Operation Reinhard

Operation Reinhard or Operation Reinhardt (German: Aktion Reinhard or Aktion Reinhardt; also Einsatz Reinhard or Einsatz Reinhardt) was the codename of the secretive World War II German plan to exterminate Poland's Jews in the General Government district of German-occupied Poland. This deadliest phase of the Holocaust was marked by the introduction of extermination camps.[2]

As many as two million Jews were sent to Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka to be put to death in purpose-built gas chambers.[2][3] In addition, mass-killing facilities, using Zyklon B, were developed at about the same time at the Majdanek concentration camp[2] and at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, near the earlier-established Auschwitz I camp for ethnically Polish prisoners.[4]

Operation Reinhard
Deportation to Treblinka from ghetto in Siedlce 1942
Condemned Jewish families board the Holocaust train to Treblinka during liquidation of the Ghetto in Siedlce. Action Reinhard, 1942.[1]
Also known asGerman: Aktion Reinhardt
or Einsatz Reinhard
LocationOccupied Poland
DateOctober 1941 – November 1943
Incident typeMass deportations to extermination camps
PerpetratorsOdilo Globocnik, Hermann Höfle, Richard Thomalla, Erwin Lambert, Christian Wirth, Heinrich Himmler, Franz Stangl and others.
Participants Nazi Germany
OrganizationsSchutzstaffel, Orpo Battalions, Sicherheitsdienst, Trawnikis


Auschwitz II
GhettoEuropean, and Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland including Białystok, Częstochowa, Kraków, Lublin, Łódź, Warsaw and others
VictimsAround 2 million Jews
MemorialsOn camp sites and deportation points
NotesThis was the most lethal phase of the Holocaust.


The first concentration camps in Nazi Germany were established in 1933 as soon as the National Socialist regime developed. They were used for coercion, forced labour, and imprisonment, not for mass murder. The camp system expanded dramatically with the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland at the onset of World War II in September 1939. The new network of Nazi concentration camps built by SS in Germany (including Austria), Poland, and elsewhere in Europe began exploiting foreign captives in the war industry. The prisoners locked into forced labour began dying by the tens of thousands from starvation and untreated disease, or summary executions meant to inflict terror. The Soldau concentration camp opened in September 1939.[5] Also in September, the Stutthof concentration camp was built, with 40 sub-camps set up contingently for maximum profit.[6] Some of the most notorious slave labour camps included Mauthausen, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, Gross-Rosen (with 100 subcamps),[7] Ravensbrück (70 subcamps),[8] and Auschwitz (with 44 subcamps eventually),[9] among other places.[9][10]

After the German-Soviet war began, the Nazis decided to undertake the European-wide Final Solution to the Jewish Question. In January 1942, during a secret meeting of German leaders chaired by Reinhard Heydrich, Operation Reinhard was drafted; soon to become a major step in the systematic murder of the Jews in occupied Europe, beginning in the General Government district of German-occupied Poland. Within months, three top-secret camps (at Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka) were built to efficiently kill tens of thousands of Jews every day. These camps differed from Auschwitz and Majdanek, because the latter operated as forced-labour camps initially, before they became death camps fitted with crematoria.[11] Unlike "mixed" extermination camps, the extermination camps of Operation Reinhard kept no prisoners, except as a means of furthering the camps' sole purpose of industrial scale murder. The very few Jews who successfully escaped death (notably, only two at Bełżec),[12] were members of the Sonderkommando. All other victims were killed on arrival.[13]

The organizational apparatus behind the new extermination plan had been put to the test already during the euthanasia Aktion T4 programme ending in August 1941, which resulted in the murders of more than 70,000 Polish and German disabled men, women, and children.[14] The SS officers responsible for the Aktion T4, including Christian Wirth, Franz Stangl, and Irmfried Eberl, were all given key roles in the implementation of the "Final Solution" in 1942.[15]

Operational name

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1969-054-16, Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich shown as the SS-Gruppenführer and General of the Police

The origin of the operation's name is debated by Holocaust researchers. Various German documents spell the name differently, some with "t" after "d" (as in "Aktion Reinhardt"), others without it. Yet another spelling (Einsatz Reinhart) was used in the Höfle Telegram.[16] It is generally believed that Aktion Reinhardt, outlined at Wannsee on 20 January 1942, was named after Reinhard Heydrich, the coordinator of the Endlösung der Judenfrage (the Final Solution of the Jewish Question), which entailed the extermination of the Jews living in the European countries occupied by Nazi Germany. Heydrich was attacked by British-trained Czechoslovakian agents on 27 May 1942 and died of his injuries eight days later.[17] The earliest memo spelling out Einsatz Reinhard was relayed two months later.[16]

In November 1946, Rudolf Höss, the former commandant of Auschwitz, suggested in a report while in Polish custody in Kraków, that Operation Reinhardt might have been named after the German State Secretary of Finance Fritz Reinhardt, who was in charge of the collection, sorting, and utilisation of personal belongings acquired from Jews killed at the extermination camps.[18] However, Höss' claim is not proven by surviving documents.[16] Heydrich himself had spelled his first name both Reinhard and Reinhardt throughout the 1930s according to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. Meanwhile, Fritz Reinhardt and his ministry became involved with the operation well after it had received its name, according to historians Peter Witte and Stephen Tyas, thus confirming that the operation was indeed named after Reinhard Heydrich.[19]

Death camps

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-2007-0188, Odilo Globocnik
SS and Police Leader Odilo Globocnik in charge of Operation Reinhard

On 13 October 1941, SS and Police Leader Odilo Globocnik headquartered in Lublin received an oral order from Himmler – anticipating the fall of Moscow – to start immediate construction work on the first killing centre at Bełżec in the General Government territory of occupied Poland. Notably, the order preceded the Wannsee Conference by three months.[20] The new camp was operational by March 1942, with leadership brought in from Germany under the guise of Organisation Todt (OT).[20]

Globocnik was given control over the entire programme. All highly secretive orders he received came directly from Himmler and not from SS-Gruppenführer Richard Glücks, head of the greater Nazi concentration camp system, which was run by the SS-Totenkopfverbände and engaged in slave labour for the war effort.[21] Each death camp was managed by between 20 and 35 officers from the Totenkopfverbände (Death's Head Units) sworn to absolute secrecy,[22] and augmented by the Aktion T4 personnel selected by Globocnik. The extermination program was designed by them based on prior experience from the forced euthanasia centres. The bulk of the actual labour at each "final solution" camp was performed by up to 100 mostly Ukrainian Trawniki guards, recruited by SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Streibel from among the Soviet prisoners of war,[23] and by up to a thousand Sonderkommando prisoners whom the Trawniki guards used to terrorise.[24][25] The SS called their volunteer guards "Hiwis", an abbreviation of Hilfswillige (lit. "willing to help"). According to the testimony of SS-Oberführer Arpad Wigand during his 1981 war crimes trial in Hamburg, only 25 percent of recruited collaborators could speak German.[23]

By mid-1942, two more death camps had been built on Polish lands: Sobibór (operational by May 1942) under the leadership of SS-Hauptsturmführer Franz Stangl, and Treblinka (operational by July 1942) under SS-Obersturmführer Irmfried Eberl.[26]

Treblinka II aerial photo (1944)
The 1944 aerial photo of Treblinka II. The new farmhouse for a guard and a livestock building are visible to the lower left.[27] The photograph is overlaid with already-dismantled structures (marked in red/orange). On the left-hand side are the SS and the Trawnikis living quarters (1) with barracks defined by the surrounding walkways. At the bottom (2) are the railway ramp and unloading platform (centre), marked with the red arrow. The "road to heaven"[28] is marked with a dashed line. The undressing barracks for men and women, surrounded by a solid fence with no view of the outside, are marked with two rectangles. The location of the new, big gas chambers (3) is marked with a cross. The burial pits, dug with a crawler excavator, are in light yellow.

The killing mechanism consisted of a large internal-combustion engine pumping exhaust fumes into rooms through long pipes. Starting in February–March 1943 the bodies of the dead were exhumed and cremated in pits. Treblinka, the last camp to become operational, utilised knowledge learned by the SS previously. With two powerful engines,[a] run by SS-Scharführer Erich Fuchs,[26] and the gas chambers soon rebuilt of bricks and mortar, this death factory had killed between 800,000 and 1,200,000 people within 15 months, disposed of their bodies, and sorted their belongings for shipment to Germany.[34][35]

The techniques used to deceive victims and the camps' overall layout were based on a pilot project of mobile killing conducted at the Chełmno extermination camp (Kulmhof), which began operating in late 1941 and used gas vans. Chełmno was not a part of Reinhard.[36] It came under the direct control of SS-Standartenführer Ernst Damzog, commander of the SD in Reichsgau Wartheland. It was set up around a manor house similar to Sonnenstein. The use of gas vans had been previously tried and tested in the mass killing of Polish prisoners at Soldau,[37] and in the extermination of Jews on the Russian Front by the Einsatzgruppen. Between early December 1941 and mid-April 1943,[38] 160,000 Jews were sent to Chełmno from the General Government via the Ghetto in Łódź.[39] Chełmno did not have crematoria; only the mass graves in the woods. It was a testing ground for the establishment of faster methods of killing and incinerating people, marked by the construction of stationary facilities for the mass murder a few months later. The Reinhard death camps adapted progressively as each new site was built.[40]

Taken as a whole, Globocnik's camps at Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka had almost identical design, including staff members transferring between locations. The camps were situated within wooded areas well away from population centres. All were constructed near branch lines that linked to the Ostbahn.[41] Each camp had an unloading ramp at a fake railway station, as well as a reception area that contained undressing barracks, barber shops, and money depositories. Beyond the receiving zone, at each camp was a narrow, camouflaged path known as the Road to Heaven (called Himmelfahrtsstraße or der Schlauch by the SS),[42] which led to the extermination zone consisting of gas chambers, and the burial pits, up to 10 metres (33 ft) deep, later replaced by cremation pyres with rails laid across the pits on concrete blocks; refuelled continuously by the Totenjuden. Both Treblinka and Bełżec were equipped with powerful crawler excavators from Polish construction sites in the vicinity, capable of most digging tasks without disrupting surfaces.[43][44] At each camp, the SS guards and Ukrainian Trawnikis lived in a separate area from the Jewish work units. Wooden watchtowers and barbed-wire fences camouflaged with pine branches surrounded all camps.[45]

The killing centres had no electric fences, as the size of the prisoner Sonderkommandos (work units) remained relatively easy to control – unlike in camps such as Dachau and Auschwitz. To assist with the arriving transports only specialised squads were kept alive, removing and disposing of bodies, and sorting property and valuables from the dead victims. The Totenjuden forced to work inside death zones were kept in isolation from those who worked in the reception and sorting area. Periodically, those who worked in the death zones would be killed and replaced with new arrivals to remove any potential witnesses to the scale of the mass murder.[46]

During Operation Reinhard, Globocnik oversaw the systematic killing of more than 2,000,000 Jews from Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, the Reich (Germany and Austria), the Netherlands, Greece, Hungary, Italy and the Soviet Union. An undetermined number of Roma were also killed in these death camps, many of them children.[47]

Extermination process

Biala Podlaska - likwidacja getta - 1942
Deportation of Jews to Treblinka during liquidation of the Biała Podlaska ghetto, perpetrated by the Reserve Police Battalion 101 in October 1942

In order to achieve their purposes, all death camps used subterfuge and misdirection to conceal the truth and trick their victims into cooperating. This element had been developed in Aktion T4, when disabled and handicapped people were taken away for "special treatment" by the SS from "Gekrat" wearing white laboratory coats, thus giving the process an air of medical authenticity. After supposedly being assessed, the unsuspecting T4 patients were transported to killing centres. The same euphemism "special treatment" (Sonderbehandlung) was used in the Holocaust.[48]

The SS used a variety of ruses to move thousands of new arrivals travelling in Holocaust trains to the disguised killing sites without unleashing panic. Mass deportations were called "resettlement actions"; they were organised by special Commissioners,[49] and conducted by uniformed police battalions from Orpo and Schupo in an atmosphere of terror.[50] Usually, the deception was absolute. For example, in August 1942, people of the Warsaw Ghetto lined up for several days to be "deported" in order to obtain bread allocated for travel.[51] Jews unable to move or attempting to flee were shot on the spot.[52] Even though death in the cattle cars from suffocation and thirst was rampant, affecting up to 20 percent of trainloads,[53] most victims were willing to believe that the German intentions were different. Once alighted, the prisoners were ordered to leave their luggage behind and march directly to the "cleaning area" where they were asked to hand over their valuables for "safekeeping". Common tricks included the presence of a railway station with awaiting "medical personnel" and signs directing people to disinfection facilities. Treblinka also had a booking office with boards naming the connections for other camps further East.[54]

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-C0509-0049-012, KZ, Fahrplananordnung
The railway schedule (or Fahrplananordnung) outlining all transports being sent to Treblinka on 25 August 1942

The Jews most apprehensive of danger were brutally beaten in order to speed up the process.[55] At times, the new arrivals who had suitable skills were selected to join the Sonderkommando. Once in the changing area, the men and boys were separated from the women and children, and everyone was ordered to disrobe for a communal bath: "quickly – they were told – or the water will get cold."[56] The old and sick, or slow, prisoners were taken to a fake infirmary named the Lazarett, that had a large mass grave behind it. They were killed by a bullet in the neck, while the rest were being forced into the gas chambers.[57][58][59]

To drive the naked people into the execution barracks housing the gas chambers, the guards used whips, clubs, and rifle butts. Panic was instrumental in filling the gas chambers, because the need to evade blows on their naked bodies forced the victims rapidly forward. Once packed tightly inside (to minimize available air), the steel air-tight doors with portholes were closed. The doors, according to Treblinka Museum research, originated from the Soviet military bunkers around Białystok.[60] Although other methods of extermination, such as the cyanic poison Zyklon B, were already being used at other Nazi killing centres such as Auschwitz, the Aktion Reinhard camps used lethal exhaust gases from captured Soviet tank engines.[61] Fumes would be discharged directly into the gas chambers for a given period, then the engines would be switched off. SS guards would determine when to reopen the gas doors based on how long it took for the screaming to stop from within (usually 25 to 30 minutes). Special teams of camp inmates (Sonderkommando) would then remove the corpses on flatbed carts. Before the corpses were thrown into grave pits, gold teeth were removed from mouths, and orifices were searched for jewellery, currency, and other valuables. All acquired goods were managed by the Main SS Economic and Administrative Department.

The Höfle Telegram, which was an intercepted SS Enigma message, records the total number of people sent to KL Lublin/Majdanek, Bełżec, Sobibór and Treblinka as 1,274,166 in 1942.

During the early phases of Operation Reinhard, victims were simply thrown into mass graves and covered with lime. However, from 1943 onwards, to hide the evidence of this war crime, all bodies were burned in open air pits. Special Leichenkommando (corpse units) had to exhume bodies from the mass graves around these death camps for incineration.

Nevertheless, Reinhard still left a paper trail. In January 1943, Bletchley Park intercepted an SS telegram by SS-Sturmbannführer Hermann Höfle, Globocnik's deputy in Lublin, to SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann in Berlin. The decoded Enigma message contained statistics showing a total of 1,274,166 arrivals at the four Aktion Reinhard camps until the end of 1942,[62] but the British code-breakers did not understand the meaning of the message, which amounted to material evidence of how many people the Germans themselves confirmed they had murdered.[63]

Camp commandants

Extermination camp Commandant Period Estimated deaths
Bełżec SS-Sturmbannführer Christian Wirth December 1941 – 31 July 1942 600,000 [64]
SS-Hauptsturmführer Gottlieb Hering 1 August 1942 – December 1942
Sobibór SS-Hauptsturmführer Richard Thomalla March 1942 – April 1942            Camp construction   
SS-Hauptsturmführer Franz Stangl May 1942 – September 1942 250,000 [65]
SS-Hauptsturmführer Franz Reichleitner September 1942 – October 1943
Treblinka SS-Hauptsturmführer Richard Thomalla May 1942 – June 1942              Camp construction   
SS-Obersturmführer Irmfried Eberl July 1942 – September 1942 800,000–900,000 [66]
SS-Hauptsturmführer Franz Stangl September 1942 – August 1943
SS-Untersturmführer Kurt Franz August 1943 – November 1943
Lublin/Majdanek [67] SS-Standartenführer Karl-Otto Koch October 1941 – August 1942 130,000 [68]
(78,000 confirmed) [69]
SS-Sturmbannführer Max Koegel August 1942 – November 1942
SS-Obersturmführer Hermann Florstedt November 1942 – October 1943
SS-Obersturmbannführer Martin Gottfried Weiss November 1, 1943 – May 5, 1944
SS-Obersturmbannführer Arthur Liebehenschel May 5, 1944 – July 22, 1944

Temporary substitution policy

In the winter of 1941, before the Wannsee Conference but after the commencement of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi demands for forced labor greatly intensified. Therefore, Himmler and Heydrich approved the Jewish substitution policy in Upper Silesia and in Galicia under the "destruction through labor" doctrine.[70] The masses of ethnic Poles had already been sent to the Reich, creating a labour shortage in the General Government.[71] Around March 1942, while the first extermination camp (Bełżec) only began gassing, the deportation trains arriving in the Lublin reservation from the Third Reich and Slovakia were searched for the Jewish skilled workers. After selection, they were delivered to Majdan Tatarski instead of for "special treatment" at Bełżec. For a short time these Jewish laborers were temporarily spared death, while their families and all others perished.[71] Some were relegated to work at a nearby airplane factory or as forced labor in the SS-controlled Strafkompanies and other work camps. Hermann Höfle was one of the chief supporters and implementers of this policy.[21]

However, the problems were the food they required and the ensuing logistical challenges. Globocnik and Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger complained, and the mass transfer had stopped even before the three extermination camps were working at full throttle.[71]

Disposition of the property of the victims

Approximately 178 million German Reichsmarks' worth of Jewish property (equivalent to 616 million 2009 euros) was taken from the victims, with vast transfers of gold and valuables to the Reichsbank's "Melmer" account, Gold Pool, and monetary reserve.[72] But this wealth did not only go to the German authorities, because corruption was rife within the death camps. Many of the individual SS members and policemen involved in the killings took cash, property, and valuables for themselves. The higher-ranking SS men stole on an enormous scale. It was a common practice among the top echelon. Two Majdanek commandants, Karl-Otto Koch and Hermann Florstedt, were tried by the SS for it in April 1945.[73] SS-Sturmbannführer Georg Konrad Morgen, an SS judge from the SS Courts Office, prosecuted so many Nazi officers for individual violations that Himmler personally ordered him to restrain his cases by April 1944.[74][75]

Aftermath and cover up

Operation Reinhard ended in November 1943. Most of the staff and guards were then sent to northern Italy for further Aktion against Jews and local partisans. Globocnik went to the San Sabba concentration camp, where he supervised the detention, torture, and killing of political prisoners.

At the same time, to cover up the mass murder of more than two million people in Poland during Operation Reinhard, the Nazis implemented the secret Sonderaktion 1005, also called Aktion 1005 or Enterdungsaktion ("exhumation action"). The operation, which began in 1942 and continued until the end of 1943, was designed to remove all traces that mass murder had been carried out. Leichenkommando ("corpse units") comprising camp prisoners were created to exhume mass graves and cremate the buried bodies, using giant grills made from wood and railway tracks. Afterwards, bone fragments were ground up in special milling machines, and all remains were then re-buried in freshly dug pits. The Aktion was overseen by squads of the Trawniki guards.[76][77]

After the war, some of the SS officers and guards were tried and sentenced at the Nuremberg trials for their role in Operation Reinhard and Sonderaktion 1005; however, many others escaped conviction, such as Ernst Lerch, Globocnik's deputy and chief of his Main Office, whose case was dropped for lack of witness testimony.[78]

See also


  1. ^ The Treblinka and Sobibor death camps were built in roughly the same timeframe. During the construction of the gas chambers at Sobibor SS-Scharführer Erich Fuchs installed a 200 horsepower, water cooled V-8 gasoline engine as the killing mechanism there, according to his own postwar testimony.[29] Fuchs installed a similar engine at Treblinka as well. There's an ongoing debate with regard to the type of fuel at Treblinka used as the lethal agent.[30] The chief argument for its identification as petrol (i.e., gasoline, or gas) comes directly from the eyewitness testimonies of insurgents who survived the Treblinka uprising. On 2 August 1943, they set ablaze a petrol tank causing it to explode. No second tank containing a different type of fuel (i.e., diesel) was ever mentioned in any known literature on the subject. All diesel motors require diesel fuel; the engine and the fuel work together as a system. An effort in the late '30s to extend the diesel engine's use to passenger cars was interrupted by World War II.[31] Therefore, the cars driven by the SS at Trebinka (see Rajzman 1945 at U.S. Congress, and Ząbecki's court testimonies at Düsseldorf) could not have been fueled by diesel, and neither was the killing apparatus without a second fuel tank on premises.[32][33]


  1. ^ IPN (1942). "From archives of the Jewish deportations to extermination camps" (PDF). Karty. Institute of National Remembrance, Warsaw: 32. Document size 4.7 MB. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Yad Vashem (2013). "Aktion Reinhard" (PDF). Shoah Resource Center, The International School for Holocaust Studies. Document size 33.1 KB. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  3. ^ "Operation Reinhardt (Einsatz Reinhard)". USHMM. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  4. ^ Grossman, Vasily (1946). "The Treblinka Hell" (PDF). The Years of War (1941–1945) (PDF). Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House. pp. 371–408. Document size 2.14 MB. Archived from the original on 2014-10-06 – via Internet Archive.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
    ——. "The Hell of Treblinka". The Road: Stories, Journalism, and Essays. V. Grossman, R. Chandler, E. Chandler, O. Mukovnikova (trans.). Retrieved 1 August 2015.
    —— (19 September 2002) [1958]. Треблинский ад [Treblinka Hell] (in Russian). Воениздат.
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    ——. "Stutthof: History & Overview". With archival photos.
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  39. ^ Ghettos, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  40. ^ Golden, Juliet (January–February 2003). "Remembering Chelmno". Archaeology. Archaeological Institute of America. 56 (1): 50.
  41. ^ Arad 1999, p. 37.
  42. ^ Radlmaier, Steffen (2001). Der Nürnberger Lernprozess: von Kriegsverbrechern und Starreportern. Eichborn. p. 278. ISBN 978-3-8218-4725-2.
  43. ^ Kopówka & Rytel-Andrianik 2011, pp. 44, 74.
  44. ^ The Holocaust Encyclopedia. "Belzec". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Archived from the original on January 7, 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2015 – via Internet Archive.
  45. ^ Kopówka & Rytel-Andrianik 2011, pp. 78–79.
  46. ^ United States Department of Justice (1994), From the Record of Interrogation of the Defendant Pavel Vladimirovich Leleko, Original: the Fourth Department of the SMERSH Directorate of Counterintelligence of the 2nd Belorussian Front, USSR (1978). Acquired by OSI in 1994: Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, p. Appendix 3: 144/179, Archived from the original on 16 May 2010, retrieved 5 August 2016 – via Internet ArchiveCS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  47. ^ Arad, Yitzhak (1999). Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps. Indiana University Press. pp. 152–153. ISBN 978-0-253-21305-1.
  48. ^ Christopher R. Browning, Jürgen Matthäus (2007), The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939 - March 1942. University of Nebraska Press, pp. 191–192. ISBN 978-0-8032-5979-9. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  49. ^ Israel Gutman. Resistance. Houghton Mifflin. p. 200.
  50. ^ Gordon Williamson (2004). The SS: Hitler's Instrument of Terror. Zenith Imprint. p. 101. ISBN 0-7603-1933-2.
  51. ^ Marek Edelman. "The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising". Interpress Publishers (undated). pp. 17–39. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  52. ^ Browning 1998, p. 116.
  53. ^ Kurt Gerstein (4 May 1945). "Gerstein Report, in English translation". DeathCamps.org. Retrieved 28 January 2015. On 18 August 1942, Waffen-SS officer Kurt Gerstein had witnessed at Belzec the arrival of 45 wagons with 6,700 people of whom 1,450 were already dead on arrival. The train came with the Jews of the Lwów Ghetto, less than a hundred kilometres away (Holocaust Encyclopedia).
  54. ^ Arad 1999, p.76.
  55. ^ Shirer 1981, p. 969, Affidavit (Hoess, Nuremberg).
  56. ^ Chris Webb & Carmelo Lisciotto (2009). "The Gas Chambers at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka". Descriptions and Eyewitness Testimony. Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  57. ^ Webb, Chris; C.L. (2007). "Belzec, Sobibor & Treblinka Death Camps. The Perpetrators Speak". HEART. Archived from the original on September 6, 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2014 – via Internet Archive.
  58. ^ Webb, Chris; Carmelo Lisciotto (2009). "The Gas Chambers at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. Descriptions and Eyewitness Testimony". H.E.A.R.T. Archived from the original on February 22, 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2014 – via Internet Archive.
  59. ^ Adams, David (2012). "Hershl Sperling. Personal Testimony". H.E.A.R.T. Archived from the original on December 20, 2012 – via Internet Archive. The Lazarett was surrounded by a tall barbed-wire fence, camouflaged with brushwood to screen it from view. Behind the fence was a big ditch which served as a mass grave, with a constantly burning fire.
  60. ^ Kopówka & Rytel-Andrianik 2011, p. 84.
  61. ^ Carol Rittner, Roth, K. (2004). Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-8264-7566-4.
  62. ^ Public Record Office, Kew, England, HW 16/23, decode GPDD 355a distributed on January 15, 1943, radio telegrams nos 12 and 13/15, transmitted on January 11, 1943.
  63. ^ Hanyok, Robert J. (2004), Eavesdropping on Hell: Historical Guide to Western Communications Intelligence and the Holocaust, 1939–1945 (PDF), Center for Cryptographic History, National Security Agency, p. 124
  64. ^ 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. Bełżec extermination camp
  65. ^ In all, the Germans and their auxiliaries killed at least 167,000 people at Sobibór. Sobibor extermination camp
  66. ^ The Höfle Telegram indicates some 700,000 killed by 31 December 1942, yet the camp functioned until 1943; hence, the true death toll likely is greater. Reinhard: Treblinka Deportations
  67. ^ Abstract: Peter Witte and Stephen Tyas, "A New Document on the Deportation and Murder of Jews during 'Einsatz Reinhardt' 1942." (Internet Archive) Holocaust and Genocide Studies 15:3 (2001) pp. 468–486.
  68. ^ "KL Majdanek: Kalendarium". Państwowe Muzeum na Majdanku. Archived from the original on 2011-02-13. Retrieved 2015-05-23. Majdanek Victims Enumerated by Paweł P. Reszka.
  69. ^ Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum (23 December 2005). ""Majdanek Victims Enumerated" by Paweł P. Reszka". Lublin scholar Tomasz Kranz established a new figure which the Majdanek museum staff considers reliable. Earlier calculations were greater: ca. 360,000, in a much-cited 1948 publication by Judge Zdzisław Łukaszkiewicz of the Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland; and ca. 235,000 in a 1992 article by Dr. Czeslaw Rajca, formerly of the Majdanek Museum. However, the number of Majdanek victims, whose deaths the camp administration did not register, remains unknown although it might be considered significant.
  70. ^ Saul Friedländer (February 2009). Nazi Germany And The Jews, 1933–1945 (PDF). HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 293–294 / 507. ISBN 978-0-06-177730-1. Complete. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  71. ^ a b c Browning, Christopher (2000). Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers. Cambridge University Press. p. 71. ISBN 0-521-77490-X.
  72. ^ Carmelo Lisciotto (2007). "The Reichsbank". H.E.A.R.T. Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  73. ^ KL Lublin Museum (13 September 2013). "Trials of war criminals 1946–1948" [Procesy zbrodniarzy]. Wykaz sądzonych członków załogi KL Lublin/Majdanek (Majdanek SS staff put on trial). Lublin.
  74. ^ "SS-Hauptscharfuehrer Konrad Morgen - the Bloodhound Judge". Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  75. ^ Snyder, Louis Leo (1998). Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. Wordsworth Editions. ISBN 978-1-85326-684-3.
  76. ^ Arad, Yitzhak (1984), "Operation Reinhard: Extermination Camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka" (PDF), Yad Vashem Studies XVI, 205–239 (26/30 of current document) – via Internet Archive, The Attempt to Remove Traces.
  77. ^ Wiernik, Jankiel (1945), "A year in Treblinka", Verbatim translation from Yiddish, American Representation of the General Jewish Workers' Union of Poland, retrieved 30 August 2015 – via Zchor.org, digitized into fourteen chapters, The first ever published eye-witness report by an escaped prisoner of the camp.
  78. ^ Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team (2007). "Ernst Lerch". Holocaust Research Project.org. Retrieved 30 August 2015.


August Frank memorandum

The August Frank memorandum of 26 September 1942 was a directive from SS Lieutenant General (Obergruppenführer) August Frank of the SS concentration camp administration department (SS-WVHA). The memorandum provides a measure of the detailed planning that Frank and other Nazis put into the carrying out of the Holocaust. It includes instructions as to the disposition of postage stamp collections and underwear of the murdered Jews. It is clear that the Nazis were intent in removing everything of value from their victims.

The memorandum contains an instruction that the yellow stars that the Nazis forced Jews to wear on their clothing were to be removed before the clothing was redistributed to ethnic Germans whom the Nazis were resettling into occupied Poland. This memorandum, when it came to light after the war, played a key role in refuting Frank's claims that he had no knowledge that Jews were being murdered en masse in the extermination camps of Operation Reinhard. It is also notable as an example of the use of the Nazi euphemism "evacuation" of the Jews, which meant their systematic murder.

Christian Wirth

Christian Wirth (German: [vɪʁt] (listen); 24 November 1885 – 26 May 1944) was a German policeman and SS officer 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 (German: Christian der Grausame) and The Wild Christian.Wirth worked at scaling up the Action T4 program, in which people with disabilities were murdered by gassing or lethal injection, and then at scaling up Operation Reinhard, by developing extermination camps for the purpose of mass murder. Wirth served as Inspector of all Operation Reinhard camps. He was the first Commandant of Bełżec extermination camp. He was later killed by Yugoslav partisans in Hrpelje-Kozina near Trieste.

Ernst Lerch

Ernst Lerch (19 November 1914 – 1997) was one of the most important men of Operation Reinhard (German: Aktion Reinhard), responsible for "Jewish affairs" and the mass murder of the Jews in the General Government (Generalgouvernement).

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.

Gottlieb Hering

Gottlieb Hering (2 June 1887 – 9 October 1945) was an SS commander of Nazi Germany. He served in Action T4 and later as the second and last commandant of Bełżec extermination camp during Operation Reinhard. Hering directly perpetrated the genocide of Jews and other peoples during The Holocaust.

Grossaktion Warsaw

The Grossaktion or Gross-Aktion Warsaw (German: Großaktion Warschau, Great Action) was a Nazi German operation of the deportation and mass murder of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto beginning 22 July 1942. During the Grossaktion Jews were terrorized in daily round-ups, marched through the ghetto, and assembled at the Umschlagplatz station square for the so-called "resettlement to the East" (Umsiedlung). From there, they were sent aboard overcrowded Holocaust trains to the extermination camp in Treblinka.The largest number of Warsaw Jews were transported to their deaths at Treblinka in the period between the Jewish holidays Tisha B'Av (23 July) and Yom Kippur (21 September) in 1942. The killing centre was set up 80 kilometres (50 mi) from Warsaw only weeks earlier, specifically for the Final Solution. Treblinka was equipped with gas chambers disguised as showers for the "processing" of entire transports of people. Led by the SS-leader Brigadeführer Odilo Globocnik, the campaign codenamed Operation Reinhard became the critical part of the Holocaust in occupied Poland.

Heinrich Barbl

Heinrich Barbl (born March 3, 1900, Sarleinsbach, Austria; date of death unknown, not before 1965) was an Austrian-born SS-Rottenführer. He participated in the T-4 euthanasia program in Nazi Germany and, after the invasion of Poland, in Operation Reinhard phase of the Holocaust.

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.

Hermann Höfle

Hermann Julius Höfle pron. also Hans (or) Hermann Hoefle (19 June 1911 – 21 August 1962) was an Austrian-born SS commander and Holocaust perpetrator during the Nazi era. He was deputy to Odilo Globocnik in the Aktion Reinhard program, serving as his main deportation and extermination expert. Arrested in 1961 in connection with these crimes, Höfle committed suicide in prison before he could be tried.

Höfle Telegram

The Höfle Telegram (or Hoefle Telegram) is a cryptic one-page document, discovered in 2000 among the declassified World War II archives of the Public Record Office in Kew, England. The document consists of several cables in translation, among them a top-secret message sent by SS Sturmbannführer Hermann Höfle on 11 January 1943; one, to SS Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann in Berlin, and one to SS Obersturmbannführer Franz Heim in German-occupied Kraków (Cracow).The Telegram contains the detailed statistics on the 1942 killings of Jews in the extermination camps of Operation Reinhard including at Belzec (B), Sobibor (S), Treblinka (T), and at Lublin-Majdanek (L). The numbers were compiled and quoted by Höfle likely from the very precise records shared with the Deutsche Reichsbahn (DRG). Even though the Holocaust train-records were notoriously incomplete as revealed by the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes against the Polish Nation, the quoted numbers shed a new light on the evidential standard of proof for the scope of the crimes committed by the SS. The telegram gave train arrivals in the prior fortnight, as well as cumulative arrivals until 31 December 1942, for the extermination camps during the most deadly phase of the "Final Solution".

Josef Oberhauser

Josef Oberhauser (January 21, 1915 – November 22, 1979) was a low-ranking German SS commander during the Nazi era. He participated in Action T4 and Operation Reinhard. Oberhauser was the only person to be successfully convicted of crimes committed at the Bełżec extermination camp. He was charged with 450,000 counts of accessory to murder and sentenced to 4.5 years imprisonment during the Belzec Trial of 1964.

Karl Steubl

SS-Sturmbannführer Karl Steubl, Steubel, or Steibel (25 October 1910 – 21 September 1945) was a Nazi, perpetrator of euthanasia programme dubbed Action T4, and commander of transportation at the Sobibór extermination camp during Operation Reinhard, the most deadly phase of the Holocaust. Arrested after the war, Steubl committed suicide in Linz, Austria.

Katzmann Report

The Katzmann Report (or the Final Report by Katzmann) is one of the most important testimonies relating to the Holocaust in Poland and the extermination of Polish Jews during World War II. It was used as evidence in Nuremberg Trials (USA No. L-18, Exhibit-277) and numerous other proceedings against war criminals abroad. It is a leather-bound report by SS-Gruppenführer Fritz Katzmann, Commander of the German SS and Police in the District of Galicia, entitled "Lösung der Judenfrage im Distrikt Galizien" (The Solution of the Jewish Question in the District of Galicia), submitted on June 30, 1943 to the SS and Police Chief Friedrich Krüger. It describes part of the Operation Reinhard.The Report was published in German and illustrated with photographs of the systems of persecution. A Polish translation of the report had been published in the 1950s, but was subject to the communist censorship and it did not have an accompanying scholarly analysis that came with the more recent edition by the Institute of National Remembrance. Full not censored text of "Katzman report" was published in 2009.

Kurt Bolender

Heinz Kurt Bolender (21 May 1912 – 10 October 1966) was a SS commander during the Nazi era. In 1942, he operated the gas chambers at Sobibór extermination camp, perpetrating acts of genocide against Jews and Romani people during Operation Reinhard. After the war, Bolender was recognized in 1961 while working under a false identity as a doorman at a nightclub in Germany, and subsequently accused in 1965 of personally murdering at least 360 Jewish inmates and assisting in the murder of 86,000 more at Sobibór. He committed suicide in prison two months prior to the end of the trial.

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.

Odilo Globočnik

Odilo Globočnik (21 April 1904 – 31 May 1945) was an Austrian war criminal. He was a Nazi and later an SS leader. As an associate of Adolf Eichmann, he had a leading role in Operation Reinhard, which saw the murder of over one million mostly Polish Jews during the Holocaust in Nazi extermination camps Majdanek, Treblinka, Sobibór and Bełżec. Historian Michael Allen described him as "the vilest individual in the vilest organization ever known".

Operation Reinhard in Kraków

Operation Reinhard in Kraków, often referred to by its original codename in German as Aktion Krakau, was a major 1942 German Nazi operation against the Jews of Kraków, Poland. It was headed by SS and Police Leader Julian Scherner from Waffen-SS. The roundup was part of the countrywide Aktion Reinhard (Operation Reinhard), the mass murder of Polish Jews in the so-called General Government under the command of SS und Polizeiführer Odilo Globocnik.

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.

Treblinka extermination camp

Treblinka (pronounced [trɛˈblʲinka]) was an extermination camp, built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II. It was located in a forest north-east of Warsaw, 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) south of the Treblinka train station 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.Managed by the German SS and the Trawniki guards – enlisted voluntarily from among Soviet POWs to serve with the Germans – the camp consisted of two separate units. Treblinka I was a forced-labour camp (Arbeitslager) whose prisoners worked in the gravel pit or irrigation area and in the forest, where they cut wood to fuel the cremation pits. Between 1941 and 1944, more than half of its 20,000 inmates died from summary executions, hunger, disease and mistreatment.The second camp, Treblinka II, was an extermination camp (Vernichtungslager), referred to euphemistically as the SS-Sonderkommando Treblinka by the Nazis. A small number of Jewish men who were not killed immediately upon arrival became its Jewish slave-labour units called Sonderkommandos, forced to bury the victims' bodies in mass graves. These bodies were exhumed in 1943 and cremated on large open-air pyres along with the bodies of new victims. Gassing operations at Treblinka II ended in October 1943 following a revolt by the Sonderkommandos in early August. Several Trawniki guards were killed and 200 prisoners escaped from the camp; almost a hundred survived the subsequent chase. The camp was dismantled ahead of the Soviet advance. A farmhouse for a watchman was built on the site and the ground ploughed over in an attempt to hide the evidence of genocide.In postwar Poland, the government bought most of the land where the camp had stood, and built a large stone memorial there between 1959 and 1962. In 1964 Treblinka was declared a national monument of Jewish martyrology in a ceremony at the site of the former gas chambers. In the same year the first German trials were held regarding war crimes committed at Treblinka by former SS members. After the end of communism in Poland in 1989, the number of visitors coming to Treblinka from abroad increased. An exhibition centre at the camp opened in 2006. It was later expanded and made into a branch of the Siedlce Regional Museum.

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