Hans Bothmann

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330px-Hans Bothmann (1911 - 1946).jpg

Hans Johann Bothmann (November 11th, 1911 - April 4th, 1946) was was the last commandant of the Chełmno extermination camp from 1942 and the leader of the SS Special Detachment Bothmann conducting the extermination of Jews from the Łódź Ghetto.

The Holocaust

In 1942, Bothmann replaced Herbert Lange as commandant of Chełmno, and made substantial changes to the camp's killing methods, prompted by two incidents in which the camp's gas van either broke down or exploded. The most prominent changes were that poison was added to the gas van's fuel tank, and the gas van was now pared before the gas was pumped in.

The Chełmno death factory, credited with the murder of at least 180,000 Jews before the war's end, operated under Bothmann originally between the summer of 1942 and March 1943. Chełmno was closed in 1943, and Bothmann was ordered to make sure that all Jews in the camp were taken care of before he was transferred. Bothmann personally supervised the murder of 25, 000 Jews before deporting the rest to Auschwitz Birkenau, where they were executed.

In September 1944, the Nazis launched Sonderaktion 1005, a program to destroy all evidence that the Holocaust had taken place before the Allies took over their camps. To this end, Bothmann personally shot several of the few Jews who remained at Chełmno, before fleeing into the surrounding forest. At the end of the war, he was arrested by British forces in West Germany and hanged himself in custody.