Lublin Reservation

The Lublin Reservation (German: Lublin-Reservat) was a concentration camp complex developed by Nazi German Schutzstaffel (SS) in the early stages of World War II, as the so-called "territorial solution to the Jewish Question".[2] The idea for the expulsion and resettlement of the Jews of Europe,[3] into the remote corner of the Generalgouvernement territory bordering the cities of Lublin and Nisko, was devised by Adolf Hitler and formulated by his SS henchmen as the so-called Nisko und Lublin Plan named alternatively after both locations. The plan was developed in September 1939 after the invasion of Poland and implemented between October 1939 and April 1940, in contrast to similar Nazi "Madagascar" and other Jewish relocation plans drawn up before the attack on Poland at the beginning of World War II.[4][5][6]

Adolf Hitler devised the idea with the help of Nazi chief ideologist Alfred Rosenberg and Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, including the participation of SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann ("architect of the Holocaust"); as well as Heinrich Müller of the Gestapo, Hans Frank (Hitler's lawyer) and Arthur Seyss-Inquart of the Generalgouvernement administration. Gruppenführer Odilo Globocnik, the former Gauleiter of Vienna – appointed the SS and Police Leader of the new Lublin District – was put in charge of the reservation. During early implementation of the plan, the Nazis set up a system of ghettos for Jewish civilians to use them as the German workforce. The first forced labour camps were established for the Burggraben project intended to fortify the Nazi-Soviet demarcation line and to supply the local SS units at Lublin from Lipowa.[5][7]

In total, about 95,000 Jews were deported to the Lublin Reservation.[8] The main camp of the entire complex was set up in Bełżec initially (before the construction of death camp) for the Jewish forced labor. In March 1942 it became the first Nazi extermination camp of Operation Reinhard, with permanent gas chambers arranged by Christian Wirth in fake shower rooms.[9] Though the Burggraben camps were temporarily closed in late 1940, many of them were reactivated in 1941. Two other extermination camps, Sobibor and Majdanek, were later set up in the Lublin district also. The Lipowa camp became a subcamp of the latter in 1943. The Nisko Plan was abandoned for pragmatic reasons; nevertheless, the Zwangsarbeitslagers (German for "forced labor camps") already established for DAW became the industrial base of other SS projects such as Ostindustrie. A number of them functioned until Aktion Erntefest, others beyond the massacres.[10]

In 1942, the so-called "Territorial Solution to the Jewish question"[11] was abandoned in favour of the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question".

Lublin Reservation
Nisko und Lublin Plan
Krychów forced labour camp 1940 (Krowie Bagno)
Prisoners of Krychów forced labour camp build irrigation ditches across peat wetlands of modern-day Polesie National Park for the new German latifundia of Generalplan Ost, 1940
General Government camps of Lublin Reservation
Camps of the Lublin Reservation,[1] with Kreis of General Government from 1939 to 1941. Outline of the new Lublin Distrikt in upper centre (tan)
Generalne gubernatorstwo 1945
The territory of Generalgouvernement in 1939 (green) within the borders of prewar Poland; new German Distrikt Galizien (1941), bottom-right

Background

The antisemitic regime in Nazi Germany intended to achieve a permanent solution to what they regarded as the "Jewish question". Before the "Final solution" was announced and organised during the Wannsee Conference of 20 January 1942, some top Nazis had envisioned a territorial solution of the "Jewish question". However, except for the Nisko Plan, none of the territorial solutions progressed beyond the planning stage. Instead, the Nazi Germans implemented the near complete extermination of the European Jews through the Holocaust.

Planning

In late summer 1939, Nazi German dictator Adolf Hitler, with one of his foremost Nazi ideologues Alfred Rosenberg, developed the idea for a Jewish "reservation" (Judenreservat). The town of Lublin in Poland had been the focus of Nazi planners since the early 1930s, after Herrmann Seiffert described it as the center of Jewish worldwide power and source of their genetic potential.[12] After Nazi Germany had defeated Poland in September 1939 and partitioned her with the Soviet Union, the Lublin area became part of the Generalgouvernement headed by Hans Frank.[13] Once under Nazi German control, the area was inspected by Frank's deputy Artur Seyss-Inquart in November 1939. He reported that - according to the local governor - the area, "swampy in its nature", would serve well as a reservation for Jews, and that "this action would cause [their] considerable decimation."[12] On 25 November, Frank informed the local administration that an influx of "millions of Jews" was proposed.[12] Also in November, Odilo Globocnik was put in charge of all issues regarding the Jews in the Lublin area, representing the SS as the area's SS and Police Leader.[12] Globocnik set up a department led by a Dr. Hofbauer to plan the settlement of the expected Jews and their conscription to forced labour.[12]

Lublin reservation

The original Lublin Reservation comprised an area of 300 to 400 square miles (780 to 1,040 km2) located between the Vistula and San rivers southeast of Lublin.[12] Adolf Eichmann, then head of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration for the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, was the first to realize the Nisko Plan by deporting Jews to the Lublin Reservation.[12][14] While initially the Jews of East Upper Silesia were to be deported there, Eichmann expanded the program to include Jews from Mährisch-Ostrau in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and from Vienna.[15] Eichmann also set up a transit camp in Nisko, a town on the western border of the Lublin district, from which the deportees were to be expelled eastward.[15]

The first Jews were shipped to Lublin on 18 October 1939. The first train loads consisted of Jews deported from Austria and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.[16] On 19 October, when the second and third transports were prepared, Heinrich Müller, on behalf of SS head Heinrich Himmler,[15] ordered a suspension of further deportations.[15] Historian Christopher Browning noted that Himmler's decision must be seen in correlation with his new position as chief coordinator of the resettlement of ethnic Germans to the former Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany, a position he held since 15 October. He suggested also that Himmler did not consider the deportation of Jews from all the Third Reich to be as urgent as providing space for the Generalplan Ost resettlement of ethnic Germans into the Nazi Germany's new eastern provinces.[15]

This priority shift resulted in focusing on the expulsion of Jews from these provinces to the Lublin reservation,[15] the contemporary resettlement of about 30,000 ethnic Germans from the Lublin district in the opposite direction,[15] and the resettlement of Jews living within the Generalgouvernement to the eastern bank of the Vistula.[15] Hitler approved of this priority shift: While in early October he had envisioned the short-term expulsion of all Jews from Vienna and 300,000 Jews from the Altreich to the Lublin reservation, he in late October approved Himmler's plans for deportation of 550,000 Jews from the new eastern provinces and all "Congress Poles", meaning Poles from the Soviet partition residing in the Third Reich, to the Lublin reservation.[15] While this would have resulted in short-term expulsions of one million people, this number was cut down for capacity reasons to 80,000 after intervention on 28 November 1939 by Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Main Security Office.[15]

The reservation was not kept secret; the local population was aware and the international press was reporting.[17] Reports in the Luxembourgian paper Luxemburger Wort of 12 November and the British paper The Times of 16 December 1939 both gave a total of 45,000 Jews deported to the reservation so far.[17] Also in December, the American paper The Spectator reported the camps were enclosed by barbed wire on an area of fifty by sixty miles near Nisko and Lublin 105 kilometres (65 mi) apart from each other, and prepared for an intake of 1,945,000 Jews.[17] An excerpt from a Luxemburger Wort report of November 1939 reads:

Sometimes trains drive on for forty kilometres beyond Lublin and halt in the open country, where the Jews alight with their luggage and have to find themselves primitive accommodation in the surrounding villages. — Luxemburger Wort newspaper.[18]

Historians estimate that by 30 January 1940, a total of 78,000 Jews had been deported to Lublin from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.[19] This figure was given by Heydrich when he reported in Berlin in January. He stated the number would increase to 400,000 by the end of the year.[20] Among the Jews deported to the reservation in February 1940 were the Pomeranian Jews,[21] resulting in Gauleiter Franz Schwede-Coburg declaring his Pomeranian Gau the first Gau of the Altreich to be judenrein ("cleansed of Jews"). The deportees were put under the authority of the Judenrat in neighboring Lublin.[22] By April, when the reservation was dissolved, the total number of Jews who had been transported to Nisko had reached 95,000.[23]

Many deportees had died due to starvation, either during the transport[21] or during their stay in the reservation.[23] Additional deaths in the reservation were caused by typhus and typhoid fever epidemics, the lack of housing and any "sources of livelihood", a situation the local Jews were not able to ease, despite their great efforts.[12]

Adjacent forced labour camps

In the nearby city of Lublin, Jewish prisoners of war (POWs) who had served in the Polish armies were concentrated in the contemporary Lipowa camp (ZAL Lipowa).[12][24] The camp was set up by SSPF Odilo Globocnik in December 1939 at Lublin's Lipowa Street No. 7.[25] While in December 1939 the first prisoners were forced to run toward the nearby Nazi-Soviet demarcation line while being shot at during the Lublin death march, conditions eased after January 1940 as the POWs were, like the deportees in the reservation, put under the aegis of the Lublin Judenrat and allowed considerable self-government.[12] The facilities of the camp served to supply the local SS units.[25]

In addition to the POWs, Lublin Jews were conscripted for forced labour in the Lipowa camp.[26] For the most part, such Jews were not interned but continued to live in their apartments when off work.[26] The local Judenrat had to supply the workforce demanded by the SS.[26] If the Judenrat did not succeed in gathering enough Jews, SS units gathered the rest.[26] This brought about conflicts between Odilo Globocnik and governor Hans Frank, who complained that the forced recruitment of skilled Jewish workers by the SS was seriously interfering with the requirements of his civilian administration.[26]

Majdanek (June 24, 1944)
Reconnaissance photograph of the Majdanek concentration camp (24 June 1944) from the collections of the Majdanek Museum; lower half: the barracks under deconstruction with visible chimney stacks still standing and planks of wood piled up along the supply road; in the upper half, functioning barracks

From early 1940, some of the Jews deported to the Lublin area were held in the Lipowa camp.[26] These were deportees from the Altreich as well as from Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia, Reichsgau Wartheland, and South East Prussia.[26] The Lipowa camp remained in place after the Lublin reservation was abandoned.[26] After January 1941, the Lublin Jews who earlier had resided outside the camp, were forced to live in the camp after its expansion.[26] Also in 1941, the camp was officially made part of the SS enterprise Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke (DAW). Effectively it remained outside DAW control by staying under the direct aegis of Globocnik.[27] This changed only in 1943, after Globocnik resigned as the Lublin district SS-and-Police Leader and the camp became the sub-camp of Majdanek concentration camp complex.[27]

Burggraben project

When the Lublin reservation was planned, the reservation was to be combined with several forced labour camps (Zwangsarbeiterlager, ZALs) along the Nazi-Soviet demarcation line.[28] The reservation was to supply the ZALs with workforce to erect military defense facilities, including a large anti-tank ditch along the demarcation line code-named Burggraben ("fortress' ditch").[28] While initially the SS headquarters had envisioned four large camps, governor Hans Frank refused to finance such a large project.[28] Thus Odilo Globocnik decided instead to set up various small camps run at lowest cost.[28] This resulted in desperate conditions: the inmates were crowded in dark and dirty rooms with no glass in the windows, had to sleep on the floor, the sick were not separated from the healthy, and the supply of food, water and soap was insufficient.[28] About 30% of the inmates did not have shoes, pants, or shirts.[28] This situation caused a rapid spread of lice and diseases.[28] Of all Burggraben-ZAL-camps, the later extermination camp Bełżec was the main camp.[28]

The Burggraben project was abandoned in late 1940 due to pressure applied by the German military (Wehrmacht), who regarded it to be of no military use.[28] Heinrich Himmler, however, disagreed and continued to support the project.[28] While the Burggraben camps had been closed down in late 1940, some were reinforced in spring 1941 on Himmler's initiative and again put under Globocnik's supervision to finish the anti-tank ditch.[28]

Suspension of the reservation idea

On 23 March 1940, Hermann Göring with Himmler's approval put a hold on the Nisko Plan, and by the end of April, final abandonment was announced by Krüger.[12][29] Reasons for the abandonment included Frank's refusal to accept further influx of deportees into "his" General-Government which he viewed as overcrowded, and the fear the Nazis would lose international reputation due to the international press reports.[12] The rationale of the abandonment was not one of principle, but a pragmatic one, and deportations continued though at a slower pace.[12]

Ghettoization

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H27928, Polen, Ghetto Lublin, Polizei-Einsatz
The German Order Police "Orpo" descending to the cellars on a "Jew-hunt", Lublin, December 1940

The ghettoization of the Jews for the purpose of persecution, terror, and exploitation in the Nazi German controlled towns began immediately after the invasion of Poland, and the abandonment of the reservation idea did not influence the overall policy.[30] The deportations of Jews into sealed urban ghettos continued uninterrupted pending further arrangements.[30] The number of major urban ghettos established in the General-Government in 1939–40 including those of Kraków and Warsaw, reached one hundred before the end of the year.[31][32] In the Lublin area, the situation initially differed. Instead of their urban concentration, some 10,000 Polish Jews had been expelled from Lublin in early March 1940 to the rural towns where ghettos were not set up, based solely on Globocnik's opposition to the Jewish people living near his staff headquarters.[32][30] The remaining 40,000 Jews of Lublin were forced into the Lublin Ghetto in May 1940.[30][32][33]

The official ghetto was established in Lublin on 24 March 1941. The expelled Jews were returned there.[32] This measure was driven by the need for the new proper housing for the arriving German military, which was preparing for Operation Barbarossa.[32] In the Lublin district, another ghetto was established in Piaski.[32] In October and December 1941, the local administration and the Sicherheitspolizei headquarters issued decrees about the instant death penalty for the Jews caught leaving the Jewish district. Any Christian Pole harbouring Jews on the Aryan side of the city was to be executed along with his family.[34] The ghetto inmates were terrorized by the Waffen-SS battalion of Oskar Dirlewanger, engaging in extortion, murder and rape (Rassenschande) to such an extent that they had to be moved elsewhere, yet again.[35]

Extermination camps

On 15 August 1940, after the Fall of France, Nazi leaders focused on developing a "territorial solution of the Jewish question" in French Madagascar.[29] However, this plan was never implemented as it proved to be infeasible. During the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, the heads of the Nazi regime discussed the implementation of the Final Solution (Endlösung)[36] and resolved the "Jewish question" by extermination rather than deportation. Of the Nazi extermination camps, Belzec, Majdanek, and Sobibor were all set up in the Lublin district.

The Belzec extermination camp was established in November 1941 near the forced labour camp by Odilo Globocnik under direct order of Heinrich Himmler.[37] It was constructed as part of Aktion Reinhardt, the plan to murder all the Jews within the Generalgouvernment.[37]

Globocnik was given the unconditional backing of Himmler. But his hard-line enforcement of Nazi racial ideology brought him into conflict with Hans Frank. Globocnik continued to control the Lublin district until Aktion Reinhardt finished in late 1943. Approximately two million Jews died in Belzec, Maidanek and Sobibor (including Treblinka) in the course of the "Aktion".[38]

Holocaust historiography

In the functionalism versus intentionalism debate, which began in the 1960s, the Nisko Plan was brought up by the Holocaust historians as an example of escalation of the Nazi anti-Jewish measures in World War II. Christopher Browning in his article, "Nazi Resettlement Policy and the Search for a Solution to the Jewish Question, 1939-1941", focused on the presumed Nazi intention for a territorial solutions preceding the subsequent genocide.[39] Nevertheless, already at the beginning of war, on 24 October 1939 The Times noted that the German plan to create a Jewish state was cynical, and would surely doom the Jews to a deadly famine.[40] Most historians of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust have concluded that the Nisko Plan was integrally related to Hitler's other programs and his intent to destroy the Jews in Europe. Thus the Nisko Plan was a preface to the Final Solution.[15]

Browning has suggested that the Nisko Plan was an example that Hitler did not have previous intentions for the gassing of the Jews. He contends that the Nisko (or Lublin Plan), Madagascar Plan and Pripet Marsh Plan, all served as territorial solutions to the Jewish question, but were separate from the Final Solution. Mainstream historians contend that Hitler and his government formulated an issue out of the "Jewish question", raised broad anti-semitism in Germany, and created the need for a type of "territorial solution" which could only result in a genocide.[15]

References

  1. ^ "Budzyń and Kraśnik Labor Camps. Never Again". Archived from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. ^ Nicosia, Francis, Niewyk, Donald, The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust, New York: Columbia University Press, 2000, p. 232.
  3. ^ Norman M. Naimark, Fires of hatred: ethnic cleansing in twentieth-century Europe Harvard University Press, 2001, pg. 71.
  4. ^ Google Books search results for the "Lublin reservation", the "Nisko plan", and the "Lublin plan". Also in: Livia Rothkirchen, The Jews of Bohemia and Moravia: Facing the Holocaust, University of Nebraska Press, 2005.
  5. ^ a b Christopher R. Browning, The Path to Genocide: Essays on Launching the Final Solution. Cambridge University Press, 1995. ISBN 0521558786.
  6. ^ Israel Gutman, Peter Longerich, Julius H. Shoeps, Enzyklopädie des Holocaust: die Verfolgung und Ermordung der europäischen Juden, Piper, 1995, p.409, ISBN 3-87024-300-7.
  7. ^ Google books returns for "Nisko reservation", including literature in English for "Lublin Reservat" and past-1994 publications on the "Nisko Reservat".
  8. ^ Robert Rozett, Shmuel Spector. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. Routledge. p. 47. ISBN 1135969507.
  9. ^ "Aktion Reinhard and the Emergence of "The Final Solution"". Deathcamps.org. 2014. Retrieved 15 April 2016. Lublin Headquarters.
  10. ^ Schulte, Jan Erik (1 January 2007). de Gruyter, Walter (ed.). Juden in der Ostindustrie GmbH. Ausbeutung, Vernichtung, Öffentlichkeit: Neue Studien zur nationalsozialistischen Lagerpolitik (in German). Institut für Zeitgeschichte. pp. 54–56. ISBN 3110956853.
  11. ^ http://www.holocaust.cz/en/history/final-solution/general-2/the-territorial-solution-to-the-jewish-question/
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Leni Yahil, Ina Friedman, Ḥayah Galai, The Holocaust: the fate of European Jewry, 1932-1945 Oxford University Press US, 1991, pp.160, 161, 204; ISBN 0-19-504523-8.
  13. ^ Nicosia and Niewyk, The Columbian Guide to the Holocaust, 232.
  14. ^ Dwork, Debórah, Jan van Pelt, Robert, Holocaust: A History, New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2003, p. 206.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Christopher R. Browning (13 February 2000). Nazi policy, Jewish workers, German killers. Cambridge University Press. pp. 6–12. ISBN 052177490X. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  16. ^ Nicosia and Niewyk, The Columbian Guide to the Holocaust, 153.
  17. ^ a b c Joseph Poprzeczny, Odilo Globocnik, Hitler's man in the East, McFarland, 2004, pp.149-150, ISBN 0-7864-1625-4
  18. ^ Victor J. Seidler, Shadows of the Shoah: Jewish identity and belonging, Berg Publishers, 2000, p.84, ISBN 1-85973-360-3
  19. ^ Kats, Alfred, Poland's Ghettos at War, New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1970, 35.
  20. ^ Joseph Poprzeczny, Odilo Globocnik, Hitler's man in the East, McFarland, 2004, p.151, ISBN 0-7864-1625-4
  21. ^ a b Leni Yahil, Ina Friedman, Haya Galai, The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry, 1932-1945, Oxford University Press US, 1991, ISBN 0-19-504523-8, p.138
  22. ^ Leni Yahil, Ina Friedman, Haya Galai, The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry, 1932-1945, Oxford University Press US, 1991, ISBN 0-19-504523-8, pp.204-205
  23. ^ a b Dwork and Jan van Pelt, Holocaust: A History, 208.
  24. ^ Lipowa Street Camp
  25. ^ a b Barbara Schwindt, Das Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslager Majdanek: Funktionswandel im Kontext der "Endlösung", Königshausen & Neumann, 2005, p.53, ISBN 3-8260-3123-7
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i Barbara Schwindt, Das Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslager Majdanek: Funktionswandel im Kontext der "Endlösung", Königshausen & Neumann, 2005, p.54, ISBN 3-8260-3123-7
  27. ^ a b Barbara Schwindt, Das Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslager Majdanek: Funktionswandel im Kontext der "Endlösung", Königshausen & Neumann, 2005, p.55, ISBN 3-8260-3123-7
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Barbara Schwindt, Das Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslager Majdanek: Funktionswandel im Kontext der "Endlösung", Königshausen & Neumann, 2005, p.52, ISBN 3-8260-3123-7
  29. ^ a b Nicosia and Niewyk, The Columbian Guide to the Holocaust, 154.
  30. ^ a b c d Christopher R. Browning, The Path to Genocide: Essays on Launching the Final Solution. Cambridge University Press, 1995, pp. 28-30. ISBN 0521558786.
  31. ^ The statistical data compiled on the basis of "Glossary of 2,077 Jewish towns in Poland" Archived 2016-02-08 at the Wayback Machine by Virtual Shtetl Museum of the History of the Polish Jews  (in English), as well as "Getta Żydowskie," by Gedeon,  (in Polish) and "Ghetto List" by Michael Peters at www.deathcamps.org/occupation/ghettolist.htm  (in English). Some figures might require further confirmation due to their comparative range.
  32. ^ a b c d e f Barbara Schwindt, Das Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslager Majdanek: Funktionswandel im Kontext der "Endlösung", Königshausen & Neumann, 2005, p.56, ISBN 3-8260-3123-7.
  33. ^ Jack Fischel, The Holocaust, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1998, p. 58.
  34. ^ Barbara Schwindt, Das Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslager Majdanek: Funktionswandel im Kontext der "Endlösung", Königshausen & Neumann, 2005, p.57, ISBN 3-8260-3123-7
  35. ^ Gordon Williamson (2002). German Security and Police Soldier 1939-45. Osprey Publishing. p. 55. ISBN 1841764167.
  36. ^ Nicosia and Niewyk, "The Columbian Guide to the Holocaust", Columbia University Press, 2000, p.285, PART IV Encyclopedia-PEOPLE, ISBN 978-0-231-52878-8
  37. ^ a b Barbara Schwindt, Das Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslager Majdanek: Funktionswandel im Kontext der "Endlösung", Königshausen & Neumann, 2005, p.59, ISBN 3-8260-3123-7
  38. ^ Barbara Schwindt, Das Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslager Majdanek: Funktionswandel im Kontext der "Endlösung", Königshausen & Neumann, 2005, p.58, ISBN 3-8260-3123-7
  39. ^ Christopher Browning, "Nazi Resettlement Policy and the Search for a Solution to the Jewish Question, 1939-1941", German Studies Review, Vol. 9, No. 3., pp. 497-519, 500; October 1986.
  40. ^ Dwork and Jan van Pelt, Holocaust: A History, 207.

Bibliography

  • Browning, Christopher, "Nazi Resettlement Policy and the Search for a Solution to the Jewish Question, 1939-1941", German Studies Review, Vol. 9, No. 3., 497-519, October 1986.
  • Dwork, Debórah, Jan van Pelt, Robert, Holocaust: A History, W.W. Norton and Company, New York, 2003. ISBN 0-393-32524-5
  • Kats, Alfred, Poland's Ghettos at War, Twayne Publishers, Inc., New York, 1970. ASIN B0006D06QE
  • Nicosia, Francis, Niewyk, Donald, The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust, Columbia University Press, New York, 2000. ISBN 0-231-11200-9
  • Yahil, Leni, The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry, 1932-1945, Oxford University Press, Inc., New York, 1990. ISBN 0-19-504523-8

External links

Aktion Erntefest

The Aktion Erntefest (German: Operation Harvest Festival) was a World War II mass shooting action carried out by the SS, the Order police, and the Ukrainian Sonderdienst formations in the General Government territory of occupied Poland. The operation aimed at extermination of Jews pressed into forced-labour at the camps of the Lublin reservation including Majdanek concentration camp and all its subcamps. It was closely linked with the liquidation of the ghetto in Lublin. Aktion Erntefest took place on November 3 and 4, 1943. On the orders of Christian Wirth and Jakob Sporrenberg, approximately 42,000–43,000 Polish Jews were killed simultaneously. Virtually the entire Jewish workforce was eliminated, thus concluding Operation Reinhard.Operation Harvest Festival was the single largest German massacre of Jews in the entire war. It surpassed the notorious massacre of more than 33,000 Jews at Babi Yar outside Kiev by 10,000 victims. It was exceeded only by the 1941 Odessa massacre of more than 50,000 Jews in October 1941, committed by Romanian troops.

Bełżec (village)

Bełżec (pronounced [ˈbɛu̯ʐɛt͡s]) is a village in Tomaszów Lubelski County, Lublin Voivodeship, in eastern Poland. It is the seat of the gmina (administrative district) called Gmina Bełżec. It lies approximately 8 kilometres (5 mi) south of Tomaszów Lubelski and 114 km (71 mi) south-east of the regional capital Lublin. The village is located in the historical region Galicia.During World War II it was the site of the Nazi Belzec extermination camp.

Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke

The Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke (DAW; literally the German Equipment Works) was a Nazi German defense contractor with headquarters in Berlin during World War II, owned and operated by the Schutzstaffel (SS). It consisted of a network of requisitioned factories and camp workshops across German-occupied Europe exploiting the prisoner slave labour from Nazi concentration camps and the Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland. DAW outfitted the German military with boots, uniforms and materials on the eastern front at a windfall profit, provided wood and metal supplies, as well as reconstruction work on railway lines and freight trains.

Dorohucza

Dorohucza [dɔrɔˈxut͡ʂa] is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Trawniki, within Świdnik County, Lublin Voivodeship, in eastern Poland. It lies approximately 23 kilometres (14 mi) east of Świdnik and 33 km (21 mi) east of the regional capital Lublin.

The village has a population of 753.

Erwin Lambert

Erwin Hermann Lambert (7 December 1909 – 15 October 1976) was a perpetrator of the Holocaust. In profession, he was a master mason, building trades foreman, Nazi Party member and member of the Schutzstaffel with the rank of SS-Unterscharführer (corporal). He supervised construction of the gas chambers for the Action T4 euthanasia program at Hartheim, Sonnenstein, Bernburg and Hadamar, and then at Sobibór and Treblinka extermination camps during Operation Reinhard. He specialized in building larger gas chambers that killed more people than previous efforts in the extermination program.

General Government

The General Government (German: Generalgouvernement, Polish: Generalne Gubernatorstwo, Ukrainian: Генеральна губернія), also referred to as the General Governorate for the occupied Polish Region (German: Generalgouvernement für die besetzten polnischen Gebiete), was a German zone of occupation established after the joint invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939 at the onset of World War II. The newly occupied Second Polish Republic was split into three zones: the General Government in its centre, Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany in the west, and Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union in the east. The territory was expanded substantially in 1941 to include the new District of Galicia.The basis for the formation of the General Government was the "Annexation Decree on the Administration of the Occupied Polish Territories". Announced by Hitler on October 8, 1939, it claimed that the Polish government had totally collapsed. This rationale was utilized by the German Supreme Court to reassign the identity of all Polish nationals as stateless subjects, with exception of the ethnic Germans of interwar Poland, named the only rightful citizens of the Third Reich in disregard of international law.The General Government was run by Germany as a separate administrative unit for logistical purposes. When the Wehrmacht forces invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941 in Operation Barbarossa, the area of the General Government was enlarged by the inclusion of the Polish regions previously annexed to the USSR. Within days, East Galicia was overrun and incorporated into the District of Galicia. Until 1945, the General Government comprised much of central, southern, and southeastern Poland within its prewar borders (and of modern-day Western Ukraine), including the major Polish cities of Warsaw, Kraków, Lwów (now Lviv, renamed Lemberg), Lublin (see Lublin Reservation), Tarnopol (see history of Tarnopol Ghetto), Stanisławów ([[now Ivano-Frankivsk, renamed Stanislau; see Stanisławów Ghetto), Drohobycz, and Sambor (see Drohobycz and Sambor Ghettos) and others. Geographical locations were renamed in German.The administration of the General Government was composed entirely of the German officials with the intent that the area was to be colonized by Germanic settlers who would reduce the local Polish population to the level of serfs before their eventual biological extermination. The Nazi German rulers of the Generalgouvernement had no intention of sharing power with the locals throughout the war, regardless of their ethnicity and political orientation. The authorities rarely mentioned the name "Poland" in legal correspondence. The only exception to this was the General Government's Bank of Issue in Poland (Polish: Bank Emisyjny w Polsce, German: Emissionbank in Polen).

Heinrich Matthes

Heinrich Arthur Matthes (11 January 1902 – date of death unknown) was a German SS commander during the Nazi era. He served as a deputy commandant of Treblinka extermination camp during the Operation Reinhard phase of the Holocaust in Poland. Matthes was appointed chief of the extermination area at Camp 2 where the gas chambers were built and managed by the SS personnel overseeing some 300 slave labourers disposing of corpses under penalty of death. He was tried in the 1964 Treblinka trials, convicted, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Izbica Ghetto

The Izbica ghetto was a Jewish ghetto created by Nazi Germany in Izbica in occupied Poland during World War II, serving as a transfer point for deportation of Jews from Poland, Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia to Bełżec and Sobibór extermination camps. The ghetto was created in 1941, although the first transports of Jews from the German Reich started arriving there as early as 1940. Izbica was the largest transit ghetto in the Lublin reservation, with death rate almost equal to that of the Warsaw ghetto. SS-Hauptsturmführer Kurt Engels, known for his exceptional cruelty, served as its only commandant.

Josef Hirtreiter

Josef Hirtreiter (1 February 1909 – 27 November 1978) was an SS functionary of Nazi Germany and a Holocaust perpetrator who worked at Treblinka extermination camp during the Operation Reinhard phase of the Holocaust in Poland.

Jules Schelvis

Jules Schelvis (7 January 1921 – 3 April 2016) was a Dutch historian, writer, Holocaust survivor, and Nazi hunter. He lost his wife and most of his family during The Holocaust. Schelvis was a plaintiff and expert witness during the trial of John Demjanjuk.

Lorenz Hackenholt

Lorenz Hackenholt (26 June 1914 –-missing 1945 declared legally dead as of 31 December 1945) was a member of the Schutzstaffel (SS) with the rank of Hauptscharführer (First Sergeant). During World War II Hackenholt built and operated the gas chamber at the Bełżec extermination camp in occupied Poland. In so doing, he personally carried out the murder of hundreds of thousands of people.Hackenholt was deeply involved in the operation of death camps during the deadliest phase of the Holocaust in Poland, known as Operation Reinhard, as well as in other Nazi war crimes, including the murder of mental patients and the disabled in Action T4 programme of forced euthanasia.

Lublin Ghetto

The Lublin Ghetto was a World War II ghetto created by Nazi Germany in the city of Lublin on the territory of General Government in occupied Poland. The ghetto inmates were mostly Polish Jews, although a number of Roma were also brought in. Set up in March 1941, the Lublin Ghetto was one of the first Nazi-era ghettos slated for liquidation during the most deadly phase of the Holocaust in occupied Poland. Between mid-March and mid-April 1942 over 30,000 Jews were delivered to their deaths in cattle trucks at the Bełżec extermination camp and additional 4,000 at Majdanek.

Olga Oppenheimer

Olga Oppenheimer (9 July 1886 – 4 July 1941) was a German Expressionist artist.

Otto Stadie

Otto Stadie (10 March 1897 – 28 July 1977) was a German nurse and member of the Action T4, the Nazi forced euthanasia programme. During the Holocaust in occupied Poland he kept the register of stolen gold and diamonds at the Treblinka extermination camp. He was convicted in the first Treblinka trial of 1968.

Polesie National Park

Polesie National Park (Polish: Poleski Park Narodowy) is a National Park in Lublin Voivodeship, eastern Poland, in the Polish part of the historical region of Polesie. Created in 1990 over an area of 48.13 square kilometres, it covers a number of former peat-bog preserves: Durne Bagno, Jezioro Moszne, Jezioro Długie, Torfowisko Orłowskie. In 1994 its size was augmented by the addition of Bagno Bubnów, a swampy terrain adjacent to the park. Currently, the park occupies 97.62 km2 (37.69 sq mi), of which forests make up 47.8 km², and water and wastelands 20.9 km².

The idea of creating a National Park in the Polish part of Polesie first appeared in 1959. Over the following years a few preserves were organized here, and in 1982 the government announced the creation of Poleski Park Krajobrazowy (Polesie Landscape Park). Currently, even though Polesie’s infrastructure is quite well developed, it is rarely visited by tourists. In the village of Załucze Stare there is a cultural center with a museum.

The National Park and neighbouring areas form the West Polesie biosphere reserve, designated by UNESCO in 2002. The Shatsky National Natural Park is adjacent on the Ukrainian side of the border. The Park is also protected under the Ramsar convention as an important wetland site.

Radom Ghetto

Radom Ghetto was a World War II ghetto set up in March 1941 by Nazi Germany in the city of Radom during occupation of Poland, for the purpose of persecution and exploitation of Polish Jews. It was closed off from the outside officially in April 1941. A year and a half later, the liquidation of the ghetto began in August 1942, and ended in July 1944, with approximately 30,000–32,000 victims (men, women and children) deported aboard Holocaust trains to their deaths at the Treblinka extermination camp.

Richard Thomalla

Richard Thomalla pron. (23 October 1903 – 12 May 1945) was an SS commander of Nazi Germany. A civil engineer by profession, he was head of the SS Central Building Administration at Lublin reservation in occupied Poland. Thomalla was in charge of construction for the Operation Reinhard death camps Bełżec, Sobibor and Treblinka during the Holocaust in German-occupied Poland.

Thomas Blatt

Thomas "Toivi" Blatt (born Tomasz Blatt; April 15, 1927 – October 31, 2015) was a Polish-American Holocaust survivor, writer of mémoires, and public speaker, who at the age of 16 escaped from the Sobibór extermination camp during the uprising staged by the Jewish Sonderkommando prisoners in October 1943. The escape was attempted by about 300 inmates, many of whom were recaptured and killed by the German search squads. Following World War II Blatt lived in the Soviet-controlled Poland until the Polish October revolution. In 1957, he emigrated to Israel, and in 1958 settled in the United States.

Timeline of the Holocaust

A timeline of the Holocaust is detailed in the events listed below. Also referred to as the Shoah (in Hebrew), the Holocaust was a genocide in which some six million European Jews were killed by Nazi Germany and its World War II collaborators. About 1.5 million of the victims were children. Two-thirds of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe were murdered. The following timeline has been compiled from a variety of sources including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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