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Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/aktion.reinhard/yvs16.02

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Yad Vashem Studies XVI:  Operation Reinhard (2/11)
Summary: The Personnel of Operation Reinhard
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Nizkor Project -
Keywords: Yad Vashem,treblinka,sobibor,belzec

Archive/File: orgs/israeli/yad-vashem/yvs16.02
Last-modified: 1993/05/14
XRef: yad_vashem index

                       YAD VASHEM STUDIES
                     Edited by Aharon Weiss

                          YAD VASHEM
                        JERUSALEM 1984

                    "Operation Reinhard": 
       Extermination Camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka

                         Yitzhak Arad 
              The Personnel of Operation Reinhard

   Preparations for Operation Reinhard were initiated more than six
   months before Himmler's order to commence the Aktion and at the
   latest two months prior to the Wannsee Conference.  The first tasks
   were to organize the labor force and to construct the extermination
   centers.  Uponcompletionofhis task, Globocnik, in a letter dated
   October 27, 1943 to the Personnel Headquarters in Berlin, provided a
   detailed report, which sets out the total number of personnel
   involved in this operation -- 434 men.  (Original in the US
   Documentation Center, Berlin.)

   In the construction and handling of the gassing installations,
   experienced former workers from the "Euthanasia" programs occupied
   leading positions in the planning, building, and administration of
   the Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka extermination camps.  In the late
   autumn of 1941 the Belzec and later the Sobibor and Treblinka
   extermination camps were set up, as was a training ca np for
   "foreign" personnel -- Ukrainian volunteers -- in Trawniki, as well as
   the camp in the "old airport" of Lublin where the clothes and movable
   belongings of the victims were stored.

   As head of the main department on Globocnik's staff, SS-
   Sturmbannfu"hrer Ho"fle was responsible for organizing and deploying
   the work force.  He also coordinated the timing of the arrival of the
   extermination transports at the different camps.  During the first
   months of Operation Reinhard, all extermination camps were under
   Globocnik's direct control; at the beginning of August 1942 Christian
   Wirth was appointed Inspector of Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka.
   (The documents do not specify that Wirth's area of command extended
   also to Kulmhof.)

   About twenty to thirty SS-men served in each camp.  Most of them had
   formerly been engaged in the "Euthanasia" Operation.  The camp
   commandants held the rank of SS-Ober- or Hauptsturmfu"hrer.  The
   others also held noncommissioned officer ranks.  No rank-and-file
   SS-men were employed in any of the camps.

   Units composed of Ukrainians with some volksleutsche (ethnic Germans)
   were assigned to assist the German camp personnel.  The formation and
   training of such units took place in the "Trawniki SS-Training-Camp"
   which had been set up in the autumn of 1941.  Afterwards, they were
   distributed among the camps in groups of 60 to 120 men with their own
   leaders, usually ethnic Germans.  Some of the units assembled in
   Trawniki were also brought into action in the ghettoes during the
   deportation of Jews, for example, at the time of the transportation
   of the Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to the Treblinka extermination
   camp.  (StA Wiesbaden AZ: 8Js 1145-60 with plentiful evidence ; verdict in the criminal proceedings StA Hamburg
   AZ: 147 Ks 2/75 of 17.5.1976 .) The first Jews
   brought to the camps were those from the vicinity.  They were used
   for construction work and also performed various services for the
   German camp personnel.  They were generally skilled workers or
   craftsmen such as carpenters, blacksmiths, tailors, and shoemakers.
   As soon as the construction phase was completed, most of them were
   killed in trial gassings.

   When the organized mass gassings began, the camp administration
   needed more and more workers from amongst the death transports.  A
   few, especially skilled workers, were employed in the extermination
   camps according to the specific directives of the German and
   Ukrainian camp leaders.  Others had to work in the gas chambers,
   removing and incinerating the corpses, and also sorting the clothes
   and baggage of the victims.  In the initial period, in particular,
   they were kept alive for only a few days or weeks before being killed
   and replaced by Jews from newly arrived transports.  In each of the
   camps the Jewish labor force consisted of 600 to 1,000 prisoners.  At
   a later stage Jewish prisoners became part of the permanent staff of
   the camp.  While members of the German or Ukrainian camp personnel
   were occasionally transferred to other camps, once Jewish prisoners
   had entered a camp they never left it again.

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