The construction of Treblinka death camp began after Belzec and Sobibor were already operational. The expertise gained in the building and in the killing. Under the code name Operation Reinhard, more than one and a half million Jews The construction of Treblinka death camp began after Belzec and Sobibor. Mr. Arad reports as a controlled and effective witness for the prosecution. Mr. Arad’s book, with its abundance of horrifying detail, reminds us of how far we have.

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Belzec was a Nazi German extermination camp built by the SS for the purpose of implementing the secretive Operation Reinhardthe plan to treblinkq Polish Jewrya key part of the ” Final Solution ” which entailed the murder of some 6 million Jews in the Holocaust.

Lembergnow LvivUkraine with the largest Jewish populations in the region. Originally, the Jewish forced labor was brought into the area in April for the construction of military defense facilities of the German strategic plan codenamed Operation Otto against the Soviet advance beyond their common frontier following the Soviet invasion of In the territory of the so-called Nisko ‘reservation’the city of Sbibor became the hub of early Nazi transfer of about 95, German, Austrian, and Polish Jews expelled from the West and the General Government area.

The decision to begin work on the first stationary gas chambers in the General Government preceded the actual Wannsee Conference by three months. It could “process” the Jews of both regions. The ditch, excavated originally for military purposes was likely to serve as the first mass grave. Work had commenced in early Novemberusing local builders overseen by a squad of Trawniki guards.

The installation, resembling a railway transit point for the purpose of forced labour, was finished before Christmas. It featured insulated barracks for showering among several other structures.

Some local men were released. The SS completed the work in February by fitting in the tank engine and the exhaust piping systems for gassing.

Operation Reinhard – The Camps of Belzec, Sobibor & Treblinka

The trial killings were performed in early March. He was, therefore, an obvious choice to be the first commandant of the first stationary extermination camp of Operation Reinhard in the General Government.

Cmaps was his proposal to use the exhaust gas emitted by the internal-combustion engine of a motorcar as the killing agent instead of the bottled carbon monoxidebecause no delivery from outside the camp would be required as in the case of the T-4 method. Wirth developed his method on the basis of experience he had gained in the fixed gas chambers of Action T4. Even though Zyklon B became broadly available later on, Wirth decided against it.

Bełżec extermination camp – Wikipedia

Zyklon B was produced by a private firm for both Birkenau, and Majdanek nearby, but their infrastructure differed. For economic and practical reasons, Wirth had almost the same carbon monoxide gas used in T-4, generated with the torque of a large engine. Although Holocaust witnesses’ testimonies differ as to the type of fuel, Erich Fuchs ‘ postwar affidavit indicates that most probably it was a petrol engine with a system of pipes delivering exhaust fumes into the gas chambers.

Camp 1, which included the victims’ unloading area with two undressing barracks further up; as well as Camp 2, which contained the gas chambers and the mass graves dug by the crawler excavator. The process was conducted as quickly as possible amid constant screaming by the Germans.

The wooden gas chambers — which were built with double walls that were insulated by earth packed between them — were disguised as the shower barracks, so that the victims would not realize the true purpose of the facility. The gassing itself, which took about 30 minutes, was conducted by Hackenholt with the Ukrainian guards and a Jewish aide. The first one, from 17 March to the end of June was marked by the existence of smaller gas chambers housed in barracks made of planks and insulated with sand and rubber.


The gassing installation was imperfect and usually only one or two rooms were working, causing a backlog. In the first three months 80, people were killed and buried in pits covered with a shallow layer of earth. The victims were Jews deported from the Lublin Ghetto and its vicinity. The original three gas chambers were insufficient for completing the task at hand. The wooden gas chambers were dismantled. The new building 24 m long and 10 m wide had six gas chambers, insulated with the cement walls.

The design was soon imitated by the other two Operation Reinhard extermination camps: There was a hand-painted sign on the new building that read Stiftung Hackenholt or Hackenholt Foundation named after the SS man who designed it. The Bahnschutzpolizei told him: They return swept clean most often the same evening. The surface layer of soil split. The bodies were placed on pyres made from rail tracks, splashed with petrol and burned over wood.

The bones were collected and crushed. The last period of camp’s operation continued until June when the area was ploughed over, and disguised as a farm. The camp’s first commandant, Christian Wirthlived very close to the camp in a house which also served as a kitchen for the SS as well as an armoury. After the German takeover of Italy inhe was transferred by Globocnik to serve along with him in his hometown of Trieste. Wirth received the Iron Cross in April The following month he was killed by partisans whilst traveling in an open-top car in what is today western Slovenia.

Lorenz Hackenholt survived the defeat of Germany, but disappeared in without a trace. Of these, just one, Josef Oberhauser leader of the SS guard platoonwas brought to trial inand sentenced to four years and six months in prison, of which he served half before being released a free man.

The remaining new arrivals were marched naked in batches to the gas chambers; beaten with whips to squeeze tighter inside. But it doesn’t go. Captain Wirth comes up. I can see he is afraid because I am present at a disaster. Yes, I see it all and I wait. My stopwatch showed it all, 50 minutes, 70 minutes, and the diesel did not start.

They can be heard weeping ‘like in the synagogue’, says Professor Pfannenstiel[b] his eyes glued to a window in the wooden door. Furious, Captain Wirth lashes the Ukrainian assisting Hackenholt twelve, thirteen times, in the face.

After 2 hours and 49 minutes — the stopwatch recorded it all — the diesel started. Up to that moment, the people [locked] in those four crowded chambers were still alive, four times persons in four times 45 cubic meters.

Many were already dead, that could be seen through the small window because an electric lamp inside lit up the chamber for a few moments. After 28 minutes, only a few were still alive. Finally, after 32 minutes, all were dead Dentists hammered out gold teeth, bridges and crowns. In the midst of them stood Captain Wirth. He was in his element, and showing me a large can full of teeth, he said: It’s only from yesterday and the tfeblinka before.

You can’t imagine what we find every day — dollars, diamonds, gold. You’ll see for yourself! In the last phase of the camp operations, all prior mass graves were unearthed by a mechanical digger.

It was the result of direct orders from the Nazi leadership possibly from Himmlersoon after the Soviet Katyn massacre of 22, Polish soldiers was discovered in Russia. At Katyn, the German-led exhumations by the international Katyn Commission revealed details of the treblijka murder by examining preserved bodies.


Bełżec extermination camp

Bone fragments were pulverized and mixed with the ashes to hide the evidence of mass murder. The site was planted with small firs and wild lupines and all camp structures were dismantled. The last train with Jewish Sonderkommando prisoners who performed the cleanup operation departed to Sobibor extermination camp for gassing in late June Sovibor were told that they were being evacuated to Germany instead.

Any equipment that could be reused was taken by the German soibor Ukrainian personnel to the concentration camp Majdanek. Wirth’s house and the neighboring SS building, which had been the property of the Polish Railway before the war, were not demolished. Raul Hilberg gave a figure ofMichael Tregenza stated that it would have been possible to have buried up to one million victims on the site although the true death toll is probably around half that number.

It was published in by Stephen Tyas and Peter Witte. The cleanup commando of up to prisoners remained in the camp, disinterring the bodies and burning them. The Sonderkommando was transported to Sobibor extermination camp around August and murdered on arrival. The Holocaust train -records were notoriously incomplete as revealed by postwar analysis by the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes against the Polish Nation.

Arad writes, that he had to rely, in part, on Yizkor books of Jewish ghettos, which were not guaranteed to give the exact estimates of the numbers of deportees. He also relied on partial German railway documentation, from which the number of trains could belec gleaned.

Some assumptions had to be made about the number of persons per each Holocaust train. The Hoefle’s numbers were repeated in Korherr Report suggesting their common origin. Other sources, like Westermann’s report, [54] contain the exact data about the number of deported persons, but only estimates of the numbers of those who died in transit.

The physical evidence of the camp’s existence was almost entirely erased before the war’s end as a result of the German prolonged cleanup efforts. There were no survivors to alert the Stalinist officials to the true significance of the site in the post-war years, even though the levelled-out mass graves of the victims remained. The scene was not legally protected until the late s, and for many years gave the impression of being forgotten.

The Soviet trials of Russian camp personnel, held in Kiev and Krasnodar in the early s soon followed. The first monuments were erected, although the area did not correspond to the actual size of the camp during its operation due to lack of proper evidence and modern forensic research.

Some commercial development took place in areas formerly belonging to it. Also, its remote location on the Polish-Soviet border meant that few people visited the site before the revolutions of and the return of democracy. It was largely forgotten and poorly maintained.

Following the collapse of the Communist reinard inthe situation began to change. Many reacted negatively to the unkept state of the grounds. In the late s extensive investigations were carried out on the camp grounds to determine precisely the deqth extent and provide greater understanding of its operation.

Buildings constructed after the war on the camp grounds were removed. New official monuments commemorating the camp’s victims were unveiled. Another prominent Holocaust survivor with a connection to Belzec is philanthropist Anita Ekstein, former national chair of March of the Living Canada.

Anita Ekstein was born in the Lviv area and was hidden as a child by Righteous Poles during the Holocaust.