Magirus GmbH[1] is a truck manufacturer based in Ulm, Germany, founded by Conrad Dietrich Magirus (1824–1895). The parent company was Klöckner Humboldt Deutz AG, maker of the well-known Deutz engines, so the brand commonly used was Magirus Deutz, and for a short time Klöckner. The logo of Magirus Deutz was a stylised M with a sharp, long centre point to represent the spire of Ulm Minster.

Magirus GmbH
Founded1866 (As Magirus Kommanditist)
1974 (Magirus-Deutz)
1983 (Iveco Magirus)
FounderConrad Dietrich Magirus
Defunct1936 Edit this on Wikidata
HeadquartersUlm, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Number of locations
Production locations:
France: Chambéry
Italy: Brescia
Area served
Key people
Decrease €1.042 billion (2009)
OwnerCNH Industrial
Number of employees
2,100 (2009)
Magirus fire engine in Germany

The company began manufacturing fire-fighting vehicles in 1866. In the late 1910s, it started the production of trucks and buses. These vehicles developed a reputation for high engineering standards, able to operate under the most arduous conditions. The company also invented the turntable ladder, as Magirus Leiter, which quickly became an essential item of fire brigade equipment worldwide.

Collaboration with Nazi Germany and Magirus' role in the HolocaustEdit

From 1904 Gaubschat Fahrzeugwerke GmbH mainly produced horse-drawn carriages, and from 1922 to 1945, used bus bodies on chassis from various manufacturers, including the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft and Magirus vehicles to construct vehicles for the war effort in World War II for Nazi Germany. Magirus and it's factories and work-force were nationalized for these war-effort purposes.

Gas van were instrumental in Heinrich Himmler's final solution plan, and for Herbert Lange (29 September 1909 – 20 April 1945), who was an SS-Sturmbannführer and the commandant of Chełmno death camp until April 1942; leader of the SS Special Detachment Lange conducting the murder of Jews from the Łódź Ghetto. He was responsible for numerous crimes against humanity including the murder of mental patients in Poland and in Germany during the Aktion T4 "euthanasia" programme.

The use of gas vans were used by Nazi Germany to murder Jews, Poles, Romani people, mentally ill people, and prisoners in occupied territories during World War II originated with the Nazi Euthanasia Program in 1939. Ordered to find a suitable method of killing, the Technical Institute for the Detection of Crime ("Kriminaltechnisches Institut der Sicherheitspolizei", abbreviated KTI) of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) decided to gas victims with Carbon monoxide.[2] In October 1939 the Nazis started gassing prisoners in Fort VII near Posen. The first victims were Polish and Jewish inmates of asylums for the mentally ill.[3] Witnesses report that since December 1939, mobile gas chambers were used to kill the inmates of asylums in Pomerania, Eastern Prussia and Poland.[4] The vans were built for the Sonderkommando Lange and their use was supposed to speed up the killings. Instead of transporting the victims to the gas chambers, the gas chambers were transported to the victims. They were most likely devised by specialists from the Referat II D of the RSHA. These mobile gas chambers worked under the same principles as the stationary gas chambers: through a rubber hose the driver released pure CO from steel cylinders into the air tight special construction that was shaped like a box and placed on the carrier. The vans resembled moving vans or delivery lorries and they were labelled Kaiser’s Kaffee Geschäft (de) (“Kaiser's Coffee Shop”) for camouflage. They were not called "gas vans" at the time, but “Sonder-Wagen”, “Spezialwagen” (special vans) and “Entlausungswagen” (delousing vans).[5][4] The Lange commando killed patients in numerous hospitals in the Wartheland in 1940. They drove to the hospitals, collected patients, loaded them into the vans and gassed them while they were driving them away.[6] From 21 May to 8 June 1940 the Sonderkommando Lange killed 1558 sick people from Soldau concentration camp alone.[7]

Gas vans were used, particularly at the Chełmno extermination camp, until gas chambers were developed as a more efficient method for killing large numbers of people. Two types of gas vans were used by the Einsatzgruppen in the East. The Opel-Blitz, which weighed 3.5 tons, and the larger Saurerwagen, which weighed 7 tons.[8] In Belgrade, the gas van was known as "Dušegupka" and in the occupied parts of the USSR similarly as "душегубка" (dushegubka, literally "soul killer" or "exterminator"). The SS used the euphemisms Sonderwagen, Spezialwagen or S-wagen ("special vehicle") for the vans.[9] The gas vans were specifically designed to direct deadly exhaust fumes via metal pipes into the airtight cargo compartments, where the intended victims had been forcibly stuffed to capacity. In most cases the victims were suffocated and poisoned from carbon monoxide and other toxins in the exhaust as the vans were transporting them to fresh pits or ravines for mass burial.

The use of gas vans had two disadvantages:

  1. It was slow — some victims took twenty minutes to die.
  2. It was not quiet — the drivers could hear the victims' screams, which they found distracting and disturbing.

By June 1942 the biggest producer of gas vans, Gaubschat Fahrzeugwerke GmbH, had delivered 20 gas vans in two models (for 30–50 and 70–100 individuals) to Einsatzgruppen, out of 30 that were ordered from that company. Not one gas van was extant at the end of the war. The existence of gas vans first came to light in 1943 during the trial of Nazi collaborators who had been involved in the gassing of 30 to 60 jewish civilians in Krasnodar[10]. The total number of gas van gassings is unknown.[11]

With the dissolution of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) on May 8th, 1945, Magirus was no longer under Nazi Germany's control, and resumed its normal operations post World War II, eventually becoming civilian based operation again.

Post Nazi Germany EraEdit

In 1975, Magirus became part of Iveco which continued producing some Magirus trucks for a short while under the name "Iveco Magirus" before abandoning it completely in most countries. KHD's collaboration with Fiat ended abruptly and less than harmoniously in 1979, leaving Fiat as owner of the Magirus-Deutz brand.[12] However, Iveco trucks were sold under the Magirus brand in Germany and other European and Middle Eastern markets until the end of the 1980s. Today, the Magirus brand is only used for the company's firefighting equipment section, not for the whole fleet of manufactured trucks.

Most trucks from Magirus were also known as Magirus-Deutz because their air-cooled engine came from the factory of Deutz AG. These engines are still being sold for agricultural and marine use.

Iveco Magirus is one of the leading manufacturers of fire fighting equipment. The underpinnings for the line of fire fighting trucks are primarily Iveco's own chassis designs and engines, but occasionally platforms from other truck manufacturers serve as the base for specialized or customized fire-fighting equipment layouts. With its Magirus brand turntable ladder, Iveco Magirus is the unrivalled global market leader by sales.

Airship laddersEdit

Though seldom seen today, the Magirus company produced almost all of the early, movable ladders used in the construction of large, rigid airships in Germany and in the United States. The multi-extension, wooden ladders were mounted on massively constructed, wooden carriage frames with a "fifth-wheel" style, forward axle assembly. Although it appeared to be designed for horses, the ladders could be easily moved by two men. The carriage was equipped with four, hand screw type "outriggers" that would resist the ladder from tipping. The ladder did not swivel on the carriage. It was elevated and extended only towards the front of the carriage. In the "working" position, the ladder had to be elevated to about an 80 degree angle in order to allow full extension to 85 feet. (It is not known what the maximum extended length of the largest wooden Magirus ladder was, but the ones used during the erection of the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation's USS Akron and USS Macon reached to 85 feet.)

They can be seen, commonly, in early photographs of airships under construction in the 1920s and 1930s.

In the Soviet UnionEdit

In 1974 the firm was awarded a contract (called the Delta Project) for delivery in 1975-1976 of about 9,500 dumper and flatbed trucks (Magirus М232 D19 and M290 D26) to the USSR to work on the construction of the Baikal–Amur Mainline (BAM).[13][14] This order was the largest in the company's history. These models were export only options KHD products which were not offered on the domestic market in Germany. By January 1, 1975 for the first batch of Magirus trucks for BAM construction was ready to be sent to the Soviet Union. Many of these trucks are still in service today. Largely because of this single order, in 1975 export products accounted for 70% of total production Magirus-Deutz, and the firm took the second place among the German truck manufacturers.[citation needed]

In 1982 Magirus-Deutz erstwhile owners KHD sold the licensing rights for Soviet production of up to 25,000 Series 413 diesel engines. These were meant to be installed in heavy USSR trucks and other vehicles.[12]


Current productsEdit



  • 1864 - Founded by Conrad Dietrich Magirus
  • 1872 - 1872 2-wheel hand ladder climbable when free-standing, model »Ulmer Ladder«
  • 1892 - First horse-pulled rotating ladder 25 m
  • 1904 - First steam powered self-propelled “fire engine”
  • 1916 - First fully automatic drive turn table ladder in the world
  • 1917 - Production of Magirus motor vehicles
  • 1931 - First turn table ladder with steel ladder set
  • 1936 - Fusion with Humboldt-Deutz Motorenfabrik
  • 1951 - Made the highest turntable ladder in the world 52 m
  • 1953 - First turntable ladder with hydraulic drive
  • 1965 - First forward control truck chassis
  • 1971 - First rescue vehicle RW-rail for subway and local railway operation
  • 1972 - First large airport crash tender
  • 1980 - First turntable ladder »low-design«
  • 1986 - First computer controlled turntable ladder
  • 1987 - Take over of previous Bachert production plant in Weisweil, Germany
  • 1992 - Iveco Mezzi Speciali, Brescia, Italy
  • 1994 - First articulated ladder DLK 23-12 GL CC
  • 1996 - Production start of light pumper vehicles in Görlitz/Germany
  • 1997 - Lohr-Magirus in Graz/Austria
  • 2000 - First oscillation-free turntable ladder (Computer Stabilized)
  • 2005 - „Firework of Novelties“ at the Interschutz in Hannover
  • 2007 - New modular bodywork generation AluFire 3
  • 2010 - Presentation of the models M 32 L-AT, M 33 P, SuperDragon 2, MultiStar2 at the Interschutz in Leipzig

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Die wichtigsten Unternehmen des Jahres 2009 - Welt Online". 2011-07-05. Archived from the original on 2012-06-05. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
  2. ^ Beer 1987, p. 405.
  3. ^ Alberti 2006, p. 326-327.
  4. ^ a b Beer 1987, p. 405-406.
  5. ^ Alberti 2006, p. 327-328.
  6. ^ Friedlander 1997, p. 139.
  7. ^ Beer 1987, p. 406.
  8. ^ Ernst. Klee, Willi Dressen, Volker Riess (1991). "The gas-vans (3. 'A new and better method of killing had to be found')". The Good Old Days: The Holocaust As Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders. Konecky Konecky. p. 69. ISBN 1568521332. Retrieved 2013-05-08.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Patrick Montague (2012). "The Gas Vans (Appendix I)". Chełmno and the Holocaust: The History of Hitler's First Death Camp. Univ of North Carolina Press. p. Appendix I: The Gas Van. ISBN 0807835277. Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  10. ^ "Krasnodar Gas Wagon Attacks, from, in English". 2018. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  11. ^ "Gaswagen, from, in German". 2006. Retrieved 2018-10-06.
  12. ^ a b Kacher, Georg (September 1982). Kennett, Pat (ed.). "Intertruck: Germany". TRUCK. London, UK: FF Publishing Ltd: 21.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-28. Retrieved 2014-07-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) see 1974- das "Delta-Projekt" (deutsch)
  14. ^ "Magirus — непростая история" (in Russian). June 25, 2012. Retrieved 2019-07-30.

External linksEdit