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18.09.2020

Operation “Reinhardt” documents

We present three documents from the collections of the State Museum at Majdanek which will be displayed at the exhibition devoted to the history of the German death camp in Sobibór.

They are of great historical value, as they belong to a group of residual source materials concerning the mass extermination of Jews as perpetrated by the Third Reich in the General Government in 1942–1943. The archival documents come from the first stage of that genocidal operation and contain important information pertaining to its code name.


Photograph:

1.

Letter from the administration of the SS garrison in Lublin, dated June 6, 1942, requesting the handing over of “50 suitcases from the known operation.” The document bears the signature of Odilo Globocnik, the head of the SS and police in the Lublin District, who coordinated the extermination of Jews in the General Government. The significance of the document is further enhanced by the fact that the term “Reinhardt” that appears in the letter was used two days after the death of Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), in whose honour – as historians usually assume – the code name was created.


2.

Order for 350 sets of undergarment from the operation “Reinhardt” warehouse located on 27 Chopin Street in Lublin for the SS special camp in Parczew, dated June 15, 1942. The typewritten form bears the headline: “Der SS- und Polizeiführer im Distrikt Lublin – Einsatz Reinhardt.” The name – written in the same manner – was also included in the seal used by Globocnik's staff headed by Hermann Höfle. Other nomenclature and spelling variants of the code name for the extermination of Jews that appear in the sparse source material (e.g. Aktion Reinhard, Einsatz Reinhart) may result from the fact that its writing was most probably never “codified” (e.g. in an official letter), and Heydrich himself used a double spelling of his own given name.


3.

Handwritten confirmation of receipt of 100 batteries, a flashlight, and two packages of pencils for the “special unit Sobibor,” dated May 9, 1942. It is the oldest known document produced by the personnel of the German death camp in Sobibór. In official correspondence, the facility was referred to as “SS-Sonderkommando Sobibor.”

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