Chełmno Extermination Camp Begins Operation
Chełmno extermination camp (German name Kulmhof) was an extermination camp of Nazi Germany that was situated 70 kilometres (43 mi) from Łódź, near a small village called Chełmno nad Nerem (Kulmhof an der Nehr, in German). This was in a part of Poland annexed by Germany as Reichsgau Wartheland in 1939. It was the first extermination camp, opened in 1941 to kill the Jews of the Łódź Ghetto and the Warthegau.
At least 153,000 people were killed in the camp, mainly Poles, Jews from the Łódź Ghetto and the surrounding area, along with Gypsies from Greater Poland and some Hungarian Jews, Czechs, and Soviet prisoners of war.
The technology was quite simple. The 'Sonderkommando' had three vans at its disposal. The only technical innovation was the specially constructed sealed compartments mounted on a Renault chassis. These compartments were lined with tin and had airtight, double doors. The floor of the compartment had a wooden lattice to facilitate the cleaning out of detritus. Beneath it was an aperture with a nozzle to which the pipe from the exhaust was connected. By the time Lange's unit came to use these vans, they had been tried and tested in the 'euthanasia program'.
US Holocaust Museum