Gas Vans

By Kristen Campbell

Purpose of Gas Vans

The Nazis had used poison gas for the purpose of mass murder in late 1939 with the killing of mental patients ("euthanasia"). A Nazi euphemism, "euthanasia" (referred to the systematic killing of those Germans whom the Nazis deemed), was about "unworthiness of life" because of mental illness or physical disability.

Bernburg, Brandenburg, Grafeneck, Hadamar, Hartheim, and Sonnenstein were six centers that were used to kill people. The centers contained pure, chemically manufactured carbon monoxide gas inside each building.

Centers For Killing Jews

Killing Centers such as Bernburg, Brandenburg, etc, also had gas chambers. The gas chambers were relatively small, constructed to kill prisoners that the Nazis deemed "unfit" to work.

Most of these camps used Zyklon B as the killing agent in their gas chambers.

What are Gas Vans?

Gas vans were vans used by the Nazis to murder Jews and other prisoners through

asphyxiation by carbon monoxide. About 700,000 people were victims of gas


Gas vans were sealed trucks with an engine exhaust that was diverted to the interior compartment.

The use of gas vans began after Einsatzgruppe members (squads under the German SS Police Department) where they complained about battle fatigue and mental anguish caused by shooting large numbers of women and children. Gassing was cheap so it was a good idea at the time to buy gas vans and put them to use.

Gas Chambers

Gas Chambers

In 1942, systematic mass killing in stationary gas chambers (with carbon monoxide gas generated by diesel engines) began at Belzec,Sobibor, and Treblinka, all in Poland. As victims were "unloaded" from cattle cars, they were told that they had to be disinfected in "showers."

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Belzec Death Camp

This is a picture of a death camp. In this photo, there are different small buildings for specic things. This picture contains a gas chamber that is next to the cremation pyres. Gas chambers were deadly. Many people died from going into gas chambers and didn't make it. Death camps were the most cruel place to work and be in.

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The Nazis constantly searched for more efficient means of extermination.

At the height of the deportations, up to 6,000 Jews were gassed each day at Auschwitz.

Many suffered and were killed by gas in the chambers.

A Change of Plans...

It was in February 1942 that the plan to annihilate the Jews of Europe was first implemented.
The murder of Jews in gas vans had already started on December 6, 1941 at Chelmno, shortly before the Wannsee Conference, which had been originally scheduled for December 9th.


Musical life in the concentration and death camps was of a distinctly two-faced nature. Music was an important symbol during WWII. Music was a mean of survival for the inmates. Music served as an instrument of terror for the SS.

Prison personnel abused inmate musicians for their own purposes. With forced daily musical performances they furthered the process of breaking the prisoners’ willpower and of human degradation.

Music in Nazi camps served as a necessary distraction and method of cultural survival for the victims, and simultaneously as a means of domination for the perpetrators.

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas Gas Chamber Scene

Boy In The Stripped Pajamas Gas Chamber

This clip is from the movie "The Boy in The Stripped Pajamas" where all the Jews (men) in the camp were sent in a room and were forced to take their clothes off and wait. Bruno, the main character was not a Jew and he didn't know about the camps to well. He went into the gas chamber with his friend and nobody in the chamber didn't know that they were going to be gassed. Every man in that chamber died because the soldier put poison in the chamber through a tube into the room full of Jews.

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