A gas van or gas wagon (Russian: душегубка (dushegubka); German: Gaswagen) was a vehicle reequipped as a mobile gas chamber. The gas van was invented in the Soviet Union in 1936, by Isay Berg, the head of the administrative and economic department of the NKVD of Moscow Oblast. The vehicle had an air-tight compartment for the intended victims, into which exhaust fumes were transmitted while the engine was running. The victims were gassed with carbon monoxide, resulting in death by carbon monoxide poisoning and suffocation. The gas van was used by the Soviet secret police in the 1930s. During World War II Nazi Germany used gas vans on a large scale as a extermination method to murder inmates of asylums, Romani people, Jews, and prisoners in occupied Poland, Belarus, and Yugoslavia.
One case of gas van usage was documented in the 1930s in the Soviet Union, according to the data of the tabloid newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda. According to this publication, a team of secret police officers were suffocating batches of prisoners with engine fumes in a camouflaged bread van while driving out to the mass graves at Butovo, where the prisoners were subsequently buried. According to this source the use of gas vans was supervised by Isay Berg, the head of the administrative and economic department of the NKVD of Moscow Oblast. Berg himself was arrested and convicted by the NKVD in 1937.
In August 1941, SS chief Heinrich Himmler attended a demonstration of a mass-shooting of Jews in Minsk arranged by Arthur Nebe, after which he vomited. Regaining his composure, Himmler decided that alternative methods of killing should be found. He turned to Nebe to explore more "convenient" ways of killing that were less stressful for the killers. Nebe decided to try experimenting by murdering Soviet mental patients, first with explosives near Minsk, and then with automobile exhaust at Mogilev. Nebe's experiments led to the utilization of the gas van. This vehicle had already been used in 1940 for the gassing of East Prussian and Pomeranian mental patients in the Soldau concentration camp. Another source states that the vans were first tested on Soviet prisoners in Sachsenhausen.
Gas vans were used, particularly at Chełmno extermination camp, until gas chambers were developed as a more efficient method for killing large numbers of people. There were two types of gas vans in operation, used by the Einsatzgruppen in the East. The Opel-Blitz, weighing 3.5 tons, and the larger Saurerwagen, weighing 7 tonnes. In Belgrade, the gas van was known as "Dušegupka" and in the occupied parts of the USSR similarly as "душегубка" (dushegubka, literally (feminine) soul killer/exterminator). The SS used the euphemisms Sonderwagen, Spezialwagen or S-wagen ("special vehicle") for the vans.
The use of gas vans had two disadvantages:
By June 1942 the main producer of gas vans, Gaubschat Fahrzeugwerke GmbH, had delivered 20 gas vans in two models (for 30–50 and 70–100 individuals) to Einsatzgruppen, out of 30 ordered from that company. Not one gas van was extant at the end of the war. The existence of gas vans first came to light in 1943 during the trial of Nazi collaborators involved in the gassing of 6,700 civilians in Krasnodar. The total number of gas van gassings is unknown.
Source: Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality: Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression – Washington, U.S Govt. Print. Office, 1946, Vol III, p. 418;
August Becker (17 August 1900 – 31 December 1967) was a mid-ranking functionary in the SS of Nazi Germany and chemist in the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA). He helped design the vans with a gas chamber built into the back compartment used in early Nazi mass murder of disabled people, political dissidents, Jews, and other "racial enemies," including Action T4 as well as the Einsatzgruppen (mobile Nazi death squads) in the Nazi-occupied portions of the Soviet Union. Generally his role was to provide important technical support, but on at least one occasion he personally gassed about 20 people.August Meyszner
August Edler von Meyszner (3 August 1886 – 24 January 1947) was an Austrian Gendarmerie officer, right-wing politician, and senior Ordnungspolizei (order police) officer who held the post of Higher SS and Police Leader in the German-occupied territory of Serbia from January 1942 to March 1944, during World War II. He has been described as one of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler's most brutal subordinates.
Meyszner began his career as an officer in the Gendarmerie, served on the Italian Front during World War I and reached the rank of Major der Polizei by 1921. He joined the Austrian Nazi Party in September 1925 and became a right-wing parliamentary deputy and provincial minister in the Austrian province of Styria in 1930. Due to his involvement with the Nazis, Meyszner was forcibly retired in 1933 and arrested in February 1934, but released after three months at the Wöllersdorf concentration camp. That July, he was rearrested following an attempted coup, but escaped police custody and fled to Nazi Germany, where he joined the Ordnungspolizei (Orpo) and then the Allgemeine SS. After police postings in Austria, Germany and occupied Norway, Himmler appointed Meyszner as Higher SS and Police Leader in Serbia in early 1942. He was one of few Orpo officers to be appointed to such a role.
Meyszner's time in Belgrade was characterised by friction and competition with German military, economic and foreign affairs officials, and by his visceral hatred and distrust of Serbs. During his tenure, he oversaw regular reprisal killings and sent tens of thousands of forced labourers to the Reich and occupied Norway. His Gestapo detachment used a gas van to kill 8,000 Jewish women and children who had been detained at the Sajmište concentration camp. In April 1944, his outspoken complaints about a reduction in reprisals against civilians allowed his enemies within the German occupation regime in Serbia to have him removed. Himmler transferred him to Berlin with the task of establishing a Europe-wide Gendarmerie. After the war, he fell into the hands of the Allies and was interrogated by the United States Chief Counsel for the Prosecution of Axis Criminality. Extradited to Yugoslavia, he was tried for war crimes, along with many of his staff from his time in Serbia. He was found guilty by a Yugoslav military court and executed by hanging in January 1947.Chełmno extermination camp
Chełmno extermination camp (German: Vernichtungslager Kulmhof), built during World War II, was the first of the Nazi German extermination camps and was situated 50 kilometres (31 miles) north of the metropolitan city of Łódź (renamed to Litzmannstadt), near the village of Chełmno nad Nerem (Kulmhof an der Nehr in German). Following the invasion of Poland in 1939 Germany annexed the area into the new territory of Reichsgau Wartheland, aiming at its complete "Germanization"; the camp was set up specifically to carry out ethnic cleansing through mass killings. It operated from December 8, 1941 parallel to Operation Reinhard during the most deadly phase of the Holocaust, and again from June 23, 1944 to January 18, 1945 during the Soviet counter-offensive. Polish Jews of the Łódź Ghetto and the local inhabitants of Reichsgau Wartheland (Warthegau) were exterminated there. In 1943 modifications were made to the camp's killing methods because the reception building was already dismantled.At a very minimum 152,000 people (Bohn) were killed in the camp, which would make it the fifth most deadly extermination camp, after Sobibór, Bełżec, Treblinka, and Auschwitz. However, the West German prosecution, citing Nazi figures during the Chełmno trials of 1962–65, laid charges for at least 180,000 victims. The Polish official estimates, in the early postwar period, have suggested much higher numbers, up to a total of 340,000 men, women, and children. The Kulmhof Museum of Martyrdom gives the figure of around 200,000, the vast majority of whom were Jews of west-central Poland, along with Romani from the region, as well as foreign Jews from Hungary, Bohemia, Moravia, Germany, Luxemburg, and Austria transported to Chełmno via the Łódź Ghetto, on top of the Soviet prisoners of war. The victims were killed with the use of gas vans. Chełmno was a place of early experimentation in the development of Nazi extermination programme, continued in subsequent phases of the Holocaust throughout occupied Poland.The Red army troops captured the town of Chełmno on January 17, 1945. By then, the Nazis had already destroyed evidence of the camp's existence leaving no prisoners behind. One of the camp survivors who was fifteen years old at the time testified that only three Jewish males had escaped successfully from Chełmno. The Holocaust Encyclopedia counted seven Jews who escaped during the early 1940s; among them, the author of the Grojanowski Report written under an assumed name by Szlama Ber Winer, prisoner from the Jewish Sonderkommando who escaped only to perish at Bełżec during the liquidation of yet another Jewish ghetto in German-occupied Poland. In June 1945 two survivors testified at the trial of camp personnel in Łódź. The three best-known survivors testified about Chełmno at the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Two survivors testified also at the camp personnel trials conducted in 1962–65 by West Germany.Chełmno trials
The Chełmno trials were a series of consecutive war-crime trials of the Chełmno extermination camp personnel, held in Poland and in Germany following World War II. The cases were decided almost twenty years apart. The first judicial trial of the former SS men – members of the SS-Sonderkommando Kulmhof – took place in 1945 at the District Court in Łódź, Poland. The subsequent four trials, held in Bonn, Germany, began in 1962 and concluded three years later, in 1965 in Cologne.
A number of camp officials, gas-van operators and SS guards, were arraigned before the court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed at Chełmno (a.k.a. Kulmhof) in occupied Poland in the period between December 1941 and January 1945. The evidence against the accused, including testimonies by surviving witnesses, former prisoners, and mechanics attending to repair needs of the SS, was examined in Poland by Judge Władysław Bednarz of the Łódź District Court (Sąd Okręgowy w Łodzi). Three convicted defendants were sentenced to death, including the camp deputy commandant Oberscharführer Walter Piller (wrongly, Filer); the gas van operator Hauptscharführer Hermann Gielow (Gilow), as well as Bruno Israel from Order Police (his sentence was commuted to life). All three were members of the SS Special Detachment Kulmhof responsible for the extermination of Jews and non-Jews, during the Holocaust in occupied Poland.In the years 1962–65, a dozen SS-men from Kulmhof were arraigned before the German court (Landgericht) in Bonn, RFN. They were charged with the murder of 180,000 Jews in the camp. The jury deliberations continued for three years, with sentences ranging from 13 years' imprisonment to 13 months and 2 weeks. Half of the defendants were cleared of all charges and released by Germany.Emanuel Schäfer
Emanuel Schäfer (20 April 1900 – 4 December 1974) was a high-ranking SS functionary (SS-Oberführer) and a protégé of Reinhard Heydrich in Nazi Germany.
Born in 1900, Schäfer served in World War I. Post-war, he participated in far-right Freikorps groups such as the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt and from 1925–28, the Stahlhelm (Steel Helmet).
Schäfer joined the paramilitary Sturmabteilung (SA) in 1933. He was an active member of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the SS security service, in 1933, and entered the SS in September 1936.
During World War II, Schäfer was head of the Nazi security police in Serbia. Between January and May 1942, Schäfer supervised the murder by gassing of around 7,300 Jews from the Semlin camp across the Sava river from Belgrade. A Saurer gas van was used to kill the 7,300. A further 1200 Jews died as a result of the camp's harsh conditions, or from executions. The van was used for the last time on 10 May 1942. In May 1942, Schäfer sent a cable to the Reich Main Security Office boasting "with pride" that "Belgrade was the only great city in Europe that was free of Jews."In Germany after the war, Schäfer was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for his crimes during the war. He died in 1974.Extermination camp
Nazi Germany built extermination camps (also called death camps or killing centers) during the Holocaust in World War II, to systematically murder millions of Jews. Others were murdered at the death camps as well, including Poles, Soviet POWs, and Roma. The victims of death camps were primarily killed by gassing, either in permanent installations constructed for this specific purpose, or by means of gas vans. Some Nazi camps, such as Auschwitz and Majdanek, served a dual purpose before the end of the war in 1945: extermination by poison gas, but also through extreme work under starvation conditions.The idea of mass extermination with the use of stationary facilities to which the victims were taken by train, was the result of earlier Nazi experimentation with chemically manufactured poison gas during the secretive Aktion T4 euthanasia programme against hospital patients with mental and physical disabilities. The technology was adapted, expanded, and applied in wartime to unsuspecting victims of many ethnic and national groups; the Jews were the primary target, accounting for over 90 percent of the extermination camp death toll. The genocide of the Jewish people of Europe was the Third Reich's "Final Solution to the Jewish question". It is now collectively known as the Holocaust, during which 11 million others were also murdered. Extermination camps were also set up by the fascist Ustaše regime of the Independent State of Croatia, a puppet state of Germany, which carried out genocide between 1941 and 1945 against Serbs, Jews, Roma and its Croat and Bosniak Muslim political opponents.Gustav Laabs
Gustav Laabs (20 December 1902 – 12 March 1980) was a German SS commander during the Nazi era. During the Second World War, he worked as a gas van operator at the Chełmno extermination camp in Wartheland. As an operator of a gas van, Laabs was directly involved in the genocidal extermination of over 100,000 men, women and children, most of whom were Jewish. In November 1963, he was tried and convicted for crimes against humanity, and sentenced to 15 years (subsequently reduced to 13 years) by a regional court in Landgericht Bonn, Germany.History of the Jews during World War II
The history of the Jews during World War II is almost synonymous with the Jewish persecution and murder of unprecedented scale in modern times in political Europe inclusive of European North Africa (pro-Nazi Vichy-North Africa and Italian Libya). The massive scale of the Holocaust which happened during World War II heavily affected the Jewish nation and world public opinion, which only understood the dimensions of the Final Solution after the war. The genocide, known as HaShoah in Hebrew, aimed at the elimination of the Jewish people on the European continent. It was a broadly organized operation led by Nazi Germany, in which approximately six million Jews were murdered methodically and with horrifying cruelty. During the Holocaust in occupied Poland, more than one million Jews were murdered in gas chambers of the Auschwitz concentration camp alone. The murder of the Jews of Europe affected Jewish communities in Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Channel Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, and Ukraine.Leading to World War II, nearly all Jewish firms in Nazi Germany had either collapsed under financial pressure and declining profits, or had been forced to sell out to the Nazi German government as part of the "Aryanization" policy inaugurated in 1937. As the war started, massacres of Jews took place originally as part of Operation Tannenberg against the Polish nation. The much larger and methodical mass killings of Jews began with the onset of Operation Barbarossa. Led by Einsatzkommandos and the Orpo battalions, the destruction of European Jews took place with the active participation of local Auxiliary Police including Belarusian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian Schutzmannschaften.Mass murders in Tykocin
The Mass murders in Tykocin occurred in August 25, 1941, during World War II, where the local Jewish population of Tykocin (Poland) was killed by German Einsatzkommando.Opel Blitz
Opel Blitz (German for "lightning") was the name given to various light and middle-weight truck series built by the German Opel automobile manufacturer between 1930 and 1975. The original logo for this truck, two stripes arranged loosely like a lightning symbol in the form of a horizontally stretched letter "Z", still appears in the current Opel logo.
Germany used the Opel Blitz for a key role murdering people in The Holocaust, as a modified carbon monoxide gas van.Sajmište concentration camp
The Sajmište concentration camp (pronounced [sâjmiːʃtɛ]) was a Nazi concentration and extermination camp during World War II. It was located at the former Belgrade fairground site near the town of Zemun, in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH). The camp was organized and operated by SS Einsatzgruppen units stationed in occupied Serbia. It became operational in September 1941 and was officially opened on 28 October of that year. The Germans dubbed it the Jewish camp in Zemun (German: Judenlager Semlin). At the end of 1941 and the beginning of 1942, thousands of Jewish women, children and old men were brought to the camp, along with 500 Jewish men and 292 Romani women and children, most of whom were from Niš, Smederevo and Šabac. Women and children were placed in makeshift barracks and suffered during numerous influenza epidemics. Kept in squalid conditions, they were provided with inadequate amounts of food and many froze to death during the winter of 1941–42. Between March and May 1942, the Germans used a gas van sent from Berlin to kill thousands of Jewish inmates.
With the gassings complete, it was renamed Zemun concentration camp (German: Anhaltelager Semlin) and served to hold one last group of Jews who were arrested upon the surrender of Italy in September 1943. During this time it also held captured Yugoslav Partisans, Chetniks, sympathizers of the Greek and Albanian resistance movements, and Serb peasants from villages in other parts of the NDH. An estimated 32,000 prisoners, mostly Serbs, passed through the camp during this period, 10,600 of whom were killed or died due to hunger and disease. Conditions in Sajmište were so poor that some began comparing it to Jasenovac and other large concentration camps throughout Europe. In 1943 and 1944, evidence of atrocities committed in the camp was destroyed by the units of SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel, and thousands of corpses were exhumed from mass graves and incinerated. In May 1944, the Germans transferred control of the camp over to the NDH, and it was closed that July. Estimates of the number of deaths at Sajmište range from 20,000 to 23,000, with the number of Jewish deaths estimated at 7,000 to 10,000. It is thought that half of all Serbian Jews perished at the camp.
Most of the Germans responsible for the operation of the camp were captured and brought to trial. Several were extradited to Yugoslavia and executed. Camp commander Herbert Andorfer and his deputy Edgar Enge were arrested in the 1960s after many years of hiding. Both were given short prison sentences in West Germany and Austria, respectively, though Enge never served any time given his old age and poor health.Sauer (disambiguation)
The Sauer is a tributary river to the Moselle, flowing through Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.
Sauer is a German surname, see Sauer (surname). The word sauer means sour, acidic.
Sauer may also refer to:
Sauer (Altenau), a river of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Sauer (Rhine), a river in France and Germany
Sauer & Sohn (founded 1751), a German firearms manufacturer
Sauer Castle, an architecturally significant house in Kansas City, Kansas (US)
Sauer Commission (created 1947), a South African study of segregation policies
C. F. Sauer Company (founded 1887), a cooking products manufacturer
Sauer-Danfoss (founded 2000), a multinational manufacturer of fluid control equipment
SIG Sauer, US arm of Swiss manufacturing firm Swiss Arms AG
Paul Sauer Bridge, a highway bridge in South Africa
Cube 2: Sauerbraten, a 2004 popular on-line game
Sauer Van, a gas van used in the Sajmište concentration campSoldau concentration camp
The Soldau concentration camp established by Nazi Germany during World War II was a concentration camp for Polish and Jewish prisoners. It was located in Działdowo (German: Soldau), a town in north-eastern Poland, which after the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939 was annexed into the Province of East Prussia.The camp was founded in the former Polish Army barracks by SS-Brigadeführer Otto Rasch with the approval of Reinhard Heydrich. The first prisoners were brought by the end of September 1939. They were the Polish Army defenders of the Modlin Fortress who were forced to capitulate due to lack of ammunition and food. The camp served different purposes throughout its existence. The Polish intelligentsia, priests and political prisoners were secretly executed there, in addition to 1,558 patients from all the psychiatric hospitals in the district. It also served as a transit center for deportations from East Prussia to the semi-colonial General Government, and for slave labour to the Reich. Originally intended to be temporary, for the initial 1,000 inmates, the camp soon became permanent and rezoned as an Arbeitserziehungslager for the civilians brought in from across the new German Zichenau (region). Some 10,000–13,000 prisoners died there, out of a total of 30,000. After the war, the International Tracing Service (ITS) initially classified the camp as a Vernichtungslager (extermination camp), due to the sheer number of victims.The Holocaust in Luxembourg
The Holocaust in Luxembourg refers to the persecution and near-annihilation of the 3,500-strong Jewish population of Luxembourg begun shortly after the start of the German occupation during World War II, when the country was officially incorporated into Nazi Germany. The persecution lasted until October 1941, when the Germans declared the territory to be free of Jews who had been deported to extermination camps and ghettos in Eastern Europe.The Holocaust in Ukraine
The Holocaust in Ukraine took place in Reichskommissariat Ukraine during the occupation of the Soviet Ukraine by Nazi Germany in World War II. Between 1941 and 1944 more than a million Jews living in Ukrainian SSR were murdered as part of Generalplan Ost and the Final Solution extermination policies.
According to Yale historian Timothy D. Snyder, "the Holocaust is integrally and organically connected to the Vernichtungskrieg, to the war in 1941, and is organically and integrally connected to the attempt to conquer Ukraine."Uckermark concentration camp
The Uckermark concentration camp was a small German concentration camp for girls near the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Fürstenberg/Havel, Germany and then an "emergency" extermination camp.Walter Rauff
Walter (Walther) Rauff (19 June 1906 – 14 May 1984) was a mid-ranking SS commander in Nazi Germany. From January 1938, he was an aide of Reinhard Heydrich firstly in the Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst or SD,), later in the Reich Security Main Office. He worked for the Federal Intelligence Service of West Germany (Bundesnachrichtendienst) between 1958 and 1962, and was subsequently employed by the Mossad, the Israeli secret service. His funeral in Santiago, Chile, was attended by a crowd of old Nazis.Rauff is thought to have been responsible for nearly 100,000 deaths during World War II. He was instrumental in the implementation of the Nazis' genocide by mobile gas chamber. His victims included Communists, Jews, Roma and people with disabilities. He was arrested in 1945, but subsequently escaped and was never brought to trial. In the late 1970s and the 1980s, he was arguably the most wanted Nazi fugitive still alive.Wąsosz pogrom
The Wąsosz pogrom was the World War II mass murder of Jewish residents of Wąsosz in German-occupied Poland, on 5 July 1941.Yizkor books
Yizkor books are memorial books commemorating a Jewish community destroyed during the Holocaust. The books are published by former residents or landsmanshaft societies as remembrances of homes, people and ways of life lost during World War II. Yizkor books usually focus on a town but may include sections on neighboring smaller communities. Most of these books are written in Yiddish or Hebrew, some also include sections in English or other languages, depending on where they were published. Since the 1990s, many of these books, or sections of them have been translated into English.