Belzec extermination camp, the model for two others in the 'Aktion Reinhard'
murder program, started as a labor camp in April 1940. Belzec was situated in
the Lublin district forty-seven miles north of the major city of Lvov,
conveniently between the large Jewish populations of south east Poland and
The first commandant of Belzec was SS Colonel General Christian Wirth, a former
police officer who had played a leading role in implementing the T4 Euthanasia
program. Wirth developed his own ideas on the basis of the experience
he had gained in the Euthanasia program and decided to supply the fixed gas
chamber with gas produced by the internal-combustion engine of a motorcar.
Toward the end of the war, anxious to disguise the evidence of their crime, the
Germans tried to clean out the graves and burn the corpses.
The Belzec extermination center began operations March, 1942 and ended
operations December 1942. It is estimated that about 600,000 Jews were murdered
at Belzec and thousands of Gypsies. Those remaining when the camp ceased to
function were transported to the Sobibor death camp and murdered.
There were only a handful of survivors of Belzec ..