Letter to Himmler’s staff describing the uses of a “delousing van”

(April 11, 1942)


This letter was written from SS-Major General Dr. Harald Turner, privy-councilor and chief of the German Administration in Serbia, to Karl Wolff, chief of Himmler’s personal staff, on April 11, 1942. In the fifth paragraph, Dr. Turner describes the “delousing van” - and the word, “Entlausungswagen,” is placed in quote marks indicating its significance as a euphemism - which will be used in the “definitive clearing out” of his camp of Jewish women and children.


Translation from German:

Privy Councillor Dr. Turner
SS-Major General
F.P.Number 18.739

 O.U., April 11, 1942

Dear Comrade Wolff!

Now that the decision has been taken in my favor, I would be remiss - since I am convinced that this is singularly and only thanks to your influence and your tireless activity - if I did not transmit to you my most comradely and heartfelt thanks.

I can also again today, the more so since you know me well enough, only again repeat, that the matter did not have to do with my person - the person concerned could have just as easily had another name - but rather with a necessary battle that had to be fought against one-sided Wehrmacht interests, by which in the final unspoken result the SS Leaders, and therewith also the SS and further also the civil servants would have been affected.

The best proof for this is, on the one hand, a remark woven into an official document from WB Southeast "the appointment of the Higher SS and Police Leader, which did not take place according to the proposal here" or words to that effect, and on the other hand, the comment of the Chief of the General Staff WB Southeast after receipt of the decision in my favor "herewith the Wehrmacht has lost a battle".

In any event, there reigns here in all circles, even the Wehrmacht who have in any way followed this struggle, only joy over this victory and this joy you have alone, as I see it, afforded these people. My thanks for that.

May I use this occasion to send you as an attachment a copy of a letter from me to the Reichsführer of January 15, 1942 to which I have yet to receive an answer. I am not complaining because as I know, such things take time and I don't feel it is right for me to press the Reichsführer for the settlement of an affair. I know that for such matters you have an interest and the reason I now draw your attention to it is only because this question is now more than critical. Already some months ago, I shot dead all the Jews I could get my hands on in this area, concentrated all the Jewish women and children in a camp and with the help of the SD got my hands on a "delousing van," that in about 14 days to 4 weeks will have brought about the definitive clearing out of the camp, which in any event since the arrival of Meyssner and the turning over of this camp to him, was continued by him. Then the time is come in which the Jewish officers to be found in prisoner of war camps under the Geneva Convention find out against our will about their no longer existing kinfolk and that could easily lead to complications.

Were the affected persons now to be freed, they would in the minute of the arrival have their ultimate freedom, but like their racial comrades not for very long, and then this entire question should be resolved once and for all. Any consideration could have counter-effects on our prisoners in Canada, if it comes out that the freed persons do not move around freely here... I personally do not agree with this consideration.

With best wishes for your personal well being, heartiest greetings and

Heil Hitler!

I am as always

your loyal

Turner


Source: Holocaust History Project