Belzec Extermination Camp is Dismantled by Jewish Forced Laborers

By late spring 1943, Jewish forced laborers, guarded by the SS and police and their auxiliaries, had completed the task of exhuming the bodies and burning them and had dismantled the camp.

During June 1943, the job was completed and the Jewish forced laborers were either shot in Belzec or deported to the Sobibor killing center to be gassed.

After the Belzec camp was dismantled, the Germans ploughed over the site, built a manor house and planted trees and crops to disguise the area as a farm. A former auxiliary police guard at the camp ostensibly farmed the land. Soviet forces overran the region in July 1944.

A last train with 300 Jewish prisoners, told to depart for Germany but instead sent to Sobibor extermination camp for gassing, departed in late June as the closing act of the camp. As part of the Nazi plan called Sonderaktion 1005, bodies were dug up and then crushed and cremated. The German and Ukrainian personnel then dismantled the camp and forested the site. The elaborate system of fences and barriers, the barracks and gas chambers were all dismantled. Any items of use were taken to the concentration camp Majdanek. The entire area was then landscaped with firs and wild lupines. Wirth's house and the neighboring SS building, which had been the property of the Polish Railway before the war, were not demolished.

When the staff left, Poles from the surrounding villages started large-scale excavations on the camp site, searching for gold and valueables. These diggings were so extensive that the area was covered by human remains of all kind, and all previous Nazi efforts to disguise the site were contradicted. In response, SS personal was again ordered to the camp site to turn it into a farm, with one Ukrainian SS guard assigned to permanently reside there with his family. This model to guard and disguise former camp sites was later adopted in Treblinka and Sobibor.