THIS WEEK IN WORLD WAR II

PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE OF

THE FINAL SOLUTION

On June 1, 1942, a Warsaw underground newspaper, the Liberty Brigade, makes public the news of the gassing of tens of thousands of Jews at Chelmno, a death camp in Poland—almost seven months after extermination of prisoners began.

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The Liberty Brigade, a Polish socialist underground newspaper, published an article by Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum, the archivist of the Warsaw Ghetto and a critical chronicler of the Nazi assault upon and torture of the Jews, which disclosed for the first time the program of gassings at the concentration camp at Chelmno

The Liberty Brigade, a Polish socialist underground newspaper, published an article by Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum, the archivist of the Warsaw Ghetto and a critical chronicler of the Nazi assault upon and torture of the Jews, which disclosed for the first time the program of gassings at the concentration camp at Chelmno

A year earlier, the means of effecting what would become the “Final Solution,” the mass extermination of European Jewry, was devised: 700 Jews were murdered by channeling gas fumes back into a van used to transport them to the village of Chelmno, in Poland. This “gas van” would become the death chamber for a total of 360,000 Jews from more than 200 communities in Poland. The advantage of this form of extermination was that it was silent and invisible.

A model of Magirus-Deutz gas van used by the Nazis for suffocation at the Chelmno extermination camp

A model of Magirus-Deutz gas van used by the Nazis for suffocation at the Chelmno extermination camp

One month before the infamous Wannsee Conference of January 1942, during which Nazi officials decided to address formally the “Jewish question,” the gas vans in Chelmno were used to kill up to 1,000 Jews a day. The vans provided the “Final Solution” for Adolf Eichmann and other Wannsee attendees. The mass gassings were the most orderly and systematic means of eliminating European Jewry. Eventually, more such vans were employed in other parts of Poland. There was no thought of selecting out the “fit” from the “unfit” for slave labor, as in Auschwitz. There was only one goal: utter extermination.

Emanel Ringelbum

Emanuel Ringelblum

On June 1, 1942, the story of a young Jew, Emanuel Ringelblum, (who escaped from the Chelmno death camp after being forced to bury bodies as they were thrown out of the gas vans), was published in the underground Polish Socialist newspaper Liberty Brigade. The West now knew the “bloodcurdling news… about the slaughter of Jews,” and it had a name—Chelmno.

 

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4 responses

  1. Such utterly sick, depraved minds to do such as this! Just as bad to me, those today that don’t believe it happened.
    Life & Faith in Caneyhead

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  2. Jo Wake says:

    People didn’t believe it when they heard about it at the time. Took a long time for the allies to really understand what was happening. I have never heard of the gas transports, I knew about the death showers though. Horrific. Yes.the people who today say it never happened should have been there.

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  3. Birgit says:

    It is mind boggling how horrific this was. It is such evil and it sickens me that many got away with it and lived a “full” life. My father in law was in Germany after the war and never could forget the mountain of shoes he came across.

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  4. jazzfeathers says:

    I’ve always wondered how much ‘normal’ people knew of what was happening, while it was happening. Surely many people did know, because many did their best to save lives, so of course they knew, but how much did the population know? Did people who denouced Jews, homosexuals, pronstitutes, political activists know to what faith they were handing these people over to? Did people know what faith was reserved to mentally illed or deformed people?
    I really don’t know.

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