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Aktion Erntefest (German for Operation Harvest Festival) was a code phrase used by the Nazi German occupation forces to kill all Jews remaining in the Lublin District and the Lublin Ghetto of the General Government in two days of the early November, 1943.

The timing of the operation was apparently in response to several efforts by surviving Jews to resist the Nazis (for example, the uprisings at the Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps, and armed resistance in the Warsaw, Białystok, and Vilna ghettos). The SS feared additional Jewish-led revolts in the General Government. To prevent further resistance the SS decided to kill most of the remaining Jews, who were employed in forced-labor projects and were concentrated in the Trawniki, Poniatowa, and Majdanek camps.

"Erntefest" began at dawn on November 3, 1943. The Trawniki and Poniatowa labor camps were surrounded by SS and police units. Jews were then taken out of the camps in groups and shot in nearby pits dug for this purpose. At Majdanek, Jews were first separated from the other prisoners. They were then taken in groups to nearby trenches and shot. Jews from other labor camps in the Lublin area were also taken to Majdanek and shot. Music was played through loudspeakers at both Majdanek and Trawniki to drown out the noise of the mass shooting.

The killing operation was completed in a single day at Majdanek and Trawniki. At Poniatowa the shootings took two days. Approximately 42,000 Jews were killed during the Aktion Erntefest.

References

Bibliography

  • Arad, Yitzhak: Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps. Indiana University Press, Indianapolis 1987.
  • Gilbert, Martin: The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York 1985.
  • Marszalek, Jozef: Majdanek: The Concentration Camp in Lublin. Interpress, Warsaw 1986.

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