Auschwitz Foundation - 2018 – 75 Aktion Reinhardt - Aktion Erntefest
2018 – 75 Aktion Reinhardt - Aktion Erntefest

Remembrance of Auschwitz and the Auschwitz Foundation organised the conference ‘75 Aktion Reinhardt - Aktion Erntefest’ on 3 and 4 November 2018 in Brussels.

colloque aktion reinhardt erntefest webOn 3 and 4 November 1943, the Aktion Erntefest was ordered, the ‘Harvest Festival’, which marked the end of the extermination of the Jews of Poland, called the Aktion Reinhardt. This hermetic name conceals terrible mass killings: the harvest 'festival' killed no less than 42,000 people (the largest mass killing of the Second World War) and was ordered by Heinrich Himmler to close the Aktion Reinhardt, which saw some 1.7 million Jews perish in the gas chambers of Bełżec, Sobibór, Treblinka and Majdanek. The Jews who 'escaped' the gas chambers were shot in Majdanek, Trawniki and Poniatowa on those two fateful days of 3 and 4 November 1943.

Exactly 75 years after the events, the conference organised by Remembrance of Auschwitz and the Auschwitz Foundation aimed to take stock of current research on the Aktion Reinhardt, a historical event that has seen a resurgence of interest among historians of the Holocaust over the last ten years, thanks, among other things, to archaeological advances at the various sites concerned. We have come a long way since Yithzak Arad's pioneering work in 1987: Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: the Operation Reinhard Death Camps. We will also return to what happened to the direct witnesses (survivors of the extermination centres and executioners) after the Aktion Reinhardt was finalised. Finally, apart from the genocide of the Jews and Roma and Sinti of Poland, this action had an economic purpose - less well known - that must still be brought to light.

Dossier (PDF)


3 November 2018

  • Opening speech: Prof. Dr Bernard Dan (Université Libre de Bruxelles)
  • Introduction to the conference: Frédéric Crahay, Director of Remembrance of Auschwitz – Auschwitz Foundation

  • Presidency: Jan Deboutte (Belgium) Belgian representative for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance
  • Prof. Dr Stephan Lehnstaedt (Germany): ‘Aktion Reinhardt’: Sources, Research and Commemoration in the last 30 Years
  • Dr Melanie Hembera (Germany): The role of the Führer's chancellery in the planning and implementation of Aktion Reinhardt

  • Presidency: Johan Puttemans (Belgium) Remembrance of Auschwitz – Auschwitz Foundation
  • Michael Tregenza (United Kingdom): The role of SS Sturmbannfuhrer Christian Wirth in Aktion Reinhardt
  • Dr Christophe Busch (Belgium): Learning networks of perpetration: the role of Karl Höcker Höcker [in Dutch]

4 November 2018
  • Presidency: Dr Dimitri Roden (War Heritage Institute)
  • Michael Evans (Australia): Perez Szechtman: A Survivor's Account of Aktion Erntefest
  • Jens Hoffmann (Germany): The forest camp of Borek. Aktion 1005 in the context of Aktion Erntefest

  • Presidency: Frédéric Crahay
  • Tristano Matta (Italy): The men of the Aktion Reinhardt in the field of operations Adriatisches Küstenland (September 1943 - April 1945) (in French)
  • Ivar Schute (The Netherlands): Archaeological research in extermination centres: a new paradigm? [in Dutch] 
  • Johan Puttemans (Belgium): On the Traces of the Shoah in Poland
  • Frédéric Crahay (Belgium): Synthesis and end of the conference

The lectures (in French)

B. Dan - Discours d'ouverture

B. Dan - Discours d’ouverture
S. Lehnstaedt - Trente annees de sources, recherches et commemorations de l’Aktion Reinhardt
M. Tregenza - Le role du SS Sturmbannfuehrer Christian Wirth dans l’Aktion Reinhardt
C. Busch - Réseaux d’apprentissage de la perpétration : le rôle de Karl Friedrich Höcker
J. Hoffmann - Le camp forestier de Borek – l’Aktion 1005 dans le contexte de l’Aktion Erntefest
T. Matta - Les hommes de l’Aktion Reinhardt dans la zone d’opérations Adriatisches Küstenland
M. Evans - Perez Szechtman - Récit d’un survivant de l’Aktion Erntefest
I. Schute - La recherche archéologique dans les centres d’extermination : un nouveau paradigme ?


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