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The gas van is a special product of the Third Reich. It is a van with a gas-tight cabin. To the exhaust pipe of the van, there was attached an exhaust hose. A hole, the thickness of the exhaust hose, was drilled at the bottom of the cabin, and a metal exhaust pipe was melded into this hole. This would be connected to the exhaust hose, so that when the engine was running, the exhaust fumes would be carried into the cabin, where they would spread.

The vans would usually hold 30-50 people, who would, when the engine was turned on, die from CO poisoning.

The Higher SS- and Police-Leader Jeckeln testified in 1945:

"In December 1941, when I reported orally the completion of Himmler's order to execute by shooting
the Jews of the Ghetto in Riga to him, Himmler told me that shooting was too complicated an action.
In the shootings, one needed troops who were able to shoot, and that it had a bad influence on 
the men. So, said Himmler further, it would be best to liquidate the people 
with gas vans, which upon his order had been built in Germany."

  • On 15th or 16th of August, 1941 Himmler gave the order to start constructing gas vans.
  • On the 3rd of November that year, there was an experimental gassing in Sachsenhausen.
  • In late November and in December the first usage of the vans was recorded.

The gas vans served the Einsatzgruppen, and were used in several concentration camps, most notably in Kulmhof.

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