Technical Changes to Improve the Gas Vans

The Nazi Germany was one of the worst massacres in the history of humanity. It involved the killing of Jewish people by Adolf Hitler during the Second World War. During this time, there were lots of communications on what needed to be done to help in the execution of the Jews. It should be noted that most of letters were politically motivated. This write up is an in-depth explication of the June 5, 1942 memo from Willy Just. The main objective of the letter was to propose technical changes to improve the vans foe effective executions.


Although the memo may not have been written in the format used today, it captures the intent of the technical communication. It begins by an opening paragraph which appears to be an analysis of the situation. It reports that since December of the previous year, 97,000 cars had been made without major incidents. Moreover, there were desired technical improvements that needed to be adopted for continuous improvement and achievement of efficiency. These technical improvements were categorized into three: load, lighting and cleaning.

In explaining the improvements with regard to load, the first two sentences under number 1 give the background that since Saurer vehicles were very spacious, they could not loaded to the full lest they became unstable. Therefore, it was more logical to reduce the loading space than the number of Jews being loaded. The other advantage of reducing the van loading space was to make sure that the loaded ‘merchandise’ did not fall over to the rear doors when the van was being driven. This would further reduce the time used to load the merchandise and lead to faster operation. In other words, it would be easier to deal with the Jews when they are confined in a small van than when they move around a huge vehicle.

Secondly, there was a need to improve the lighting. Just clarifies that since the load had the tendency of ‘rushing towards the light when darkness set’, lamps would be introduced. However, they would be lit only during the first few hours of operation. Additionally, the lamps would be protected by still grids. This will be advantageous because the ‘screaming load’ would not make the doors difficult to close while scrambling for light.

Thirdly, there was a need to make the vans easy to clean. This was to be achieved through making a hole at the middle of the van floor so that Jews would literally piss or defecate inside the van. These excretions would be drained through the eight-inch diameter hole, including stool. All the above three categories of proposed improvements were to be done on those vehicles coming for repairs. Since the experience amassed during the operations was sufficient, the ten new vehicles from Saurer will be equipped with all the proposed improvements. Moreover, the propositions were to be approved by Walter Rauff.


In conclusion, the memo sought to outline the desired improvements on the vans used to execute the Jews. In explaining the meanings of the major points, the paper identified that the load referred to the Jews who were to be packed in the vans. The size of the van was to be reduced instead of reducing the number of Jews to be packed. Lighting and a drainage system were also to be introduced for easy closing of doors and cleaning. These proposed improvements were only applicable to old vehicles being repaired; new ones were to have the innovations already fitted.

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