Beginning in 1940, the Nazis established 16 forced labor camps in the Lublin district of Poland. The Lublin district was intended to become an agricultural center. Except for Krychów forced labor camp, these camps used existing structures – such as abandoned schools, factories, or farms – to imprison the laborers. Krychów was the largest of the 16 camps and had been built before World War II as a detention camp for Polish prisoners. In 1942, Sobibor extermination camp was built near the forced labor camps.

By 1942, the Nazis had decided to undertake the Final Solution. Operation Reinhard would be the first step in the systematic liquidation of the Jews in Europe; beginning with those within the General Government. Bełżec, Sobibor and Treblinka were created solely to efficiently kill thousands of people. These camps differed from the likes of Auschwitz-Birkenau or Majdanek because these also operated as forced-labour camps.