook of Emergency Toxicology, C. C. Thomas, Springfield 1980, pp. 187f.; C. J. Polson, R. N. Tattersall, Clinical Toxicology, Lippincott, Philadelphia 1969, pp. 604-621.
[24] L. Poliakov, Harvest of Hateop. cit. (note 16), p. 196. Further typical and fundamental sources that speak of the use of Diesel engines include: W. Grossmann, Die Hölle von Treblinka, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow 1947: death occurred within 10-20 minutes due to tank engine exhaust, sometimes also due to vacuum and steam; Eliahu Rosenberg, Tatsachenbericht, Jewish Historical Documentation, Dec. 24, 1947, p. 4: mass murder with Diesel engine exhaust within 20-35 minutes (published in H. P. Rullmann, Der Fall Demjanjuk, Verlag für ganzheitliche Forschung und Kultur, Struckum 1987, pp.133-144); World Jewish Congress et al. (eds.),The Black Book: The Nazi Crime Against the Jewish People, New York 1946; reprint by Nexus Press, New York 1981: no fewer than 3 million victims in Treblinka due to carbon monoxide from tank engines, sometimes also due to vacuum and steam.
[25] W. Braker, A. L. Mossman, Effects of Exposure to Toxic Gases, Matheson Gas Products, East Rutherford 1970, p. 12; 2nd ed., D. Siegel, Lynhurst, N.J., 1977.
[26] According to the eyewitness statements in E. Kogon, H. Langbein, A. Rückerl et al. (eds.), Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas, Fischer, Frankfurt/Main 1986, p. 159 (E. Fuchs, 10 mins.), p. 167 (K. A. Schluch, 5-7 mins.), p. 174 (K. Gerstein, 18 mins.), p. 181 (A. Goldfarb, 20-25 mins.), the gassing procedure allegedly sometimes took much less time; in accordance with Gerstein: Matthes, in H. P. Rullmann, op. cit.(note 24), p. 167: 30 min.
[27] Y. Henderson, H. W. Haggard, Noxious Gases, Reinhold Publishing, New York 1943, p. 168.
[28] F. E. Camps, Medical and Scientific Investigations in the Christie Case, Medical Publications Ltd., London 1953, p. 170.
[29] P. S. Myers, “Automobile Emissions – A Study in Environmental Benefits versus Technological Costs“, Society of Automotive Engineers Transactions 79 (1970), section 1, paper 700182, p. 662.
[30] Hb× CO – hemoglobin-carbon monoxide compound, the compound formed by CO and blood hemoglobin, whereby the oxygen (Hb× O2, oxyhemoglobin) becomes displaced.
[31] Keith Simpson (ed.), Taylor’s Principles and Practice of Medical Jurisprudence, J. & A. Churchill, London 1965, pp. 366f.
[32] The Soviets used gasoline engines (in models BT, T 28, T 35) as well as, after the mid-1930s, Diesel engines (in models T 34, KW Ia, KW II) in their tanks; the heavy Diesel engine of the T 34, model “W2“, was a V12 cylinder Diesel (undivided chamber) with 550 hp, 38.86 l cubic capacity and a maximum 1900 rpm; cf. Augustin, Motortechnische Zeitschrift 5(4/5) (1943), pp. 130-139; ibid., 5(6/7) (1943), pp. 207-213; ibid., 6(1/2) (1944), p. 40; and H. Scheibert, Der russische Kampfwagen T-34 und seine Abarten, Podzun-Pallas Verlag, Friedberg 1988. Sometimes Diesel engines from submarines are also mentioned: Jochen von Lang, Eichmann Interrogated, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, New York 1983, p. 75 (German ed.: Das Eichmann-Protokoll, Severin und Siedler, Berlin 1982, p. 72), mentions a Russian submarine; see also Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, Reclam-Verlag, Leipzig 1990, p. 181, who quotes a statement Eichmann made during the trial. The absurdity of alleging the use of a large submarine engine in the heart of Poland shows just how much stock should be put in such testimony.
[33] David F. Merrion, “Effect of Design Revisions on Two Stroke Cycle Diesel Engine Exhaust“, Society of Automotive Engineers Transactions 77 (1968), paper 680422, p. 1535.
[34] In Germany as well, the emission levels from Diesel engines have always been below the threshold values set by the Federal Emissions Regulation. This is why Diesels were the only kind of engine to be exempt from the mandatory use of catalytic converters until 1994.
[35] M. A. Elliott, R. F. Davis, “Composition of Diesel Exhaust Gas“, Society of Automotive Engineers Quarterly Transactions 4(3) (1950), p. 345. Unfortunately, some of the following graphs use air/fuel, some fuel/air ratios, so we are forced to use them both here. An air/fuel ration of 18:1 equals a fuel/air ration of 0.055 (20:1 = 0.05, 25:1 = 0.04, 33.3:1 = 0.03 …)
[36] J. C. Holtz, “Safety with mobile Diesel-powered equipment underground“, Report of Investigations No. 5616, U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, Washington, D.C., 1960, p. 67; cf. Holtze, R. W. Dalzell, “Diesel Exhaust Contamination of Tunnel Air“, ibid., 1968.
[37] In the past 50 years the data used for Graph 3 and 4 have been repeatedly used in the technical literature by numerous engineers. This shows, on the one hand, how reliable the data are that were used for this graph. On the other hand it also underlines the nature of this data as the worst possible emission curves of Diesel engines. Two earlier works which drew on this data are: H. H. Schrenk, L. B. Berger, “Composition of Diesel Engine Exhaust Gas“, American Journal of Public Health 31(7) (1941), p. 674; and Martin A. Elliott, “Combustion of Diesel Fuels“, Society of Automotive Engineers Quarterly Transactions 3(3) (1949), p. 509.
[38] While the experiments involved, and their purpose, were discussed in numerous articles, the paper by J. C. Holtz, op. cit. (note 36), is probably the best.
[39] Data taken from: M. A. Elliott, R. F. Davis, op. cit. (note 35), p. 333.
[40] D. Pankow, Toxikologie des Kohlenmonoxids, VEB Verlag Volk und Gesundheit, Berlin (East) 1981, p. 24, also states that Diesel engines under full load do not produce more than 0.4% CO by volume; in this context of interest the Israeli expert opinion of Prof. Dr. Eran Sher, Handbook of Air Pollution from Internal Combustion Engines: Pollutant Formation and Control, Academic Press, Boston 1998, p. 288: “Although carbon monoxide (CO) emissions are regulated, they will not be considered here, as the Diesel engine combustion process by definition inhibits the production of CO.
[41] Edward F. Obert, Internal Combustion Engines and Air Pollution, Intext Educational Publishers, New York 1973, p. 361.
[42] Y. Henderson, H. W. Haggard, op. cit. (note 42), pp. 144-145.
[43] J. S. Haldane, J. G. Priestley, Respiration, Yale UP, New Haven 1935, pp. 223-224.
[44] Note: The composition of exhaust gasses is almost independent from the rpm’s of the engine. The rpm’s simply determine how much gas is produced. If the rpm’s are lower, for the same fuel/air ratio the whole process will take longer.
[45] Based on the data from Graphs 3 and 4.
[46] When testing the emissions of Diesel engines, engineers usually impose load on the engine without any further equipment by simply using the inertia of the engine. Accelerating an engine running with no load from low to high revolutions in a few seconds causes the fuel/air ration to increase for a very short time. This suffices to measure the engine’s exhaust composition under load, but certainly wouldn’t be suitable for mass murder.
[47] E. Fuchs, in E. Kogon et .al. (eds.), op. cit. (note 26), p. 163: “[…] I set up a light machine in the extermination camp there, so that the barracks can be lit electrically […]”; E. Roosevelt, A. Einstein et al. (eds.), The Black Book of Polish Jewry, Roy Publishers, New York 1943, pp. 142ff.: murder by means of steam, Diesel engines for supplying power. Cf. also A. Donat (ed.), The Death Camp Treblinka, Holocaust Library, New York 1979, p. 157, as well as the verdict of the Düsseldorf District Court in the Treblinka Trial, Ref. 8 I Ks 2/64, p. 300; Y. Arad, op. cit. (note 17), p. 42.
[48] Kostenüberschlag über Notstromaggregate für K.G.L., Central Construction Management of the Waffen-SS and Police of Auschwitz, O./S., Oct. 26, 1942.
[49] Since, unlike gasoline engines, Diesel engines have no carburetor, and hence no idle-mixture adjustment screw, the fuel-air mixture cannot be altered in this way.
[50] R. E. Pattle, H. Stretch, F. Burgess, K. Sinclair, J. A. G. Edginton, British Journal of Industrial Medicine 14 (1957), pp. 47-55, here p. 48. Martin Pägert ( [The Nizkor Project]) writes correctly that some animals did die in experiments even at light and partial load, but he withholds the fact that death occurred only after very many hours and due to various symptoms, such as edema of the lungs, which were not induced by CO; cf. Section 6.9.
[51] Martin Pägert, (note 50), uses the article by R. E. Pattle to underpin his view that it would have been possible to commit the mass murder with the Diesel engines, but he studiously avoids any mention of how long this experiment took!
[52] In the experiment by R. E. Pattle et al., op. cit. (note 50), the animals were put into a space already primed with the gas, but in our case the gas had yet to begin gradually filling the room! This is yet another factor which Martin Pägert, op. cit. (note 50), withholds from his readers in his incorrect calculations.
[53] Cf. the experiment by R. E. Pattle et al., op. cit. (note 50).
[54] It is interesting to note that some people cite this data as proof that it is possible to attain high CO-levels with Diesel engines: cf. Martin Pägert, op. cit. (note 50). What is not mentioned, however, is that this is possible only with special, gaseous fuels, not with Diesel fuel.
[55] M. A. Elliott, R. F. Davis, op. cit. (note 39), p. 345.
[56] W. Forth et al., op. cit. (note 23), pp. 760ff.; M. Daunderer, Klinische Toxikologie, 33rd supplement 1/88, ecomed, Landsberg 1988, pp. 1ff.
[57] W. Forth et al., op. cit. (note 23), pp. 761, 765; M. Daunderer, Klinische Toxikologie, 34th supplement 2/88, ecomed, Landsberg 1988, pp. 1ff.
[58] Cf. R. E. Pattle et al., op. cit. (note 50), p. 50.
[59] J. Falbe, M. Regitz (eds.), Römpp Chemie Lexikon, v. 5, Thieme, Stuttgart 1992, pp. 4314f.
[60] R. Kühn, K. Birett, Merkblätter Gefährlicher Arbeitsstoffe, 69th supplement 11/93, Technische Regeln für Gefahrstoffe (TRGS) 554: “Dieselmotoremissionen“, ecomed, Landsberg 1993; ibid., 61st supplement 9/92, TRGS 102, Technische Richtkonzentrationen (TRK) für gefährliche Stoffe, pp. 93ff.; L. Roth, M. Daunderer, Giftliste, 23rd supplement 2/86, TRGS 102, ecomed, Landsberg 1986, pp. 51ff.
[61] L.J. Meduna, Carbon Dioxide Therapy, C. C. Thomas, Springfield 1958, pp. 3-19.
[62] J.D.P. Graham, The Diagnosis and Treatment of Acute Poisoning, Oxford UP, London 1962, pp. 215-217.
[63] L.T. Fairhall, Industrial Toxicology, Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore 1957, p. 180.
[64] M. Daunderer, Klinische Toxikologie, 32nd supplement 21/87, ecomed, Landsberg 1987, p. 1.
[65] J.M. Arena, Poisoning: Toxicology – Symptoms – Treatments, C. C. Thomas, Springfield 1979, p. 243; J.D.P. Graham, op. cit. (note 62), p. 216.
[66] Cf. A. Donat (ed.), op. cit. (note 47), pp. 34, 157ff., and the Treblinka verdict of Düsseldorf, ibid., p. 300ff.; Y. Arad, op. cit. (note 17), p. 119f.; J.-F. Steiner, Treblinka, Stalling, Oldenburg 1966, p. 173. Regarding the engine type, cf. note 32.
[67] J.-F. Steiner, op. cit. (note 66), p. 173, speaks of 200 people per chamber. J. Wiernik (in A. Donat, op. cit. (note 47), p. 161), on the other hand, fantasizes about 1,000 to 1,200 per chamber, whose area he gives as 7 × 7 m, in other words more than 20 people per square meter. Y. Arad, op. cit. (note 17), pp. 120f., puts a maximum of 380 but an actual estimate of up to 300 people into each chamber, and at times speaks of only 6 chambers, not 10.
[68] Augustin, Motortechnische Zeitschrift 5(4/5) (1943), pp. 130-139.
[69] The resultant excess pressure would have exploded the chamber after only a few minutes; cf. the chapter by A. Neumaier, this volume.
[70] Assuming a linear increase in the CO content.
[71] H. Bour, I. McA. Ledingham, Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Elsevier, Amsterdam 1967, p. 2.
[72] The German technical automotive literature of that time is chock full of material about this technology that has been so completely forgotten today. For an introductory overview, cf. Automobiltechnische Zeitschrift 18 (1940) and 18 (1941). Cf. also E. Eckermann, Alte Technik mit Zukunft: Die Entwicklung des Imbert-Generators, Oldenbourg, Munich 1986.
[73] H. Fiebelkorn, Behandlung und Instandsetzung von Fahrzeug-Gaserzeugeranlagen, W. Knapp, Halle 1944, p. 189; cf. 2nd ed., ibid., 1948.
[74] W. Oerley, “Entwicklung und Stand der Holzgaserzeuger in Österreich, März 1938“, Automobiltechnische Zeitschrift 11 (1939), p. 314.
[75] A. Hitler, July 15, 1940, quoted from W. Ostwald, Generator-Jahrbuch, 1942, J. Kasper & Co., Berlin 1943, p. 79.
[76] Walter J. Spielberger, Kraftfahrzeuge und Panzer des österreichischen Heeres 1896 bis heute, Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 1976, pp. 207, 213.
[77] W. Ostwald, op. cit. (note 75), pp. 41f.
[78] E. Eckermann, op. cit. (note 72).
[79] E. Hafer, Die gesetzliche Regelung des Generatoren- und Festkraftstoff-Einsatzes im Großdeutschen Reich, J. Kasper & Co., Berlin 1943, p. 15.
[80] Letter from H. Göring to the Reich Economic Minister, the Reich Transportation Minister, the Commanders-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht units, the Chief of the Wehrmacht Supreme Command, the Reich Ministers for Armament and Munition as well as for the occupied eastern territories, according to E. Hafer, op. cit. (note 79), p. 17.
[81] Motortechnische Zeitschrift, Nr. 6/7, 1943, p. 3A.
[82] E. Hafer, op. cit. (note 79), p. 36.
[83] E. Hafer, op. cit. (note 79), supplement, p. 35a.
[84] U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey, The German Oil Industry Ministerial Report Team 78, War Department, Washington, D.C., 1947, p. 73.
[85] L. Gassner, “Verkehrshygiene und Schädlingsbekämpfung“, Gesundheits-Ingenieur 66(15) (1943), p. 175.
[86] S” stood for standard drive via the rear wheels, as opposed to the A-vehicles with all-wheel drive and the special vehicles abbreviated as Sd.-Kfz; cf. W. Spielberger, Spezial-Panzer-Fahrzeuge des deutschen Heeres, Motorbuch-Verlag, Stuttgart 1977, pp. 153f.; W. Spielberger, Die Halbkettenfahrzeuge des deutschen Heeres, 2nd ed., ibid., 1984, pp. 170f.; W.J.L. Davies, German Army Handbook 1939-1945, Arco, New York 1981, p. 90.
[87] Cf. the chapter by I. Weckert, this volume.
[88] F. Kadell, Die Katyn-Lüge, Herbig, Munich 1991.
[89] Cf. esp.: W. Gumz, J. F. Foster (Battelle Memorial Institute), “A Critical Survey of Methods of Making a High BTU Gas from Coal“, Research Bull. No. 6, American Gas Association, New York 1953; further detailed references are given there.
[90] U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey, Oil Division Final Report, War Department, Washington, D.C., 1947, p. 1 [retrans. from German trans.].
[91] Cf. the chapter by G. Rudolf, this volume, as well as F. P. Berg, “Typhus and the Jews“, JHR 8(4) (1988), pp. 433-481 (online:; F. P. Berg, “The German Delousing Chambers“,JHR 7(1) (1986), pp. 73-94 (online:
[92] E. Kogon et al. (eds.), op. cit. (note 26).
[93] Chicago Jewish Sentinel, Dec. 22, 1983.
[94] E. Kogon et al. (eds.), op. cit. (note 26), pp. 171f. Another claim in this book which indicates gasoline engines is that of E. Fuchs, from 1960: “It was a heavy Russian gasoline engine (presumably a tank or tractor engine) with at least 200 hp (V-engine, 8 cylinders, water-cooled)“, p. 158, excerpted from papers of the Dortmund Public Prosecutor’s Office, Ref. 45 Js 27/61 (Ref. ZSL: 208 AR-Z 251/59, v. 5, fol. 988). However, the Soviets only used Diesel engines for their powerful tank engines, cf. note 32.
[95] Testimony by Prof. W. Pfannenstiel, around 1960, excerpted from papers of the Munich I Public Prosecutor’s Office, Ref. 22 Js 64-83/61 (Ref. ZSL: 208 AR-Z 252/59, v. 1, fol. 135ff.), quoted from: E. Kogon et al., op. cit.(note 26), p. 173. Cf. note 21.
[96] E.g., his testimony on June 6, 1950 before a Darmstadt court, quoted from Saul Friedländer, Counterfeit Nazi: The Ambiguity of Good, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London 1967, p. 118; cf. also, e.g., K. A. Schluch, around 1960, excerpted from documents of the Munich I Public Prosecutor’s Office, Ref. 22 Js 64-83/61 (Ref. ZSL: 208 AR-Z 252/59, v. VIII, fol. 1511), quoted from: E. Kogon et al. (eds.), op. cit. (note 26), p. 168; cf. A. Rückerl (ed.), Nationalsozialistische Vernichtungslager im Spiegel deutscher Strafprozesse, dtv, Munich 1978, p. 142; for a more in-depth analysis of the dilemma faced to this day by every German who ever had anything even remotely to do with one of the camps – Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor were in fact more transit camps than concentration camps – see W. Lindsey, op. cit. (note 14), as well as the chapter by M. Köhler, this volume.
[97] E. Jäckel, P. Longerich, J. H. Schoeps (eds.), Enzyklopädie des Holocaust, 3 vols., Argon, Berlin 1993, entries for “Aktion Reinhard“, v. 1, p. 15 “Benzin oder Dieselmotoren” [Gasoline or Diesel Engines], “Belzec“, v. 1, p. 176 “Dieselmotor mit 250 PS” [Diesel engine with 250 hp], “Sobibor“, v. 3, p. 1332 “200 PS-Motor” [Engine with 200 hp], “Treblinka“, v. 3, p. 1428 “Dieselmotor” [Diesel engine], “Gaskammer” [Gas chamber], v. 1, p. 505 “Dieselauspuffgas […] in den Vernichtungslagern im Generalgouvernement” [Diesel exhaust … in the extermination camps in the General Government] and “Vernichtungslager” [Extermination camps], v. 3, p. 1496: “These extermination camps [Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka] used carbon monoxide gas produced by Diesel engines.” According to this source, the Sobibor camp (250,000 victims) is the only case where there is any uncertainty regarding the engine type. In Belzec (600,000 victims) and Treblinka (700,000 to 1,200,000 victims) they were definitely Diesel engines.
[98] Jerusalem District Court, Criminal Case No. 373/86, verdict against Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, p. 2: “Diesel motors“, p. 7: SU-tanks: V12 Diesel engines with 500/550 hp.
[99] A. Rückerl (ed.), op. cit. (note 96), pp. 61, 64, 133 (re. Belzec); 203f., 226 (re. Treblinka); regarding Sobibor there is talk of gasoline engines: pp. 108, 165, 200; cf. the verdict of the Munich I District Court, Ref. 110 Ks 3/64 (Belzec) and the verdicts of the Düsseldorf District Court, Ref. 8 I Ks 2/64 and 8 Ks 1/69 against K. Franz and F. P. Stangl (both Treblinka), in H. Lichtenstein, Im Namen des Volkes?, Bund, Cologne 1984, pp. 187f. (death after 15 minutes due to Diesel exhaust gas in gas-tight chamber in Belzec), p. 201 (3 screwed-down Diesel engines in Treblinka).
[100] The chemist J. Bailer also fervently defends the Diesel version, although he plays with a stacked deck, cf. note 7. The same goes for Martin Pägert, cf. notes 50-52 and 54.
[101] Y. Manin, Novoje Russkoje Slowo, February 26-29, 1995; regarding more details about this article: M. Dragan, “Revisionisten haben Luftüberlegenheit“, Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung, 1(3) (1997), p.138 (online:


Friedrich Paul Berg

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