Under the code name “Aktion 1005” the Germans tried to cover all tracks of Nazi extermination policy in the east, by opening mass graves and cremating hundreds of thousands of bodies.
The code name had its origin in the file number 1005, used in the related correspondence between Gestapo chief SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller and Martin Luther, member of the foreign office. All units involved were given the name “Sonderkommando 1005” (special command 1005).
The action was planned in early 1942 for three reasons:
1. The Allies had obtained knowledge of German mass murder.
2. The rapidly buried victims of mass shootings and gassings became a health problem. In Chelmno, Auschwitz-Birkenau , the Aktion Reinhardt camps, and other killing sites (Einsatzgruppen) the bodies were buried in communal graves. Very quickly, the authorities questioned this method of disposing of the corpses. Near the two first gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau (Bunkers I and II
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