|Nazi extermination camps|
|Date||World War II|
|Camp||Chełmno, Bełżec, Sobibór, Treblinka, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek|
Nazi Germany used six extermination camps (German : Vernichtungslager), also called death camps, or killing centers, in Central Europe during the Holocaust in World War II to systematically murder about 2.7 million Jews during the Holocaust. Others were murdered at the death camps as well, including Romani people during the Romani genocide. The victims of death camps were primarily killed by gassing, either in permanent installations constructed for this specific purpose, or by means of gas vans. The six extermination camps were Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Auschwitz and Majdanek death camps also used extreme work under starvation conditions in order to kill their prisoners.
The idea of mass extermination with the use of stationary facilities, to which the victims were taken by train, was the result of earlier Nazi experimentation with chemically manufactured poison gas during the secretive Aktion T4 euthanasia programme against hospital patients with mental and physical disabilities.The technology was adapted, expanded, and applied in wartime to unsuspecting victims of many ethnic and national groups; the Jews were the primary target, accounting for over 90 percent of the extermination camp death toll. The genocide of the Jews of Europe was the Third Reich's "Final Solution to the Jewish question".
|U.S. aerial photograph of Auschwitz II Birkenau|
After the invasion of Poland in September 1939, the secret Aktion T4 euthanasia programme – the systematic murder of German, Austrian and Polish hospital patients with mental or physical disabilities – was initiated by the SS in order to eliminate "life unworthy of life" (German : Lebensunwertes Leben), a Nazi designation for people who had no right to life. In 1941, the experience gained in the secretive killing of these hospital patients led to the creation of extermination camps for the implementation of the Final Solution. By then, the Jews were already confined to new ghettos and interned in Nazi concentration camps along with other targeted groups, including Roma, and the Soviet POWs. The Nazi Endlösung der Judenfrage (The Final Solution of the Jewish Question), based on the systematic killing of Europe's Jews by gassing, began during Operation Reinhard, after the onset of the Nazi-Soviet war of June 1941. The adoption of the gassing technology by Nazi Germany was preceded by a wave of hands-on killings carried out by the SS Einsatzgruppen , who followed the Wehrmacht army during Operation Barbarossa on the Eastern Front.
The camps designed specifically for the mass gassings of Jews were established in the months following the Wannsee Conference chaired by Reinhard Heydrich in January 1942 in which the principle was made clear that the Jews of Europe were to be exterminated. Responsibility for the logistics were to be executed by the programme administrator, Adolf Eichmann.
On 13 October 1941, the SS and Police Leader Odilo Globocnik stationing in Lublin received an oral order from Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler – anticipating the fall of Moscow – to start immediate construction work on the killing centre at Bełżec in the General Government territory of occupied Poland. Notably, the order preceded the Wannsee Conference by three months, but the gassings at Kulmhof north of Łódź using gas vans began already in December, under Sturmbannführer Herbert Lange. The camp at Bełżec was operational by March 1942, with leadership brought in from Germany under the guise of Organisation Todt (OT). By mid-1942, two more death camps had been built on Polish lands for Operation Reinhard: Sobibór (ready in May 1942) under the command of Hauptsturmführer Franz Stangl, and Treblinka (operational by July 1942) under Obersturmführer Irmfried Eberl from T4, the only doctor to have served in such a capacity. Auschwitz concentration camp was fitted with brand new gassing bunkers in March 1942. Majdanek had them built in September.
The Nazis distinguished between extermination and concentration camps. The terms extermination camp (Vernichtungslager) and death camp (Todeslager) were interchangeable in the Nazi system, each referring to camps whose primary function was genocide. Six camps meet this definition, though extermination of people happened at every sort of concentration camp or transit camp; the use of the term extermination camp with its exclusive purpose is carried over from Nazi terminology. The six camps were Chelmno extermination camp, Belzec extermination camp, Sobibor extermination camp, Treblinka extermination camp, Majdanek extermination camp and Auschwitz extermination camp (also called Auschwitz-Birkenau).
Todeslagers were designed specifically for the systematic killing of people delivered en masse by the Holocaust trains. The executioners did not expect the prisoners to survive more than a few hours beyond arrival at Belzec, Sobibór, and Treblinka. – auxiliaries mostly from Soviet Ukraine, and up to one thousand Sonderkommando slave labourers each. The Jewish men, women and children were delivered from the ghettos for "special treatment" in an atmosphere of terror by uniformed police battalions from both Orpo and Schupo.The Reinhard extermination camps were under Globocnik's direct command; each of them was run by 20 to 35 men from the SS-Totenkopfverbände branch of the Schutzstaffel , augmented by about one hundred Trawnikis
Death camps differed from concentration camps located in Germany proper, such as Bergen-Belsen, Oranienburg, Ravensbrück, and Sachsenhausen, which were prison camps set up prior to World War II for people defined as 'undesirable'. From March 1936, all Nazi concentration camps were managed by the SS-Totenkopfverbände (the Skull Units, SS-TV), who operated extermination camps from 1941 as well.An SS anatomist, Dr Johann Kremer, after witnessing the gassing of victims at Birkenau, wrote in his diary on 2 September 1942: "Dante's Inferno seems to me almost a comedy compared to this. They don't call Auschwitz the camp of annihilation for nothing!" The distinction was evident during the Nuremberg trials, when Dieter Wisliceny (a deputy to Adolf Eichmann) was asked to name the extermination camps, and he identified Auschwitz and Majdanek as such. Then, when asked, "How do you classify the camps Mauthausen, Dachau, and Buchenwald?", he replied, "They were normal concentration camps, from the point of view of the department of Eichmann."
Murders were not limited to these camps. Sites for the “Holocaust by Bullets” are marked on the map of The Holocaust in Occupied Poland by white skulls (without the black background), where people were lined up next to a ravine and shot by soldiers with rifles. Sites included Bronna Góra, Ponary and others.
Irrespective of round-ups for extermination camps, the Nazis abducted millions of foreigners for slave labour in other types of camps,which provided perfect cover for the extermination programme. Prisoners represented about a quarter of the total workforce of the Reich, with mortality rates exceeding 75 percent due to starvation, disease, exhaustion, executions, and physical brutality.
In the early years of World War II, the Jews were primarily sent to forced labour camps and ghettoised, but from 1942 onward they were deported to the extermination camps under the guise of "resettlement". For political and logistical reasons, the most infamous Nazi German killing factories were built in occupied Poland, where most of the intended victims lived; Poland had the greatest Jewish population in Nazi-controlled Europe.On top of that, the new death camps outside the prewar borders of the Third Reich proper could be kept secret from the German civil populace.
During the initial phase of the Final Solution, gas vans producing poisonous exhaust fumes were developed in the occupied Soviet Union (USSR) and at the Chełmno extermination camp in occupied Poland, before being used elsewhere. The killing method was based on experience gained by the SS during the secretive Aktion T4 programme of involuntary euthanasia. There were two types of death chambers operating during the Holocaust.
Unlike at Auschwitz, where the cyanide-based Zyklon-B was used to exterminate trainloads of prisoners under the guise of "relocation", the camps at Treblinka, Bełżec, and Sobibór, built during Operation Reinhard (October 1941 – November 1943), used lethal exhaust fumes produced by large internal combustion engines. The three killing centres of Einsatz Reinhard were constructed predominantly for the extermination of Poland's Jews trapped in the Nazi ghettos. At first, the victim's bodies were buried with the use of crawler excavators, but they were later exhumed and incinerated in open-air pyres to hide the evidence of genocide in what became known as Sonderaktion 1005.
The six camps considered to be purely for extermination were Chelmno extermination camp, Belzec extermination camp, Sobibor extermination camp, Treblinka extermination camp, Majdanek extermination camp and Auschwitz extermination camp (also called Auschwitz-Birkenau).
Whereas the Auschwitz II (Auschwitz–Birkenau) and Majdanek camps were parts of a labor camp complex, the Chełmno and Operation Reinhard death camps (that is, Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka) were built exclusively for the rapid extermination of entire communities of people (primarily Jews) within hours of their arrival. All were constructed near branch lines that linked to the Polish railway system, with staff members transferring between locations. These camps had almost identical design: they were several hundred metres in length and width, and were equipped with only minimal staff housing and support installations not meant for the victims crammed into the railway transports.
The Nazis deceived the victims upon their arrival, telling them that they were at a temporary transit stop, and would soon continue to German Arbeitslagers (work camps) farther to the east.Selected able-bodied prisoners delivered to the death camps were not immediately killed, but instead were pressed into labor units called Sonderkommandos to help with the extermination process by removing corpses from the gas chambers and burning them.
At the camps of Operation Reinhard, including Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka, trainloads of prisoners were destined for immediate death in gas chambers designed exclusively for that purpose.The mass killing facilities were developed at about the same time inside the Auschwitz II-Birkenau subcamp of a forced labour complex, and at the Majdanek concentration camp. In most other camps prisoners were selected for slave labor first; they were kept alive on starvation rations and made available to work as required. Auschwitz, Majdanek, and Jasenovac were retrofitted with Zyklon-B gas chambers and crematoria buildings as the time went on, remaining operational until war's end in 1945. The Maly Trostenets extermination camp in the USSR initially operated as a prison camp. It became an extermination camp later in the war with victims undergoing mass shootings. This was supplemented with gassings in a van by exhaust fumes from October 1943.
The Sajmište concentration camp operated by the Nazis in Yugoslavia had a gas van stationed for use from March to June 1942. Once the industrial killings were completed, the van was returned to Berlin. After a refit the van was then sent to Maly Trostinets for use at the camp there. The Janowska concentration camp near Lwow (now Lviv) in occupied eastern Poland implemented a selection process. Some prisoners were assigned to work before death. Others were either transported to Bełżec or victims of mass shootings on two slopes in the Piaski sand-hills behind the camp.
Heinrich Himmler visited the outskirts of Minsk in 1941 to witness a mass shooting. He was told by the commanding officer there that the shootings were proving psychologically damaging to those being asked to pull the triggers. Thus Himmler knew another method of mass killing was required. – the killers – either went mad or killed themselves.After the war, the diary of the Auschwitz Commandant, Rudolf Höss, revealed that psychologically "unable to endure wading through blood any longer", many Einsatzkommandos
The Nazis had first used gassing with carbon monoxide cylinders to kill 70,000 disabled people in Germany in what they called a 'euthanasia programme' to disguise that mass murder was taking place. Despite the lethal effects of carbon monoxide, this was seen as unsuitable for use in the East due to the cost of transporting the carbon monoxide in cylinders.
Each extermination camp operated differently, yet each had designs for quick and efficient industrialized killing. While Höss was away on an official journey in late August 1941 his deputy, Karl Fritzsch, tested out an idea. At Auschwitz clothes infested with lice were treated with crystallised prussic acid. The crystals were made to order by the IG Farben chemicals company for which the brand name was Zyklon-B. Once released from their container, Zyklon-B crystals in the air released a lethal cyanide gas. Fritzsch tried out the effect of Zyklon B on Soviet POWs, who were locked up in cells in the basement of the bunker for this experiment. Höss on his return was briefed and impressed with the results and this became the camp strategy for extermination as it was also to be at Majdanek. Besides gassing, the camp guards continued killing prisoners via mass shooting, starvation, torture, etc.
SS Obersturmführer Kurt Gerstein, of the Institute for Hygiene of the Waffen-SS, told a Swedish diplomat during the war of life in a death camp. He recounted that, on 19 August 1942, he arrived at Belzec extermination camp (which was equipped with carbon monoxide gas chambers) and was shown the unloading of 45 train cars filled with 6,700 Jews, many already dead. The rest were marched naked to the gas chambers, where:
Unterscharführer Hackenholt was making great efforts to get the engine running. 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 [engine] did not start. The people wait inside the gas chambers. In vain. They can be heard weeping, "like in the synagogue", says Professor Pfannenstiel, his eyes glued to a window in the wooden door. Furious, Captain Wirth lashes the Ukrainian (Trawniki) 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 shut up in those four crowded chambers were still alive, four times 750 persons, in four times 45 cubic meters. Another 25 minutes elapsed. 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 [then] 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: "See, for yourself, the weight of that gold! It's only from yesterday, and the day before. You can't imagine what we find every day – dollars, diamonds, gold. You'll see for yourself!" — Kurt Gerstein
Auschwitz Camp Commandant Rudolf Höss reported that the first time Zyklon B pellets were used on the Jews, many suspected they were to be killed – despite having been deceived into believing they were to be deloused and then returned to the camp. As a result, the Nazis identified and isolated "difficult individuals" who might alert the prisoners, and removed them from the mass – lest they incite revolt among the deceived majority of prisoners en route to the gas chambers. The "difficult" prisoners were led to a site out of view to be killed off discreetly.
A prisoner Sonderkommando (Special Detachment) effected in the processes of extermination; they encouraged the Jews to undress without a hint of what was about to happen. They accompanied them into the gas chambers outfitted to appear as shower rooms (with nonworking water nozzles, and tile walls); and remained with the victims until just before the chamber door closed. To psychologically maintain the "calming effect" of the delousing deception, an SS man stood at the door until the end. The Sonderkommando talked to the victims about life in the camp to pacify the suspicious ones, and hurried them inside; to that effect, they also assisted the aged and the very young in undressing.
To further persuade the prisoners that nothing harmful was happening, the Sonderkommando deceived them with small talk about friends or relations who had arrived in earlier transports. Many young mothers hid their infants beneath their piled clothes fearing that the delousing "disinfectant" might harm them. Camp Commandant Höss reported that the "men of the Special Detachment were particularly on the look-out for this", and encouraged the women to take their children into the "shower room". Likewise, the Sonderkommando comforted older children who might cry "because of the strangeness of being undressed in this fashion".
Yet, not every prisoner was deceived by such psychological tactics; Commandant Höss spoke of Jews "who either guessed, or knew, what awaited them, nevertheless ... [they] found the courage to joke with the children, to encourage them, despite the mortal terror visible in their own eyes". Some women would suddenly "give the most terrible shrieks while undressing, or tear their hair, or scream like maniacs"; the Sonderkommando immediately took them away for execution by shooting. In such circumstances, others, meaning to save themselves at the gas chamber's threshold, betrayed the identities and "revealed the addresses of those members of their race still in hiding".
Once the door of the filled gas chamber was sealed, pellets of Zyklon B were dropped through special holes in the roof. Regulations required that the Camp Commandant supervise the preparations, the gassing (through a peephole), and the aftermath looting of the corpses. Commandant Höss reported that the gassed victims "showed no signs of convulsion"; the Auschwitz camp physicians attributed that to the "paralyzing effect on the lungs" of the Zyklon-B gas, which killed before the victim began suffering convulsions.
As a matter of political training, some high-ranked Nazi Party leaders and SS officers were sent to Auschwitz–Birkenau to witness the gassings; Höss reported that, "all were deeply impressed by what they saw ... [yet some] ... who had previously spoken most loudly, about the necessity for this extermination, fell silent once they had actually seen the 'final solution of the Jewish problem'." As the Auschwitz Camp Commandant Rudolf Höss justified the extermination by explaining the need for "the iron determination with which we must carry out Hitler's orders"; yet saw that even "[Adolf] Eichmann, who certainly [was] tough enough, had no wish to change places with me”.
After the gassings, the Sonderkommando removed the corpses from the gas chambers, then extracted any gold teeth. Initially, the victims were buried in mass graves, but were later cremated during Sonderaktion 1005 in all camps of Operation Reinhard.
The Sonderkommando were responsible for burning the corpses in the pits, ... so that the draught might fan the flames" wrote Commandant Höss in his memoir while in the Polish custody. He was impressed by the diligence of prisoners from the so-called Special Detachment who carried out their duties despite their being well aware that they, too, would meet exactly the same fate in the end. At the Lazaret killing station they held the sick so they would never see the gun while being shot. They did it "in such a matter-of-course manner that they might, themselves, have been the exterminators" wrote Höss. He further said that the men ate and smoked "even when engaged in the grisly job of burning corpses which had been lying for some time in mass graves." They occasionally encountered the corpse of a relative, or saw them entering the gas chambers. According to Höss they were obviously shaken by this but "it never led to any incident." He mentioned the case of a Sonderkommando who found the body of his wife, yet continued to drag corpses along "as though nothing had happened."stoking the fires, draining surplus body fat and turning over the "mountain of burning corpses
At Auschwitz, the corpses were incinerated in crematoria and the ashes either buried, scattered, or dumped in the river. At Sobibór, Treblinka, Bełżec, and Chełmno, the corpses were incinerated on pyres. The efficiency of industrialised killing at Auschwitz-Birkenau led to the construction of three buildings with crematoria designed by specialists from the firm J.A. Topf & Söhne. They burned bodies 24 hours a day, and yet the death rate was at times so high that corpses also needed to be burned in open-air pits.
The estimated total number of people who were murdered in the six Nazi extermination camps is 2.7 million, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
|Operational||Occupied territory||Current country of location||Primary means for mass killings|
|Auschwitz–Birkenau||1,100,000||May 1940 – January 1945||Province of Upper Silesia||Poland||Zyklon B gas chambers|
|Treblinka||800,000||23 July 1942 – 19 October 1943||General Government district||Poland||Carbon monoxide gas chambers|
|Bełżec||600,000||17 March 1942 – end of June 1943||General Government district||Poland||Carbon monoxide gas chambers|
|Chełmno||320,000||8 December 1941 – March 1943,|
June 1944 – 18 January 1945
|District of Reichsgau Wartheland||Poland||Carbon monoxide vans|
|Sobibór||250,000||16 May 1942 – 17 October 1943||General Government district||Poland||Carbon monoxide gas chambers|
|Majdanek||at least 80,000||1 October 1941 – 22 July 1944||General Government district||Poland||Zyklon B gas chambers|
The Nazis attempted to either partially or completely dismantle the extermination camps in order to hide any evidence that people had been murdered there. This was an attempt to conceal not only the extermination process but also the buried remains. As a result of the secretive Sonderaktion 1005, the camps were dismantled by commandos of condemned prisoners, their records were destroyed, and the mass graves were dug up. Some extermination camps that remained uncleared of evidence were liberated by Soviet troops, who followed different standards of documentation and openness than the Western allies did.
Nonetheless Majdanek was captured nearly intact due to the rapid advance of the Soviet Red Army during Operation Bagration.
In the post-war period the government of the People's Republic of Poland created monuments at the extermination camp sites. These early monuments mentioned no ethnic, religious, or national particulars of the Nazi victims. The extermination camps sites have been accessible to everyone in recent decades. They are popular destinations for visitors from all over the world, especially the most infamous Nazi death camp, Auschwitz near the town of Oświęcim. In the early 1990s, the Jewish Holocaust organisations debated with the Polish Catholic groups about "What religious symbols of martyrdom are appropriate as memorials in a Nazi death camp such as Auschwitz?" The Jews opposed the placement of Christian memorials such as the Auschwitz cross near Auschwitz I where mostly Poles were killed. The Jewish victims of the Holocaust were mostly killed at Auschwitz II Birkenau.
The March of the Living is organized in Poland annually since 1988.Marchers come from countries as diverse as Estonia, New Zealand, Panama, and Turkey.
Holocaust deniers or negationists are people and organizations who assert that the Holocaust did not occur, or that it did not occur in the historically recognized manner and extent.Holocaust deniers claim that the extermination camps were actually transit camps from which Jews were deported farther east. However, these theories are disproven by surviving German documents, which show that Jews were sent to the camps to be killed.
Extermination camp research is difficult because of extensive attempts by the SS and Nazi regime to conceal the existence of the extermination camps.The existence of the extermination camps is firmly established by testimonies of camp survivors and Final Solution perpetrators, material evidence (the remaining camps, etc.), Nazi photographs and films of the killings, and camp administration records.
In 2017 a Körber Foundation survey found that 40 percent of 14-year-olds in Germany did not know what Auschwitz was.A 2018 survey organized in the United States by the Claims Conference, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and others found that 66% of the American millennials who were surveyed (and 41% of all U.S. adults) did not know what Auschwitz was. In 2019, a survey of 1,100 Canadians found that 49 percent of them could not name any of the Nazi camps which were located in German-occupied Europe.
The Final Solution or the Final Solution to the Jewish Question was a Nazi plan for the genocide of Jews during World War II. The "Final Solution to the Jewish question" was the official code name for the murder of all Jews within reach, which was not restricted to the European continent. This policy of deliberate and systematic genocide starting across German-occupied Europe was formulated in procedural and geopolitical terms by Nazi leadership in January 1942 at the Wannsee Conference held near Berlin, and culminated in the Holocaust, which saw the killing of 90% of Polish Jews, and two thirds of the Jewish population of Europe.
Treblinka was an extermination camp, built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II. It was in a forest north-east of Warsaw, 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) south of the village of Treblinka in what is now the Masovian Voivodeship. The camp operated between 23 July 1942 and 19 October 1943 as part of Operation Reinhard, the deadliest phase of the Final Solution. During this time, it is estimated that between 700,000 and 900,000 Jews were killed in its gas chambers, along with 2,000 Romani people. More Jews were killed at Treblinka than at any other Nazi extermination camp apart from Auschwitz.
Belzec was a Nazi German extermination camp built by the SS for the purpose of implementing the secretive Operation Reinhard, the plan to eradicate Polish Jewry, a key part of the "Final Solution" which entailed the murder of some 6 million Jews in the Holocaust. The camp operated from 17 March 1942 to the end of June 1943. It was situated about 500 m (1,600 ft) south of the local railroad station of Bełżec, in the new Lublin District of the General Government territory of German-occupied Poland. The burning of exhumed corpses on five open-air grids and bone crushing continued until March 1943.
Operation Reinhard or Operation Reinhardt was the codename of the secretive German plan in World War II to exterminate Jewish Poles in the General Government district of German-occupied Poland. This deadliest phase of the Holocaust was marked by the introduction of extermination camps.
Majdanek was a Nazi concentration and extermination camp built and operated by the SS on the outskirts of the city of Lublin during the German occupation of Poland in World War II. It had seven gas chambers, two wooden gallows, and some 227 structures in all, placing it among the largest of Nazi-run concentration camps. Although initially purposed for forced labor rather than extermination, the camp was used to kill people on an industrial scale during Operation Reinhard, the German plan to murder all Jews within their own General Government territory of Poland. The camp, which operated from October 1, 1941, until July 22, 1944, was captured nearly intact, because the rapid advance of the Soviet Red Army during Operation Bagration prevented the SS from destroying most of its infrastructure, and the inept Deputy Camp Commandant Anton Thernes failed in his task of removing incriminating evidence of war crimes.
Chełmno or Kulmhof was the first of Nazi Germany's extermination camps and was situated 50 kilometres north of Łódź, near the village of Chełmno nad Nerem. Following the invasion of Poland in 1939, Germany annexed the area into the new territory of Reichsgau Wartheland. The camp, which was specifically intended for no other purpose than mass murder, operated from December 8, 1941 – April 11, 1943, parallel to Operation Reinhard during the most deadly phase of the Holocaust, and again from June 23, 1944 – January 18, 1945 during the Soviet counter-offensive. In 1943, modifications were made to the camp's killing methods as the reception building had already been dismantled.
The Holocaust—the murder of about six million Jews by Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1945—is the most well-documented genocide in history. Although there is no single document which lists all Jewish victims of Nazi persecution, there is conclusive evidence that about six million were killed. There is also conclusive evidence that Jews were gassed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Operation Reinhard extermination camps, and in gas vans, and that there was a systematic plan by the Nazi leadership to murder them.
Christian Wirth was a German SS officer and Holocaust prepetrator who was one of the leading architects of the program to exterminate the Jewish people of Poland, known as Operation Reinhard. His nicknames included Christian the Terrible and The Wild Christian.
Leonardo Conti, MD was the Reich Health Leader in Nazi Germany. The killing of many Germans who were of "unsound mind" is attributed to his leadership.
Sonderaktion 1005, also called Aktion 1005, or Enterdungsaktion, began in May 1942 during World War II to hide any evidence that people had been murdered by Nazi Germany in German-occupied Poland and Soviet Union. The project, which was conducted in secrecy from 1942 to 1944, focused on concealing evidence of mass murder at the Operation Reinhard killing centres, as well as at other sites. Prisoner groups used to exhume mass graves and burn the bodies were officially called Leichenkommandos and were part of Sonderkommando 1005; inmates were often put in chains to prevent them from escaping.
The Holocaust in Poland was part of the European-wide Holocaust and took place within the September 1, 1939, boundaries of Poland, which ceased to exist as a territorial entity after the German and Soviet invasion of Poland. The genocide took the lives of three million Polish Jews, half of all Jews killed during the Holocaust.
Holocaust trains were railway transports run by the Deutsche Reichsbahn national railway system under the control of Nazi Germany and its allies, for the purpose of forcible deportation of the Jews, as well as other victims of the Holocaust, to the Nazi concentration, forced labour, and extermination camps.
The two Treblinka trials concerning the Treblinka extermination camp personnel began in 1964. Held at Düsseldorf in West Germany, they were the two judicial trials in a series of similar war crime trials held during the early 1960s, such as the Jerusalem Adolf Eichmann trial (1961) and the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials (1963–65), as a result of which the general public came to realize the extent of the crimes that some two decades earlier had been perpetrated in occupied Poland by Nazi bureaucrats and their willing executioners. In the subsequent years, separate trials dealt with personnel of the Bełżec (1963–65), Sobibor (1966), and Majdanek (1975–81) extermination camps.
The Sobibor trial was a judicial trial directly concerning the Sobibor extermination camp personnel. The trial was held in 1965–66 in Hagen, West Germany. It was one of a series of similar war crime trials held during the early 1960s, such as the Jerusalem Adolf Eichmann trial of 1961 and the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials of 1963–65, as a result of which the general public came to realize the extent of the crimes that some twenty years earlier had been perpetrated in occupied Poland by Nazi bureaucrats and their executioners. In the same and in subsequent years, separate trials dealt with personnel of the Belzec (1963–65), Treblinka (1964–65), and Majdanek (1975–81) extermination camps.
The Belzec trial in the mid-1960s was a war crimes trial of eight former SS members of Bełżec extermination camp. The trial was held at the 1st Munich District Court and should be seen in the context of the Sobibor trial, which followed the Belzec trial, because five of the defendants were accused in both trials. In addition, the Belzec and Sobibor trials, along with the Treblinka trials, form a body of evidence of the crimes of mass extermination as part of the so-called Action Reinhardt programme - the killing of over two million Jews and 50,000 Roma and Sinti. These trials are directly related to the mass murder of 100,000 people in the official Nazi Euthanasia programme known after the war as Action T4, as many of the security guards worked in the euthanasia centres before transferring to the extermination camps. The first Euthanasia trials were carried out shortly after the war.
The Majdanek trials were a series of consecutive war-crime trials held in Poland and in Germany during and after World War II, constituting the overall longest Nazi war crimes trial in history spanning over 30 years. The first judicial trial of Majdanek extermination camp officials took place from November 27, 1944, to December 2, 1944, in Lublin, Poland. The last one, held at the District Court of Düsseldorf began on November 26, 1975, and concluded on June 30, 1981. It was West Germany's longest and most expensive trial, lasting 474 sessions.
The Majdanek State Museum is a memorial museum and education centre founded in the fall of 1944 on the grounds of the Nazi Germany Majdanek death camp located in Lublin, Poland. It was the first museum of its kind in the world, devoted entirely to the memory of atrocities committed in the network of slave-labor camps and subcamps of KL Lublin during World War II. The museum performs several tasks including scholarly research into the Holocaust in Poland. It houses a permanent collection of rare artifacts, archival photographs, and testimony.
The Chełmno trials were a series of consecutive war-crime trials of the Chełmno extermination camp personnel, held in Poland and in Germany following World War II. The cases were decided almost twenty years apart. The first judicial trial of the former SS men – members of the SS-Sonderkommando Kulmhof – took place in 1945 at the District Court in Łódź, Poland. The subsequent four trials, held in Bonn, Germany, began in 1962 and concluded three years later, in 1965 in Cologne.
Rudolf Reder a.k.a. Roman Robak was one of only two Holocaust survivors of the Bełżec extermination camp who testified about his experience after the war. He submitted a deposition to the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in January 1946 in Kraków. In terms of the number of Polish Jews who perished in its gas chambers, Bełżec had the third highest death toll among the six Nazi death camps located in occupied Poland, estimated between 500,000 and 600,000 men, women and children. Only Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka had more victims.
Number of foreign laborers employed as of January 1944 (excluding those already dead): total of 3,795,000. From Poland: 1,400,000 (survival rate 25.2); from the Soviet Union: 2,165,000 (survival rate 27.7) Table 5.
original in Russian: Гроссман В.С., Повести, рассказы, очерки [Stories, Journalism, and Essays], Воениздат 1958.
It is estimated that the SS and police deported at a minimum 1.3 million people to Auschwitz complex between 1940 and 1945. Of these, the camp authorities murdered 1.1 million." (Number includes victims killed in other Auschwitz camps.)
Between March and December 1942, the Germans deported some 434,500 Jews, and an indeterminate number of Poles and Roma (Gypsies) to Belzec, to be killed.
In total, the SS and the police killed some 152,000 people in Chełmno.
The Attempt to Remove Traces.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 60-5808.|ref=harv }}
An account of the locations of the extermination camps as they are today, augmented by the historical information about them, and about the fate of the Jews of Poland.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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