The Extermination Camp at Treblinka in which hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered was built in the spring of 1942 near an existing penal labour camp and covered an area of 17 hectares. The camp was surrounded by a high barbed wire fence camouflaged with interwoven greenery to hide what was happening inside. Anti-tank obstacles and rolls of barbed wire were placed outside the fence. Watch towers were additionally positioned around the camp.

Treblinka was initially supervised by SS-Obersturmfuhrer Imfried Eberl. SS-Obersturmfuhrer Franz Stangl replaced him in August 1942 with Kurt Franz as deputy commandant.

The first railway transports of victims destined for destruction arrived at the Treblinka camp on June 22, 1942, and from that time there was a constant stream of fresh arrivals.

The Holocaust Children

The women had their hair cut off, the naked men, women and children were directed on to the road leading to the gas-chambers, being told that they were going to the baths. At first the victims were ordered to take a zloty each in their hands as bath fee, the better to deceive them up to the last moment the money being collected by an Ukrainian in a hut by the way, but later this practice was stopped.

Holocaust Photos

In front of the entrance to the gas-chambers there were usually several Ukrainians standing by with dogs, who cruelly drove the victims in, often wounding them with knives. The victims were driven into the gas-chambers with their hands up, so that as many might be squeezed in as possible, and small children were piled on top.

An SS-man Hitreider specialized in killing infants, seizing them by the legs and killing them with one blow on the head against a fence ...

The actual gassing in the chambers lasted about 15 minutes. After the state of the victims had been observed through a special small window, the doors on the outside of the building were opened, and the corpses, being so closely packed inside, fell out of their own weight on to the ground. Instantly the workers removed them, and prepared the place for the next batch.

At first the corpses were buried in pits, but afterwards they were burnt. Only a few hours passed between the arrival of a train-load by the branch line and their gassing. 

When asked during his later trial how many people could be murdered in one day, Franz Stangl, Commandant of Treblinka, answered:

"Regarding the question of the optimum amount of people gassed in one day, I can state: according to my estimation a transport of thirty freight cars with 3,000 people was liquidated in three hours. When the work lasted for about fourteen hours, 12,000 to 15,000 people were annihilated. There were many days that the work lasted from the early morning until the evening . . . I have done nothing to anybody that was not my duty. My conscience is clear.' " 

Treblinka was in reality just a place of mass execution - a deathcamp like Auschwitz. After New Year, 1943, the number of transports began to diminish. In February or March, 1943, Himmler visited Treblinka, and after this the eradication of all traces of the crime by wholesale burning of corpses began.

It has been estimated that about 850,000 people were killed here. Jews from occupied Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, Yugoslavia and the USSR, as well as from Germany and Austria. Polish and German Gypsies were also sent to Treblinka.

The Treblinka death camp was finally closed in November, 1943.











German Crimes in Poland. Volume I., Warsaw, 1946

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