The Nazi Chronicles
Closed for decades, the world's largest Holocaust archive now reveals its secrets
"It's been a long, long way," says Mayer with a sigh. "Emotionally, to see a letter from my father from 1946 was the most heart-rending. To see an original document really resonates. It is phenomenal."
But, disappointingly, the file doesn't include any information on deaths, only deportations. "I was hoping to find out when they died, what was the cause of death," Mayer says. "This doesn't give me the closure I was looking for."
He might, however, have made a grim guess. Belzec, a German concentration camp in what is now southeastern Poland, was one of the Nazis' most efficient killing machines. Between March 17, 1942, and December 1942, at least half a million Jews were gassed and incinerated there, usually within hours of their arrivals.