michael mills wrote:The Tregenza article indicates that Hackenholt was transferred to Belzec in the autumn of 1941, but no month is given.
It was most likely early November 1941. That was when the construction of Belzec extermination camp began.
The camp beside the railway near Blezec station had been existence as a transit camp since late 1939; Karski describes it in his first 1940 report as holding Jews waiting to cross the nearby border into the Soviet Zone of Occupation.
"The work camps in Belzec and nearby villages were abandoned in October 1940." http://www.deathcamps.org/belzec/labourcamps.html
The camp appears to have been closed for a period, and then reactivated some time in the late summer-early autumn of 1941.
Not exactly. The Belzec extermination camp was just in the same general area as the labour camps had been two years earlier.
Eichmann in his 1957 interviews with Sassen describes a visit he made to a camp in Poland shortly after the start of the war with the Soviet Union, and meeting there a police captain (most probably Christian Wirth) who was working outside in shirt-sleeves; Eichmann noted that the captain was not wearing his uniform jacket.
It is a generally known fact that Eichmann either lied about the timeframe of this visit or was mistaken.
Eichmann's visit was therefore made between early July and early September; at any later time it would have been too cold to be outside in shirt-sleeves.
Oh, please. Your extrapolations are becoming more and more desperate.
We may presume that work on the reactivation of the camp at Belzec before Eichmann's visit.
No, we may not. Eichmann made a couple of visits to the O.R. camps and his memory is more likely to have played tricks on him as to the date.
We know that work on the Belzec extermination camp began on the 1. November.
"On 1 November 1941, as part of Aktion Reinhard, the Germans began construction of an extermination camp at Belzec. The site they chose was near the railway station, about 400 meters away on a railway siding, and only 5 m east of the main Lublin - Lemberg railway line. SS-Hauptsturmführer Richard Thomalla from the SS Zentralbauleitung Zamosc supervised the construction works. The on-site supervisor was an unidentified red haired SS officer, known as "the Master" ("der Meister"). Poles from Belzec, who were later replaced by Jews from the nearby villages of Lubycza Krolewska and Mosty Maly, did this work. The construction was completed at the end of February 1942." http://www.deathcamps.org/belzec/belzec.html
It seems to me unlikely that that decision can have been made before selecting Belzec as a location, since the camp is not well-sited as a killing centre; it is too exposed to view, being right next to the Lublin-Lwow mainline from where curious passengers on the many trains passing through could look right into it, and it was also very close to the Belzec village.
Well, obviously the Germans disagreed with you.
The location of the camp is however well-suited for the function of a transit camp, which was its original purpoae back in December 1939, when Karski visited it.
And were is the proof that Belzec acted as a transit camp? We have plenty of evidence of Jewish transports going to Belzec and returning empty. The evidence from Poles, Germans and Jews agree on this. You are, again, going off on a tangent.
The entire sequence of events suggests that a decision was made to reactivate Belzec in its function as a transit camp, and then a second decision made to turn it into a killing centre by installing a very primitive gas-chamber. That second decision may have come as late as March 1942, just before the start of the deportation of Jews from Lublin District.
Your view is not supported by the evidence.
It seems to me highly unlikely that the decision to turn Belzec camp into a killing centre can have been made in the summer of 1941, before the first SS-men turned up at the site to begin the recommissioning of the camp. The elapse of time until the arrival of the first Jews from Lublin in March 1942 was seven months, plenty of time to build a really good state-of-the-art gas-chamber, using the experience gained in the euthanasia program which had been under way for 18 months.
State-of-the-art? What would that be like? The experience the Germans got during the building of Belzec was used to improve the Sobibor and Treblinka camps.
"Franz Suchomel from Treblinka quotes Belzec as a laboratory, and so it would seem. Wirth carried out experiments to determine the most efficient method of handling the transports of Jews from the time of their arrival at the camp until their murder and burial. He developed basic concepts for the process of extermination and for the camp structure. The aim was to give the victims the impression that they had arrived at a transit camp from where they would be sent onward to a labour camp. The deportees were to believe this until they were enclosed inside the gas chambers disguised as baths. The second principle of extermination was that everything should be carried out with the utmost speed. The victims had to run, having no time for looking around, reflecting and understanding what was going on."
However, such a gas-chamber was not built; instead it was a very flimsy affair, seemingly thrown together just before the arrival of the first Jews from Lublin.
"Because of increasing transports the three wooden gas chambers were no more sufficient. New ones with larger capacity had to be built. The old wooden gassing hut was dismantled, and in a central location, a larger, more solid structure was erected. The new building was 24 m long and 10 m wide. It had six gas chambers each of them 4x8 m (although some sources state: 4x5 m). Towards the middle of July 1942 the new chambers were operational."
The most likely sequence of events would appear to be;
I wouldn't call it "most likely", I'd call it "extrapolating to the max, without any proof."
1. A decision made soon after the invasion of the Soviet Union to deport the Jews of the Generalgouvernement into the territory expected to be conquered from the Soviet Union, with the camp at Belzec being reactivated as a transit camp to facilitate the deportation.
Funnily, there were no transports of people (not counting the transport of sonderkommando to Sobibor to be gassed) out of Belzec as you would expect with a transit camp. Also, all the people who were in Belzec at the time agree that Belzec was an extermination camp.
If we assume that Belzec camp did not have a homicidal purpose during the period when it was being re-commissioned in the autumn of 1941, then it is understandable that local labour would have been drafted to work on the recommissioning and then released when the work was completed.
And pray tell, why the same wouldn't hold true if the Belzec camp was to be an extermination camp?
That could explain how a mechanic like Rudolf Reder could be brought in to service machinery like excavators during a four-month period, and also work as a bricklayer, and then be released when he was no longer required. Under that scenario, the extremely unlikely escape described by him would not be necessary.
Your personal incredulity does not make Reder's account of his escape impossible. A lot more incredible things have happened. I see no reason to revise my view.
I asked for proof on many occasions in this exchange, Michael. You haven't provided any. I feel that you are dishonest in your attempt to muddy the waters and you should not use your claim that Reder was not in the Belzec death camp from now on.