Evidence for the Implementation of the Final Solution: Electronic Edition, by Browning, Christopher R.

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<< 2. Chelmno

3. Einsatzgruppen May 16, 1942, Dr. August Becker submitted a secret report to Walter Rauff concerning his inspection tour of the gas vans being used by the Einsatzgruppen. The large model Saurer trucks   with Einsatzgruppen C and D, he reported, could travel cross country only in dry weather but were unusable after a rain. Moreover, the rough terrain had loosened seals and rivets, so that many trucks were no longer airtight. The trucks of Einsatzgruppe D had become so well known to the civilian population that they openly referred to them as "death trucks." (Todeswagen) He had had them disguised by painting windows on the side, but he did not think this subterfuge would preserve secrecy for long.
However, the greatest problems with the gas vans, according to Becker's report, were not technical. The men suffered "enormous emotional and health injuries" (ungeheure seelische und gesundheitliche Schäden) and complained of headaches after each unloading. "The gassing is without exception not undertaken properly. In order to finish the job as quickly as possible, the drivers without exception open full throttle. For this reason those to be executed suffer death from suffocation and are not, as intended, put to sleep peacefully." The result was gashlty--horribly distorted faces and bodies covered with excrement and vomit (verzerrte Gesichter und Ausscheidungen).103
Despite such problems, the gas vans were still in demand. The chief of security police in Riga reported in mid-June 1942, one month after Becker's report, that in German-occupied Belarus "a Jewish transport arrived weekly that had to be subjected to a special treatment. The 3 special trucks on hand there did not suffice for this purpose!" He thus requested an additional large Saurer model to add to the other Saurer and the two small Diamond model trucks.104


103. Nürnberg Document 501-PS, Becker to Rauff, 16.5.42, printed in: IMT, vol. 26, pp.103-5. (Die Vergasung wird durchweg nicht richtig vorgenommen. Um die Aktion möglich schnell zu beenden, geben die Fahrer durchweg Vollgas. Durch diese Massnahme erleiden die zu Exekutierenden den Erstickungstod und nicht wie vorgesehen, den Einschläferungstod.)
104. 501-PS, BdS Ostland to RSHA, II D 3 a, 15.6.42, printed in: IMT, vol. 26, pp.106-7. (trifft woechentlich ein Judentransport ein, der einer Sonderbehandlung zu unterziehen ist. Die 3 dort vorhandenen S-Wagen reichen fuer diesen Zweck nicht aus!)
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<< 2. Chelmno

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