Deposition of Theodor Malzmueller

Member of SS Staff, Chelmno

“When we arrived we had to report to the camp commandant, SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Bothmann. The SS-Haupsturmfuehrer addressed us in his living quarters, in the presence of SS-Untersturmfuehrer Albert Plate. He explained that we had been dedicated to the Kulmhof [Chelmno] extermination camp as guards and added that in this camp the plague boils of humanity, the Jews, were exterminated. We were to keep quiet about everything we saw or heard, otherwise we would have to reckon with our families’ imprisonment and the death penalty…

The extermination camp was made up of the so-called “castle” and the camp in the woods. The castle was a fairly large stone building at the edge of the village of Kulmhof. It was there that the Jews who had been transported by lorry or railway were first brought…

When a lorry arrived the following members of the SS-Sonderkommando addresses the Jews: (1) camp commandant Bothmann, (2) Untersturmfuehrer Albert Plate from North Germany, (3) Polizei-Meister Willy Lenz from Silesia, (4) Polizei-Meister Alois Haeberle from Wuerttenberg. They explained to the Jews that they would first of all be given a bath and deloused in Kulmhof and then sent to Germany to work. The Jews then went inside the castle. There they had to get undressed. After this they were sent through a passage-way on to a ramp to the castle yard where the so-called “gas-van” was parked. The back door of the van would be open. The Jews were made to get inside the van. This job was done by three Poles, who I believe were sentenced to death. The Poles hit the Jews with whips if they did not get into the gas vans fast enough. When all the Jews were inside the door was bolted. The driver then switched on the engine, crawled under the van and connected a pipe from the exhaust to the inside of the van. The exhaust fumes now poured into the inside of the truck so that the people inside were suffocated…”


E. Klee and V. Riess W. Dressen, The Good Old Days (New York: The Free Press, 1988), pp. 219-220.

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