Field Post Office No. 32704
B. Nr 40/42
The overhauling of the vans of [Einsatz] Gruppe D and C has been completed....
I have had the vans of [Einsatz] Gruppe D
disguised as house-trailers, by having a single window shutter fixed to
each side of the small vans, and on the large ones, two shutters, such as
one often sees on farmhouses in the country. The vans had become so well
known that not only the authorities but the civilian population referred to
them as the "Death Vans" as soon as one appeared. In my opinion
the vans cannot be kept secret for any length of time even if they are
The brakes of the Saurer van which I took from Taganrog
to Simferopol were damaged on the way... When I reached Stalino and
Gorlovka a few days later the drivers of the vans there complained of the
I also gave instructions that all personnel should stay
as far away as possible from the vans when the gassing is in progress to
prevent damage to their health in the event of gas leaking out. I would
like to take this opportunity to call attention to the following: several
of the special units let their own men do the unloading after gassing.
I pointed out to the commanders of the Sonderkommando (Special Unit) concerned the enormous psychological and physical harm this
may cause the men, possibly later even if not immediately. The men
complained to me of headaches that recur after each such unloading.
Nevertheless there is reluctance to change the orders because it is feared
that if prisoners are used for this work they might make use of a favorable
moment to escape. I request appropriate instructions in order to save the
men from suffering harm.
The gassing is generally not carried out correctly. In
order to get the Aktion finished as quickly as possible the driver
presses down on the accelerator as far as it will go. As a result the
persons to be executed die of suffocation and do not doze off as was
planned. It has proved that if my instructions are followed and the levers
are properly adjusted death comes faster and the prisoners fall asleep
peacefully. Distorted faces and excretions, such as were observed before,
no longer occur.
Today I shall continue my journey to [Einsatz] Gruppe B, where I may be reached for further instructions.