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Defense Documents

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

Table of Contents

2. Chelmno:

Beginning in December 1941, Jews from the Lodz ghetto and other towns in the Warthegau were deported to the small village of Chelmno. On May 1, 1942, Arthur Greiser wrote to Himmler: "The special treatment of some 100,000 Jews in my territory in an action approved by you in agreement with the Chief of the Reich Security Main Office SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich will be completed in the next two to three months."100
The completion of this task was not without incident, however, as can be seen in a report in the motor pool section of the RSHA of June 5, 1942, concerning technical alterations in the production of the "special trucks."
Since December 1941, for example, 97,000 were processed by three trucks in action, without any defects in the vehicles being encountered. The known explosion in Chelmno must be deemed an isolated case. Its cause must be traced to operator's error.101
The deportations from the Warthegau to Chelmno continued in 1942 until the provinces had been made free of Jews and the population of the Lodz ghetto had been reduced to less than 90,000. 102


100. Nürnberg Document NO-246, Greiser to Himmler, 1.5.42. (Die von Ihnen im Einvernehmen mit dem Chef des Reichssicherheitshauptamtes SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich genehmigte Aktion der Sonderbehandlung von rund 100,000 Juden in meinem Gaugebiet wird in den nächsten 2-3 Monaten abgeschlossen werden können.)
In this letter, Greiser went on to ask if the Sonderkommando employed for the Jewish action could then be used to free the Warthegau from the threat posed by the Poles with "open tuberculosis." Himmler subsequently gave Greiser permissions to subject tubercular Poles deemed incurable to "special treatment." NO-249, Greiser to Himmler, 21.11.42.
101. II D 3 Vermerk, 5.6.42, signed by Just, in BA, R 58/871. (Seit Dezember 19421 wurden beispielweise mit 3 eingesetzten Wagen 97,000 verarbeitet, ohne dass Mägel an den Fahrzeugen auftraten. Die bekannte Explosion in Kulmhof ist als Einzelfall zu bewerten. Ihre Ursache ist auf einen Bedienungsfehler zurückzuführen.)
The report then proposed a series of improvements, including: (1)The installation of two narrow slits with lightweight flaps that would facilitate the rapid inflow of CO while avoiding overpressure; (2)Shortening the large Saurer model. They could not negotiate the Russian terrain fully loaded, and thus too much empty space existed to be filled quickly with carbon monoxide, and thus the operating time was greatly lengthened. A shorter, fully loaded truck could operate much more quickly. A shortening of the rear compartment would not disadvantageously affect the weight balance, overburdening the front axle, because, "Actually a compensation in the weight distribution takes place automatically through the fact that the cargo in the struggle toward the back door during the operation is always is preponderately located there." (Tätsächlich findet aber ungewollt ein Ausgleich in der Gewichtsverteilung dadurch statt, dass das Ladegut beim Betrieb in dem Streben nach der hinteren Tür immer vorwiegend dort liegt.); (3) To facilitate cleaning, an eight- to twelve-inch hole should be made in the floor and provided with a cover opened from outside. The floor should be slightly inclined, and the cover equipped with a small sieve. Thus all "fluids" would flow to the middle, the "thin fluids" would exit even during the operation, and "thicker filth" could be hosed out afterward; (4) a strongly protected light that would operate during the first minutes, so the "cargo" would not make a bolting of the door difficult by pressing against the back door in panic when plunged into darkness.
102. Yad Vashem Archives, O-/79, Report of Statistical Office of Lodz on the Jewish population in 1940. Gestapo situation report, Lodz, 3.10.41, printed in: Faschismus-Getto-Massenmord, p. 266; The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto, pp. xxxix and 266.
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