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There is Not Enough Carbon Monoxide In Diesel Exhaust To Kill


Holocaust deniers say:

Diesel engine exhaust "always" contains "less than 1% carbon monoxide."1

In 1984, Friedrich Berg, an American Holocaust denier, wrote an that article appears to be technically impressive because it is full of charts, graphs and data.2 The article leaves the general reader with the impression that it is science so it must be true.
However, two scientific studies done by engineers show that it is possible for diesel engine exhaust to contain lethal amounts of carbon monoxide:
  • A 1941 study performed by Holtz and Elliott that analyzed the chemical composition of exhaust from diesel engines under different running conditions.
  • A 1957 study by R.E. Pattle et al in which small animals were placed in a container filled with diesel engine exhaust and studied for their reaction.
The Holtz and Elliott study:
  • Holtz and Elliott found that when a diesel engine was run within the manufacturer’s specifications for fuel efficiency it produced only a small amount of carbon monoxide, not enough to be quickly lethal.
  • However, when the fuel pump was adjusted so that it injected more fuel the carbon monoxide content in the exhaust rose to 6%. This is a lethal amount.
  • Contrary to the Holocaust deniers’ assertions that the SS men would not have had the mechanical knowledge or skill to do it, adjusting the fuel pump to inject more fuel is not difficult.
The R.E. Pattle et al study:
  • In this study the exhaust from a single-cylinder English diesel engine was directed into a chamber that had a volume of 10 cubic meters (353 cubic feet) in which mice, guinea pigs, and rabbits were placed. The engine was run for five hours in four different modes until the animals were dead, disabled, or clearly going to survive.
  • The Holocaust deniers cite this study as proof that the animals were only mildly disabled or survived the fumes for many hours.
  • In fact, the animals died in three out of four of the different modes in which they ran the engine:
  • In Mode A, in which the engine was run according to the manufacturer’s specifications, the animals survived the entire five hours and recovered with no ill effects.
  • In Modes B and C, in which the engine was slightly modified, some of the animals died in the fourth hour of the experiment and others died several days later from severe lung damage.
  • However, the Holocaust deniers do not like to mention that in Mode D, in which a metal blank was used to reduce the size of the air intake, all of the animals died in 3 hours and 20 minutes.
  • The atmosphere in Mode D contained 22% carbon monoxide (or 220,000 parts per 1,000,000 parts).3
  • Recall that a carbon monoxide concentration of 4/10 of one percent (.4%) or 4,000 parts per 1,000,000 parts) of the atmosphere can be lethal.4
  • Contrary to the Holocaust deniers’ assertions that the SS men would not have had the mechanical knowledge or skill to do it, blocking the air intake is not difficult.
You may read this study at http://vho.org/GB/c/FPB/toxicity1.png.
The Holocaust deniers’ dismiss the findings of the Pattle et al study by claiming that the death of the animals in Mode D took longer than 30 minutes-which is what the eyewitnesses say was about the time it took to kill a roomful of human beings.
But comparing the conditions for the animals in the Pattle et al study with the conditions in the gas chambers or gas vans for people is like comparing apples and oranges:
First : The method of introduction of the animals into the cage and the people into the gas chambers was entirely different.
  • The small animals in the Pattle et al study were initially healthy and not stressed when they were placed in the chamber.
  • The Germans, however, drove their terrified human victims at a run into the gas chambers or gas vans using whips, dogs and guns.
  • People who are panicked or panting heavily will breathe in the carbon monoxide, smoke, soot and the other toxins more quickly. They also exhale carbon dioxide that builds up in the atmosphere which further disables their ability to breathe freely. Further, many of those murdered were elderly, very young, or physically debilitated due to starvation and sickness. These people would be even more vulnerable to the toxic fumes.
Second :The size of the enclosure relative to their occupants was highly unequal.
  • Pattle placed a handful of small animals in an enclosure that had a volume of 10 cubic meters, or 353 cubic feet.
  • In the gas chambers hundreds of human beings were pushed tightly into a room that contained somewhere between 1,412 and 1,765 cubic feet. Their bodies alone displaced most of the air in the room and the little that was left to breathe was rapidly replaced by a soup of toxic gases.
  • The Germans understood the need to crowd their victims into small, tight spaces in order to speed death. The gas chamber rooms and the cargo compartments in the gas vans were small with low ceilings (around or a little over 6 feet).5
  • In the letter Willy Just, the foreman of the shop that made the murderous adjustments to the regular trucks to turn them into gas vans, wrote to Walther Rauff, the head of the gas van program, he noted that shortening the length of the larger gas vans by 3 feet would mean that the space to be filled with toxic exhaust gases was smaller and the time it took to kill the victims could be "considerably reduced.".6
  • If Pattle et al had put the animals into an area only a few inches larger than they were, how much more quickly would they have died? We don’t know, but it is safe to assume it would have taken less than 3 hours and 20 minutes.


Murdering people using diesel engine exhaust is not "idiotic" or "simply incredible" as Berg claims. A diesel engine can easily be mistuned to produce a lethal amount of carbon monoxide. Adjusting the fuel pump or blocking the air intake is not rocket science and does not require mechanical or engineering skills that were outside the capabilities of the SS technicians who ran the engines.
It is therefore perfectly reasonable that panicked human beings who were crammed into a small space in a gas chamber or gas van, which was then filled with the smoky, hot, toxic exhaust from a large, powerful diesel engine, could be overwhelmed and die within 30 minutes.


1. Friedrich Berg, "The Diesel Gas Chambers: Myth within a Myth," p. 6/19 at http://vho.org/GB/journals/JHR/5/1/Berg15-46.html.
2. Berg’s original paper, "The Diesel Gas Chambers: Myth Within a Myth," was published in the Journal for Historical Review in 1983. It can be found at http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v05/v05p-15_Berg.html. He has since expanded on his original theme in several other articles which can be found at his website http://www.nazigassings.com. He took the original paper and expanded it and divided it into three parts: Part 1, 17 pages, http://www.nazigassings.com/dieselgaschambera.html; Part 2, 15 pages, http://www.nazigassings.com/dieselgaschamberb.html; and Part 3, 14 pages, http://www.nazigassings.com/dieselgaschamberc.html. He has also written "Poison Gas Über Alles" at http://www.nazigassings.com/poisongas.html and "Self-assisted Holocaust Hoax," http://www.nazigassings.com/selfassistedhh.html.
3. R.E. Pattle, H. Stretch, F. Burgess, K. Sinclair and J.A.G. Edgington, "The Toxicity of Fumes From a Diesel Engine Under Four different Running Conditions," British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 1957, 14, p. 42 at http://www.vho.org/GB/c/FPB/ToxDiesel.html.
4. Pattle et al, "The Toxicity of Fumes From a Diesel Engine Under Four different Running Conditions," British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 1957, 14, p. 42 at http://www.vho.org/GB/c/FPB/ToxDiesel.html.
5. Eugen Kogon, Hermann Langbein, and Adalbert Rückerl, editors. Nazi Mass Murder: A Documentary History of the Use of Poison Gas (Yale University Press, 1994), p. 128.
6. The letter is available at http://www.holocaust-history.org/19420605-rauff-spezialwagen/.
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