Extermination camp

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German Extermination Camps
The Holocaust map: Nazi extermination camps (marked with skulls in black squares) set up in occupied Poland, 1942
Also known as Death camps
Location German-occupied Europe
Date World War II
Incident type Extermination
Perpetrators SS, Trawnikis, Ustaše
Organizations SS-Totenkopfverbände
Camp Kulmhof, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz, Majdanek, Trostenets

The German extermination camps or death camps were designed and built by Nazi Germany during World War II (1939–45) to systematically kill millions, primarily by gassing, but also in mass executions and through extreme work under starvation conditions.[1][2]

The idea of mass extermination with the use of stationary facilities built exclusively for that purpose was a result of earlier Nazi experimentation with the chemically manufactured poison gas during the secretive Action T4 euthanasia programme against German mentally and physically disabled,[3] followed by the development of homicidal gas chambers by Dr Albert Widmann, chief chemist of the German Criminal Police (Kripo).[4] The technology along with the methods of deceiving victims was adapted, expanded and applied in wartime to members of many ethnic and national groups; the Jews however were the primary targets accounting for over 90 percent of the extermination camp death toll. This genocide of the Jewish people of Europe was the Third Reich's "Final Solution to the Jewish question".[5] It is now collectively known as the Holocaust.[1][6]

The killing centers similar to German extermination camps, although not responsible for the death of millions, were set up also for the Serbian nationals by the fascist Ustaše regime of the Independent State of Croatia, culminating in a six figure death toll by the highest estimates.[7]


Birkenau25August1944.jpgCrematorium ICrematorium IICrematorium III
U.S. aerial photograph of Auschwitz II Birkenau with location of crematoria marked in red
1 white, red rounded rectangle.svg Crematorium I
2 white, red rounded rectangle.svg Crematorium II
3 white, red rounded rectangle.svg Crematorium III
Main article: Nisko Plan

The top secret Action T4 euthanasia programme derived from the ideas of racial hygiene was initiated by the SS in 1939 in order to eliminate "life unworthy of life" (in German: "Lebensunwertes Leben"), a Nazi designation for people who had no right to life.[8] The experience gained in the killing of hospital patients after the invasion of Poland led to the creation of extermination camps two years later. By then, the Jews were already confined to new ghettos and interned in Nazi concentration camps along with other targeted groups, including Roma, and the Soviet POWs. The Nazi Endlösung der Judenfrage (The Final Solution of the Jewish Question) based on systematic killing of Europe's Jews by gassing began during Operation Reinhard,[9] after the onset of Nazi-Soviet war of June 1941. The adoption of the gassing technology by Nazi Germany was preceded by the wave of hands-on killings carried out by the SS Einsatzgruppen,[10] who followed the Wehrmacht army during Operation Barbarossa on the Eastern Front.[11]

The camps designed specifically for the mass gassings of Jews were established in the months following the Wannsee Conference chaired by Reinhard Heydrich in January 1942 in which the principle was made clear that the Jews of Europe were to be exterminated. Responsibility for the logistics were to be executed by the programme administrator, Adolf Eichmann.[12]

On 13 October 1941, the SS and Police Leader Odilo Globocnik stationing in Lublin received an oral order from Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler – anticipating the fall of Moscow – to start immediate construction work on the killing centre at Bełżec in the General Government territory of occupied Poland. Notably, the order preceded the Wannsee Conference by three months,[13] but the gassings at Kulmhof north of Łódź using gas vans began already in December, under Sturmbannführer Herbert Lange.[14] The camp at Bełżec was operational by March 1942, with leadership brought in from Germany under the guise of Organisation Todt (OT).[13] By mid-1942, two more death camps had been built on Polish lands for Operation Reinhard: Sobibór (ready in May 1942) under the command of Hauptsturmführer Franz Stangl, and Treblinka (operational by July 1942) under Obersturmführer Irmfried Eberl from T4, the only doctor to have served in such a capacity.[15] Auschwitz concentration camp was fitted with brand new gassing bunkers in March 1942.[16] Majdanek had them built in September.[17]


Members of the Sonderkommando burn corpses in the fire pits at Auschwitz II-Birkenau.[18]

The Nazi perpetrators distinguished between extermination and concentration camps, although the terms extermination camp (Vernichtungslager) and death camp (Todeslager) are interchangeable, each referring to camps whose primary function was genocide. Todeslagers were designed specifically for the systematic killing of people delivered en masse by the Holocaust trains. The executioners did not expect the prisoners to survive more than a few hours beyond arrival at Belzec, Sobibór, and Treblinka.[19] In September 1942, Dr. Johann Kremer, an SS physician involved in the gassing of inmates, wrote in his diary: "They don't call Auschwitz the camp of annihilation [das Lager der Vernichtung] for nothing!"[20] The Reinhard extermination camps were under Globocnik's direct command, run by 20 to 35 men from the Sicherheitsdienst branch of the SS, augmented by hundreds of Trawnikis – volunteers mostly from Soviet Ukraine. The Jews were delivered for "special treatment" in an atmosphere of terror by uniformed police battalions from both, Orpo and Schupo.[21]

Death camps differed from concentration camps located in Germany proper, such as Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, Oranienburg, Ravensbrück, and Sachsenhausen, which were prison camps set up prior to World War II for people defined as socially or politically undesirable in Nazi society. Beginning in March 1936, all Nazi concentration camps were managed by the SS-Totenkopfverbände (the Death Head Units, SS-TV).[22]

The distinction was evident during the Nuremberg trials, when Dieter Wisliceny (a deputy to Adolf Eichmann) was asked to name the extermination camps, and he identified Auschwitz and Majdanek as such. Then, when asked "How do you classify the camps Mauthausen, Dachau, and Buchenwald?" he replied, "They were normal concentration camps, from the point of view of the department of Eichmann."[23]

Irrespective of round-ups for extermination camps, the Nazis abducted millions of foreigners for slave labour in other types of camps,[24] which provided perfect cover for the extermination programme.[25] Prisoners represented about a quarter of the total workforce of the Reich, with mortality rates exceeding 75 percent due to starvation, disease, exhaustion, executions and physical brutality.[24]


Mass deportations: the routes to the extermination camps

In the early years of World War II, the Jews were sent primarily to forced labour camps, but from 1942 onward they were mostly deported to the extermination camps under the guise of "resettlement". For political and logistical reasons, the most infamous Nazi German killing factories were built in occupied Poland, where most of the intended victims lived; Poland had the greatest Jewish population in Nazi controlled Europe.[26] On top of that, the new death camps outside the prewar borders of the Third Reich proper could be kept secret from the German civil populace.[27]

Pure extermination camps[edit]

Jewish children during deportation to the Chełmno extermination camp

Operationally, there were two types of death camps. Initially, gas vans producing poisonous carbon monoxide exhaust fumes were developed in the occupied Soviet Union (USSR) and at the Chełmno extermination camp in occupied Poland, before being used elsewhere.[28]

The camps at Treblinka, Bełżec, and Sobibór were constructed during Operation Reinhard (October 1941 – November 1943), for the extermination of Poland's Jews. Prisoners were promptly killed upon arrival. Initially, the camps used carbon monoxide gas chambers; at first, the corpses were buried, but then incinerated atop pyres. Later, gas chambers and crematoria were built in Treblinka and Belzec; Zyklon-B was used in Belzec.[29]

Whereas the Auschwitz II (Auschwitz–Birkenau) and Majdanek camps were parts of a labor camp complex, the Operation Reinhard camps and the Chełmno camp were exclusively for the quick extermination of many people (primarily Jews) within hours of their arrival.[30] Some able-bodied prisoners delivered to the death camp were not immediately killed, but were forced into labor units (Sonderkommando) to work at the extermination process, removing corpses from the gas chambers and burning them. Because the extermination camps were physically small (only several hundred metres long and wide) and equipped with minimal housing and support installations, the Nazis deceived the prisoners upon their arrival, telling them that they were at a temporary transit stop, and soon would continue to an Arbeitslager (work camp) farther east.

Concentration and extermination camps[edit]

March to the gas chambers, one of Sonderkommando photographs taken secretly at Auschwitz II in August 1944

At the camps of Operation Reinhard including Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka trainloads of prisoners were destined for immediate death in gas chambers built for that purpose.[9] The mass killing facilities were developed at the Majdanek concentration camp,[9] and at Auschwitz II-Birkenau at about the same time.[31] In most other camps prisoners were selected for slave labor first; they were kept alive on starvation rations and made available to work wherever the rulers required. Auschwitz, Majdanek, and Jasenovac were retrofitted with Zyklon-B gas chambers and crematoria as the time went on, remaining operational until war's end in 1945.[29] The Maly Trostenets extermination camp in the USSR initially operated as a prison camp. It became an extermination camp later in the war with victims undergoing mass shootings. This was supplemented with exhaust fume gassing in a van from October 1943.

The Sajmište concentration camp operated by the Nazis in Yugoslavia had a gas van stationed for use from March to June 1942. Once the industrial killings were completed, the van was returned to Berlin. After a refit the van was then sent to Maly Trostinets for use at the camp there. The Janowska concentration camp near Lwow in occupied eastern Poland implemented a selection process. Some prisoners were assigned to work before death. Others were either transported to Belzec or victims of mass shootings on two slopes in the Piaski sand-hills behind the camp. The Warsaw concentration camp was a camp complex of the German concentration camps, possibly including an extermination camp located in German-occupied Warsaw. The various details regarding the camp are very controversial and remain subject of historical research and public debate.[32]

Other means of extermination[edit]

Germany's Führer Adolf Hitler (left) with Ustaše Poglavnik Ante Pavelić (right) at the Berghof outside of Berchtesgaden, Germany

With the support of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy on 10 April 1941 the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was established, and adopted parallel racial and political doctrines. Death camps were established by the fascist Ustaše government for contributing to the Nazi "final solution" to the "Jewish problem", the killing of Roma people, and the elimination of political opponents, but most significantly to achieve the destruction of the Serbian population of the NDH.[7][33] The degree of cruelty with which the Serb population was persecuted by Ustaše men shocked even the Germans.[34][35]

The Jadovno concentration camp was located in a secluded area about 20 kilometres (12 mi) from the town of Gospić. It held thousands of Serbs and Jews over a period of 122 days from May to August 1941. Prisoners were usually but by no means exclusively killed by being pushed into deep ravines located near the camp.[36]

The Jasenovac concentration camp complex of five sub-camps replaced Jadovno. Many inmates arriving at Jasenovac were scheduled for systematic extermination. An important criterion for selection was the duration of a prisoner's anticipated detention. Strong men capable of labour and sentenced to less than three years of incarceration were allowed to live. All inmates with indeterminate sentences or sentences of three years or more were immediately scheduled for execution, regardless of their fitness.[37] Some of the mass executions were mechanical following Nazi methodology. Others were performed manually utilising tools such as mallets and agricultural knives and often in conjunction with throwing the victims off the end of a ramp into the River Sava.

Robert Conquest[38] argues that the regime in labour camps in the Soviet Union, principally those in Siberia, was designed to bring about the death of prisoners after extracting 3–6 months' labour from them. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn [39] concurs with him.

Extermination procedure[edit]

Carpathian Ruthenian Jews arrive at Auschwitz–Birkenau, May 1944. Without being registered to the camp system, most were killed in gas chambers hours after arriving.

Heinrich Himmler visited the outskirts of Minsk in 1941 to witness a mass shooting. He was told by the commanding officer there that the shootings were proving psychologically damaging to those being asked to pull the triggers. Thus Himmler knew another method of mass killing was required.[40] After the war, the diary of the Auschwitz Commandant, Rudolf Höss, revealed that psychologically "unable to endure wading through blood any longer", many Einsatzkommandos – the killers – either went mad or killed themselves.[41]

The Nazis had first used gassing with carbon monoxide cylinders to kill 70,000 disabled people in Germany in what they called a 'euthanasia programme' to disguise that mass murder was taking place. Despite the lethal effects of carbon monoxide, this was seen as unsuitable for use in the East due to the cost of transporting the carbon monoxide in cylinders.[40]

Each extermination camp operated differently, yet each had designs for quick and efficient industrialized killing. While Höss was away on an official journey in late August 1941 his deputy, Karl Fritzsch, tested out an idea. At Auschwitz clothes infected with lice were treated with crystallised prussic acid. The crystals were made to order by the IG Farben chemicals company for which the brand name was Zyklon-B. Once released from their container, Zyklon-B crystals in the air released a lethal cyanide gas. Fritzch tried out the effect of Zyklon B on Soviet POWs, who were locked up in cells in the basement of the bunker for this experiment. Höss on his return was briefed and impressed with the results and this became the camp strategy for extermination as it was also to be at Majdanek. Besides gassing, the camp guards continued killing prisoners via mass shooting, starvation, torture, etc.[42]


SS Obersturmführer Kurt Gerstein, of the Institute for Hygiene of the Waffen-SS, during the war told a Swedish diplomat of life in a death camp, of how, on 19 August 1942, he arrived at Belzec extermination camp (which was equipped with carbon monoxide gas chambers) and was shown the unloading of 45 train cars filled with 6,700 Jews, many already dead, but the rest were marched naked to the gas chambers, where:

Unterscharführer Hackenholt was making great efforts to get the engine running. But it doesn't go. 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 [engine] did not start. The people wait inside the gas chambers. In vain. They can be heard weeping, "like in the synagogue", says Professor Pfannenstiel, his eyes glued to a window in the wooden door. Furious, Captain Wirth lashes the Ukrainian [prisoner] 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 shut up in those four crowded chambers were still alive, four times 750 persons, in four times 45 cubic meters. Another 25 minutes elapsed. 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 [then] 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! It's only from yesterday, and the day before. You can't imagine what we find every day – dollars, diamonds, gold. You'll see for yourself!" — Kurt Gerstein [43]

The Nazi death camp Auschwitz built in the Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany

Auschwitz Camp Commandant Rudolf Höss reported that the first time Zyklon B gas was used on the Jews, many suspected they were to be killed – despite having been deceived into believing they were to be deloused and then returned to the camp. As a result, the Nazis identified and isolated "difficult individuals" who might alert the prisoners, and removed them from the mass – lest they incite revolt among the deceived majority of prisoners en route to the gas chambers. The "difficult" prisoners were led to a site out of view to be killed off discreetly.

A prisoner Sonderkommando (Special Detachment) effected in the processes of extermination; they encouraged the Jews to undress without a hint of what was about to happen. They accompanied them into the gas chambers outfitted to appear as shower rooms (with nonworking water nozzles, and tile walls); and remained with the victims until just before the chamber door closed. To psychologically maintain the "calming effect" of the delousing deception, an SS man stood at the door until the end. The Sonderkommando talked to the victims about life in the camp to pacify the suspicious ones, and hurried them inside; to that effect, they also assisted the aged and the very young in undressing.[44]

To further persuade the prisoners that nothing harmful was happening, the Sonderkommando deceived them with small talk about friends or relations who had arrived in earlier transports. Many young mothers hid their infants beneath their piled clothes fearing that the delousing "disinfectant" might harm them. Camp Commandant Höss reported that the "men of the Special Detachment were particularly on the look-out for this", and encouraged the women to take their children into the "shower room". Likewise, the Sonderkommando comforted older children who might cry "because of the strangeness of being undressed in this fashion".[45]

Yet, not every prisoner was deceived by such psychological tactics; Commandant Höss spoke of Jews "who either guessed, or knew, what awaited them, nevertheless ... [they] found the courage to joke with the children, to encourage them, despite the mortal terror visible in their own eyes". Some women would suddenly "give the most terrible shrieks while undressing, or tear their hair, or scream like maniacs"; the Sonderkommando immediately took them away for execution by shooting.[46] In such circumstances, others, meaning to save themselves at the gas chamber's threshold, betrayed the identities and "revealed the addresses of those members of their race still in hiding".[47]

Once the door of the filled gas chamber was sealed, pellets of Zyklon B were dropped through special holes in the roof. Regulations required that the Camp Commandant supervise the preparations, the gassing (through a peephole), and the aftermath looting of the corpses. Commandant Höss reported that the gassed victims "showed no signs of convulsion"; the Auschwitz camp physicians attributed that to the "paralyzing effect on the lungs" of the Zyklon-B gas, which killed before the victim began suffering convulsions.[48]

The remnants of "Crematorium II" used in Auschwitz-Birkenau between March 1943 and its complete destruction by the Schutzstaffel on 20 January 1945
Fifty two crematorium ovens, including these, were used to burn the bodies of up to 6,000 people every 24 hours during the operation of Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chambers.[49]

As a matter of political training, some high-ranked Nazi Party leaders and SS officers were sent to Auschwitz–Birkenau to witness the gassings; Höss reported that "all were deeply impressed by what they saw ... [yet some] ... who had previously spoken most loudly, about the necessity for this extermination, fell silent once they had actually seen the 'final solution of the Jewish problem'." As the Auschwitz Camp Commandant Rudolf Höss justified the extermination by explaining the need for "the iron determination with which we must carry out Hitler's orders"; yet saw that even "[Adolf] Eichmann, who certainly [was] tough enough, had no wish to change places with me."[50]

Corpse disposal[edit]

After the gassings, the Sonderkommando removed the corpses from the gas chambers, then extracted any gold teeth. Initially, the victims were buried in mass graves, but were later cremated during Sonderaktion 1005 in all camps of Operation Reinhard.

The Sonderkommando were responsible for burning the corpses in the pits,[51] stoking the fires, draining surplus body fat and turning over the "mountain of burning corpses... so that the draught might fan the flames" wrote Commandant Höss in his memoir while in the Polish custody.[51] He was impressed by the diligence of prisoners from the so-called Special Detachment who carried out their duties despite their being well aware that they, too, would meet exactly the same fate in the end.[51] At the Lazaret killing station they held the sick so they would never see the gun while being shot. They did it "in such a matter-of-course manner that they might, themselves, have been the exterminators" wrote Höss.[51] He further said that the men ate and smoked "even when engaged in the grisly job of burning corpses which had been lying for some time in mass graves."[51] They occasionally encountered the corpse of a relative, or saw them entering the gas chambers. According to Höss they were obviously shaken by this but "it never led to any incident." He mentioned the case of a Sonderkommando who found the body of his wife, yet continued to drag corpses along "as though nothing had happened."[51]

At Auschwitz, the corpses were incinerated in crematoria and the ashes either buried, scattered, or dumped in the river. At Sobibór, Treblinka, Belzec, and Chełmno, the corpses were incinerated on pyres. The efficiency of industrialised killing at Auschwitz-Birkenau led to the construction of three buildings with crematoria designed by specialists from Topf und Söhne. They handled the body disposal around the clock, day and night, and yet the speed of gassing required that some corpses burn in an open air pit also.[52]

Ustaše camps[edit]

Jasenovac victims' bodies left without burial on the river Sava near Sisak, May 1945

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, DC, presently estimates that the Ustaša regime in Croatia murdered between 77,000 and 99,000 people at their own Jasenovac concentration camp between 1941 and 1945. The Jasenovac Memorial Site quotes a similar figure of between 80,000 and 100,000 victims.[53] The television documentary, "Nazi Collaborators" on Dinko Sakic stated that over 300,000 people were killed at Jasenovac.[35] The Jasenovac mechanical means of mass killing included the use initially of gas vans and later Zyklon B in stationary gas chambers. The Jasenovac guards have also been reported to have cremated living inmates in the crematorium. A notable difference of the Ustaše camps as compared to the German SS camps was the widespread use of manual methods in the mass killings. These involved instruments such as mallets and agricultural knives which evolved to often to be done in a manner where still alive victims were thrown off the end of a ramp into the River Sava.

The estimates for the Jadovno concentration camp generally offer a range of 10,000 – 72,000 deaths at the camp over a period of 122 days (May to August 1941).[54] Most commonly Jadovno victims were bound together in a line and the first few victims were murdered with rifle butts or other objects. Afterwards, an entire row of inmates were pushed into the ravine. Hand grenades were hurled inside in order to finish off the victims. Dogs would also be thrown in to feed on the wounded and the dead. Inmates were also killed by machine gunfire, as well as with knives and blunt objects.[55][56]

Death toll[edit]

The estimated total number of people executed in the Nazi camps in the table below is over three million:

Camp Estimated
Operational Occupied territory Current country of location Primary means for mass killings
Auschwitz–Birkenau 1,100,000 [57] May 1940 – January 1945 Province of Upper Silesia Poland Zyklon B gas chambers
Bełżec 600,000 [58] 17 March 1942 – end of June 1943 General Government district Poland Carbon monoxide gas chambers
Chełmno 320,000 [59] 8 December 1941 – March 1943,
June 1944 – 18 January 1945
District of Reichsgau Wartheland Poland Carbon monoxide vans
Majdanek 80,000 [60] October 1, 1941 — July 22, 1944 General Government district Poland Zyklon B gas chambers
Maly Trostinets 200,000 [61] Summer of 1941 to 28 June 1944 District of Reichskommissariat Ostland Belarus Mass shootings, gas van [62]
Sajmište 23,000–
28 October 1941–July 1944 Independent State of Croatia Serbia Carbon monoxide van
Sobibór 250,000 [63] 16 May 1942 – 17 October 1943 General Government district Poland Carbon monoxide gas chambers
Treblinka 800,000 [64] 22 July 1942 – 19 October 1943 General Government district Poland Carbon monoxide gas chambers
Total 3,115,000–3,215,000 [65][66]

Dismantlement and attempted concealment[edit]

A Sonderkommando 1005 unit stand next to a bone crushing machine at the Janowska concentration camp

The Nazis attempted to either partly or completely dismantle the extermination camps in order to hide any evidence that people had been murdered. This was an attempt to conceal not only the extermination process but also the buried remains. As a result of the secretive Sonderaktion 1005, camps were dismantled by commandos of condemned prisoners, records destroyed, and mass graves were dug up. Some extermination camps that remained uncleared of evidence were liberated by Soviet troops, who had different standards of documentation and openness than the Western allies.[67][68]

The notable exception in this is Majdanek. Majdanek was ordered to share a similar fate to the other camps by the Nazi leadership in their attempt to cover up the murderous events. Majdanek though was captured nearly intact. This was due to the rapid advance of the Soviet Red Army during Operation Bagration preventing the SS from destroying most of its infrastructure. Commandant Anton Thernes failed in his task of removing incriminating evidence of war crimes.[67]


In the post-war period the government of the People's Republic of Poland created monuments at the extermination camp sites. These early monuments mentioned no ethnic, religious, or national particulars of the Nazi victims. The extermination camps sites have been accessible to everyone in recent decades. They are popular destinations for visitors from all over the world, especially the most-infamous Nazi death camp, Auschwitz near the town of Oświęcim. In the early 1990s, the Jewish Holocaust organisations debated with the Polish Catholic groups about "What religious symbols of martyrdom are appropriate as memorials in a Nazi death camp such as Auschwitz?" The Jews opposed the placement of Christian memorials such as the Auschwitz cross near Auschwitz I where mostly Poles were killed. The Jewish victims of the Holocaust were mostly killed at Auschwitz II Birkenau.

The March of the Living is organized in Poland annually since 1988.[69] Marchers come from countries as diverse as Estonia, New Zealand, Panama, and Turkey.[70]

The camps and Holocaust denial[edit]

Documentary evidence: A Reichsbahn consignment note for delivering prisoners (Häftlinge) to Sobibór in November 1943

Holocaust deniers are people and organisations who assert that the Holocaust did not occur, or that it did not occur in the historically recognized manner and extent.

Extermination camp research is difficult because of extensive attempts by the SS and Nazi regime to conceal the existence of the extermination camps. The existence of the extermination camps is firmly established by testimonies of camp survivors and Final Solution perpetrators, material evidence (the remaining camps, etc.), Nazi photographs and films of the killings,[citation needed] and camp administration records.

Holocaust deniers often start by pointing out legitimate public misconceptions about the extermination camps. For example, widely published images in America were mostly of typhoid victims and Soviet POWs at the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps – the first to be liberated by American troops and the most available imagery in America. In early news reports and for years afterwards these images were often used by the news media somewhat inaccurately in conjunction with descriptions of extermination camps and Jewish suffering. Holocaust deniers, after pointing out such common errors, put it forward as evidence that extermination camps did not exist and the limited evidence about them is mostly a hoax arising out of a deliberate Jewish conspiracy.

Holocaust denial is highly discredited by scholars and is a criminal offence in nine European countries: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, and Switzerland, all of whom besides Switzerland were at one point part of or occupied by the Third Reich.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Yad Vashem (2015). "The Implementation of the Final Solution: The Death Camps". The Holocaust. Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  2. ^ Robert Gellately; Nathan Stoltzfus (2001). Social Outsiders in Nazi Germany. Princeton University Press. p. 216. ISBN 978-0-691-08684-2. 
  3. ^ Holocaust Encyclopedia (June 20, 2014). "Gassing Operations". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  4. ^ Christopher R. Browning (2007). The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942. Germany and Europe (U of Nebraska Press). pp. 188–189. ISBN 0803203926. Retrieved 16 September 2015. 
  5. ^ " Die Endlösung der Judenfrage" – Adolf Hitler (In English, "The final solution of the Jewish problem"). Furet, François. Unanswered Questions: Nazi Germany and the Genocide of the Jews. Schocken Books (1989), p. 182; ISBN 978-0-8052-4051-1
  6. ^ Doris Bergen, Germany and the Camp System, part of Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State, Community Television of Southern California, 2004-2005
  7. ^ a b Dr. Birgit Bock-Luna (2007). Serbian 'holocaust' in: The Jasenovac debate. The Past in Exile (LIT Verlag Münster). 155, Note 102. ISBN 3825897524.  Also in: Genocide and Fascism; The Eliminationist Drive in Fascist Europe by Aristotle Kallis, Routledge, New York, NY 2009, pages 236-244.
  8. ^ Michael Burleigh (1994). Death and Deliverance: 'Euthanasia' in Germany, c. 1900 to 1945. CUP Archive. ISBN 0521477697. 
  9. ^ a b c Yad Vashem (2013). "Aktion Reinhard" (PDF). Shoah Resource Center, The International School for Holocaust Studies. Document size 33.1 KB. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  10. ^ Longerich, Peter (2010). Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. p. 185. ISBN 978-0-19-280436-5. 
  11. ^ Saul Friedländer (February 2009). Nazi Germany And The Jews, 1933–1945 (PDF). HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 293–294 / 507. ISBN 9780061777301. Complete. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  12. ^ John Mendelsohn, ed. (1945). "Wannsee Protocol of January 20, 1942". The Holocaust: Selected Documents in Eighteen Volumes. Vol. 11. The official U.S. government translation prepared for evidence in trials at Nuremberg. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  13. ^ a b Historia Niemieckiego Obozu Zagłady w Bełżcu (History of the Belzec extermination camp) (in Polish), Muzeum - Miejsce Pamięci w Bełżcu (National Bełżec Museum & Monument of Martyrology), retrieved 15 September 2015 
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  16. ^ Rees, Laurence (2005). Auschwitz: A New History. New York: Public Affairs. pp. 96–97. ISBN 1-58648-303-X. 
  17. ^ Sereny, Gitta (2001). The Healing Wound: Experiences and Reflections on Germany 1938-1941. Norton. pp. 135–46. ISBN 978-0-3930-4428-7. 
  18. ^ Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Oświęcim, Poland.
  19. ^ Minerbi, Alessandra (2005) [2002]. A New Illustrated History of the Nazis. Rare Photographs of the Third Reich (UK: David & Charles). pp. 168–. ISBN 0715321013. 
  20. ^ "Diary of Johann Paul Kremer (September 5, 1942)". Holocaust-history.org. March 2, 1999. Retrieved August 27, 2013. 
  21. ^ Gordon Williamson (2004). The SS: Hitler's Instrument of Terror. Zenith Imprint. p. 101. ISBN 0-7603-1933-2. 
  22. ^ George H. Stein. The Waffen SS. SS-Totenkopfverbände. pp. 9, 20–33. ISBN 0801492750. Retrieved 7 October 2015. 
  23. ^ Overy, Richard. Interrogations, p. 356–7. Penguin 2002. ISBN 978-0-14-028454-6
  24. ^ a b John C. Beyer; Stephen A. Schneider (2006). Forced Labour under Third Reich - Part 1 (PDF). Introduction (Nathan Associates). pp. 3–17. Retrieved 7 October 2015. Number of foreign laborers employed as of January 1944 (excluding those already dead): total of 3,795,000. From Poland: 1,400,000 (survival rate 25.2); from the Soviet Union: 2,165,000 (survival rate 27.7) Table 5. 
  25. ^ Ulrich Herbert (1997). Hitler’s Foreign Workers: Enforced Foreign Labor in Germany under the Third Reich. The Army of Millions of the Modern Slave State (extract) (Cambridge University Press). Retrieved 7 October 2015 – via Internet Archive; Univ of the West of England, Faculty of Humanities; compiled by Dr S.D. Stein. 
  26. ^ "The evacuation of Jews to Poland", Jewish Virtual Library.'.' Retrieved 2009-07-28.
  27. ^ Ellen Land-Weber, "Conditions for Polish Jews During WWII" in To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust Rescue.'.' Retrieved 2009-07-28.
  28. ^ Lifshitz, pp. 101–102
  29. ^ a b See: M. Lifshitz, "Zionism" (משה ליפשיץ, "ציונות") p. 304. Compare with H. Abraham, "History of Israel and the nations in the era of Holocaust and uprising (חדד אברהם, "תולדות ישראל והעמים בתקופת השואה והתקומה")"
  30. ^ Aktion Reinhard: Belzec, Sobibór & Treblinka, Nizkor Project
  31. ^ Grossman, Vasily (1946), The Treblinka Hell [Треблинский ад] (PDF file, direct download 2.14 MB), Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House (online version), retrieved 5 October 2014, original in Russian: Гроссман В.С., Повести, рассказы, очерки [Stories, Journalism, and Essays], Воениздат 1958. 
  32. ^ Jerzy Kochanowski (4 November 2009). "Śmierć w Warschau" [Death in Warschau]. Polityka.pl – Historia (in Polish). 
  33. ^ M. Shelach (ed.), "History of the holocaust: Yugoslavia".
  34. ^ Cox 2007, p. 225.
  35. ^ a b "Nazi Collaborators", Yesterday TV, UK, 12.00, 11 Jan 2014.
  36. ^ Tomasevich, Jozo (2001). War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941–1945: Occupation and Collaboration. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-3615-2. 
  37. ^ State Commission, 1946, pp. 9-11, 46-47
  38. ^ Conquest, Robert. Kolyma: The Arctic Death Camps. 
  39. ^ Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. The Gulag Archipelago. 
  40. ^ a b "Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution" Yesterday television channel, 18:00, 18 November 2013
  41. ^ Hoss [sic], Rudolf (2005). "I, the Commandant of Auschwitz," in Lewis, Jon E. (ed.), True War Stories, p. 321. Carroll & Graf Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7867-1533-6.
  42. ^ Borkin, Joseph (1978). The Crime and Punishment of IG Farben. New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-0-02-904630-2. 
  43. ^ Roderick Stackelberg, Sally Anne Winkle (2002). The Nazi Sourcebook: An Anthology of Texts. Routledge. p. 354. ISBN 978-0-415-22213-6. 
  44. ^ Höss, pp. 164-165, 321–322.
  45. ^ Höss, pp. 164-165, 322–323.
  46. ^ Höss, p. 323.
  47. ^ Höss, p. 324.
  48. ^ Höss, pp. 320, 328.
  49. ^ Holocaust Encyclopedia (20 June 2014). "Gassing Operations". The means of mass murder at Auschwitz. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 12 July 2015. 
  50. ^ Höss, p. 328.
  51. ^ a b c d e f Höss 1959, p. 168.
  52. ^ Berenbaum, Michael; Yisrael Gutman (1998). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. Indiana University Press. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-253-20884-2. 
  53. ^ "Official Website of the Jasenovac Memorial Site". 
  54. ^ US Holocaust Memorial Museum: Jasenovac
  55. ^ Mojzes 2011, p. 60.
  56. ^ Mojzes 2009, p. 160.
  57. ^ "It is estimated that the SS and police deported at a minimum 1.3 million people to Auschwitz complex between 1940 and 1945. Of these, the camp authorities murdered 1.1 million." (Number includes victims killed in other Auschwitz camps.) Archived 17 January 2010 at WebCite
  58. ^ Between March and December 1942, the Germans deported some 434,500 Jews, and an indeterminate number of Poles and Roma (Gypsies) to Belzec, to be killed. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005191
  59. ^ In total, the SS and the police killed some 152,000 people in Chełmno. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005194
  60. ^ A recent study reduced the estimated number of deaths at Majdanek, in "Majdanek Victims Enumerated", by Pawel P. Reszka, Lublin, in the Gazeta Wyborcza 12 December 2005, reproduced on the site of the Auschwitz–Birkenau Museum, Lublin scholar Tomasz Kranz established that figure, which the Majdanek museum staff consider authoritative. Earlier calculations were greater: ca. 360,000, in a much-cited 1948 publication by Judge Zdzisław Łukaszkiewicz, of the Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland; and ca. 235,000, in a 1992 article by Dr. Czesaw Rajca, formerly of the Majdanek museum.
  61. ^ Yad Vashem, "Maly Trostinets" (PDF). Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  62. ^ At the Maly Trostenets extermination camp in Belarus, USSR, some 65,000 Jews were murdered according to Yad Vashem (PDF file, direct download) whilst the estimated number of 200,000 people perished in the Trostenets area. See also: Yad Vashem overview. Internet Archive.
  63. ^ In all, the Germans and their auxiliaries killed at least 170,000 people at Sobibór. Holocaust Encyclopedia.
  64. ^ The Höfle Telegram indicates some 700,000 killed by 31 December 1942, yet the camp functioned until 1943, hence the true deaths total likely is greater. "Reinhard: Treblinka Deportations". Nizkor.org. Retrieved 2012-12-20. 
  65. ^ Holocaust Encyclopedia, NAZI CAMPS. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  66. ^ Terese Pencak Schwartz, The Holocaust: Non-Jewish Victims. Jewish Virtual Library.
  67. ^ a b Arad, Yitzhak (1984), "Operation Reinhard: Extermination Camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka" (PDF), Yad Vashem Studies XVI (Internet Archive), pp. 205–239 (26/30 of current document), The Attempt to Remove Traces. 
  68. ^ Davies, Norman (1998), Europe: A History (internal link) (also at Google Books preview), HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-097468-0 
  69. ^ "March of the Living International". motl.org. 
  70. ^ "March of the Living Canada". motl.org. 

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