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 Belzec Holocaust Memorial

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Belzec Holocaust Memorial

  • Birth 17 Mar 1942 Belzec, Lubelskie, Poland
  • Death 30 Jun 1943 Belzec, Lubelskie, Poland
  • Burial Belzec, Lubelskie, Poland
  • Memorial ID 15061000

Holocaust Memorial. Belzec was a Nazi death camp during World War II. It was the first of three killing centers (the others were Sobibor and Treblinka) built in 1942 as part of the "Operation Reinhard" program, Adolf Hitler's plan to eliminate the Jews of Europe. The complex stood outside the village of Belzec in the Lublin district of Poland. Belzec was a prototype death camp and different techniques of transport and extermination were employed to determine what was most efficient. Christian Wirth, the barely human camp commander, realized that to prevent mass hysteria and escape attempts the victims had to be lulled into a false sense of security. He helped introduce the notorious ruse of disguising the gas chambers (Belzec had six) as a bath house and telling new arrivals they would have to shower and undergo delousing. While an orchestra played popular tunes, the Jews were seperated into groups according to sex and age. They were stripped of their clothes and belongings, the women had their hair cut, and all were herded to their deaths. This was done at a running pace so the prisoners would have no time to look around and comprehend what was going to happen to them. Wirth's ghastly methods were adapted by Auschwitz and other death camps. One problem Wirth failed to solve was disposal of the bodies. They were buried in huge pits, but with killing on such an enormous scale this eventually proved impractical and health-hazardous. In December 1942, Gestapo Chief Heinrich Himmler ordered mass executions at Belzec to cease. The corpses were exhumed and cremated and the ashes reburied, a process that took several months. During that time the camp was decommissioned as a killing center. Its gas chambers were dismantled and sent to the Majdanek camp, and the rest of the compound was demolished. With the deportation of the last remaining prisoners to Sobibor on June 30, 1943, Belzec was closed. The area was planted with firs and lupines and part of the grounds were given to a former Ukrainian camp guard to work as a farm. An estimated 550,000 Jews and 20,000 gypsies and Polish nationals were murdered at Belzec. Only seven of its prisoners, all escapees, lived to see the war's end. Despite the atrocities that took place there, Belzec is one of the least-known of the Nazi death camps. It was not until the mid-1990s that plans to establish a permanent memorial at the site were finalized. The Belzec Memorial and Museum were completed in 2004.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
  • Added: 27 Jul 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 15061000
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Belzec Holocaust Memorial (17 Mar 1942–30 Jun 1943), Find A Grave Memorial no. 15061000, citing Belzec Memorial Site and Museum, Belzec, Lubelskie, Poland ; Maintained by Find A Grave .