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Aktion Erntefest 





The growing resistance movements in the General –Government and in particular the revolts in the death camps at Treblinka and Sobibor, on the 2 August 1943 and in Sobibor on 14 October 1943 alarmed both Hans Frank and Heinrich Himmler.


Himmler ordered the closure of all camps in the Lublin region, Jakob Sporrenberg, who had replaced Globocnik as SS – Police Leader for the Lublin district, planned the mass extermination of all the Jewish workers. Sporrenberg reported after the war as a prisoner of war that Christian Wirth was involved in this action at Majdanek



The orders which were brought by Wirth, were re-worked by Sporrenberg read as follows:





  • On orders of the RFSS (Himmler) an action called “Erntefest” will be carried out in the district of Lublin, for which the cordoning –off troops under his command are to be used.
  • For this purpose the units in question will be disposed as follows.
  • The troops will be used for cordoning-off purposes only and are under the direct command of the SSPF Lublin.
  • In the case of the two camps at Lindenstrasse and the airfield, the prisoners will be led out of the camps and taken to Majdanek under guard of the cordoning-off units. At Majdanek the troops are to form a cordon round the camp while the action was being carried out and they are to remain there until recalled.
  • The Commanders of the troops are to go into the Majdanek camp on arrival and report to Wirth in order to establish contact and obtain information when the troops are no longer needed.
  • On returning from Majdanek the leaders are to report to the SSPF Lublin (Sporrenberg).
  • On the second day the troops will surround the camp at Poniatowa at 0600 hours. Commanders will report there to Sturmbannfuhrer Wirth.


On 3 November 1943 the shooting of the prisoners commenced at 0800 hours, the victims had to stand in front of the air-raid shelters and ditches and they were shot and just fell into the ditches. *


These ditches were adjacent to the crematorium; one nearby lavatory barrack was used as an undressing room, and valuables collection point.


The Jews naked were whipped without mercy, savaged by dogs, they were pushed forward to the deep ditches, only twenty-five yards from Field V.


Loud music boomed out from two loudspeaker trucks. Once at the edge of the ditches the Jews were machine-gunned.


The estimate of the number of Jews killed at Majdanek range from 16,000 to 18,400 almost as many as the number of British soldiers killed on the first day of the Somme in 1916.




Interrogation of Sporrenberg – National Archives Kew  WO 208/4673


* Note: This is in conflict with a number of statements that say the Jews were forced to lie down in the ditches and were then shot.




Copyright SJ H.E.A.R.T 2007



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