The poison that the Nazis finally settled upon for the murder by gas of Europe's Jews was hydrogen cyanide, also known as hydrocyanic acid or Prussic acid, chemical symbol HCN. One of the reasons this deadly gas was chosen was its ready availability, by the ton, in a stable, transportable, and reliable form: it was the principal ingredient of the trademarked poison Zyklon-B.
Some consider it to be more than mere coincidence - they may be right or wrong - but it is one of history's bitter ironies that this same poison was originally developed and marketed as an insecticide. After nine years of denigrating the Jews as insects, vermin, parasites on the body of the Aryan Reich, these symbols became reality. The same poison used for Schädlingsbekämpfung - the "war on vermin" - was now the final weapon in the war against the Jews.
In this technical paper, written in 1941, two researchers from the company that produced Zyklon describe its properties when used (to kill insects) in the cold of winter. This was one of the issues facing the Nazis, their army in particular, as they fought the war. In most military endeavors, fighting disease has always been as important as fighting the enemy, and so the killing of typhus-bearing insects was an important field of study.
The source of this reproduction is: Zeitschrift für hygenische Zoologie und Schädlingsbekämpfung, Heft 8/9, 1941 (Journal of Hygienic Zoology and Pest Control, No. 8/9, 1941). Many of our volunteers contributed to bringing you this work: Ulrich Roessler (research), Daniel Keren (scanning), Gord McFee (transcription and translation), Jamie McCarthy (editing) and Rich Green (proofing).
It appears there is a typographical mistake in the first author's name; it is Dr. Gerhard Peters, not "Peter." He is also the author of Blausäure zur Schädlingsbekämpfung, a lengthier work from 1933 which is available, though we have yet to transcribe and translate it.
Last modified: February 8, 1999