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Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/aktion.reinhard/yvs16.10

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Yad Vashem Studies XVI:  Operation Reinhard (10/11)
Summary: The Attempt to Remove Traces
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Nizkor Project -
Keywords: Yad Vashem,treblinka,sobibor,belzec

Archive/File: orgs/israeli/yad-vashem/yvs16.02
Last-modified: 1993/03/29

                       YAD VASHEM STUDIES
                     Edited by Aharon Weiss

                          YAD VASHEM
                        JERUSALEM 1984

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

                         Yitzhak Arad 

                 The Attempt to Remove Traces

   Hundreds of thousands of corpses of people murdered in the death
   camps during the spring and summer of 1942 lay in huge mass graves.
   In the autumn of 1942 the camp commandants of Sobibor and Belzec
   decided to incinerate the corpses; in Treblinka, a start on this was
   made only in 1943.  However, the idea to remove all signs of the
   crimes was not new.  In the spring of 1942 Himmler had decided that
   in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union, the corpses of the
   murdered Jews and Russian prisoners of war were to be exhumed from
   the graves and incinerated without leaving any traces.  The same was
   to be done with the past and future victims of the extermination

   In June 1942 SS-Gruppenfu"hrer Muller, Chief of the Gestapo, charged
   SS-Standartenfu"hrer Blobel with removing all traces of the mass
   executions in the East carried out by the Einsatzgruppen.  This order
   was a "State Secret" and Blobel was instructed to refrain from any
   written correspondence on the subject.  The operation was given the
   code name "Sonderaktion 1005."

   Upon his appointment, Blobel, together with a small staff of three or
   four men, initiated experiments involving the incineration of
   corpses.  The place chosen for them was Kulmhof.  For this purpose
   the ditches were opened and the corpses burnt by means of incendiary
   bombs, but this led to big fires in the surrounding forests.
   Subsequently an attempt was made to burn the corpses together with
   wood on open fires.  This method came to be adopted in all the camps
   of Operation Rein hard.  The corpses were carried to the open fires
   straight from the gas chambers.  At the same time, the existing mass
   graves were opened and those buried there were also incinerated.
   This cover-up operation was initially introduced in Sobibor.

   In Belzec, the incineration of corpses began in November 1942, toward
   the end of the mass murder.  SS-Scharfu"hrer Heinrich Gley testified:

      Then began the general exhumation and burning of corpses; it may
      have taken from November 1942 to March 1943.  The incinerations
      went on day and night, without interruption, initially at one,
      then at two sites.  At one of the sites it was possible to
      incinerate about 2,000 corpses within 24 hours.  Approximately
      four week I after the start of the incineration operation, the
      second site was set up.  Thus, on an average, a total of 300,000
      corpses were burnt at one site within about five months, and
      240,000 at the second one during ca.  4 months.  These are
      obviously estimates of averages.  It would probably be correct to
      put the sum total at 500,000 corpses...

      This incineration of disinterred corpses was such an horrific
      procedure from the human, aesthetic, and olefactory aspects that
      it is impossible for people who are now used to living like
      ordinary citizens to be able to imagine this horror.  (See note 6
      ) In Treblinka a start was made in the spring
      of 1943, on Himmler's personal command after he had visited the

   The vacated ditch area was levelled and sown with lupins!
   SS-Oberscharfu"hrer Heinrich Matthes, who was responsible for the
   extermination sector in Treblinka, testifies:

      An SS-Oberscharfu"hrer or Hauptsch~rfuflrer Floss arrived at this
      time, who, so I presume, must previously have been in another
      camp.  He then had the installation built for burning the corpses.
      The incineration was carried out by placing railroad rails on
      blocks of concrete.  The corpses were then piled up on these
      rails.  Brush wood was placed under the rails.  The wood was
      drenched with gasoline.  Not only the newly obtained corpses were
      burnt in this way, but also those exhumed from the ditches.  (StA
      Dusseldorf, AZ:8 Js 10904/59 

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