Source:Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression. Volume I. USGPO, Washington, 1946/pp.978-1008

[Note: The characters in brackets, eg, (2233-N-PS) refer to the official document numbers included in the series Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression.   A list of legal references and documents relating to the persecution of the Jews appears on pages 1008-1022.  For information on the referencing of Internet sources see Chapter 4 of S D Stein Learning, Teaching and Researching on the Internet. Addison Wesley Longman 1999-published Nov.1998]

The Persecution of the Jews

The Nuremberg Charges

Part III

Part I
Part II

Annihilation (Part 2)

Results of the Extermination Program

Nazi ingenuity reached its zenith with the construction and operation of the gas van as a means of mass annihilation of the Jews. A description of the operation of these vehicles of death is fully set forth in a captured Top Secret document dated 16, May 1942, addressed to SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Rauff, 8 Prince Albrecht-Strasse, Berlin, from Dr. Becker, SS Untersturmfuehrer. The report reads in part:

"The overhauling of vans by groups D and C is finished. While the vans of the first series can also be put into action if'the weather is not too bad, the vans of the second series (Saurer) stop completely in rainy weather. If it has rained for instance for only one half hour, the van cannot be used because it simply skids away. It can only be used in absolutely dry weather. It is only a question now whether the van can only be used standing at the place of execution. First the van has to be brought to that place, which is pos-sible only in good weather. The place of execution is usually 10 to 15 km away from the highways and i s difficult of access because of its location; in damp or wet weather it is not accessible at all. If the persons to be executed aredriven or led to that place, then they realize immediately what is going on and get restless, which is to be avoided as far as possible. There is only one way left; to load them at the collecting point and to drive them to the spot.

"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 larger 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."

* * * * * * *

"Because of the rough terrain and the indescribable road and highway conditions the caulkings and rivets loosen in the course of time. I was asked if in such cases the vans should be brought to Berlin for repair. Transportation to Berlin would be much too expensive and would demand too much fuel. In order to save those expenses I ordered them to have smaller leaks soldered and if that should no longer be possible, to notify Berlin immediately by radio, that Pol. Nr. is out of order. 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 the commanders of those S. K. concerned the immense psychological injuries and damages to their health which that work can have for those men, even if not immediately, at least later on. The men complained to me about headaches 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 those damages, I request orders be issued accordingly.

"The application of gas usually 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 now have 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.

"Today I shall continue my journey to group B, where I can be reached with further news. "Signed : Dr. Becker, SS Untersturmfuehrer." (501-PS)

A letter signed by Hauptsturmfuehrer Truehe on the subject of S-vans, addressed to the Reich Security Main Office, Room 2-D-3-A, Berlin, and marked "Top Secret," establishes that the vans were used for the annihilation of the Jews. The message reads:

"A transport of Jews, which has to be treated in a special way, arrives weekly at the office of the commandant of the Security Police and the Security Service of White Ruthenia. "The three S-vans which are there are not sufficient for that purpose. I request assignment of another S-van (five tons). At the same time I request the shipment of twenty gas hoses for the three S-vans on hand (two Diamond, one Saurer), since the ones on hand are leaky already. (signed) The Commandant of the Security Police and the Se-curity Service, Ostland." (501-PS)

It appears that a certain amount of discord existed between officials of the German government as to the proper means and methods to be used in connection with the extermination program. A secret report dated 18 June 1943, addressed to Rosenberg, complained that five thousand Jews killed by the police and SS might have been used for forced labor, and chided them for failing to bury the bodies of those liquidated:

"The fact that Jews receive special treatment requires no further discussion. However, it appears hardly believable that this is done in the way described in the report of the General Commissioner of 1 June 1943. What is Katyn against that? Imagine only that these occurrences would become known to the other side and exploited by them! Most likely such propaganda would have no effect only because peo-ple who hear and read about it simply would not be ready to believe it."

* * * * * * *

"To lock men, women, and children into barns and to set fire to them does not appear to be a suitable method of combatting bands, even if it is desired to exterminate the population. This method is not worthy of the German cause and hurts our reputation severely." (R-135)

Gunther, the prison warden at Minsk, in a letter dated 31 May 1943, addressed to the General Commissioner for White Ruthenia, was critical by implication. This letter, entitled, "Action Against Jews," reads :

"On 13 April 1943 the former German dentist Ernst Israel Tichauer and his wife, Elisa Sara Tichauer, nee Rosenthal, were committed to the court prison by the Security Service. Since that time all German and Russian Jews who were turned over to us had their golden bridgework, crowns, and fillings pulled or broken out. This happens always one to two hours before the respective action.

"Since 13 April 1943, 516 German and Russian Jews have been finished off. On the basis of a definite investigation gold was taken only in two actions-on 14 April 1943 from 172, and on 27 April 1943 from 164 Jews. About fifty percent of the Jews had gold teeth, bridgework, or fillings. Haupt-scharfuehrer Rube of the Security Service was always per-sonally present and he took the gold along, too.

"Before 13 April 1943 this was not done.
(signed) Gunther, Prison Warden." (R-135)

The foregoing letter was forwarded to Rosenberg, as Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, on June 1943. The covering letter to Rosenberg reads :

"The enclosed official report from the warden of the prison in Minsk is submitted to the Reich Minister and the Reich Commissar for Information. " (signed) The General Commissar in Minsk." (R-135)

A further complaint is contained in a secret letter addressed to General of Infantry, Thomas, Chief of the International Armament Department, dated 2 December 1941 (3257-PS). The writer of this letter apprehensively stated his reason for not forwarding the communication through official channels :

"For the personal information of the Chief of the Industrial Armament Department I am forwarding a total account of the present situation in the Reichskommissariat Ukraine in which the difficulties and tensions encountered so far and the problems which give rise, to serious anxiety are stated with unmistakable clarity.

"Intentionally I have desisted from submitting such a report through official channels or to make it known to other de-partments interested in it because I do not expect any results that way, but to the contrary am apprehensive that the difficulties and tensions and also the divergent opinions might only be increased due to the peculiarity of the situation."

* * * * * * *

"Jewish problem:

"Regulation of the Jewish question in the Ukraine was a difficult problem because the Jews constituted a large part of the urban population. We therefore have to deal-just as in the General Government-with a mass problem of policy concerning the population. Many cities had a percentage of Jews exceeding fifty percent. Only the rich Jews had fled from the German troops. The majority of Jews remained under German administration. The latter found the problem more complicated through the fact that these Jews represented almost the entire trade and even a part of the manpower in small and medium industries besides the business which had in part become superfluous as a direct or indirect result of the war. The elimination therefore necessarily had far-reaching economic consequences and even direct conse-quences for the armament industry (production for supply-ing the troops)."

* * * * * * *

"The attitude of the Jewish population was anxious -obliging from the beginning. They tried to avoid everything that might displease the German administration. That they hated the German administration and army inwardly goes without saying and cannot be surprising. However, there is no proof that Jewry as a whole or even to a greater part was implicated in acts of sabotage. Surely there were some terrorists or saboteurs among them just as among the Ukrainians. But it cannot be said that the Jews as such represented a danger to the German armed forces. The output produced by Jews who, of course, were prompted by nothing but the feeling of fear, was satisfactory to the troops and the German administration.

"The Jewish population remained temporarily unmolested shortly after the fighting. Only weeks, sometimes months later, specially detached formations of the police executed a planned shooting of Jews. The action as a rule proceeded from east to west. It was done entirely in public with the use of the Ukrainian militia, and unfortunately in many instances also with members of the armed forces taking part voluntarily. The way these actions, which included men and old men, women, and children of a11 ages were carried out was horrible. The great masses executed make this action more gigantic than any similar measure taken so far in the Soviet Union. So far about 150,000 to 200,000 Jews may have been executed in the part of the Ukraine belonging to the Reichs-kommissariat; no consideration was given to the interests of economy.

"Summarizing, it can be said that the kind of solution of the Jewish problem applied in the Ukraine which obviously was based on the ideological theories as a matter of principle had the following results :

"( a) Elimination of a part of partly superfluous eaters in the cities.
"( b) Elimination of a part of the population which hated us undoubtedly.
"( c) Elimination of badly needed tradesmen who were in many instances indispensable even in the interests of the armed forces.
"( d) Consequences as to foreign policy-propaganda which are obvious.
"( e) Bad effects on the troops which in any case get indirect contact with the executions. "( f) Brutalizing effect on the formations which carry out the execution-regular police." (3257-PS)

Lest it be thought that these conditions existed only in the East, the official Netherlands government report by the Commissioner for Repatriation as relates similar treatment of the Jews in the West (1726-PS). The German measures taken against the Dutch Jews-discriminatory decrees, anti-Semitic demonstrations, burning of synagogues, purging of Jews from the economic life of their country, food restrictions, forced labor, concentration camp confinement, deportation, and death -all these measures follow the same pattern that was effected throughout Nazi-occupied Europe. The official Netherlands report states that full Jews, liable to deportation, numbered 140,000. The total number of actual Jewish deportees was 117,000, representing more than eighty-three per cent of all the Jews in the Netherlands. Of these, 115,000 were deported to Poland for slave labor, and after departure all trace of them was lost. Regardless of victory or defeat to Ger-many, the Jew was doomed. It was the expressed intent of the Nazi state that whatever the German fate might be the Jew would not survive. (1726-PS)

A Top Secret message from the commandant of the SIPO and SD for the Radom District, addressed to SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Thiel on the subject, "Clearance of Prisons," reads as follows:

"I again stress the fact that the number of inmates of the SIPO and SD prisons must be kept as low as possible. In the present situation, particularly, those suspects handed over by the civil police need only be subjected to a short, formal in-terrogation, provided there are no serious grounds for sus-picion. They are then to be sent by the quickest route to a concentration camp, should no court martial proceeding be necessary or should there be no question of discharge. Please keep the number of discharges very low. Should the situation at the front necessitate it, early preparations are to be made for the total clearance of prisons. Should the situation develop suddenly in such a way that it is impossible to evacu-ate the prisoners, the prison inmates are to be liquidated and their bodies disposed' of as far as possible (burning, blowing up the building, etc.). If necessary, Jews still employed in the armament industry or on other work are to be dealt with in the same way. "The liberation of prisoners or Jews by the enemy, be it the WB [perhaps means 'West-Bund, ' or 'Western Ally'] or the Red Army, must be avoided under all circumstances, nor may they fall into their hands alive." (L-53)

(3) Mass Disposal of Jews in Concentration Camps.

The con-centration camps were utilized to dispose of literally millions of Jews, who died by mass shooting, gas, poison, starvation, and other means. The part which the concentration camps played in the annihilation of the Jewish people is indicated in an official Polish report on Auschwitz Concentration Camp (6161). In Auschwitz during July I944 Jews were killed at the rate of 12,000 daily :

"* * * During July 1944, they were being liquidated at the rate of 12,000 Hungarian Jews daily, and as the cre-matory could not deaI with such numbers, many bodies were thrown into large pits and covered with quick lime." (L-161)

The official Polish Government Commission Report on the In-vestigation of German crimes in Poland describes the concentra-tion camp at Treblinka in these terms:

"* * * In March 1942, the Germans began to erect an-other camp, Treblinka B, in the neighborhood of Treblinka A, intended to become a place of torment for Jews.

"The erection of this camp was closely connected with the German plans aiming at a complete destruction of. the Jewish population in Poland which necessitated the creation of a ma-chinery by means of which the Polish Jews could be killed in large numbers. Late in April 1942, the erection of the first three chambers was finished in which these general massacres were to be performed by means of steam. Somewhat later the erection of the real death building was finished, which contains ten death chambers. It was opened for wholesale murders early in autumn 1942 * * *." (3311-PS)

The report of the Polish commission describes graphically the procedure for extermination within the camp:

"* * * The average number of Jews dealt with at the camp in summer 1942 was about two railway transports daily, but there were days of much higher efficiency. From autumn 1942 this number was falling.

"After unloading in the siding all victims were assembled in one place where men were separated from women and children. In the first days of the existence of the camp the victims were made to believe that after a short stay in the camp, necessary for bathing and disinfection, they would be sent farther east, for work. Explanations of this sort were given by SS men who assisted at the unloading of the transports and further explanations could be read in notices stuck up on the walls of the barracks. But later, when more trans-ports had to be dealt with, the Germans dropped all pretenses and only tried to accelerate the procedure.

"All victims had to strip off their clothes and shoes, which were collected afterwards, whereupon all victims, women and children first, ' were driven into the death chambers. Those too slow or too weak to move quickly were driven on by rifle butts, by whipping and kicking, often by Sauer himself. Many slipped and fell, the next victims pressed for-ward and stumbled over them. Small children were simply thrown inside. After being filled up to capacity the chambers were hermetically closed and steam was let in. In a few minutes all was over. The Jewish menial workers had to remove the bodies from the platform and to bury them in mass graves. By and by, as new transports arrived, the cemetery grew, extending in eastern direction. "

From reports received, it may be assumed that several hundred thousands of Jews have been exterminated in Treblinka." (3311-PS)

An official United States government report issued by the Executive Office of the President of the United States, War Refugee Board, on the German camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau, sets forth the number of Jews gassed in Birkenau in the two-year period between April 1942 and April 1944. The figure printed in this report is not a typographical error. The number is 1,765,000. (L-22)


The huge scale of the Jewish eliminations is also reflected in the bookkeeping and statistics of the Germans themselves. The 16 December 1941 entry in the diary of Hans Frank contains these figures :

"The Jews for us also represent extraordinarily malignant gluttons.

"We have now approximately 2,500,000 of them in General Government--perhaps with the Jewish mixtures, and every-thing that goes with it, 3,500,000 Jews." (2233-D-PS)

On 25 January 1944, three years and one month later, Frank wrote in his diary these words:

"At the present time we still have in the General Government perhaps 100,000 Jews." (2233-F-PS)

Thus, in this period of three years, according to the records of the then Governor General of Occupied Poland, between 2,400,000 and 3,400,000 Jews had been eliminated.

The total number of Jews who died by Nazi hands can never be definitely ascertained. It is known, however, that 4 million Jews died in concentration camps, and that 2 million Jews were killed by the State Police in the East, making a total of 6 million murdered Jews. The source of these figures is Adolph Eichmann, Chief of the Jewish Section of the Gestapo. The figures are con-tained in an affidavit made by Dr. Wilhelm Hoettl, Deputy Group Leader of the Foreign Section of the Security Section, AMT VI, of the RSHA. Hoettl, in his affidavit, states as follows:

"Approximately 4 million Jews had been killed in the various concentration camps, while an additional 2 million met death in other ways, the major part of which 'were shot by operational squads of the Security Police during the campaign against Russia." (2738-PS)

Hoettl describes the source of his information as follows:

"According to my knowledge, Eichmann was at that time the leader of the Jewish Section of the Gestapo, and in addition to that he had been ordered by Himmler to get a hold of the Jews in all the European countries and to transport them to Germany. Eichmann was then very much impressed with the fact that Rumania had withdrawn from the war in those days. Moreover, he had come to me to get information about the military situation which I received daily from the Hungarian Ministry of War and from the Commander of the Waffen-SS in Hungary. He expressed his conviction that Germany had now lost the war and that he personally had no further chance. He knew that he would be considered one of the main war criminals by the United Nations, since he had millions of Jewish lives on his conscience. I asked him how many that was, to which he answered that although the number was a great Reich secret, he would tell me since I, as a historian, would be interested, and that he would prob-ably not return anyhow from his command in Rumania. He had, shortly before that, made a report to Himmler, as the latter wanted to know the exact number of Jews who had been killed." (2738-PS)

Part II

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 23/01/99
ęS D Stein

Holocaust Index Page
Genocide Index Page
ESS Home Page