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Aktion Reinhard Gas Chambers!

The Gas Chambers at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka

 Descriptions and  Eyewitness Testimony

The intention of this article is to provide a brief description of all the gas chambers constructed at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka death camps constructed by the Nazis, as part of the Aktion Reinhard murder programme, during 1941 and 1942 in the General Government.


The Belzec Death Camp  


Stanislaw Kozak

Stanislaw Kozak testified about the construction of the first gas chamber in Belzec on the 14 October 1945:


“We began work on 1 November 1941 with the building of barracks at the end of the siding. One barrack which stood right next to the siding – was 50 m long and 12.5m wide, it was a waiting room for the Jews.


The second barrack – 25m long and 12.5m wide – was for the Jews appointed to bathe in. Near this barracks we had built a third barracks which was 12m long and 8m wide.


This barrack was divided into 3 parts by wooden walls – each part being 4m wide and 8m long. The height of each section was 2m. The inner walls of this barracks were so constructed that we nailed planks to them and filled the empty space between with sand.


The interior walls of this barracks were covered with pasteboard and the floor and walls – to a height of 1.10m – were covered with zinc sheeting.


From the first barracks to the second barracks, about which I have already spoken, there led an alleyway 3m wide of barbed-wire fencing 3m high. From the second barracks a covered passage 2m wide, 2m high and about 10m long – led to the third barrack.


Through this passage one arrived at the corridor of the third barracks which led through three doors into the three parts of the barracks. Each part of this barrack on its N side a door – about 1.80m high and 1.10m wide.


These doors, as well as the ones in the corridor, were sealed with rubber. All the doors in this barrack opened outwards. The doors were very strong – constructed of planks 75mm thick and fastened from the outside by a wooden bar which fitted into 2 iron hooks.


In each of the three parts of this barrack there was fixed at a height of 10cm’s from the floor, a water pipe. The water pipe branched from each corner along the W wall of each part of this barrack to the middle of the wall and ended in an opening at a height of 1m from the floor.


These water pipes were joined to a main pipe at a junction under the floor. In each of the 3 parts of the above-mentioned barracks were placed stoves weighing 250 kilos. One must surmise that the water pipes were later connected to these stoves.


The stoves were 1.10m high, 55cm wide and 55cm long. Out of curiosity I glanced into the stove through the open door. I did not see any grate there. The interior of the stove was – so it seemed – lined with firebrick. I could not ascertain what the other stoves were like. The stove opening was oval, with a diameter of about 25cm, and about 50cm above the floor.


Along the N side of this barrack a 1m high ramp made of planks was erected and along this ramp a narrow gauge railway track was laid which led to the grave right in the NE corner which had been dug by the “Blacks.”



SS-Unterscharfuhrer Schluch testified:


“I had to show the Jews the way to the gas chambers. I believe that when I showed the Jews the way they were convinced that they were really going to the baths.


After the Jews entered the gas chambers, the doors were closed by Hackenholt himself or by the Ukrainians subordinate to him. Then Hackenholt switched on the engine which supplied the gas.


After five or seven minutes – and this is only an estimate – someone looked through the small window into the gas chamber to verify whether all those inside were dead.


Only then were the outside doors opened and the gas chambers ventilated. After the ventilation of the gas chambers a Jewish working group under the command of their Kapo’s entered and removed the bodies from the chambers.


The Jews inside the gas chambers were densely packed. This is the reason that the corpses were not lying on the floor but were mixed up in disorder in all directions, some of them kneeling, according to the amount of space they had.


The corpses were besmirched with mud and urine or with spit. I could see that the lips and tips of the noses were a bluish colour. Some of them had their eyes closed, others’ eyes rolled. The bodies were dragged out of the gas chambers and inspected by a dentist, who removed finger-rings and gold teeth. After this procedure, the corpses were thrown into a big pit.      


The old wooden gassing building had insufficient capacity to deal with forthcoming transports, and these were dismantled and in a more central location a more robust structure was constructed. The new gas chambers in Belzec were operational by the middle of July 1942:

Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/ar/argaschambers.html

The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team


Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2009

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