September 3, 1941: The first test with Zyklon B at Auschwitz is conducted.
Zyklon (or Cyclon) B is the trade name of a form of hydrogen cyanide. Hydrogen cyanide, historically, had already been tested as a method of execution and a form of chemical warfare, but, as with other cyanides, Zyklon B had been primarily used as a pesticide. Prior to the war, the product was also used by the U.S. government to disinfect and delouse Mexican immigrants.
On September 3, 1941, its debut at Block 11 exterminated around 600 Soviet prisoners of war and 250 Poles.
With its advent at the Auschwitz gas chambers, its use became widespread throughout the other Nazi camps, proving more efficient than other methods like carbon monoxide and firing squads. Though a large portion of the gas transported to Auschwitz continued to be used as delouser and disinfectant, Zyklon B is now notorious in its other use as a toxic, airborne gas, an expedient of Nazi mass genocide, claiming over a million victims total.
Ironically, Eva Braun, Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Goering, and Heinrich Himmler, the SS head who oversaw the camps and whose inspections led to the implementation of gas chambers, all committed suicide- by ingesting hydrogen cyanide capsules.
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