Established November 1st, 1941, Belzec extermination center consisted of two camps divided into three parts: administration section, barracks and storage for plundered goods, and extermination section. Initially, there were three gas chambers using carbon monoxide housed in a wooden building. They were later replaced by six gas chambers in a brick and concrete building. Belzec extermination center began operations March 17th, 1942 and ended operations December 1942. The estimated number of deaths is 500-600,000, mainly Jews.
It is claimed that the camp was established in late 1941 but F. Jansson notes that Karski (Jan Kozielewski) already made a visit to a German camp for Jews in Belzec in 1939. Wood and Jankowski write, about this visit :
"Near Belzec, the Germans have created a camp of Jews.
In September 1939, the Germans themselves had chased away tens of thousands of Jews beyond the rivers San and Bug into the Soviet zone source
According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (in October 1939), the new German-Soviet border had been closed in both directions by the Soviets, with the Germans allowing Polish Jews to leave their own area and go to Soviet-occupied Poland
October 31, 1939
KAUNAS, Lithuania (Oct. 30)
The Soviet Government, it was learned here today, has closed its frontier with Nazi Poland both to incoming and outgoing persons. The Germans, at the same time, are not permitting Jews to enter Nazi-ruled Polish territory but are allowing them to leave after confiscating their property.
The chronology goes like this
- 23 August 1939....Molotov Pact..Jude fleeing to Soviet Poland
- September 1939...Germans chase Jude into Soviet Poland
- 28 September 1939...German–Soviet Frontier Treaty signed
- 31 October 1939..Soviets close border to National Socialist Poland
- Dec 1939... Jan Kozielewski (Karski) visits Belzec
- 22 Jun 1941...Barbarossa
Karski changes his story in his 1944 book regarding details with inconsistencies. Karski also claimed that Belzec was a death camp at one time but when he managed to get there, he saw it function as a transit camp.
To discuss why Belzec was on the German Soviet Frontier as well as the morphing of claims from liming, to electrocution and gas.
The tales of Karski are also relevant here though there are some existing threads on this.