Hydrocyanic Acid and the Holocaust - A Different point of View
Hydrocyanic Acid could be called a “poison for extermination”, being used extensively both in the gas chambers of the Second World War and on death row. It is quick and effective in its deadliness: “one of the most toxic agents known.” Its effects are sudden and deadly, affecting the oxygenation of the cells, thus producing cyanosis. It has many resemblances to Arsenicum, another deadly poison, and it is possible that many cases requiring this remedy are “treated” with Arsenicum, to no avail. As with Arsenicum, the picture seen in Hydrocyanic Acid patients is not always as severe as the proving picture. It can vary greatly, disturbing one or more parts of the body, but thankfully seldom all of them in any given patient.
A summary of the complaints treated with Hydrocyanic Acid in my patients:
(refers to complaints in the patient’s history).
- extreme tiredness, exhaustion
- lack of vital heat, “deathly cold” even in warm weather. Icy cold hands and feet; cyanosis. But also in some: hot flushes.
- allergies: food allergies (no recurring pattern); chemical allergies; (sprays, gases, toxins, petrol, paint fumes); sun allergy.
- Fears: Fear of death; Fear of dying in very near future; Fear of crowds; Fear in trains; Anxiety about health; Anxiety about welfare of others (her children);fear of war and horrific events; Fear of abandonment by parents.
- Depression: Suicidal thoughts. Feelings of hopelessness and despair. Staring.
- Anorexia nervosa.
- Sensitivity to noises; starting from noises. Wakes in a fright from any sound.
- Afraid to sleep if he cannot see the door.
- Hurry: Restlessness, driving her from place to place. Hurry in eating, in walking .
- Delusions: (Psychosis): Razzias; being chased by soldiers. Being a Jewish child about to be gassed. War. Concentration camps. Blood running down the walls.
- Clairvoyant knowledge which frightens.
- “Flashes”: being pushed up against stinking naked buttocks; armed men attacking, rounding people up.
- Dreams: War; soldiers; hiding one’s children; people being taken away in a van; trains packed with people.
- Oversensitivity to images of of violence and war (television, film, books), or a fascination with them, especially Second World War. Sensitive to Memorial Day, events concerning Jews and Jewishness.
- Hair falling.
- Eyes: extreme photophobia. Eyes crusty and irritated. M. Sjogren.
- Skin dry and cold, bluish tint. Boils. Skin cancer.
- Throat: chronic sore throats. Lump sensation. “Tense” feeling in throat. Inability to swallow. Inflamed carotid artery.
- Heart: Palpitations. Low blood pressure.
- Respiration: Allergies, chronic coryza, asthma.
- Digestion: food allergies. Bloating and tiredness after meals. Enlarged spleen. Colitis Ulcerosa. Inability to gain weight.
- Kidneys: inflammation, stones, nephrotic syndrome.
- Cramps, crampy sensations in joints, opisthotonus. Crying babies who overstretch.
- Neurological disturbances: sensation as though she has no legs; as though the arms do not function; momentary blindness. “Unreal” sensation: “I am here, but I am not here”. Vertigo.
In the course of 5 years I have treated several more patients who have responded well to Hydrocyanic acid. These patients do not necessarily come from Europe. As noted earlier, the patients did not always present with as dramatic a picture as we see in the proving , which presents as a picture of collapse and near death. As time went on, more subtle information was utilised to find the remedy. In the cases of infants and small children I have relied solely on physical symptoms. With others, dreams, “flashbacks”, phobias, and psychoses have pointed the way to what might have been the initial cause of their present problems. In these cases it was the concept of looking at their symptoms in terms of possible past lives that created the breakthrough. I chose to take their state seriously, seeing it as a real situtation in which they had become ‘stuck’, rather than dismissing it as a ‘delusion’. (Another possibility could be an ‘entity attachment’, which I will not go into here.)
Looking at the broader picture presented by these patients, an image emerges: the persecution of a person or group which is to be exterminated. In the case of my patients this seemed to be by ending up in concentration camps and eventually in the gas chambers. This, of course, was the fate of millions of Jews during the Second World War. But it was also the fate of many others who were considered “undesirable” by the prevailing regime: gypsies, homosexuals, and the mentally retarded. On the side of the “perpetrators” cyanide was also used, in the form of a suicide pill by those Nazis who saw no other way of escape from retribution after the war. In countries with a death penalty, cyanide is often used to carry out the death sentence.
It is important to note that similar cases with themes of “ the Holocaust” will not always require this remedy. If we consider the possiblity of our patients actually having died in a concentration camp there are many ways in which this could have happened: hunger, thirst, illnesses, medical experiments, beatings, hanging, torture; the list is endless. They suffered enormous mental and emotional distress as well: the loss of their homes, family and friends; loss of feeling of safety; loss of dignity; and for many the worst:loss of connectedness with God. As well as the many physical complaints arising from this horrendous situation, there are many emotional scars to deal with: feelings of anger, guilt (at leaving others behind), abandonment, humiliation, feelings of being a “displaced person”. Such an extreme situation may require different remedies in the course of treatment, as different aspects may arise.
In my experience, the remedy Hydrocyanic Acid resolves an important layer, especially when it seems evident that death has come about in the gas chambers. It is fascinating to note how Hydrocyanic Acid seems to encompass so much of the Holocaust experience, as portrayed in provings done long before the war itself. Fears such as “fear of horses, fear of trains, fear of houses falling” certainly do not refer to the gas chamber experience itself, but possibly to experiences before that. The “fear of a car coming in the street” in two of my cases (and three cases of Jean Pierre Jansen) seems to me to refer to the time of being rounded up and taken away. The delusion: “surrounded by friends, shaking hands and calling them by name” could be the situation on arriving at the camp and finding many others from one’s own group there. “Staring, thoughtless, rises in bed and gazes vacantly” reminds us of the photographs of vacant, staring eyes we see of those who have been through this and seen too much horror. “Hysteria: must exert great force to prevent from injuring herself.” reminds us of the many suicides that took place under these conditions. Looking at the well known rubrics in another light helps us to comprehend the remedy.
But at other times it might be necessary to resolve issues around, for instance, hunger with other remedies, e.g. one of the Iodatums. Even our simple “first aid” remedies such as Arnica, Hypericum and Aconite come into play as we work through the different traumas. Melilotus covers the situation of waiting in hiding, having to remain silent lest any noise should reveal their presence.
On a personal note, these cases have done much to broaden my concepts of what it is that we are actually working with when we treat our patients. Where the etiology is obvious beyond a doubt, such as after a severe accident, there is no need to complicate our thinking with philosophical considerations in order to find a proper treatment. Indeed, in many of our cases it suffices to repertorize carefully in order to find the right remedy. And yet, despite careful repertorization there still remain cases which seem to defy all our efforts. In some of these cases, as illustrated above, it has been a change in my perception itself which has provided the break-though. On looking back, it was as though all the information had been staring me in the face, yet I had still not seen the picture. I had consistently written down my patients’ words such as “I always wanted to become a Jew”; “I dreamt of vans carrying people away during wartime”; “I am desperate about having to leave my children behind”; “I hear voices calling out ‘help me, help me’”, but when I came to repertorising I “left these parts out”, as I could not fit them in, except in a general way . Even though I knew about the possibility of past lives, it took me a long time to break beyond the boundaries of my thinking and to “see” what was there before me without trying to fit it into a pigeon-hole. Even when my intuition was giving strong signals: “Oh no, another concentration-camp case” I chose to ignore it, finally having my intuition proved more correct than my repertorization. I would certainly never have thought of giving the 12 year old boy this remedy, as he looked quite healthy apart from his asthma, had it not been for my experience with previous patients with similar dreams and attitudes.
It is possible to make use of the concept of past lives, without the patient ever having been in an actual regression session, or even believing in it. If we combine their dreams and “delusions” with their physical complaints we might come up with some surprising remedies. For example: a woman with weeping, vesicular eczema on her arms and face had terrible fears and dreams of her house burning down. She dreamt of having to pull her child out of a burning house. Rhus Tox. did nothing for her, but Cantharis, (although not listed under “fear of fires”), given as a “burn” remedy, cured an eczema she had had her whole life.
The concept of using past life knowledge is not new, though it is growing in acceptance and recognition these days. Something which has tended to remain the property of religious belief for many (and disbelief for many others) is finding its way into therapy, especially psychotherapy. Rabbi Jonassen Gershom, an American rabbi, has helped many who have come to him with the odd “feeling” or knowledge that they had lived a past life as a Jew, and had suffered during the Holocaust. His two books “Beyond the Ashes, Cases of Reincarnation from the Holocaust” and “From Ashes to Healing” record case after case of those whose lives have changed for the better by the recognition of their reality. Many of these people have not reincarnated as Jews, but as white Protestants or Catholics. Gershom explains this by saying that the soul has decided that it was not safe to be a Jew, and that it was safer to take on a more Arian appearance.
Dr. Shakuntala Modi, M.D., a psychiatrist and writer of the revolutionary book “Remarkable Healings”, has stumbled onto past-life work while treating patients under hypnosis. This has often lead her to success where she was previously stumped. She has asked herself the question “Why have I enjoyed this measure of success with these therapies?” and found the answer to be “an open mind”. Even something as unquestioned as our own religious views can at times form a filter through which we see, or don’t see, our patients.
In one sense, it is often a healthy practice to curb any impulses towards sloppy prescribing which are at the expense of groundedness and exactness. In another sense, there are times when a too dogmatic adherence to “the rules” veils our “inner knowing”, especially when what we see does not fit in with what we would expect. It is challenging, and at times frightening, to have one’s concepts broadened, as it is often accompanied by a temporary sense of disorientation. The once-familiar territory seems to be vaster than we had assumed.
I feel that we are in a time where we no longer need to “prove” to ourselves or to others that homoeopathy actually works. While we should not be dictated to by our imagination, we should also not be dictated to by a need to be “accepted” by the medical community. It could be our role as homoeopaths to keep our feet on the ground, while reaching for the heavens, for only God knows where the answers to our questions lie.
Tauranga, New Zealand
Keywords: Zyklon B, Hydrocyanic acidum, hydrocyanic acid, holocaust