Originally, the Jewish forced labour was brought into the area in April for the construction of military defence facilities of the German strategic plan codenamed Operation Otto against the Soviet advance beyond their common frontier following the Soviet invasion of It could "process" the Jews of both regions. The ditch, excavated originally for military purposes was likely to serve as the first mass grave. Work had commenced in early November , using local builders overseen by a squad of Trawniki guards. The installation, resembling a railway transit point for the purpose of forced labour, was finished before Christmas.
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Originally, the Jewish forced labour was brought into the area in April for the construction of military defence facilities of the German strategic plan codenamed Operation Otto against the Soviet advance beyond their common frontier following the Soviet invasion of It could "process" the Jews of both regions.
The ditch, excavated originally for military purposes was likely to serve as the first mass grave. Work had commenced in early November , using local builders overseen by a squad of Trawniki guards. The installation, resembling a railway transit point for the purpose of forced labour, was finished before Christmas. It featured insulated barracks for showering among several other structures.
Some local men were released. The SS completed the work in February by fitting in the tank engine and the exhaust piping systems for gassing. The trial killings were performed in early March. He was, therefore, an obvious choice to be the first commandant of the first stationary extermination camp of Operation Reinhard in the General Government.
It was his proposal to use the exhaust gas emitted by the internal-combustion engine of a motorcar as the killing agent instead of the bottled carbon monoxide , because no delivery from outside the camp would be required as in the case of the T-4 method.
Even though Zyklon B became broadly available later on, Wirth decided against it. Zyklon B was produced by a private firm for both Birkenau, and Majdanek nearby, but their infrastructure differed. For economic and practical reasons, Wirth had almost the same carbon monoxide gas used in T-4, generated with the torque of a large engine. The T-4 SS man and first operator of the gas chambers, Lorenz Hackenholt ,  rebuilt an Opel-Blitz post-office vehicle with the help of a local craftsman into a small gas van.
The process was conducted as quickly as possible amid constant screaming by the Germans. The gassing itself, which took about 30 minutes, was conducted by Hackenholt with the Ukrainian guards and a Jewish aide. Known structures are gone except for the brick-and-mortar garage and auto-shop for the SS, whose foundations still exist today lower left. Dismantled barracks can still be seen surrounded by walking sand. The railway unloading platform, with two parallel ramps, marked with red arrow.
A smaller arrow shows the holding pen for Jews still waiting to be "processed". Location of gas chambers marked with a cross. Undressing and hair-cropping area marked with rectangle, with fenced-out "Sluice" into the woods, obstructing the view of the surroundings.
Cremation pyres and ash pits yellow , upper half. The first one, from 17 March to the end of June was marked by the existence of smaller gas chambers housed in barracks made of planks and insulated with sand and rubber. The gassing installation was imperfect and usually only one or two rooms were working, causing a backlog.
In the first three months 80, people were killed and buried in pits covered with a shallow layer of earth. The victims were Jews deported from the Lublin Ghetto and its vicinity. The original three gas chambers were insufficient for completing the task at hand. The wooden gas chambers were dismantled. The new building 24 m long and 10 m wide had six gas chambers, insulated with the cement walls. The design was soon imitated by the other two Operation Reinhard extermination camps: Sobibor and Treblinka.
The Bahnschutzpolizei told him: "trains filled with Jews pass almost daily through the railway yards and leave immediately on the way to the camp. They return swept clean most often the same evening. The surface layer of soil split. The bodies were placed on pyres made from rail tracks, splashed with petrol and burned over wood.
The bones were collected and crushed. After the German takeover of Italy in , he was transferred by Globocnik to serve along with him in his hometown of Trieste. Wirth received the Iron Cross in April The following month he was killed by partisans whilst travelling in an open-top car in what is today western Slovenia. Lorenz Hackenholt survived the defeat of Germany, but disappeared in without a trace.
Of these, just one, Josef Oberhauser leader of the SS guard platoon , was brought to trial in , and sentenced to four years and six months in prison, of which he served half before being released a free man. The remaining new arrivals were marched naked in batches to the gas chambers; beaten with whips to squeeze tighter inside.
Captain Wirth comes up. I can see he is afraid because I am present at a disaster. Yes, I see it all and I wait. My stopwatch showed it all, 50 minutes, 70 minutes, and the diesel did not start. In vain. Furious, Captain Wirth lashes the Ukrainian assisting Hackenholt twelve, thirteen times, in the face. After 2 hours and 49 minutes—the stopwatch recorded it all—the diesel started. Up to that moment, the people [locked] in those four crowded chambers were still alive, four times persons in four times 45 cubic meters.
Many were already dead, that could be seen through the small window because an electric lamp inside lit up the chamber for a few moments. After 28 minutes, only a few were still alive. Finally, after 32 minutes, all were dead Dentists hammered out gold teeth, bridges and crowns. In the midst of them stood Captain Wirth. He was in his element, and showing me a large can full of teeth, he said: "See for yourself the weight of that gold!
Cemented rails built in place of the original unloading ramp, lead in all directions from which the Jews were brought in. It was the result of direct orders from the Nazi leadership possibly from Himmler , soon after the Soviet Katyn massacre of 22, Polish soldiers was discovered in Russia. At Katyn, the German-led exhumations by the international Katyn Commission revealed details of the mass murder by examining preserved bodies.
Bone fragments were pulverised and mixed with the ashes to hide the evidence of mass murder. The site was planted with small firs and wild lupines and all camp structures were dismantled. They were told that they were being evacuated to Germany instead.
Any equipment that could be reused was taken by the German and Ukrainian personnel to the concentration camp Majdanek. Raul Hilberg gave a figure of , Michael Tregenza stated that it would have been possible to have buried up to one million victims on the site although the true death toll is probably around half that number.
It was published in by Stephen Tyas and Peter Witte. The clean-up commando of up to prisoners remained in the camp, disinterring the bodies and burning them. The Sonderkommando was transported to Sobibor extermination camp around August and murdered on arrival.
Thus, Y. Arad writes, that he had to rely, in part, on Yizkor books of Jewish ghettos, which were not guaranteed to give the exact estimates of the numbers of deportees.
He also relied on partial German railway documentation, from which the number of trains could be gleaned. Some assumptions had to be made about the number of persons per each Holocaust train.
Under the ground passage built in place of former "Sluice" into the gas chambers, evokes the feelings of no escape  Belzec extermination camp memorial. During the construction of the Mausoleum trees planted by the SS were removed and only the oaks, that witnessed the genocide, were retained.
The mass graves at the site were dug up by gravediggers seeking gold and valuables. In Szmul Pelc, the chair of the committee of the Jewish Committee, was murdered by local gravediggers. The Soviet trials of Russian camp personnel, held in Kiev and Krasnodar in the early s soon followed. The first monuments were erected, although the area did not correspond to the actual size of the camp during its operation due to lack of proper evidence and modern forensic research.
Some commercial development took place in areas formerly belonging to it. Also, its remote location on the Polish-Soviet border meant that few people visited the site before the revolutions of and the return of democracy. It was largely forgotten and poorly maintained. Buildings constructed after the war on the camp grounds were removed. Anita Ekstein was born in the Lviv area and was hidden as a child by Righteous Poles during the Holocaust.
The team identified the railway sidings and remains of a number of buildings. Kola described as follows: "Deposition of corpses in the water-bearing layers or in very damp structure of the ground just above that layer, with the difficulty of air penetration, because of the depth, caused the changes of the deposited bodies into adipocere.
In some graves the layer of corpses reached the thickness of ca 2,00m. An unknown number of prisoners jumped out from the moving Holocaust trains on the way to the camp, at their own peril. They were Rudolf Reder and Chaim Hirszman. MBP used methods including torture, extrajudicial executions, and the deportation to Siberia of over 50, political prisoners.
Background Edit The first concentration camps in Nazi Germany were established in as soon as the National Socialist regime took power. They were used for coercion , forced labour , and imprisonment, not for mass murder. 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
Belzec extermination camp