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A gas van or gas wagon (Russian: душегубка (dushegubka); German: Gaswagen) was a vehicle reequipped as a mobile gas chamber. The vehicle had an air-tight compartment for 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 invented and used by the Soviet secret police NKVD
NKVD
in the late 1930s during the Great Purge.[2][3][4][5][6] It was later widely implemented as an extermination method in Nazi Germany to kill enemies of the regime, mostly Jews.[7]

Contents

1 Invention and use in the Soviet Union 2 Use in Nazi Germany 3 See also 4 References 5 External links

Invention and use in the Soviet Union[edit] The gas van was invented in the Soviet Union[2][3][3][8][9] in 1936[6] by Isay Berg, the head of the administrative and economic department of the NKVD
NKVD
of Moscow Oblast. It suffocated 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.[4] According to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, "I. D. Berg was ordered to carry out the decisions of the NKVD
NKVD
troika of Moscow Oblast, and Berg was decently carrying out this assignment: he was driving people to the executions by shooting. But, when in Moscow Oblast
Moscow Oblast
there came to be three troikas having their sessions simultaneously, the executioners could not cope with the load. They hit upon a solution: to strip the victims naked, to tie them up, plug their mouths and throw them into a closed truck, disguised from the outside as a bread van. During transportation the fuel gases came into the truck, and when delivered to the farthest [execution] ditch the arrestees were already dead."[5] Berg denied that he was inventor of the gas van.[10][11] Use in Nazi Germany[edit] During trips to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
in 1941, Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
learned the psychological impact of shooting women and children on the Einsatzgruppen. Hence, he commissioned Arthur Nebe
Arthur Nebe
to explore ways of killing that were less stressful for the task forces. Nebe's experiments eventually led to the utilization of the gas van.[12] This vehicle had already been used in 1940 for the gassing of East Prussian and Pomeranian mental patients in the Soldau concentration camp.[13] Another source states that the vans were first tested on Soviet prisoners in Sachsenhausen.[14] One application of the Nazis' gas van became known in 1943 after the trial of members of crimes against humanity committed in the territory of the Krasnodar Krai
Krasnodar Krai
of the USSR, where about 7,000 civilians were killed by gas poisoning[citation needed]. It was a vehicle with an airtight compartment for victims, into which exhaust gas was piped while the engine was running. As a result, the victims were gassed with carbon monoxide, resulting in death by the combined effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and suffocation. The suffocations usually occurred as the gas van was carrying the victims to a freshly dug pit or ravine for mass burial. 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
Einsatzgruppen
in the East. The Opel-Blitz, weighing 3.5 tons, and the larger Saurerwagen, weighing 7 tonnes.[15] 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 use of gas vans had two disadvantages:

It was slow — some victims took twenty minutes to die. It was not quiet — the drivers could hear the victims' screams, which they found distracting and disturbing.

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.[citation needed] 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. The gas vans are extensively discussed in some of the interviews in Claude Lanzmann's film Shoah. See also[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: Overhauling of gas vans

Execution van Walter Rauff August Becker The Holocaust Operation Reinhard Charcoal-burning suicide

References[edit]

^ "SS use of mobile gassing vans". A damaged Magirus-Deutz van found in 1945 in Kolno, Poland. World War II Today. 2011. Retrieved April 22, 2013. 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 ; ^ a b Yevgenia Albats, KGB: The State Within a State. 1995, page 101 ^ a b c Catherine Merridale. Night of Stone: Death and Memory in Twentieth-Century Russia. Penguin Books, 2002 ISBN 0-14-200063-9 p. 200 ^ a b Timothy J. Colton. Moscow: Governing the Socialist Metropolis. Belknap Press, 1998. ISBN 0-674-58749-9 p. 286 ^ a b Солженицын, А.И. (2002). Two Hundred Years Together (Двести лет вместе) (in Russian). 2. Москва: Русский путь. p. 297. ISBN 5-85887-151-8.  ^ a b Argumenty i Fakty, Аргументы и факты (in Russian). N 17. April 1993.  ^ "Gas Wagons: The Holocaust's mobile gas chambers", an article of Nizkor Project ^ Е. Жирнов. «По пути следования к месту исполнения приговоров отравлялись газом». Коммерсантъ Власть, № 44, 2007. ^ Н. Петров. «Человек в кожаном фартуке». Новая газета, спецвыпуск «Правда ГУЛАГа» от 02.08.2010 № 10 (31). Archived 2010-08-06 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Special
Special
Object Butovo Archived 2013-03-23 at the Wayback Machine., article by Lydia Golovkova ^ А.Ватлин "Террор районного масштаба: "массовые операции" НКВД в Кунцевском районе Московской области в 1937 – 1938 гг.", 2004. ^ The path to genocide: essays on launching the final solution By Christopher R. Browning ^ The destruction of the European Jews, Part 804, Volume 1 By Raul Hilberg ^ Saul Friedländer. The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945, HarperCollins, 2007, p. 234 ISBN 978-0-06-019043-9 ^ Ernst. Klee, Willi Dressen, Volker Riess (1991). "The gas-vans (3. 'A new and better method of killing had to be found')". The Good Old Days: The Holocaust
The Holocaust
As Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders. Konecky Konecky. p. 69. ISBN 1568521332. Retrieved 2013-05-08. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)

External links[edit]

The Development of the Gas-Van from the Jewish Virtual Library Film: Short explanation about the Gas vans at the Nuremberg trials ( United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
) NAZI GAS VANS By Rob Arndt

v t e

Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
and Einsatzkommandos

People

Director

Reinhard Heydrich Ernst Kaltenbrunner

Commanders of Einsatzgruppen

Humbert Achamer-Pifrader Walther Bierkamp Horst Böhme Erich Ehrlinger Wilhelm Fuchs Heinz Jost Erich Naumann Arthur Nebe Otto Ohlendorf Friedrich Panzinger Otto Rasch Heinrich Seetzen Franz Walter Stahlecker Bruno Streckenbach

Commanders of Einsatzkommandos, Sonderkommandos

Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski Rudolf Batz Ernst Biberstein Wolfgang Birkner Helmut Bischoff Paul Blobel Walter Blume Friedrich-Wilhelm Bock Otto Bradfisch Werner Braune Friedrich Buchardt Fritz Dietrich Karl Jäger Friedrich Jeckeln Waldemar Klingelhöfer Wolfgang Kügler Walter Kutschmann Rudolf Lange Gustav Adolf Nosske Hans-Adolf Prützmann Walter Rauff Martin Sandberger Hermann Schaper Karl Eberhard Schöngarth Erwin Schulz Franz Six Eugen Steimle Eduard Strauch Martin Weiss Udo von Woyrsch

Other members

August Becker Lothar Fendler Joachim Hamann Emil Haussmann Felix Landau Albert Widmann

Collaborators

Viktors Arājs Herberts Cukurs Antanas Impulevičius Konrāds Kalējs Algirdas Klimaitis

Groups

German

SS RSHA SD Orpo 8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz Sonderdienst

Non-German

Schutzmannschaft
Schutzmannschaft
(Belarusian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian) Arajs Kommando Lithuanian Security Police Rollkommando Hamann TDA Ypatingasis būrys

Crimes

Belarus

Łachwa Ghetto Minsk Ghetto Slutsk Affair

Estonia

Kalevi-Liiva

Latvia

Burning of the Riga synagogues Dünamünde Action Jelgava Pogulianski Rumbula Liepāja (Šķēde)

Lithuania

Ninth Fort Kaunas June 1941 Kaunas 29 October 1941 Ninth Fort
Ninth Fort
November 1941 Ponary

Poland

Operation Tannenberg Intelligenzaktion AB-Aktion Operation Reinhard

Russia

Gully of Petrushino Zmievskaya Balka Lokot Autonomy

Ukraine

Babi Yar Drobytsky Yar Drohobycz Kamianets-Podilskyi Lviv pogroms Mizocz Ghetto Odessa

Records

The Black Book Commissar Order Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
trial Generalplan Ost Jäger Report Korherr Report Special
Special
Prosecution Book-Poland (Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen) Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
reports

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