The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Operation Reinhard:

"The largest single massacre action of the Holocaust, Operation Reinhard, which lasted twenty-one months, from March 1942 to November 1943, was carried out by, and accomplished according to the plans of, the Nazi extermination machine. It was an integral and substantial part of the overall plan for the `Final Solution of the Jewish Problem.'

"The commanders of Operation Reinhard, Globocnik, Wirth, and the SS men subordinate to them, succeeded in creating an efficient yet simple system of mass extermination by using relatively scanty resources. In each of the death camps -- in Belzec, in Sobibor, and in Treblinka -- a limited number of 20 to 35 Germans were stationed for purposed of command and supervision, and about 90 to 130 Ukrainians were responsible for guard duties. All the physical work of the extermination process was imposed on 700 to 1,000 Jewish prisoners who were kept in each camp.

"The layout and structure of the camps were adapted to serve the extermination system and procedure. they were relatively small and compact, which enabled permanent and strict control over the entire area and all activities in the camp. The material used to build the camps -- lumber and bricks -- and the means used for extermination -- a simple motor vehicle and ordinary petrol -- were readily available in the immediate vicinity. Local workers and Jewish prisoners built the camps. All these elements made the entire operation independent of outside and distant factors. ... The killing system, as developed by Wirth, enabled the murder of tens of thousands of Jews every day in the three death camps under his jurisdiction.


"The ruse continued even after the Jews arrived in the camps. Almost all of the victims went to the gas chambers believing that these were indeed batchs. Secrecy, deception, and disguise on the one hand, and little chance for rescue or for hiding among the local population on the other hand, enabled the Nazis to keep their extermination machine running smoothly.

"But those Jews who were selected for work in the camps and who were aware of what was going on there did not give up. Prisoners in Sobibor and Treblinka succeeded, despite the strict control and surveillance under which they were kept, in carrying out individual escapes and in staging an uprising accompanied by a mass escape. The uprisings ensured the survival of hundreds of prisoners and revealed the secrets of the death camps to the world. These survivors were the main witnesses at the Sobibor and Treblinka trials in the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as at other trials. The perpetrators did not succeed in their attempts to bury and burn the truth of the camps together with the victims." (Arad, Epilog)

Work Cited

Arad, Yitzhak. BELZEC, SOBIBOR, TREBLINKA - the Operation Reinhard Death Camps. Indiana University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-253-3429-7

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

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