Reconstruction of Belzec
4.4 - The Ukrainian Guards Area
The SS guards contingent consisted of Soviet prisoners of war recruited by the Germans. They were primarily of Ukrainian or German ethnicity. There were about 100 in the unit.
These men were housed and messed in an area referred to as Camp I. There were a number of facilities in this part of Belzec camp. They included medical/dental, shoemaking, tailoring, and barbering. Also in the camp was a large garage which was used for repair, service and storage of the assigned vehicles. This building was subject to extensive excavations (see Kola, Reference 16) which served to pinpoint its precise location, its size, and its layout.
Unfortunately, all the other structures were sited outside the boundaries of the modern memorial site and Kola did not explore them. However, it is possible, using the Luftwaffe reconnaissance photos, to easily identify the number and approximate size of structures in the guards camp from traces left after Belzec‘s liquidation. Moreover, postwar German trials of camp staff generated a number of testaments which are useful in fleshing out the information which can be gleaned from the photography.
Annotation1 indicates the fence line boundary of a barracks building. Annotation 2 points to pathways. Figure 4.4.2 is a photograph of two Ukrainian guards beside a barracks. The photograph was taken as shown in Figure 4.4.3.
The mechanism for the creation of the signatures in the aerial views can be inferred from these observations: namely that the sandy, barren soils resulted as light tones and that after the various building were torn down, the burning of unsalvageable debris would have left a residue of charcoal and ash in the center.
Figure 4.4.4 gives an overall summary of the analysis of the aerial photographs and the available ground shots. The key to the annotations is as follows:
The two buildings annotated number 5 were identified as to function from sketch maps drawn by former German SS staff members (see References, Internet Resources I1) . The identification of the barracks was based on their size (100 men can be easily housed in three buildings 16 by 8 meters if they are double bunked). The day room, annotation 3, was identified on context. The building having that function needed to be centrally located near the barracks, and of a smaller size.
The small structure identified as a guard shack (annotation 1) appears in another snapshot of the Ukrainian guards. It is presented in Figure 4.4.6
The placement of this guard post was to control access into Camp I and also to open the first gate into the siding to allow the convoys carrying the doomed Jews into the extermination camp.
The largest building in Camp I was the garage. This structure was excavated and described in detail by Kola. The foundation was masonry, There were five interior walls which divided the space into six equal sized partitions. Five of these were vehicle bays and the sixth was probably a shop and office space. A grease pit was built into the floor of one the bays.
The last feature of interest in the Guard’s housing area
Last modified: February 12, 2008