Operation Harvest Festival, Aktion Erntefest
Operation Harvest Festival, in German called Aktion Erntefest, occurred on November 3, 1943, and was the largest mass killing of Jews by Germans in the entire WWII. There is only one massacre that is larger, and that was the 1941 Odessa massacre, where Romanian troops killed more than 50,000 Jews. During the Harvest Festival, about 43,000 Jews were killed. This was one of the last and largest steps in Hitler’s Final Solution. Himmler came to a realization that in order for the Final Solution to come to conclusion, all Jews had to be killed. He also realized that the Jews were becoming more resistant, because they were realizing there was no good end for them; they felt their only possible thing left to do was fight back. Even if they cooperated, they knew that either way they were dead. What I found particularly despicable, amongst all of the terrible things, was that the Jews even had to dig the trenches, where their own bodies would soon lie. They killed men, women, and even children. These killings occurred at three locations: Majdanek, Trawniki, and Poniatowa. The SS soldiers, including those in Reserve Police Battalion 101 as we read about, marched Jews a few kilometers out to the trenches and killed them group-by-group, where their bodies laid into the trenches. What I also found particularly disturbing was that they would play music over the loud speakers system in an attempt to drown out the sound of the shooting.
 Christopher R. Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1998), 135.
 Browning, 137.
 Browning, 140.
Author: Unknown. Majdanek – Aktion Erntefest. 1944. Majdanek Museum. Permission: PD-Polish. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Majdanek_-_Aktion_Erntefest_(1943).jpg