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Unformatted text preview: volved into a comprehensive plan to eventually annihilate
After Operation Barbarossa (the German invasion of the Soviet Union), Einsatzgruppen
(mobile killing units) began killing operations aimed at entire Jewish communities. Over 1.5
million Jews were murdered at the hands of the Einsatzgruppen. The SS, the elite guard of the
Nazi state, soon regarded the mobile killing methods—mainly shooting or gas vans—as
inefﬁcient and as a psychological burden on the killers. On July 31, 1941, Hermann Goering
authorized Reinhard Heydrich to make preparations for the implementation of a “complete
solution of the Jewish question” that became known as Aktion Reinhard.
Six extermination camps were established in Poland as part of Aktion Reinhard—Chelmno,
Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Because the majority of
European Jews lived in Poland and Eastern Europe, the geographic location was optimal as it
was the essential link to the rail lines. The ﬁrst, Chelmn...
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