The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/chelmno/chelmno.003

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Subject: Holocaust Almanac: Malzmueller on Chelmno

Archive/File: pub/camps/chelmno/chelmno.003
Last-Modified: 1994/03/01

SS-man Theodor Malzmueller on the Chelmno extermination camp 

   "When we arrived we had to report to the camp commandant,
   SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Bothmann.  The SS-Haupsturmfuehrer addressed
   us in his living quarters, in the presence of SS-Untersturmfuehrer
   Albert Plate.  He explained that we had been dedicated to the
   Kulmhof [Chelmno] extermination camp as guards and added that in
   this camp the plague boils of humanity, the Jews, were
   exterminated.  We were to keep quiet about everything we saw or
   heard, otherwise we would have to reckon with our families'
   imprisonment and the death penalty...

   The extermination camp was made up of the so-called "castle" and
   the camp in the woods.  The castle was a fairly large stone
   building at the edge of the village of Kulmhof.  It was there that
   the Jews who had been transported by lorry or railway were first

   When a lorry arrived the following members of the SS-Sonderkommando
   addresses the Jews: (1) camp commandant Bothmann, (2)
   Untersturmfuehrer Albert Plate from North Germany, (3)
   Polizei-Meister Willy Lenz from Silesia, (4) Polizei-Meister Alois
   Haeberle from Wuerttenberg.  They explained to the Jews that they
   would first of all be given a bath and deloused in Kulmhof and then
   sent to Germany to work.  The Jews then went inside the castle.
   There they had to get undressed.  After this they were sent through
   a passage-way on to a ramp to the castle yard where the so-called
   "gas-van" was parked.  The back door of the van would be open.  The
   Jews were made to get inside the van.  This job was done by three
   Poles, who I believe were sentenced to death.  The Poles hit the
   Jews with whips if they did not get into the gas vans fast enough.
   When all the Jews were inside the door was bolted.  The driver then
   switched on the engine, crawled under the van and connected a pipe
   from the exhaust to the inside of the van.  The exhaust fumes now
   poured into the inside of the truck so that the people inside were
   suffocated..." (Klee, 217-219)

Testimony of gas-van driver Walter Burmeister

   "As soon as the ramp had been erected in the castle, people started
   arriving in Kulmhof from Lizmannstadt in lorries...  The people
   were told that they had to take a bath, that their clothes had to
   be disinfected and that they could hand in any valuable items
   beforehand to be registered...

   When they had undressed they were sent to the cellar of the castle
   and then along a passageway on to the ramp and from there into the
   gas-van.  In the castle there were signs marked "to the baths".
   The gas vans were large vans, about 4-5 meters long, 2.2 meter wide
   and 2 meter high.  The interior walls were lined with sheet metal.
   On the floor there was a wooden grille.  The floor of the van had
   an opening which could be connected to the exhaust by means of a
   removable metal pipe.  When the lorries were full of people the
   double doors at the back were closed and the exhaust connected to
   the interior of the van...

   The Kommando member detailed as driver would start the engine right
   away so that the people inside the lorry were suffocated by the
   exhaust gases.  Once this had taken place, the union between the
   exhaust and the inside of the lorry was disconnected and the van
   was driven to the camp in the woods were the bodies were unloaded.
   In the early days they were initially burned in mass graves, later
   incinerated...  I then drove the van back to the castle and parked
   it there.  Here it would be cleaned of the excretions of the people
   that had died in it.  Afterwards it would once again be used for

   I can no longer say what I thought at the time or whether I thought
   of anything at all.  I can also no longer say today whether I was
   too influenced by the propaganda of the time to have refused to
   have carried out the orders I had been given." (Klee, 219-220)

                            Work Cited

   Klee, E., W.  Dressen, V.  Riess.  The Good Old Days.  New York:
   The Free Press, 1988

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.