The plan by the Nazi party to kill all the Polish Jews is known by the codename Operation Reinhard, or Action Reinhard and it takes its name from Reinhard Heydrich, a senior Nazi official. Operation Reinhard was responsible for the building of concentration camps and ultimately for the most murderous part of the entire Holocaust.
Many of the key officers used in Aktion 44 - the euthanasia programme for the mentally and physically handicapped - were given key roles in Operation Reinhard. Furthermore, a great number of the guards who worked in Nazi concentration camps were from the Ukraine, a country that had largely welcomed the Germany Army when it invaded in 1941. The Ukrainians saw the Germans as a better alternative to Stalin’s regime.
At the start of Operation Reinhard, death camps were built at Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec - each was chosen because of its strong rail connections which made it far easier to transport large numbers of people over from Eastern Europe.
Operation Reinhard did not involve the events at Auschwitz-Birkenau, rather it was mainly focused on four other camps: Majdanek, Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. By the time the operation had ended in November 1943, the Nazis had taken $760,000,000 worth of Jewish property. There are no surviving official documents relating to Operation Reinhard, so an accurate number of the people killed during the campaign will never be known.
See also: The Death Camps
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