The Germans demanded lists of deportees for Treblinka from the Judenrat.
If they refused, Germans could select anyone in any fashion…
“ The Council faced problems of conscience and responsibility at the same time…There were two alternatives…Either to comply, announce the Gestapo order to the ghetto inhabitants; or openly sabotage the order by disregarding it. The Council felt that if it followed the first alternative, part of the ghetto might yet be rescued at least for a time. Should, however, the other alternative be chosen, heavy measures of persecution would follow against the entire ghetto, and possibly its immediate liquidation might result.”
Conditions in the Ghetto
Located in impoverished part of the city.
Dilapidated housing with no electricity or water.
30% of the population squeezed in 2.4% of the city’s area.
Population density: 9.2 people per room.
128,000 people per square kilometer.
Inside the Warsaw ghetto
Warsaw and Lodz housed 1/3 of the Polish Jews under Nazi control.
Lack of food a major problem.
Malnutrition and disease rampant.
“ The situation in the Jewish quarter is catastrophic. The corpses of those who have died of starvation lie in the streets. The death rate, 80% from malnutrition, has tripled since February. The only thing that is issued to the Jews is 1.5 lbs of bread per week…” Oberfeldkommandant , May 1941 Warsaw Jews dead from malnutrition and epidemic
Liquidation of the Ghetto
Immediately after completion of Treblinka the Grosse Umsiedlungsaktion [Great Resettlement Action] started on July 22, 1942.
By December 31, 1942, Warsaw became a Sammellager (de facto concentration camp).
Jews were being rounded up for “deportation,” “evacuation,” “relocation,” and “resettlement in the East.”
The Aktion Reinhard squad oversaw the selection process in Warsaw and those who were too old, too young, or mentally and physically handicapped were “relocated” to Treblinka.
Jews being deported to Treblinka
July 22, 1942: German Conditions for the “Resettlement in the East”
The main orders for “cleaning up” the ghetto were:
All Jews will be resettled to the East, regardless of age and sex;
With the exception of:
Jews working for German companies.
Jews working for the Judenrat.
Jewish hospitals’ staff.
Members of the Jewish Order Service.
Patients of a Jewish hospital on the day of resettlement.
Jews were ordered to bring all valuables: Gold, jewelry, money, etc.
July 24, 1942: German order for 10,000 Jews and children for the “Children’s Transport”
Posters were hung up
Each person who will volunteer for resettlement will get 3 kg of bread and 1 kg of marmalade.
In July 1942, 64,606 Jews were deported to Treblinka.
[This number does not include those shot in the streets and in houses during the “cleaning” of buildings.]
Warsaw after Liquidation Warsaw Jews rounded up for deportation to Treblinka
Daily Statistics about the Deportations from Warsaw Ghetto to the Death Camp Treblinka
TRANSIT CAMP TOTAL
Treblinka was located in the northeastern region of the Generalgouvernement .
It was erected at the junction of the Warsaw-Bialystok Railway Line , just northwest of Treblinka village and its railway halt.
This area was heavily wooded and well hidden from view.
WarsawBialystok Line Branch to Treblinka
FIND ID CARDS FIND ARTICLES MAPSTreblinka German administration of Europe, 1942 Extermination camps in occupied Poland, 1942 Treblinka environs, spring 1943 Treblinka camp, spring 1943
Significance of Location
It was easy to branch a track off the Warsaw-Bialystok Railway.
Jews would be more at ease, believing they were familiar with the rail routes.
The Germans also built a fake railway station at Treblinka, with ticket windows, timetables, and signs that said “To Warsaw.”
They wanted to lull victims into believing they were at a Transit Camp.
It became very easy to transport thousands of Jews over the short distance from Warsaw or Bialystok to Treblinka.
When other ghettos were closed, all Jews in Northen Poland were sent to Warsaw as part of Operation Reinhard. From there it was easy access to Treblinka.
Originally, during the summer of 1941, Treblinka served as a Forced Labor Camp .
Treblinka was constructed in a densely wooded area in order to naturally conceal the camp.
It was a penal camp and held 1000-1200 Polish/Jewish detainees for forced labor.
Main Gate of Treblinka
Early May, 1942: The SS Team Arrives!
SS Obersturmfüher , Richard Thomalla.
By late May/early June
Construction of the Death Camp begins
Created 3 zones:
Wohnlager [Living area]
Treblinka II: An Aktion Reinhard Death Camp [Extermination of the Polish Jews] Opens July 1942
Majority=Polish Jews from Warsaw
Others: 7,000 Slovakia
7,000 Macedonia Portion of Bulgaria
Treblinka High Command:
Inspector of all Aktion Reinhard death camps.
SS Number: 345-464
Wirth was inspector and commander of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka.
It was Wirth who developed the system of the extermination at these camps.
He introduced a reign of terror at his Aktion Reinhard camps, and was so cruel, he became known as “Christian the Terrible” by his subordinates.
His killing system enabled the murder of tens of thousands of Jews every day in the three death camps under his jurisdiction.
Commandant’s living quarters
Ukranian guards’ living quarters
Service buildings for SS
Barracks for domestic staff
Building for sorting gold and valuables
SS living quarters
Service storage buildings
Stables and livestock area
Barracks for Kapos, women prisoners
Barracks for male prisoners
Assembly area for prisoners (roll call)
Entrances to reception area
Entrance for guards
17. Station platform
18. Storehouse for victims’ property
19. Burial pits
20. Executioin site [disguised as a hospital]
21. Reception square [sorting area]
23. Cremation pyres
24. Deportation area
25. Barracks where women undressed, surrendered their valuables, and had head shaved
26. Barracks where men undressed
27. Approach to the gas chambers
28. Ten new gas chambers
29. Three old gas chambers
30. Cremation pyres
31. Barracks for prisoners
Franz Stangl, former commander of the Sobibor death camp, became commander of Treblinka.
He received an official commendation for being the “best camp commander in Poland.”
He oversaw the entire camp system; from arrival to cremation.
SS squads received prisoners with clubs and whips on a platform when deportations arrived.
Willy Mätzig [a book-keeper and accountant] told them that “they were a resettlement transport, that they would be given a bath and that they would receive new clothes. They were also instructed to maintain quiet and discipline. They were told they would continue their journey the following day.”
Sorting the Sick from the Strong
After departing the train, new arrivals were taken to a reception area.
Ill or weak arrivals, unaccompanied children, and injured persons were led to the Lazarett [a small execution site].
Victims’ belongings were brought to two sorting barracks.
All others were brought to a fenced in area called Entkleidungsplatz [Undressing Square]
Hermann Michel sorted the sick from the strong.
He wore a white overcoat in order to appear like a doctor.
He welcomed arriving victims and told the Jews they had arrived at a Labor camp .
Michel told those selected as “strong” that in order to have proper hygienic conditions, they had to be disinfected and had to shower.
Hermann Michel Sorting yard
Sorting Barracks 'Sortierungsplatz'
While the arrivals were being sorted and brought to the Lazarett or the “Disinfecting Chambers,” their belongings were brought to the Sorting Barracks.
There, officers such as Max Bree , supervised Jewish workers who were made to sort valuables and other belongings.
Laponder depiction of Sorting Area Peters depiction of Sorting Barracks
Willi Mentz was assigned to supervise the Lazarett. His victims, those deemed sick by Hermann Michel, were seated together in front of a large, fiery mass grave. They were shot and pushed into the fires.
One of Mentz’s greatest killers was Paul Bredow, known by the Jews as “Gunman.” It is believed that he single-handedly murdered thousands of Jews. Similar mass grave at Bergen-Belson
Undressing Stations Franz Suchomel Healthy men and women were separated and then officers, such as Franz Suchomel , would make them undress and women’s hair was cut off. The victims’ clothes would be gathered and then, once naked, the groups would be led to their next destination.
The Tube A camouflaged, fenced-in path, known as the "tube," led from the Undressing Stations to the gas chamber entrance, located in the killing area. Victims were forced to run naked along this path to the gas chambers, deceptively labeled as showers.
Gas Chambers Heinrich Matthes was the chief officer of Camp II and the Gas Chambers. He had his Sonderkomando convince the victims to enter the “shower area,” the chamber doors were sealed, and an engine installed outside the building pumped carbon monoxide into the gas chambers, killing everyone inside.
Destruction of the corpses Herbert Floss was the cremation expert for the Aktion Reinhard. He was commander of camp II in Treblinka. “ The cremation took place in such a way that railway lines and concrete blocks were placed together. The corpses were piled on these rails. Brushwood was put under the rails. The wood was doused with petrol. In that way not only the newly accumulated corpses were cremated, but also those taken out from the graves.” ~ Heinrich Matthes Cremation at Treblinka
August 28th, 1942 Aktion Reinhard Headquarters, led by Christian Wirth, intervenes to reorganize Treblinka.
No more room to unload
Too many corpses
Suspension of transports
Have Jews still at camp clean up the bodies
Similar to Sobibor
August 2, 1943
Of 850 at the camp:
100 captured alive in the camp
350-400 Killed inside camp of near fences
Half were killed in the first 24 hours
Of the 200 that survived, 100 escaped successfully
The camp only ran for 1 year…
By fall 1943, evacuation of the camp began.
Orders were given to destroy the camp so that the were NO TRACES OF EXISTENCE .
A farm was built to cover up where the camp was.
Officers gave it to a Ukrainian farmer to run for an income.
Total victims was approximately 800,000
Destruction of Treblinka Treblinka survivors 1945 photo by Russian and Polish investigators after destruction Mass graves that had been covered up. Photo taken 1945 Gas chamber remains Human remains
“The Anthem of Treblinka”
Untitled Art by Maryl Winningham
Until Dec 1942, prisoners could help themselves to the food brought in by transportees, once stopped starvation.
6 cooked potatoes w/peel
Slice of bread for the morning
Treblinka Today All photos from Treblinka Memorial’s site: http:// fcit . usf . edu /Holocaust/RESOURCE/GALLERY/TREBLINK.HTM
Entrance to Treblinka Memorial
Memorial Plaque at Entrance
Edge of trail path Edge of train platform
Location of former tracks Symbolic railroad ties
Station view to center monument Path from station to monument
Stones representing countries deported to the camp 17,000 stones represented the lost Jewish communities
Center Monument “ Never Again” in six languages
Arad, Yitzhak. Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps . Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1987.