Thirty-six-year-old Nazi physician SS-Sturmführer Horst Schumann begins working at the camp. This Air Force lieutenant soon begins working in the sterilisation programme. Immediately after arriving, he does selection and sends the first prisoners to death by phenol injections.

Murder by phenol injections has already become a traditional method of execution in the camp. It is used when a smaller number of camp prisoners, deemed to no longer be able to work, is selected. The victim is forced to strip bare, is led into the respective rooms in Block 20, is sat down on a chair and is held by two executioner’s aides, who are also inmates. The right arm is straightened out and the left is held up so that the chest is tightened. The medic then jabs a long needle directly into the heart. The prisoner falls into a coma within 15 seconds.

The most active applicator of phenol injections is thirty-eight-year-old SS-Oberscharführer Josef Klehr, who has a special room reserved for this purpose in hospital Block 20 in Auschwitz I. Prisoners undress in the adjacent washroom; then they are murdered in the special room by injection, and their cadavers are towed to the room across the hall. From here, they journey to the crematorium. Klehr boasts that he can manage to kill up to three prisoners per minute, and sometimes he uses two stools in order to save time. He often travels in the ambulance to the Bunkers, where he pours out the crystals of Zyklon B from the cans into the gas chambers.

Others who apply the phenol injections are the SS officers in the positions of medics, thirty-five-year-old Herbert Scherpe and forty-year-old Emil Hantl. Since they are very polite, and always meet and greet, they are considered among the inmates to be civil murderers.

Dr. Schuman later also comes up with the brand T. M., which is very morbidly ironic. It stands for “Therapia Magna Auschwitzcience”, or “Grand Auschwitz Therapy”. This is how this doctor labels the prisoners that are sent to the gas chambers. The brand eventually becomes common.


The execution of selected prisoners by phenol injections takes places in Block 20 at Auschwitz I. They are applied by Josef Klehr. One of his aides is also prisoner Jean Weiss, who even must hold down his own father during his execution. The next day, he is devastated, and Klehr asks him what has happened. When he tells him about the execution of his father, the medic replies that if he had said something, he would have spared him. When a judge asks Weiss in court why he did not tell Klehr about his father, Weiss answered that he was afraid that Klehr would seat him next to his father.


From January 1943, children are killed more and more often by phenol injections. These are children that have been temporarily admitted to the camp for various reasons, but their liquidation is decided upon.

Horst Schumann
Horst Schumann
Josef Klehr
Josef Klehr
Mieczyslaw Koscielniak
Mieczyslaw-Koscielniak - Application of lethal injection