Chelmno: a brief introduction Chelmno was and remains a small village in the western part of Poland which was incorporated into the Reich after the German invasion. The district was then settled by a number of German colonists, although large numbers of Poles remained. The extermination centre was the first to come into use in 1941, well before the Wannsee conference. The killing was done in mobile gassing vans which used carbon monoxide gas from the vehicle exhaust. The victims would be loaded into the vans and driven off to the burial site and they would be dead by the time the van got there. Later in WWII, extensive efforts were made to exhume and burn the bodies. There were two periods of operation, known as the "church period" and the "castle period". This referrs to the place where the victims were brought and held prior to being gassed. The local Catholic church subsequently returned to its former use and, as far as I know, remains in use to this day. The castle was later demolished. Many local Jews were force marched there on foot, but a light railway was also laid to bring people from further afield. A very small number of Jews were used for "camp" administration, processing the victims' belongings and burial parties and as far as I know, there were only two or three survivors. There are a number of accounts of the "camp" in operation from local Poles and a few German settlers.