The Belzec Death Camp: History, Biographies, Remembrance by Chris Webb is the most recently written book about one of the least known of the three major camps constructed for Operation Reinhardt, the mass murder of the Jews of Poland.
The camp was “primitive” by the standards of what came later; in many ways, it was an experiment in stationary mass murder. Before this time, more than a million Soviet Jews had been murdered by mobile SS execution units. The Reinhardt camps, Sobibor, Belzec, and Treblinka, were meant to use the least resources possible to murder the most Jews, while exposing only a small number of Germans to a personal connection with murder.
Despite its prototype nature, Webb explains how Belzec was employed with brutal efficient. In about ten months of operation, more than half a million or more Jews were killed, along with Roma and Sini peoples. This comes out to about ten percent of all victims of the Shoah – all these killings, burials, cremations, sorting of goods, was done on a piece of land of about than sixteen acres. Only one-hundred Ukrainian guards supervised by a little more than twenty German staff murdered half a million people on a small plot of land. Webb explains that the camp was designed to kill and only kill. We know of only seven survivors of Belzec.
Webb also shows us how Belzec’s ultimate fate was what the Nazis wished for all the murdered Jews of Europe. Bodies were cremated, bones crushed, ashes buried, buildings dismantled, the Jewish workers killed, and trees were planted. A “farm” was built on the site; Belzec was designed to kill Jews and then to be forgotten. Ultimately, had the war turned out differently, this would have been the fate of all the camps - and of Europe's Jews.