Burmeister, Walter

Walter Burmeister (14 Nov. 1894 – 23 Feb. 1980), SS Oberscharführer, is said to have served as a driver of one of the gas vans at the Chełmno Camp. Interrogated by Investigating Judge Władysław Bednarz after the war in Poland, he describes the vans as they appear in the extant authentic correspondence between Germany’s Department of Homeland Security (Reichssicherheitshauptamt) and the Gaubschat Company, yet adding that exhaust gas was fed into the cargo box through a pipe, perforated with holes, which routed into a “metal spiral hose.” Burmeister insisted that the vehicles he drove were “medium-weight Renault trucks with gasoline engine.” However, there is no trace of any Renault truck ever used as a gas van, nor of the fanciful piping system, which Burmeister evidently made up when put under pressure by his Polish investigators to come up with something.

During an interrogation some 15 years later in Germany in preparation for the West-German Chełmno Show Trial at Bonn, Burmeister had learned enough about the orthodox narrative to adjust it to what was expected of him, no longer claiming a Renault, and simply feeding the gas into the cargo box through a hole in the floor via a flexible metal hose. Hence, Burmeister’s knowledge had been “streamlined” over the years to fit the orthodox “truth.” Despite his cooperation, he was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for aiding in the murder of at least 130,000 people, hence, not even 53 minutes jail time for each life taken.

(For more details, see Alvarez 2023, pp. 149-151.)

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