Extermination camp

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Extermination camps (or death camps) were camps built by Nazi Germany during the Second World War (1939–45) to systematically kill millions by gassing, mostly Jews. This genocide of the Jewish people was the Third Reich's "Final Solution to the Jewish question".[1] The Nazi attempts at Jewish genocide are collectively known as the Holocaust.[2]

Previous to this, smaller death camps did exist but not to the scope of during the war. [3]



In 1942, the Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler ordered the Lubin District SS-und Polizei-führer Odilo Globocnik to build the first extermination camps during Aktion Reinhard (1941–43), the operation to annihilate every Jew in the General Government (occupied Poland). Initially, the victims’ corpses were buried in mass graves, but later were cremated. After Russian forces began to advance, previously buried victims were also exhumed and burned in Aktion1005, a Nazi attempt to destroy evidence of the Holocaust.

The first concentration camps were under the direct command of SS–Polizei-führer Globocnik, and operated by SS Police battalions and Trawnikisvolunteers from Eastern Europe; whereas the SS-Totenkopfverbände managed the Nazi Concentration Camps such as Dachau and Ravensbrück. The Nazis did not expect the majority of prisoners taken to the Belzec, Treblinka, and Sobibor extermination camps to survive more than a few hours beyond arrival.[4]

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