The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/b/becker.august/becker-to-rauff.051642


Archive/File: holocaust/poland/reinhard/chelmno becker.001
Last-Modified: 1994/07/19

Letter from Dr August Becker to SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Rauff, 16 May
1942
[Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression - Washington, U.S Govt. Print. 
Off., 1946, Vol III, p. 418]
----------------------------------------------------------------------
I ordered the vans of group D to be camouflaged as house trailers by
putting one set of window shutters on each side of the small van and
two on each side of the large vans, such as one often sees on farm
houses in the country. The vans became so well known, that not only
the authorities but also the civilian population called the van "death
van", as soon as one of these vehicles appeared. It is my opinion the
van cannot be kept secret for any length of time, not even
camouflaged...

Besides that, I ordered that during application of gas all the men
were to be kept as far away from the vans as possible, so they should
not suffer damage to their health by the gas which eventually would
escape. I should like to take this opportunity to bring the following
to your attention: several commands have had the unloading after the
application of gas done by their own men. I brought to the attention
of those S.K [Special Kommando] concerned the immense psychological
injuries and damages involved to their health that this work can have
for those men, even if not immediately, at least later on. The men
complained to me about head-aches which appeared after each unloading.
Nevertheless they don't want to change the orders, because they are
afraid prisoners called for that work could use an opportune moment to
flee. To protect the men from these damages, I request orders to be
issued accordingly.

The application of the gas is not undertaken correctly. In order to
come to an end as fast as possible, the driver presses the accelerator
to the fullest extent. By doing that the persons to be executed suffer
death from suffocation and not death by dozing off as was planned. My
directions have now proved that by correct adjustment of the levers
death comes faster and the prisoners fall asleep peacefully. Distorted
faces and excretions, such as could be seen before, are no longer
noticed.

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