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Reconstruction of Belzec

4.2 Fencing and Security

The topic of the fencing at Belzec is addressed separately because the findings cast light on the methods of operation of the camp as well as the intent of the SS for Reinhard in the longer term.

Figure 4.2.1, provides a summary of the fencing system used at Belzec -
and whose principles were followed at the other two Reinhard camps, Sobibor and Treblinka. One can note that the Camp I extermination area (pink) is completely enclosed by two layers of wiring.

Camp I, (green) is single wired, except for the interior portion of the receiving section (dark green), which forms a separately enclosed, double wired, section. The ramp is anomalous, but there could have been a second enclosing wire along the south siding. but no postholes or other signs could be discovered in the photography.

Four places where guard towers were emplaced were discovered. they are indicated by the green squares. Figure 4.2.2 presents
a composite of the images in which the towers were found. The ground photo inset in the figure was included to illustrate the form of construction of guard towers which were built by the Wermach as well as the SS and police security services. After removal, the four legs spaced about 6 to 7 meters apart, left a typical signature in the sandy soils at Belzec (see figure 4.2.3). The clearest expression of this signature is eastern-most tower circled in the right hand-most picture of Figure 4.2.2. All four sites were on the highest local elevations. The white tones on the aerial photos are the result of reflection from the light toned sandy soils. They are analogous to blowouts in the sandy, short grass prairies of the American mid west.

The fact that steps were taken to expand Belzec is derived from the anomalous fencing running to the east-southeast and by the two tower signatures in the same location. One can see that if the area for graves in Camp II were either full, or one anticipated its filling up, room for expansion only existed to the east. At the same time, this expansion would also entail moving the guard tower more to the east so as to keep the new grave area in front of a guard‘s field of view.

The expansion was evidently cancelled and the camp liquidated before the enlargement was completed.

Interior Fencing

In Figure 4.2.4 is seen a number of fence lines annotated onto an aerial photograph. This has been done on the basis of two manifestations
of fencing: “A” points to subtle differences in average tone characterized by a sharp demarcation boundary. This phenomena derives from differential use across the fence boundary - in this case the darker tones are probably caused by a lesser incidence of human traffic and less soil compaction. The lighter tones are where the a higher volume of traffic occurred. In this instance, the fence enclosed a yard around an undressing barracks. Annotation “B” is a much more easily detected fence line. The dark linear pattern probably results from needles and twigs shed from evergreen branches woven into the wire, and shed over the several months Belzec was operational.

In Figure 4.2.5, the traces of former fence lines in the extermination area are manifested by very subtle darkening of a mottled background
(see arrows in the right hand image). These fences enclosed several compounds. The arrangement of fenced areas on either side of the tube leaves no doubt that their purpose was for use as a holding area. In these holding pens, victims could be temporarily confined after leaving the undressing barracks when a backup occurred at the gas chambers.

A final conclusion can be formulated in passing: The retention of so many clues to the configuration of Belzec’s fencing system could only occur if the ground was relatively undisturbed between the time when killing operations ceased, and after all the components of the installation were destroyed or removed. Any earth smoothing or plowing would have erased the traces of the most perishable signs of the previous usage. There is no sign of the planting of lupines or trees as reportedly was done at Treblinka. It appears that a small part of the camp was used by the German National Railroad system (the Reichbahn). A large building was put up, on the site of the torn down SS garage, and several vehicles can be seen parked near it in May 1944 aerial photographs. No security fencing is visible. A brief discussion of Belzec between its dissolutiion as an extermination center and the arrival of th Red Army is contained in the final section 5.0 - Epilogue.

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