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Belzec Extermination Camp

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Caitlin Whispel

on 21 February 2014

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Transcript of Belzec Extermination Camp

Caitlin Whispel
P.1

Belzec Extermination Camp
Terms
-Barracks: housing for people
-Gallows: two upright posts and a crosspiece
used to hang people
-SS Men: Hitler's Henchmen
-Cremation Pyre: where dead bodies are burned
-Transit Camp: an area with overnight facilities,
typically used to gather people prior to moving
somewhere more permanent
-Bayonet: a sword-like blade,fixed to the
muzzle of a rifle for use in
hand-to-hand fighting
-Plinths: base supporting a statue or a vase
About Belzec
Before Extermination
The camp was run by 30 German SS guards,
and 90-120 Ukrainian guards. Jewish people and
Gypsies were transported in tightly packed cattle
cars. The trip to Belzec lasted days. Numerous
people didn't make it to Belzec. When the people
arrived, they were informed that they were staying
at a transit camp. The guards separated the men
from the women and had each of them undress
for disinfection and to shower. Women had to
get their head shaved. After they had undress,
any valuables were confiscated.
The Belzec camp was located in the Lublin district, 47 miles north of a major city (Lvov), of South East Poland. The concentration camp originally started out as a slave camp in 1940, but the construction for the extermination camp began in Nov. 1941. Added to the very small camp area was 3 gas chambers. It was the very first Nazi camp to have stationary gas chambers.The camp itself was divided into two areas; the gas chambers, then the administrative and reception area. Surrounding the camp was barbed wires and a dense forest to maintain privacy.
The Extermination
Once everyone has undressed, Ukrainian guards chase them into the gas chambers. Carbon monoxide gas from diesel engines was used to gas out the tightly packed victims. SS guards would reassure everyone that "nothing bad was going to happen". They were instructed to inhale deeply, them being told that it strengthens the lungs, and that inhaling would prevent infections. For those who were extra curious about their fate, they were told that the men would build houses, and the women would do housework.
It has been noted, that one time the engine broke down. It took two hours for the engine to start back up. During those two hours, a SS guard looked through a peephole, and said that the Jews and Gypsies were weeping, "like they do at the synagogue."
Death Toll
During the first few weeks of operation,
a total of 80,00 Gypsies and Jewish
people were killed. A total of 600,000
people were murdered during the
operation of the Belzec extermination camp.
After the camp ended, the remaining 600
prisoners were sent to Sobibor.
Escape Artist
On the trip to Belzec, many Jews tried to escape the cattle car. The few that did, were shot by train guards or hunted down by police units. So many Jewish people tried to escape, that train guards ran out of ammunition. They had to resort to throwing stones and using
bayonets.
Victims
Henoch
Kornfeld
Henoch lived in Kolbuszowa, Poland. He was born in late 1938 to his very religious Jewish parents, Moishe Kornfeld and Liba Saleschutz. Germans invaded Poland around his first birthday. Henoch and his friends often played a game that made fun of the "vicious German police commander", Hafenbier, who stood watch over his town. On June 25, 1942, Henoch and his family were deported to the Rzeszow ghetto. From there, they were deported to Belzec. On July 7, at the age of three, Henoch and his family were gassed.
The Lucky Ones
Thousands of Jewish men were kept alive for labor purposes. They were separated into three groups; one to clean and unload trains, one to sort through the valuables, and one removed the dead bodies from the gas chambers. Although kept alive, their fate could subject to change at any time.
The End
The Belzec extermination camp closed down in December 1942. It took until spring of 1943 to get rid of any evidence that the camp existed. I.E.- cremate and bury the bodies. After everything was cleared away, the site was given to a Ukrainian guard and turned into a farm.
A Remembrance To Those Who Perished
Polish authorities decided to clean up the site and turn it into a memorial in 1962. The memorial opened up on December 1, 1963, and it consisted of a monument of two emaciated figures, and concrete plinths marked mass graves. A row of monumental urns was placed to the left of the former gas chamber to represent ever burning fire.
The memorial site became unkept and neglected over the years, and human remains began to show. The Council For The Protection Of Monuments To Fighting and Martydom (on behalf of the Polish government) paired up with the United States Holocaust Museum in DC, and later the American Jewish Committee to rebuild the memorial in 2002. In May of 2002, the walls, previous monuments, and the rusting fence was taken down. The new memorial site was designed by Andrzey Solyga, Zdislaw Pidek, and Marcin Roszczyk. Many important people attended the grand opening of the new memorial on June 3, 2004, such as Poland's President, Aleksander Kwasniewski, representatives from Poland, people from the American Jewish Committee, people from the U.S. Holocaust museum, and a troop of 200 soldiers from Israel. The crowd consisted of the victims relatives local villagers, and anybody who helped create both memorials. The memorial currently still operates, and offers educational and research programs about the camp/ the Holocaust. The memorial site is only closed for state and religious holidays.
Another Remembrance Site
Bibliography
"The Belzec Memorial Www.HolocaustResearchProject.org." The Belzec Memorial Www.HolocaustResearchProject.org. H.E.A.R.T., 2010. Web. 20 May 2013.
Bülow, Louis. "Hell of Belzec." Hell of Belzec. N.p., 2012-2013. Web. 20 May 2013.
"Holocaust History." Belzec. United States Holocaust Memorial Musuem, 12 May 2012. Web. 20 May 2013.
Pictures
This is where the camp used to be.
The gates to Belzec.
More exposed walls of the death camp.
Current memorial.
People being loaded in cattle cars, that are heading to Belzec.
A Sad Case
This is a group of Jewish laborers, with a smiling Ukrainian guard.
A layout of the extermination camp.
Mina Schaerf Litwak
Mina was born in Vinnitsa, Romania on January 6, 883, to a religious Jewish family. She married Josef Litwak, and they couple settled in Lvov. Germans invaded Poland from the West, and Soviets invaded Poland from the East. A short 16 days later Poland was split into two. Germany invaded the Soviet Union side, and most of the Jewish residents were sent off to ghettos. In late August 1942, Mina was being deported to Belzec, where she perished in September that year.
Josef Litwak
Josef was born on March 5, 1881 in Dolina, Poland. Like his wife, he was also born into a religious Jewish family. Due to Mina being deported to Belzec, and he refused to leaver her side, he also went to Belzec and perished there at the age of 61.
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