Belzec extermination camp

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Belzec, Polish spelling Bełżec [ˈbɛu̯ʐɛt​͡s], was the first of the Nazi German extermination camps created for implementing Operation Reinhard during the Holocaust. Operating in 1942, the camp was situated in occupied Poland about half a mile south of the local railroad station of Bełżec in the Lublin district of the General Government.

Between 430,000 and 500,000 Jews are believed to have been killed at Bełżec, along with an unknown number of Poles and Roma;[1][2] only one[3] or two Jews are known to have survived Bełżec: Rudolf Reder and Chaim Hirszman. The lack of survivors may be the reason why this camp is so little known despite its number of victims.

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Camp construction and purposes

Belzec was situated in the Lublin district forty-seven miles north of the major city of Lwow (Lviv, Lvov), conveniently between the large Jewish populations of south east Poland and eastern Galicia. Belzec extermination camp, the model for two others in the 'Aktion Reinhard' murder program, started as a labor camp in April 1940, in the course of the Burggraben-project attached to the Lublin reservation in the same area: the reservation was to serve as a pool for forced labour exploited by various small camps like Belzec, to erect defensive works along the Nazi-Soviet demarcation line such as a long anti-tank ditch.[4] While the Burggraben project was shut down by the end of the year due to its inefficiency, Belzec was re-opened in 1942 to finish part of the anti-tank ditch.[4]

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