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The Last GaspThe Rise and Fall of the American Gas Chamber$
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Scott Christianson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780520255623

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520255623.001.0001

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Adapted for Genocide

Adapted for Genocide

(p.149) Chapter 8 Adapted for Genocide
The Last Gasp

Scott Christianson

University of California Press

As Adolf Hitler prepared his plans for world conquest, Germany initiated a major program to develop all kinds of lethal gases. As Hitler invaded Poland, he used the press of war to secretly authorize a euthanasia program. With his approval, a gas chamber was built at each of six mental institutions in different parts of Germany to carry out “mercy killings.” Grim reports of Nazi gassing galvanized Jews around the world to intensify their campaign to stop the genocide. One of the enduring controversies of the Holocaust has been whether the Allies could and should have done something to try to disrupt the gassings. Regardless of to what extent any of the Nazis were held accountable for their war crimes, by the early 1950s the gas chamber had acquired an extremely bad reputation as a result of what the Nazis had done. Nevertheless, it remained to be seen how the United States would view its own gas chambers.

Keywords:   Adolf Hitler, genocide, Germany, Jews, euthanasia, mercy killings, gas chamber, Holocaust, Poland, United States

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