Darren Baker takes a look at a book covering some very dark action during WW2, 'Hitler’s Death Camps in Occupied Poland'.


The following introduction is taken from the Pen and Sword website:

Nearly 80 years on, the concept and scale of the Nazis’ genocide program remains an indelible, nay almost unbelievable, stain on the human race. Yet it was a dreadful reality of which, as this graphic book demonstrates, all too much proof exists.

Between 1941 and 1945 an estimated three and a half million Jews and an unknown number of others, including Soviet POWs and gypsies, perished in six camps built in Poland; Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdenak, Sobibor and Treblinka.

Unpleasant as it may be, it does no harm for present generations to be reminded of man’s inhumanity to man, if only to ensure such atrocities will never be repeated.

This book aims to do just this by tracing the history of the so called Final Solution and the building and operation of the Operation Reinhard camps built for the sole purpose of mass murder and genocide.


This offering is part of the Images of War series by Pen and Sword. These are soft backed books that cover various military aspects from WWI to the present using the media of photography. This offering is written by Ian Baxter, who has produced 40 books within the series. All of which from this author cover WWII on the German side.

This offering presents the contents as follows:

Prelude to the Final Solution:

Chelmno (Kulmhof) - Killing Centre

Majdanek - Labour and Extermination Camp

Auchwitz-Birkenau - Labour and Extermination Camp

The Reinhard Camps:




Last Tears:

Each of the chapters and sub-chapters in this title begin with a short written introduction, that gives you some idea about what you are going to look at. If I am honest, the written sections of the title are of limited benefit beyond just giving you a taster of what the section covers. Where these books come into their own, is the photographic content where each and every picture is provided with an informative caption, that makes very clear what you are looking at. Some of the pictures are not what you would class as shocking, as they cover aspects of life from day to day. However, when you see a camp swathed in black smoke from where the crematoria are burning the bodies of exterminated Jews - you have to sit and think. An image that does sit with me as I am looking through this title, shows a group of 200-300 children probably in the 3 to 6 years of age bracket being taken from the Lodz Ghetto to be exterminated at Chelmno. 

While this title concentrates on the attempts of German factions to exterminate all traces of the Polish people, you are presented with some photographs that show not all Poles were treated the same. There are images of Polish workmen sitting having a beer with SS troops at Chelmno, and as the sole purpose of Chelmno was as an extermination camp - these Poles knew exactly what they were doing to their fellow Poles. Some of these pictures I had never seen before, and they offer unique insights to events at the Polish concentration camps, such as the crematorium ovens at Majdanek where the oven doors are exposed in the open and huge piles of human bones are sat waiting to be loaded into the ovens.


This title is not a book that holds a great deal of appeal to me, but for the modeller who wishes to depict this aspect of WWII the information will prove invaluable in getting the details just right. You don’t have to show people being brutalised or terminated to tell a story, as simply showing a portion of the crematorium will tell the story, without being graphic in nature. For everybody else this book is worth looking at, as it does show you what total war can be like.



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