You are unlikely to have heard much about them but for over a hundred years Australia had its own concentration camps. In these camps people were routinely gassed, however the object was not to kill but to disinfect and delouse Australia’s early convict settlers. The windowless building pictured at the bottom of this page was used as a gas chamber whilst the larger building in the rear of the photo housed three more large gas chambers.
These buildings and their contents stand on the edge of Sydney Harbour and have been left as a museum to Sydney’s early convict settlers and their sometimes-sinister past.
The actual delousing and disinfections took place in the room pictured below. Prior to going in people had to strip off and they were told to breath in deeply and it would all be over very quickly. Then, thirty to forty people at a time were herded in and the doors closed and bolted behind them before the gas was released.
To monitor the process guards waiting outside used a sliding peephole to see when the gassing was finished. Meanwhile the immigrants clothing, bedding and other personal belongings was treated in the large gas chambers pictured at the bottom of this page.
As you can see by the size of the man standing in the far corner (bottom picture) some of these gas chambers were very big. Once the doors were closed the gas would be pumped in and this was either steam or Zyklon B (Hydro-cyanic acid).
That’s right! Zyklon B, the very gas that the Nazis were said to have used in their campaign of genocide.
The photos below were all taken at the Sydney Quarantine Museum on the banks of Sydney Harbour. Sick people arriving in Australia were all first taken to this camp where they were quite literally gassed.
Although few are aware of the above it is all a matter of historical record. How you choose to interpret it is another matter entirely. Did the early Australians actually embark on a campaign of genocide and force newly arrived immigrants into gas chambers? Or were Australia’s new arrivals simply disinfected and deloused?
Source: Sydney Quarantine Museum, Australia.