Gas chamber

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A gas chamber is an airtight room used for killing people or animals with poison gas. The people or animals are put into the gas chamber, the door is sealed airtight from the outside, and a gas, such as carbon monoxide or hydrogen cyanide, is put into the chamber. The victims die from breathing in the poisonous gas.

In the United States[change | change source]

In the United States, prisons have used gas chambers to execute prisoners who were given the death penalty. The first person in the United States to be executed in a gas chamber was Gee Jon. This was in a prison in Nevada, in 1924. The government of Nevada did not want to use an electric chair, and thought hanging was cruel and inhumane.[1]

By the 1990s, the gas chamber had become less popular in the United States.[1] People began to think that it was too painful of a way to die. When Donald Eugene Harding was executed in Arizona in 1992, witnesses described his death as "violent" and an "ugly event".[2]

The last person to be executed in the gas chamber in the United States was Walter LaGrand. This was in Arizona in 1999. Now, most states that still have the death penalty use lethal injection.[1]

However, in April 2015, Oklahoma became the first state to approve using nitrogen gas to execute people in gas chambers.[3] They approved this after it took over an hour to execute Clayton Lockett by lethal injection.[4]

In Nazi Germany[change | change source]

See also: The Holocaust, Extermination camp, and Nazi eugenics

During The Holocaust, Nazi Germany used gas chambers to kill millions of people.

Nazi Germany first used gas chambers to kill people with disabilities. The Nazis thought that people of disabilities were "life unworthy of life," and did not deserve to live.[5] Between 1939 and 1941, the Nazis killed 70,273 people with disabilities at hospitals like Hartheim Euthanasia Centre.[6]

Nazi Germany planned to kill all of the Jewish people. They called this plan the Final Solution. In 1941, they decided that using gas chambers would be the best way to kill all of the Jewish people. They started building death camps with large gas chambers.[7] In 1942, the Nazis started killing hundreds of people at a time in gas chambers at the Belzec, Sobibór, and Treblinka death camps.[7]

The Nazis also built gas chambers at some of the concentration camps that already existed, like Auschwitz and Majdanek.[7]

Historians estimate that the Nazis killed over three million people in these camps, mostly using gas chambers.[8] These people included:[9]


References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Bohm, Robert M. (August 17, 2011). DeathQuest: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Capital Punishment in the United States (4th ed.). Routledge. ISBN 978-1437734935.
  2. "The Gas Chamber". Capital Punishment U.K.. http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/gascham.html. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  3. Sanburn, Josh (April 17, 2015). "The Dawn of a New Form of Capital Punishment: Why Oklahoma became the first state to approve nitrogen gas as a lethal injection alternative". Time Online. http://time.com/3749879/nitrogen-gas-execution-oklahoma-lethal-injection/. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  4. Dockterman, Eliana (May 1, 2014). "Oklahoma Execution: Officials Searched 51 Minutes for Convict’s Vein". Time Online. http://time.com/85278/oklahoma-execution-iv-in-prisoners-groin/. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  5. Lifton, M.D., Robert Jay (1986). The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-04904-4. http://www.holocaust-history.org/lifton/LiftonT021.shtml.
  6. Proctor, Robert N. (1988). Racial Hygiene: Medicine under the Nazis. Library of Congress: Harvard College. ISBN 0-674-74578-7.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Gassing Operations". Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. January 29, 2016. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005220. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  8. "Nazi Camps". Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. January 29, 2016. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005144. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  9. Berenbaum, Michael (1992). A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis. New York: NYU Press. ISBN 978-0814711750.