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Operation Reinhard – World History – Free PDF Download


  • The first concentration camps in Nazi Germany were established in 1933 as soon as the National Socialist regime took power.
  • They were used for coercion, forced labour, and imprisonment, not for mass murder. The camp system expanded dramatically with the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland at the onset of World War II in September 1939.
  • The new network of Nazi concentration camps built by SS in Germany (including Austria), Poland, and elsewhere in Europe began exploiting foreign captives in the war industry.


  • The prisoners locked into forced labour began dying by the tens of thousands from starvation and untreated disease, or summary executions meant to inflict terror. The Soldau concentration camp opened in September 1939.
  • Some of the most notorious slave labour camps included Mauthausen, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, GrossRosen (with 100 subcamps), Ravensbrück (70 subcamps), and Auschwitz (with 44 subcamps eventually), among other places.


  • After the German-Soviet war began, the Nazis decided to undertake the European-wide Final Solution to the Jewish Question.
  • In January 1942, during a secret meeting of German leaders chaired by Reinhard Heydrich, Operation Reinhard was drafted.
  • Within months, three top-secret camps were built to efficiently kill tens of thousands of Jews every day.


  • On 13 October 1941, SS received an oral order from Himmler – anticipating the fall of Moscow – to start immediate construction work on the first killing centre at Bełżec in the General Government territory of occupied Poland. The new camp was operational beginning 17 March 1942
  • This death factory had killed between 800,000 and 1,200,000 people within 15 months, disposed of their bodies.
  • During Operation Reinhard, oversaw the systematic killing of more than 2,000,000 Jews from Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, the Reich (Germany and Austria), the Netherlands, Greece, Hungary, Italy and the Soviet Union.


  • After supposedly being assessed, the unsuspecting T4 patients were transported to killing centres. The SS used a variety of ruses to move thousands of new arrivals travelling in Holocaust trains to the disguised killing sites without unleashing panic.
  • Mass deportations were called “resettlement actions”; they were organised by special Commissioners,and conducted by uniformed police battalions.
  • Even though death in the cattle cars from suffocation and thirst was rampant, affecting up to 20 percent of trainloads,most victims were willing to believe that the German intentions were different.


  • To drive the naked people into the execution barracks housing the gas chambers, the guards used whips, clubs, and rifle butts.
  • Once packed tightly inside (to minimize available air), the steel air-tight doors with portholes were closed.
  • Fumes would be discharged directly into the gas chambers for a given period, then the engines would be switched off. Before the corpses were thrown into grave pits, gold teeth were removed from mouths, and orifices were searched for jewellery, currency, and other valuables.


  • From 1943 onwards, to hide the evidence of this war crime, all bodies were burned in open air pits.
  • Operation Reinhard ended in November 1943. Most of the staff and guards were then sent to northern Italy for further Aktion against Jews.
  • At the same time, to cover up the mass murder of more than two million people in Poland during Operation Reinhard, the Nazis implemented the secret Sonderaktion 1005, also called Aktion 1005 or Enterdungsaktion (“exhumationaction”).
  • The operation, which began in 1942 and continued until the end of 1943, was designed to remove all traces that mass murder had been carried out.


World History  Free PDF