The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/chelmno/gas-vans-background

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: The Holocaust Almanac: The Mobile Gas Vans
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Nizkor Project, Vancouver Island, CANADA
Keywords: Heydrich,gas,Nebe,Rauff,vans,Widmann

"A few days later an experiment with poison gas was carried out by
Nebe and Dr. Widmann in Mogilev. In the local lunatic asylum, a room
with twenty to thirty of the insane was closed hermetically, and two
pipes were driven into the wall. A car was parked outside, and one of
the metal pipes that Dr. Widmann had brought connected the exhaust of
the car to the pipe in the wall. The car engine was turned on and the
carbon monoxide began seeping into the room. After eight minutes, the
people in the room were still alive. A second car was connected to the
other pipe in the wall. The two cars were operated simultaneously, and
a few minutes later all those in the room were dead.

After these experimental executions, Nebe came up with the idea of
constructing a car with a hermitically sealed cabin for killing
purposes. The carbon monoxide from the car's exhaust would be
channeled into the sealed cabin, in which the victims stood. Nebe
discussed the technical aspects of the idea with Dr. Heess and
together they brought the proposal before Heydrich, who adopted it.<1>

The Technical Department of the Reich Security Main Office, headed by
SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Walter Rauff, developed a special vehicle for
killing purposes. This vehicle resembled an ambulance or refrigerator
truck and contained a hermetically sealed rear cabin. The victims were
placed in the cabin and carbon monoxide was introduced by means of a
pipe. The gassing process took between fifteen and thirty minutes.
During this time the van was driven from the loading site to prepared

Two types of gas vans were built: a larger one, 5.8 meters in length,
and a smaller one, measuring 4.5 meters. Both were about 2.5 meters
wide and 1.7 meters high. The bigger one could accommodate between 130
and 150 people, when densely packed inside, and the smaller one from
80 to 100.<2>

The first gas vans were supplied to the Einsatzgruppen and to the
Chelmno death camps in November-December 1941. The killing in Chelmno
began on December 8, 1941. By the middle of 1942, about thirty gas
vans had been produced by a private car manufacturer, the Gabschat
Farengewerke GMBH, Will-Walter Strasse 32-38, Berlin. <3>(Arad,

<1> YVA, TR-10/959, pp45-47, the trial against Dr. Widmann;
    "Nationalsozialistiche Massentotungen", pp 81-82
<2> Edward Serwanski, "Oboz Zaglady w Chelmnie nad Narem", Poznan, 1964,
    p.45; "Nationalsozialistische Massentotungen", p.84, gives the
    number of 50-60 people in the Saurer car and 25-30 people in
    the Diamond car.
<3> Nationalsozialistiche Massentotungen", pp 84-86

                          Work Cited

Arad, Yitzhak. BELZEC, SOBIBOR, TREBLINKA - the Operation 
Reinhard Death Camps. Indiana University Press, 1987. 
ISBN 0-253-3429-7

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