The horrors of the Nazis were many, but the worst were what they did to the Jewish people. The gas chambers and the labor camps, experimentation and beatings, were horrible, and this only names a few of the things they did. Hitler was intent on killing as many Jews as he could, and he didn’t care how it got done, as long as it got done. One of the worst, in fact the second worst event of World War II, exceeded only by the 1941 Odessa massacre. The Aktion Erntefest, which translates to Operation Harvest Festival was the murder of 42,000 Jews at the same time. How anyone could call something like that a “festival” is beyond me.

The action was set in motion by the SS and Order Police, and the Ukrainian Sonderdienst formations in the General Government territory of occupied Poland. The murder of the Jewish laborers in concentration camp Lublin/Majdanek and the forced-labor camps Trawniki and Poniatowa was an unfathomable atrocity. The murders were performed in retaliation for the uprisings at the Treblinka and Sobibor killing centers and the Warsaw, Bialystok, and Vilna ghettos that had led to increased concerns about Jewish resistance. To prevent further resistance, SS chief Heinrich Himmler ordered the killing of surviving Jews in the Lublin District of German-occupied Poland. Most of the remaining Jews were employed in forced-labor projects and were concentrated in the Trawniki…at least 4,000 people, Poniatowa…at least 11,000 people, and Majdanek…about 18,000 people. They were killed at Majdanek, near Lublin on November 3rd and 4th, 1943. The SS shot them in large prepared ditches outside the camp fence near the crematorium. Jews from other labor camps in the Lublin area were also taken to Majdanek and shot. Loud music was played through speakers at both Majdanek and Trawniki to drown out the noise of the mass shootings. The killing at Majdanek was the largest single-day, single-location massacre during the Holocaust.

On the orders of Christian Wirth and Jakob Sporrenberg, the approximately 42,000 to 43,000 Jews were gunned down, and dumped in the ditches. It was not only retaliation for actions of rebellion, but probably also a way to deter any further resistance among the other Jews. The fact that the Jews were viewed an non-humans, made it easier to kill them, I suppose, but the killing were beyond horrible to most decent people, but to the Nazis it was almost considered sport or at the very least fun. To anyone who values human life, it was totally horrific.

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