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The Infrastructure, Scope, and Death Toll of “Einsatz Reinhardt”

On the International Holocaust Remembrance Day we invoke the memory of the six million Jewish women, children and men – victims of transports, inhuman living conditions in the locked ghettos, executions, manhunts, round-ups, extermination in the gas chambers. The central and the most bloody stage of the Holocaust was perpetrated in the General Government under the codename “Einsatz Reinhardt.”

Tomasz Kranz PhD describes the logistical aspect of genocide and the extermination camps in his article entitled The Infrastructure, Scope, and Death Toll of “Einsatz Reinhardt”:

The extermination camps of Operation Reinhardt differed from concentration camps in their size, appearance and structure. They were much smaller, they did not resemble the barracks of most concentration camps, but at first glance appeared like peaceful little towns, not lacking in attractions for the SS crew (e.g., a zoo in Treblinka or a bowling alley in Sobibór). Each of them contained separate parts subordinated to the primary function – mass annihilation: extermination, admissions, administrative-economic, and housing sectors.16 The SS rebuilt and modified these centres in the course of their functioning. Elements serving the killing were upgraded, namely the gas chambers, where the deportees were murdered with combustion gases. The process of extermination and disposing of bodies was refined. Even though the construction of Operation Reinhardt camps was largely the result of improvisation, and they generally consisted of a makeshift conglomeration of various structures, they quickly achieved terrifying efficiency.

Read the full article from The Infrastructure of Operation Reinhardt volume ed. By Tomasz Kranz.