Rauff, Walter

Walter Rauff
Walter Rauff

Walter Rauff (19 June 1906 – 14 May 1984), SS Standartenführer, headed Office II D of Germany’s Reich Security Main Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt) since November 1940, which was dealing with technical matters. Subdepartment 3a of this office dealt with the Security Police’s motor pool and was headed by Friedrich Pradel. This office supposedly was in charge of supplying the Einsatzgruppen behind the Eastern front with so-called gas vans.

Toward the end of the war, Rauff ended up in U.S. captivity in Italy, where he was asked to confirm the authenticity of the Becker Document allegedly sent to him in May 1942. He complied by writing a handwritten note across a copy of it, and by signing a brief English affidavit asserting the same, and specifying that he knew nothing more about these vehicles, neither their number nor how many people were killed in them (IMT, Vol. 30, pp. 256-258). He even mislabelled the manufacturer of the vehicles’ chassis (Saurer, Vienna) as the manufacturer of the gas vans located in Berlin. However, it was the Berlin Gaubschat Company that manufactured the cargo boxes allegedly misused for executing people.

During later interviews while in safe Chilean exile in the 1970s – Pinochet refused to extradite him – he revealed that he learned only after the war about a Führer order to exterminate the Jews:

“While I got to know after the war that there was a so-called Führer order, the content of which was the liquidation of the Jews for racial reasons, I cannot remember that during the war it had ever been said that there was such an order. Of the existence of such an order, I should have been informed for my activity in Tunis, because there were many Jews there who even worked for us voluntarily without anything happening to them.”

When asked more specifically about the “gas vans,” Rauff repeated that he could not recall how and when all this came about. He asserted that at some point he saw two of these gas vans standing around, and he “somehow” even “learned that the gas vans were used for the execution of sentences and for the killing of Jews.” Hence, the person centrally responsible for the deployment of these gas vans – or so the orthodox narrative goes – could remember almost nothing about the gas vans, and he only accidentally learned that they were used for killing Jews, maybe only after the war.

Since Rauff was safe in Chile and had nothing to fear, he agreed to this interview with a German prosecutor. Rauff was therefore probably sincere with his answers. This demonstrates that he could not distinguish anymore between what he knew during the war and what he learned later. However, if he had indeed been in charge of deploying these vans following extermination orders from higher up, then he almost certainly would have remembered.

(For more details, see Alvarez 2023, esp. pp. 134-138.)

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