Arizona inmates to face execution with ‘same gas as Auschwitz’

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Arizona inmates to face execution with ‘same gas as Auschwitz’

The state's corrections department is preparing to reopen its prison gas chamber and has spent money on the materials used to make Zyklon B

Michael Daventry is Jewish News’s foreign and broadcast editor

The state prison in Florence, Arizona, where a mothballed gas chamber is set to reopen (Photo: Google Maps)
The state prison in Florence, Arizona, where a mothballed gas chamber is set to reopen (Photo: Google Maps)

Arizona is buying the same ingredients used by the Nazis at Auschwitz as part of its plans reopen a gas chamber and reinstate capital punishment.

The US state has spent nearly £1,500 on materials including a solid brick of potassium cyanide, sodium hydroxide pellets and sulphuric acid.

They are used to generate hydrogen cyanide, a deadly gas better known under the Nazis as Zyklon B that was used to kill over a million Jews and others in gas chambers at extermination camps during the Second World War.

The revelations were published on Friday, which obtained documents showing the purchase from Arizona’s department of corrections.

Executions have been suspended in the Republican-controlled state since a botched lethal injection in 2014, but work began in recent months to reinstate capital punishment.

If the plans are activated, inmates will be offered a choice — between a lethal injection and a gas chamber — of how to die.

Arizona has used gas chambers to execute people before: in 1999, a German national convicted for his role in an armed bank robbery took 18 minutes to die and displayed “agonising choking and gagging”, according to an eyewitness account published by the Tucson Citizen.

The mothballed gas chamber, which The Guardian reported had been refurbished after 22 years of disuse, is based in the city of Florence, southeast of the capital Phoenix.

Hydrogen cyanide was used to kill 1.1 million people at the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek camps between 1942 and 1945.

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