Bełżec was the second death camp Nazi to start operations after Chelmno , the first part of Operation Reinhard . 1 2 It was located 160 kilometers in the southeast of Warsaw , near the city of Lvov and Zamość . He belonged to the district of Lublin General Government of Hans Frank , the annexed territory directly by Nazi Germany . Between March and December of 1942 some 434 500 Jews were assassinated in Bełżec.
In 1940 the Nazis built a field of work to strengthen the defenses of East Prussia around the river Bug . At the end of 1940 the field was dismantled and would not be used again until November 1 , 1941 , already turned into extermination camp. It was the SS Brigadeführer Odilo Globocnik who in October 1941 chose the site of the camp following orders from Heinrich Himmler . 3 At that moment the person in charge of its construction was the SS Oberscharführer Josef Oberhauser . The 15 of December of 1941 , the SS Hauptsturmführer Christian Wirth was appointed Commander Oberhauser Belzec and became his deputy.
The extermination camp Belzec began operations finally the 16 of March of 1942 with the aim of eliminating the Jews from the General Government of Poland . 4 It killed about 434 500 Jews 5 6 as well as an indeterminate number of Poles and Gypsies . Only two Jews survived Bełżec, Rudolf Reder and Chaim Herszman, which may explain why the level of field knowledge is so low. The camp had three gas chambers , using carbon monoxide as a means of killing the prisoners. This field did not have crematorium ovens, which is why the corpses had to be buried in pits, which were soon lifted by gases and water, causing Wirth, the commander to start operations to unearth and burn the bodies.
In order to make improvements in the field in connection with the extermination operations, they were arrested in mid-June 1942. An estimated 93,000 Jews were killed between March and June
On that date, the old wooden building with the three gas chambers was dismantled and a new building with six gas chambers was built, with a capacity of 2000 people simultaneously. The extermination operations were restarted at the end of July 1942.
The SS Obersturmführer Kurt Gerstein and SS Obersturmbannführer Wilhelm Pfannenstiel visited the Belzec extermination camp on 18 August 1942 and witnessed an operation of extermination, which left Gerstein testimony.
Mass deportations stopped in December 1942 and Bełżec was the first field to be dismantled in Operation Reinhard , on 8 May 1943. Most of the SS personnel who had served at Belzec were transferred to the camps of Sobibor , Treblinka and Poniatowa .
The land was deforested and converted into a farm. After the war, in 1945, thanks to the testimony of Rudolf Reder, it was possible to locate and identify the site of the former extermination camp, where today a monument commemorating the victims of the camp is being built.
Featured people in Bełżec
- 1.SS Oberscharführer Josef Oberhauser (died November 22, 1979)
- 2.SS Sturmbannführer Dr Christian Wirth (Killed by Italian guerrillas)
- 3.SS Hauptsturmführer Gottlob Hering (Deceased in unknown circumstances)
- SS Rottenführer Heinrich Barbl
- SS Oberwachmeister Arthur Daschel (Missing)
- SS Oberscharführer Werner Dubois (Acquitted)
- SS Oberscharführer Reinhold Feix
- SS Unterscharführer Gustav Fereleng
- SS Oberscharführer Erwin Fichtner (Killed by Polish guerrillas)
- SS Unterscharführer Erich Fuchs (Acquitted)
- SS Scharführer Hans Girtzig
- SS Scharführer Heinrich Gley
- SS Unterscharführer Herbert Gomerski (15 years in prison after the war)
- SS Untersturmführer Karl Gringers (Killed by Italian guerrillas)
- SS Unterscharführer Paul Groth (Missing)
- SS Unterscharführer Lorenz Hackenholt (Missing)
- SS Scharführer Fritz Jirmann (Accidentally killed by SS Gley)
- Unterscharführer SS Robert Jührs (Acquitted)
- SS Scharführer Rudolf Kamm
- SS Oberwachmeister Erich Lachmann (Acquitted)
- SS Unterscharführer Erwin Lambert (3 years of arrest, after the war)
- SS Untersturmführer Josef Niemann (Killed in Sobibor )
- Oberscharführer SS Josef Oberhauser (4 and a half years in prison after the war)
- SS Unterscharführer Karl – Alfred Schluch (15 years in prison, after the war)
- SS Unterscharführer Gottfried Schwarz (Killed by Italian guerrillas)
- SS Untersturmführer Fritz Tauscher (Committed suicide)
- Unterscharführer SS Heinrich Unverhau (Acquitted)
- SS Scharführer Bernhard Wallerang (Disappeared)
- SS Obersturmbannführer Albert Widemann (5 years in prison, after the war)
- SS Unterscharführer Ernst Zierke (Acquitted)
- SS Samuel Kunz (deceased before trial)
- SS Wachmann Karl Jakovlevits Diner
- SS Wachmann Nikolai Pavli (Possibly dead by the Red Army)
- SS Wachmann Dmytro Sawchuk
- SS Wachmann Ivan Werdenik
Judicial persecution after the war
After the war, the courts began to investigate and capture those responsible for Operation Reinhard who were still alive and began trials for each concentration camp.
The trial for the Bełżec camp took place in Munich and lasted only three days, from 18 to 21 January 1965. The main accused was Josef Oberhauser and some other SS who had served in the camp who had then served at Sobibor and had Been tried and convicted in the trial corresponding to that of that field. Oberhauser was sentenced only to four and a half years in prison . He died in 1979.
- Back to top↑ Friedländer, 2009 , p. 324.
- Back to top↑ Snyder, 2011 , pp. 303-308.
- Back to top↑ Snyder, 2011 , p. 304.
- Back to top↑ Snyder, 2011 , p. 308.
- Back to top↑ Snyder, 2011 , p. 311.
- Back to top↑ Friedländer, 2009 , p. 477.