In the ledger of evils perpetrated by humans, Operation Reinhard holds a special place. Over the course of 21 months starting in March 1942, Nazi forces and their collaborators rounded up 1.7 million Jews from 393 Polish towns and ghettos and dispatched them in tightly packed rail cars to three camps in German-occupied Poland — Sobibor, Treblinka and Belzec.
At these three killing centers, members of Poland’s once-thriving Jewish community were murdered with such efficiency and ruthlessness that, of roughly 1.5 million Jews who passed through their gates, a mere 102 would survive to bear witness. By November 1943, when Operation Reinhard ended, essentially no Polish Jews were left for the Germans to kill.
In a bid to capture the scope and intensity of genocidal killing sprees, a Tel Aviv University researcher has dissected Operation Reinhard and found its dark heart.