|The Forgotten Revolt||Introduction||
World War II began in Europe on September 1,1939, with Germany's invasion of Poland. Nazi policy against the Jews, limited to the isolation and forced immigration of German Jews, now took a new and furious turn.
On July 31, 1941, Marshal Hermann Goering authorized SS Gruppenfuehrer and Chief of the German Security Forces, Reinhard Heydrich, to finalize preparations for the exterminations:
"...I hereby commission you to carry out all necessary preparation with regard to organizational, substantiative and financial viewpoints for a total solution of the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe. Insofar as the competencies of other central organizations are hereby affected, these are to be involved."
January 20, 1942, SS Gruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich called a meeting to confirm his plan to key officials. This meeting is now known as the "Wannsee Conference", named for the Berlin suburb where it was held. The only purpose of this meeting was to organize and coordinate various governmental agencies to carry out the "Final Solution to the Jewish Problem". The Conference made genocide a fact for the rest of occupied Europe.
Soon that same year, under a secret code name "Operation Reinhard" three death camps were build in rapid succession: Belzec completed in March, Sobibor built in April, Treblinka in July.
Under the supervision of SS General Odillo Globocnik and staffed by personnel from the euthanasia program in Germany (killing of deformed, mentally retarded Germans in gassing installations) discontinued in Germany due to the outcry of the church, these camps began a vast extermination program which did not end until Polish Jewry had virtually ceased to exist.
In each one of these camps hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed. Despite this, these names except Treblinka where most of Warsaw Jews were killed, are not as well known as those of other camps like Auschwitz or Dachau, despite the fact that in the "Operation Reinhard" camps more Jews were killed than in Auschwitz. The reason is simple. They were top-secret installations and in the few recovered documents were referred to as "Durchgangslagers" (transit camps). They were dismantled and all signs of their existence were removed long before the Allies arrived.
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