Xref: info.physics.utoronto.ca alt.answers:4691 alt.revisionism:18105 news.answers:29951 s

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

Xref: info.physics.utoronto.ca alt.answers:4691 alt.revisionism:18105 news.answers:29951 soc.answers:1742 soc.history:40486 Newsgroups: alt.revisionism,soc.history,soc.answers,alt.answers,news.answers Path: oneb!periodic From: periodic@oneb.almanac.bc.ca (Ken McVay) Subject: HOLOCAUST FAQ: Operation Reinhard: A Layman's Guide (1/2) Message-ID: Supersedes: Expires: 23 Nov 1994 08:00:01 GMT Summary: Research guide to Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka - The Operation Reinhard death camps Reply-To: kmcvay@oneb.almanac.bc.ca Followup-To: soc.history Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac, Vancouver Island, CANADA Approved: news-answers-request@MIT.edu Keywords: Belzec,Reinhard,Sobibor,Treblinka Lines: 494 Date: Thu, 29 Sep 94 08:00:07 GMT Archive-name: holocaust/reinhard/part01 Last-modified: 1994/08/13 This FAQ may be cited as: McVay, Kenneth N. (1994) "HOLOCAUST FAQ: Operation Reinhard: Layman's Guide to Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka" Usenet news.answers. Available via anonymous ftp from rtfm.mit.edu in pub/usenet/news.answers/holocaust/reinhard/part01 (and ~/part02). ~20 pages. The most current version of this FAQ is posted every 45 days in the Usenet newsgroups alt.revisionism, soc.history, soc.answers, alt.answers and news.answers, and archived as pub/usenet/news.answers/holocaust/reinhard/part01 (and ~/part02) in the anonymous ftp archive on rtfm.mit.edu. Operation Reinhard: A Layman's Guide to Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka (Part One of Two) 1.0 Introduction & Editorial Notes............................. 1 1.1 Copyright Notice......................................... 2 1.2 Geographic Location and Background....................... 2 1.2.1 Belzec................................................. 2 1.2.2 Sobibor................................................ 4 1.2.3 Treblinka.............................................. 5 2.0 Gas Chambers............................................... 6 3.0 Crematoria................................................. 9 4.0 Compiling estimates on numbers exterminated....[Part 2]....10 4.1 Deportation Statistics ..................................11 4.1.1 Belzec...................................................11 4.1.2 Sobibor..................................................11 4.1.3 Treblinka................................................12 5.0 Administration.............................................13 5.1 Operation Reinhard Command Staff.........................14 5.1.1 Belzec Staff...........................................14 5.1.2 Sobibor Staff..........................................15 Wachman..............................................18 5.1.3 Treblinka Staff........................................18 Wachman..............................................18 5.2 Selection................................................19 5.3 Financial Accounting.....................................19 6.0 Research Sources & Other Useful Appendices.................20 6.1 Recommended Reading......................................20 6.2 Abbreviations Used in Citations..........................21 6.3 Glossary.................................................22 6.4 Work Cited...............................................23 [Reinhard] [Page 1] 1.0 Introduction & Editorial Notes On January 30, 1942, ... Hitler reaffirmed to the German public his prewar prophecy that a world war would result in the destruction of Jewry. Three days later, in private, he told Himmler and other evening guests: "Today we must conduct the same struggle that Pasteur and Koch had to fight. The cause of countless ills is a bacillus: the Jew....We will become healthy if we eliminate the Jew." (Hitler's speech in the Sportplast on 30 Jan. 1942, reprinted in Max Domarus, Hitler, Reden und Proklamationen 1932-1945. Munich, 1965, II, 1,828-29; Adolf Hitler, Monologe im Fu"hrerhauptquartier 1941-1944: Die Aufzeichnungen Heinrich Heims. ed. Werner Jochmann, Hamburg, 1980. 293, 2 Feb. 1942) Two months later Hitler associated himself completely with Himmler's broad plans for Germanization of the East. According to what Gottlob Berger heard from a firsthand source, Hitler told a group of officers whom he decorated with the Iron Cross with oak-leaf cluster: I know exactly how far I have to go, but it is so that the whole East becomes and remains German -- primeval German [urdeutsch]...We don't need to express our ideas about that now, and I will not speak about it. That [task] I have given to my Himmler and he is already accomplishing it. (Berger to Himmler, 10 April 1942, NA RG 242, T-175/R 127/2649922) Here was the politician calculatingly allowing subordinates to carry out his dirty work.(Breitman, 234-35) ...the nature of which would become clear all too soon... After the assassination (mid-1942) of Reinhard Heydrich, Hitler's Reich Protector of Bohemia-Moravia, the destruction of the Jews in the Government General (Poland) became formally known as "Operation Reinhard," in a final tribute to the slain Nazi. This document will outline the history and effectiveness of the Reinhard camps. Arad's preface offers these reflections: BELZEC, SOBIBOR, & TREBLINKA: An integral part of the Nazi killing machine in occupied Poland - these camps served one purpose, and one purpose only - the total destruction of the Jewish people. The Nazi leaders adopted and executed a deliberate and massive campaign of genocide which has been documented beyond dispute and is accepted by an entire world, excepting only those Neo-Nazi elements cloaking their continuing hatred of the Jewish people in pseudo-historical nonsense. The existence of Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz, Maidanek, Chelmno and others is beyond question. The purpose for which these camps were created is also beyond question. (Request reinhard preface.arad) This article is the result of the combined effort of many, and contains data from myriad sources. I would like to acknowledge the assistance of the subscribers to the Holocaust Research Information List. Without their contributions, this document could not have been written. [Reinhard] [Page 2] The appearance of a quotation mark within a proper name indicates that the previous letter should be read as an umlaut, although some quoted material appends a trailing 'e' instead. (I.e. Hoess and Ho"ss reference the same name.) Documents cited in this work which are available from our listserver are noted in the form (Request ). In order to obtain any document in this group, send a message to listserv@oneb.almanac.bc.ca and include the command GET , where is the actual archive, and is the given filename. Example: You read (Request sobibor sobibor.01), and you send: GET SOBIBOR SOBIBOR.01 to retrieve the cited file. 1.1 Copyright This post, as a collection of information, is Copyright 1993, 1994 by Ken McVay, as a work of literature. Non-commercial distribution by any electronic means is granted with the understanding that the article not be altered in any way. Permission to distribute in printed form must be obtained in writing. The removal of this copyright notice is forbidden. 1.2 Geographic Location and Background Preparations for Operation Reinhard began with the appointment of Globocnik and Ho"fle (See Administration, below) to oversee it. Globocnik was given near-unlimited police power in the Lublin district of the General Government area of Poland, and Ho"fle given responsibility for organization and manpower as his Chief of Operations. (Request Yad_Vashem yvs16.01) Three camps, Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka, were established. They had to be close to railways, and located in isolated areas, as far as possible from population centers, so their grisly work would not attract unwanted attention. In addition, in order to lend a semblence of credance to the cover being used - that the Jews were being transferred to work "somewhere in the east" in occupied Soviet territory - the camps had to be near the eastern border of the Government General. 1.2.1 Belzec The first camp, Belzec, was located on the Lublin - Lvov railroad line, and built between November 1941 and March of 1942. The killing, of Jews from Krakow and Lvov districts, began on March 17, 1942. (Note: Breitman states that the first SS men showed up at Belzec in October of 1941, to begin recruitment of laborers for construction. Request Yad_Vashem yvs16.03 for construction details.) Breitman: "Belzec was the first pure extermination camp to begin operations in the region. There were only a few hundred worker Jews there (at a time), most used in the killing facilities or in the recovery of clothing and items of value from the dead. The first SS men showed up at Belzec in October 1941 to recruit construction workers to build [Reinhard] [Page 3] the facilities. Himmler's office had reported Globocnik's progress to Oswald Pohl, head of what soon became the SS Economic-Administrative Main Office (WVHA), preparing Pohl for cooperation with Globocnik. Pohl's office had reported to Himmler that it could no longer obtain sufficient clothing or textiles for the Waffen-SS and the concentration camps. Himmler replied that he could make available a large mass of raw materials for clothing, and he gave Globocnik responsibility for delivering them. Their owners were not likely to object. The gassing at Belzec began in March 1942 under the supervision of its first commandant, Christian Wirth. Ninety-one others from the Fu"hrer Chancellery who had worked with him on euthanasia gassings ended up at Belzec, Sobibor, or Treblinka -- all of which were designed to gas Jews and were under Globocnik's supervision. The gassing experts lived separately from the other SS and police, and they were not carried on the list of Globocnik's regular troops. (Arad, "Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka," 24-25, 17. Interrogation of Johann Sporrenberg, 2 Sept. 1945, Globocnik file, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, obtained through Freedom of Information Act.) Before gas chambers were constructed, there was plenty that Globocnik could do with more traditional methods of killing. In October 1941 Captain Kleinschmidt, the company leader of a transport unit, came to the barracks in Lublin and ordered fifteen men to go with him. Each of the fifteen was given a truck and had to drive it to the concentration camp nearby. There they loaded about thirty on each of the fifteen trucks -- a total of about 450 Jews -- and carried them to an abandoned airport located approximately twenty-five miles from Lublin. The prisoners had to dig ditches six cubic meters in size. After finishing the ditches, ten of the victims took off their clothes and were given corrugated-paper shirts reaching halfway down the thighs. The bottoms of the ditches were lined with straw. The victims were ordered, ten at a time, to lie in the ditches, alternately head to foot. Then Globocnik's men threw hand grenades into the ditches, and heads, arms, and legs quickly filled the air. The troops shot anyone still moving after the explosion. Then they spread lime over the remains, and a new layer of straw was spread on top of the lime. Three or four layers of bodies, ten in each layer, were placed in such a grave. During the executions the other victims had to watch and await their turn. Women were kicked in the stomach and breasts, children smashed against rocks. According to an eyewitness to this particular episode, Globocnik's men killed approximately seventy-five thousand Jews in this general manner. (Commanding General, Eighth Service Command, ASF Dallas, to Provost Marshal, 21 May 1945, account of Willi Kempf, POW, NA RG 153, entry 143, box 571, folder 19-99.) Apart from the sadistic killings by hand, it was about as far as one could go in streamlining the process of mass murder without more advanced technology. (Breitman, 198-201) [Reinhard] [Page 4] 1.2.2 Sobibor The second, Sobibor, was established in March of 1942, near the village and rail station of Sobibor, not far from the Chelm-Wlodawa railroad line, in an isolated, wooded and swampy area. SS-Obersturmfu"hrer Richard Thomalla, a staff member of the SS Construction Office in Lublin, was in charge of construction, but was replaced a month later by the first Camp Commandant, SS-Obersturmfu"hrer Stangl, who was responsible for completing the job. (Request Yad_Vashem yvs16.04 for construction details.) Sobibor was designed and constructed in the form of a rectangle, 400 by 600 meters in size. It was surrounded by a barbed wire fence 3 meters high, which had tree branches intertwined with it in order to disguise the camp. It was divided into three distinct areas, each independently surrounded by more barbed wire. These areas were: 1. The Administrative area - it consisted of the Vorlager ("forward camp"; closest to the railroad station), and Camp I, and included the railroad platform, with space for twenty freight cars, and living quarters for the German and Ukrainian staff. Camp I, which was fenced off from the rest, contained housing for Jewish prisoners and the workshops in which some of them worked. 2. The reception area, or Camp II. This was the place where the Jews from incoming transports were brought. Here they went through various procedures before being killed - removal of clothing, cutting of women's hair, and the confiscation of valuables. 3. The extermination area, Camp III. It was located in the northwest part of the camp, and the most isolated. It contained the gas chambers, burial trenches, and housing for Jewish prisoners employed there. A path, 3 to 4 meters wide and 150 meters long, led from Camp II to the extermination area. It was enclosed with barbed wire on both sides, and was camouflaged with intertwined branches to conceal the path from view. The path, or "tube", was used to herd the terrified and naked victims into the gas chambers after being processed. There was also a narrow-gauge railroad which ran from the rail platform directly to the burial trenches; it was used to transport those who arrived too ill or too weak to make it on their own, and for those who had died in transit. The gas chambers were inside a brick building. There were initially three of them, each 16 square meters in size, and each capable of holding from 160 to 180 persons. They were entered through doors on a platform in the front of the brick building, and a second door was used to remove bodies after the killing was finished. The gas, carbon monoxide, was produced by a 200 horsepower engine in a nearby shed. Burial trenches were nearby, each 50 to 60 meters long, 10 to 15 meters wide, and 5 to 7 meters deep. The initial test of the killing system occurred in mid-April, when 250 Jews, primarily women, from the Krychow labor camp, were killed while the entire SS contingent attended. [Reinhard] [Page 5] Three additional gas chambers were added during a brief halt in camp operations which occurred in August-September, 1942. During this period, Stangl was sent to Treblinka, and replaced by SS-Obersturmfu"hrer Franz Reichsleitner as Camp Commandant. At the end of the summer of 1942, the burial trenches were opened, and the bodies burned in huge piles. Subsequent victims were cremated immediately after death, instead of being buried as had been done previously. On July 5, 1943, Himmler ordered the camp closed as an extermination center, and converted to use as a concentration camp. Camp IV was built in order to store captured Soviet ammunition. After the uprising at Sobibor, Himmler abandoned the idea of a concentration camp and ordered the camp destroyed. The buildings were destroyed, the land plowed under, and crops planted. No trace remained by the end of 1943. The area is now a Polish National Shrine. (Encyclopedia, IV, 1373-1378) 1.2.3 Treblinka Treblinka, the third Reinhard camp, was located about fifty miles northeast of Warsaw, and was established during June and July, 1942. Killing began on July 23, with the Jews of the Warsaw and Radom districts the victims. The design was similar to that described above, for Sobibor. (Request Yad_Vashem yvs16.05 for construction details) There were three gas chambers initially, each 4 meters by 4 meters in size. Ten more were built between the end of August, 1942, and the beginning of October of the same year. Upon their completion, an entire load of twenty railroad cars could be gassed at the same time - roughly 2400 victims per day. A prisoner describes the beginning of his journey to the camp: "The first transport of 'deportees' left Malkinia on July 23, 1942, in the morning hours. ...It was loaded with Jews from the Warsaw ghetto. ... The train was made up of sixty closed cars, crowded with people. The car doors were locked from the outside and the air apertures barred with barbed wire. ...It was hot, and most of the people in the freight cars were in a faint." (Zabecki, 39-40, as cited in Arad, Belzec) The killing was about to begin.... During this early period, before mid-August, 5,000 to 7,000 Jews arrived in Treblinka every day. Then the situation changed, the pace of transports increased, and there were days when 10,000 to 12,000 deportees arrived, including thousands who had died en route and others in a state of exhaustion. This state of affairs disrupted the "quiet welcome" designed to deceive the deportees into believing they had arrived at a transit station and that before continuing their journey to a labour camp they must be disinfected. Blows and shooting were needed to force those still alive but exhausted to descend from the freight cars and proceed to the square and the undressing barracks.(Arad, Belzec) Abrahman Goldfarb, who arrived at the camp on August 25th., relates: [Reinhard] [Page 6] When we reached Treblinka and the Germans opened the freight-car doors, the scene was ghastly. The cars were full of corpses. The bodies had been partially consumed by chlorine. The stench from the cars caused those still alive to choke. The Germans ordered everyone to disembark from the cars; those who could were half-dead. SS and Ukrainians waiting nearby beat us and shot at us ... (A. Goldfarb testimony, Yad Vashem Archives 0-3/1846, 12-13, as cited in Arad, Belzec) Oskar Berger, who was brought to Treblinka on August 22, described the scene: As we disembarked we witnessed a horrible sight: hundreds of bodies lying all around. Piles of bundles, clothes, valises, everything mixed together. SS soldiers, Germans, and Ukrainians were standing on the roofs of barracks and firing indiscriminately into the crowd. Men, women, and children fell bleeding. The air was filled with screaming and weeping. Those not wounded by the shooting were forced through an open gate, jumping over the dead and wounded, to a square fenced with barbed wire." (Kogon, 218, as cited in Arad, Belzec) 2.0 The Gas Chambers All three of the Reinhard camps used carbon monoxide, pumped into sealed rooms, to do their killing. Carbon monoxide worked slower than Zyklon B, but it worked well enough for Himmler to proceed. While he was ... in Lublin, he sent a written order to Kru"ger: the "resettlement" of the entire Jewish population of the Government General was to be completed by December 31, 1942. With the exception of a few collection camps for Jews in some major cities, no Jews were to remain in Poland. All Jewish laborers had to complete their jobs or be transferred to one of the collection camps. These measures were prerequisites for the Nazi "new order" in Europe, since any remaining Jews would stimulate resistance and provide a source of moral and physical pestilence. (Himmler to Kru"ger, 19 July 1942, NA RG 238, NO-5574, quoted by Arad, Belzec, 47)(Breitman, 238) Those who deny the Holocaust have claimed that fumes from a diesel engine are not toxic enough to kill people. (This claim is made with regard to the death camp of Treblinka - see Section 4.1.3 for the rulings from the German Treblinka trials. In other death camps, gasoline engines were used. The method of killing was simple - people were crammed into the gas chambers, and the exhaust of powerful engines was pumped into them). In a closed chamber, of course diesel fumes will kill. There was actually a study on this in the British Journal of Industrial Medicine (Prattle, 47-55). The researchers ran a few experiments in which various animals were exposed to diesel fumes, and studied the results. In the experiments, the exhaust of a small diesel engine (568 cc, 6 BHP) was connected to a chamber 10 cubic meters (340 cubic feet) in volume, and the animals were put inside it. In all cases, the animals died. Death was swifter when the intake of air to the engine was restricted, as this causes a large increase in the amount of carbon monoxide (CO) that is emitted. (See, for instance, "Diesel [Reinhard] [Page 8] Engine Reference Book", by Lilly, 1985, p. 18/8, where it is stated that at a high air/fuel ratio the concentration of CO is only a few parts per million but for lower ratios (25:1) the concentration of CO can rise up to 3,000 ppm. It is very easy to restrict the air intake - the British researchers did so by partially covering the air intake opening with a piece of metal.) Even in cases where the CO output was low, the animals still died from other toxic components - mainly, irritants and nitrogen dioxide. Now, the diesel engines used in Treblinka were much larger - they belonged to captured Soviet T-34 tanks. These tanks weighed 26-31 tons (depending on the model) and had a 500 BHP engine (compared to a mere 6 BHP in the British experiments). The volume of the extermination chambers in Treblinka is, of course, a factor. But the chambers' volume is about 60 cubic meters (2040 cubic feet); this is 6 times more than those in the British experiments, but the difference in the size of the engines is much larger than a factor of 6. It should be remembered that what matters in CO poisoning is not the concentration of CO, but the ratio of CO to oxygen. In a small, gas-tight room, crammed full of people, oxygen levels drop quickly, thus making death by CO poisoning faster. As noted, other toxic components in the fumes further accelerate mortality. The SS was aware of the fact that cramming as many people as possible into the gas chamber, thus leaving no empty spaces, would accelerate mortality. This is evident, for instance, from a letter regarding "gassing vans" (used in the Chelmno extermination camp and other locations) sent to SS-Obersturmbannfu"hrer Walter Rauff, 5 June 1942. (Rauff was in charge of the Technical Department of the Reich Security Main Office, and was responsible for developing the mobile gas vans used by the Einsatzgruppen) The letter is quite long, but here is the relevant part: ------------------------------------------------------------------ 2) The vans are normally loaded with 9-10 people per square meter. With the large Saurer special vans this is not possible because although they do not become overloaded their maneuverability is much impaired. A reduction in the load area appears desirable. It can be achieved by reducing the size of the van by c. 1 meter. The difficulty referred to cannot be overcome by reducing the size of the load. For a reduction in the numbers will necessitate a longer period of operation because the free spaces will have to be filled with CO. By contrast, a smaller load area which is completely full requires a much shorter period of operation since there are no free spaces."(Just. Request holocaust rauff.letter) ------------------------------------------------------------------ [Reinhard] [Page 9] On July 22 ...deportations began from the Warsaw ghetto to ... [Treblinka]. The same day, Globocnik wrote to Karl Wolff: "The Reich Fu"hrer SS ... has given us so much new work that with it now all our most secret wishes are to be fulfilled. I am so very thankful to him for this, and he can be sure of one thing, that these things he wishes will be fulfilled in the shortest time. (On the start of deportations to Treblinka, Arad, Belzec, 60-61, 392. Quote from Globocnik to Wolff, 22 July 1942, Globocnik SS file, Berlin Document Center.) (Breitman, 238) The Treblinka site is now a Polish National Monument. 3.0 Crematoria Unlike Auschwitz, the Reinhard camps were not equipped for the cremation of bodies. Until the end of 1942, bodies were buried or burned in huge pits. In early 1943, the SS began using pyres, built above-ground, in an effort to speed up the disposal of the bodies, and to eliminate evidence of the extermination activity. [Continued in Part 02] -- The Old Frog's Almanac Home of the Holocaust Archives Port Alberni, British Columbia, CANADA


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank