Feeling a bit lazy today, I'm just going to post something about the Action Reinhard Camps that I posted on Skeptics.
In this post I wanted to discuss how food and the lack there of led to the murder of some two million Polish Jews, most of them in the Action Reinhard Camps in 1942.
At this point my primary source is Gerlach's "The Extermination of the European Jews." This is from the section of the book titled "Logics of Persecution," Chapter 9, "Hunger Policies and Mass Murder." I will also include other sources where I can.
A major concern for Adolf Hitler and others within the Nazi Government was the morale of the German people. Hitler believed that food scarcity drove the discontent of the Germans during WW I, causing unrest and later revolution. He wanted to avoid this by making sure that Germany was always well supplied with food and it was a driving consideration for the seizure of Ukraine, a breadbasket he thought the Soviets poorly managed (Snyder, Bloodlands). This also extended to the annexed Polish lands, Greiser described them as a "grain factory," words that accurately described what Hitler and Goering wanted from those regions (as well as supplying Polish workers and lands for resettlement).
The problem was that the General Government itself was a food deficit area, exacerbated by the concentration of German troops in 1941 in preparation for the invasion of the Soviet Union. This influx of troops led to drastic cuts in official rations for both Poles and Jewish Poles, with the Jews left with the lowest official rations. This led to a massive increase in starvation related deaths in the closed Warsaw Ghetto.
As a result, both Jewish and non-Jewish Poles began to heavily rely on the black market. Jews had less opportunities to utilize the black market because they could not move about freely, had fewer opportunities for employment and saw their cash and asset reserves dwindle. In 1941 the civil administration enacted a new order authorizing the shooting of Jews found outside the ghettos without a permit.
The Germans became concerned over this for the following reasons:
1) Farmers preferred to sell their products on the black market because they profited a great deal by these transactions.