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Pope notes 80 years since ‘Operation’ to kill Polish Jews: “And history repeats itself”


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 12/07/22

Operation Reinhard was the deadliest phase of the Nazi terror.

Pope Francis noted that this week, the Center for Catholic-Jewish Relations at the Catholic University of Lublin commemorated the anniversary of “Operation Reinhard.”

That “operation” was the codename for the Nazis’ plan to exterminate the Jewish people of Poland, and the deadliest phase of their extermination program. It began in the fall of 1941 and extended through the final stage, the November 3-4, 1943, “Operation Harvest Festival,” where remaining prisoners were shot.

According to the Holocaust Encyclopedia, in total, approximately 1.7 million Jews were killed as part of Operation Reinhard. “Of those, approximately 1.5 million were murdered in the [three] Operation Reinhard killing centers. The other Jewish victims were killed in related mass shootings. The victims of the Operation Reinhard camps also included an unknown number of Poles, Roma, and Soviet POWs.”

Those who commanded the operation were trained through a euthanasia program, whereby the Nazis killed people with disabilities using gas.

The Pope offered a prayerful reflection in his comments to Polish-speaking pilgrims at the December 7, 2022, general audience:

May the memory of this horrific event arouse in all of us resolutions and actions for peace. And history repeats itself, repeats itself. Let us now see what happens in Ukraine. Let us pray for peace. I heartily bless you here present and your countrymen.

HistoryPope FrancisWorld War II
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