Treblinka Extermination Camp is a former Nazi
German concentration camp situated near a small village of Treblinka
in Masovian Voivodeship in North- East Poland. Treblinka Concentration Camp was build in April- July
1942. It was part of the Final Solution inspired by Himmler, one of
the most prominent aides of Adolf Hitler. Extermination of everyone
who didn't fit racial, religious or ideological dogmas of the Third
Reich was the main purpose of its establishment. During its
operational history between 22 July 1942 and 19 October 1943 about
800,000 to 1,200,000 were murdered under supervision of SS-
Totenkopfverbande (Death Skull Squad).
Camp History The order to build the Treblinka
extermination camp was given by SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler to
the head of the Warsaw District SS Arpad Wiegand on April 17, 1942.
The construction of the camp began in late May 1942.
area was 24 hectares, it was surrounded by a double fence 3 meters
high, as well as a moat 3 meters deep. The first 3 gas chambers with
an area of 48 m² were built on the same principle as in the
Sobibor death camp. On July 22, 1942, the eviction of Jews from the
Warsaw ghetto and the eastern regions of the Warsaw region to the
Treblinka-I camp began.
In August-October 1942, ten
additional gas chambers were built with a total area of 320 m².
The camp staff consisted of 30 members of the SS and about 100
Wachmans - Germans, Russians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Bulgarians,
Poles, residents of Asian Soviet republics. Basically, the
protection consisted of prisoners of the former Red Army soldiers.
Currently, Polish historians are creating a list of those
responsible for the killings in Treblinka. Survivor in Treblinka
Samuel Wilenberg said in an interview that the guards consisted of
“SS” (“SS”) and “Ukrainians”, and the former “kept separate from the
Ukrainians and also watched them”, as “they could not be left
From the victims, until the last moment,
they concealed that death awaited them. This allowed in most cases
to prevent acts of resistance. Many Jews from Western and Central
Europe arrived at the camp on ordinary passenger trains (according
to the tickets they bought), hoping that they would be taken to a
new place of residence. Jews from Eastern Europe were brought in
clogged freight cars, under guard, without giving water and food.
After being filled with people, exhaust gas from the engine of a
heavy tank was fed into chambers disguised as showers (another way
was pumping air from the chambers). Death came from suffocation
within half an hour. The bodies of those killed were first buried in
large collective graves, but in the spring of 1943, after visiting
Himmler’s camp, cremation furnaces were installed in the camp.
Himmler ordered all the bodies of the dead to be dug up and burned,
and for the newly killed to be burned, not buried.
2, 1943, in Treblinka-2, those prisoners whose lives were
temporarily saved to ensure the functioning of the camp raised a
carefully planned uprising, as a result of which some of them
managed to escape, and 54 were able to testify after the territory
came under the control of the anti-Hitler coalition. But many
prisoners were captured and killed. The camp itself, as planned by
the Nazis, was liquidated, the remains of the structures were
dismantled, the territory was seeded with lupins. Among the few
surviving participants in the uprising were Samuel Wallenberg, who
wrote the book The Uprising in Treblinka (died February 20, 2016 in
Israel) after the war, and Richard Glazar, who left the
recollections of Hell Behind the Green Fence.
After the war
In search of gold and jewelry, Polish peasants dug up the remains of
Jews from mass graves near Treblinka. Historian Jan Gross argues
that "looting during the Second World War was massive in Poland."
V. S. Grossman in his book “Treblin Hell” concludes the reasons
that prompted Himmler to personally visit Treblinka and give an
order to cremate the bodies, despite the complexity of this
procedure: “There was only one reason - the Stalingrad victory of
the Red Army. Apparently, the force of the Russian strike on the
Volga was terrible if, after a few days in Berlin, for the first
time they thought about responsibility, retaliation, and reckoning,
if Himmler himself flew by plane to Treblinka and ordered to
immediately notice the traces of crimes committed sixty kilometers
from Warsaw. Such an echo caused a mighty blow by the Russians to
the Germans on the Volga. ”
Some of those responsible for the
killings were brought to trial: in 1951, a court in Frankfurt
sentenced Heathreiter to life imprisonment. Two processes took place
in Dusseldorf (Germany). At the first trial (October 1964 - August
1965), ten SS men were tried. The deputy commandant of the camp,
Kurt Franz, and three other defendants were sentenced to life
imprisonment, five to sentences of three to 12 years, and one was
acquitted. At another trial (May-December 1970), former camp
commandant F. Stangl, arrested in Brazil and extradited to Germany,
was sentenced to life imprisonment.
List of some famous prisoners Korczak, Janusz
(1878-1942) - Polish teacher, writer, doctor and public figure of
Jewish origin. He was executed along with pupils from the orphanage
"House of Orphans" on August 5 or 6, 1942. Pullman, Simon
(1890-1942) - Polish musician, violinist, conductor, music teacher,
founder and leader of a music ensemble and chamber orchestra.
Zamenhof, Sofya Lazarevna (1889-1942) - Polish Esperantist, daughter
of Lazarus Zamenhof.
Memorial At the site of Treblinka-2
camp, a monument-mausoleum and a symbolic cemetery were built.
In Tel Aviv, at the Nahalat Yitzhak cemetery, a memorial was
erected in memory of the victims of the Treblinka death camp.