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Defense Documents

Evidence for the Implementation of the Final Solution: Electronic Edition, by Browning, Christopher R.

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III. Implementation of the Final Solution

The Nazi regime implemented the Final Solution or mass murder of the European Jews caught within its empire primarily by two methods--shooting and gassing. In the territories occupied by Germany after June 22, 1941 (with the exception of the district of Bialystok and partial exception of the district of Galicia), shooting was the most common method employed to kill Jews. The Jews of central and western Poland i.e. the Polish territory held by Germany since September 1939, and those deported from all over Europe to Poland during the war for the most part perished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka, and the gas vans of Chelmno.
3.2The evidence for these killing operations is of four types used commonly by scholars in the writing of history and judicial authorities in the conducting of trials: (1) contemporary documentation; (2) witness testimony recorded later (from survivors, perpetrators, and bystanders); (3) material evidence; and (4) circumstantial evidence. Because the Nazi regime sought to destroy not only the Jews of Europe but also the documentary evidence and material evidence (i.e. the mass graves and death camps), the evidence with which scholars and judicial authorities can work is both less than complete and not symmetrical for the two killing methods. In particular, the documentation of mass killing by shooting in the territories occupied by Germany after June 1941 is quite extensive, while documents relating to gassing   in Poland is scant. For gassing, therefore, witness testimony and circumstantial evidence play a much larger role.