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Belzec

In March, 1942, the Jews of the Lublin Province of Poland are deported to the Belzec death camp.

By the early 1942, gas chambers were being carried out in death camps. The Belzec camp was located in southern-eastern Poland in the Lublin District. It was originally established in 1940 as a slave labor camp. Between March and December of 1942, Belzec served as a German extermination center, at which between 550,00 and 600,000 Jews were killed. The Belzec became part of the German killing system on the seventeenth of March of 1942.

The German Nazi system of concentration camps and extermination camps were near the village of Belzec in Lublin province, Poland. By the autumn of the year there were three camps in the village itself and a number of satellite camps in areas where there were 11,000 prisoners at one time. Hundreds died from being over worked, starvation, disease, and brutal living conditions. Originally victims were exterminated in cells filled with diesel fumes. The camp was closed in the Spring of 1943, and traces were destroyed.

In the year 1942, the Belzec camp was completed. The gas was carried out in a wooden barrack that held 100 to 150 persons. Six gas chambers could hold about 1,500 persons. The exhaust gas was used to kill people. The first officers that were commanding were SS- Haupt-sturmfuhere and police captain Christian Wirth. At least 400,000 Jews were murdered in Belzec.

A pile of dead bodies from the victims of Belzec.

On April 1, 1942, the first night of Passover, the Aktion had ended, with more than 15,000 Jews transported to the concentration camp. As is Warsaw, Bialystok, private German firms became interest in exploit the cheap available labor. Belzec was transformed from a "reservation" into a liquidation center. In the spring of 1942, the Germans began transporting to it not only to Jews from the Reich but also the first transports from other countries.

During World War II, the Nazis established extermination center to kill entire populations. The arrival points in Poland were Kulmhof, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Lublin, and Auschwitz. The Belzec had carbon monoxide gas chambers in which 600,000 Jews were killed. The SS (Schutzstaffel, or protective units) operated the camps as well as Belzec with brutal military discipline.

Gypsy prisoners sit in an open area of the Belzec concentration camp.

-Joy Nery

Bibliography

Wigoder, Geoffry. "Belzec." The Holocaust. Secon vol. Connecticut: Groiler Educational, 1997.

Yahil, Leni. The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry. New York: Oxford University Oress, 1990.

Email: grcc1998@aol.com