Assembly Lines of Death: Extermination Camps

  • Steve Hochstadt
Part of the Documents in History book series (DH)


The death camps were the most remarkable, inventive, unprecedented aspect of the Holocaust. Even finding a set of words to label them has proved elusive: I first heard the phrase ‘assembly line of death’ (‘Fliessband des Todes’) from the mouth of Franz Suchomel, an SS guard at Treblinka who was filmed secretly by Claude Lanzmann in his astonishing film ‘Shoah’. On these 6 spots of earth, over 3 million people were murdered in 3 years using the most highly developed industrial methods of transportation, killing, and disposal. The vast riches that Globocnik tallied up in the table shown previously (document 54) were carefully separated from the new arrivals, individually made destitute by previous persecution, but collectively a source of the resources needed to run the whole operation. At Treblinka the SS boasted ‘from door to door in 45 minutes’.


Assembly Line Concentration Camp Spotted Fever Roll Call Freight Train 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 68.
    Excerpt from Filip Müller, Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers, trans. Susanne Flatauer (New York: Stein and Day, 1979), pp. 35–9.Google Scholar
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    Excerpt from the account of Irene Schwarz (née Irka Anis), in Lore Shelley (ed.), Secretaries of Death: Accounts by Former Prisoners who worked in the Gestapo of Auschwitz (New York: Shengold Publishers, 1986), pp. 12–15.Google Scholar
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    Reprinted in Michael J. Neufeld and Michael Berenbaum (eds), The Bombing of Auschwitz: Should the Allies Have Attempted It? (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), pp. 267; original archived in Public Record Office, Kew, AIR 19/218, 46–7.Google Scholar
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    Excerpt from Judith Magyar Isaacson, Seed of Sarah: Memoirs of a Survivor, Second edition (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1991), pp. 83–6; this chapter appeared in an earlier version as ‘Seed of Sarah: A Memoir’, The Yale Review, 73 (1984), pp. 349–53.Google Scholar
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    English translation printed in Ber Mark, The Scrolls of Auschwitz, trans. Sharon Neemani (Tel Aviv: Am Oved Publishers, 1985), p. 215; a copy of the Polish original on p. 285.Google Scholar

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© The Editor(s) 2004

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  • Steve Hochstadt

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