Treblinka Extermination Camp
Below you can
see photographs taken at Treblinka at the time of World War
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Photographs courtesy of the
USHMM, except where noted.
Jews from Przyrow are deported
to the Treblinka extermination camp.
Czestochowa, Poland, September-October 1942.
Jews load a barrel of water for the trip to
Treblinka onto a deportation train in Skopje.
Skopje, Yugoslavia, March 11- 29, 1943.
Courtesy of the USHMM and the Central Zionist
camp of Treblinka was located 62 miles northeast of
the Polish capital Warsaw, near the village of
Malkinia Gorna, 1.5 miles from the Treblinka
railroad station. The camp was organized in two
subdivisions: Treblinka I and Treblinka II.
Treblinka I was a
forced labor camp
and administrative complex in support of the death
camp. Treblinka I operated between 1941 and 1944. In
this time half of the 20,000 inmates died from
execution, exhaustion, or mistreatment. Treblinka I
inmates worked in either the nearby gravel pit or
Treblinka II was a Nazi German
extermination camp in occupied Poland during World
Between July 1942 and October 1943, around 850,000
people were killed there,
more than 800,000 of whom were
Jews, including several thousand Gypsies and 2,000
The camp was closed
after a revolt during which a few Germans were
killed and a small number of prisoners escaped.
Distant view of smoke from
the Treblinka extermination camp,
set on fire by prisoners during a revolt.
This scene was photographed
by a railway worker.
Treblinka, Poland, August 2, 1943.
Courtesy of the USHMM and
Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz.
Scene during the deportation of Jews
to Treblinka extermination camp.
Lom, Bulgaria, March 1943.
Courtesy of the USHMM and the Central Zionist
Treblinka I was
further divided into two parts: The first
part was the administrative section, which
included barracks for the SS-Totenkopfverbande
guards, the camp commanders' quarters, a
bakery, a storage and barracks for up to 800
prisoners who were used to operate the
camp.The second section of Treblinka I was
the receiving area where the railroad
extended from the Treblinka station into the
camp. There were two barracks near the
tracks that were used to store the
belongings of prisoners; one was disguised
to look like a railway station, complete
with a wooden clock.
There were two other buildings about 100
meters from the track. All of the buildings
were used to contain the clothing and
belongings of the prisoners. One was used as
an undressing room for the women, who were
also shorn of all of their hair. There was a
cashier's office which collected money and
jewelry for "safekeeping". There was also an
"infirmary," where the sick, old, wounded
and already dead were taken. It was a small
barrack painted white with a red cross on
it. There, the prisoners were led to the
edge of a ditch where bodies were
continuously burning. They had to strip
naked and then sit in the edge of the pit
before they were shot in the back of the
head. Then they fell in the ditch and
Treblinka II was on a small hill. From camp
one there was an uphill path (cynically
called Himmelstraße—the Road to
Heaven—by the SS) lined with barbed wire
fences--der Schlauch, "the
tube"—which led directly into the gas
chambers building. Behind this
building there was a large pit, one meter
wide by twenty meters long, inside which
burned fires. Rails were laid across the pit
and the bodies of gassed victims were placed
on the rails to burn. There was also a
barrack for the prisoners who operated camp
At the very beginning, people were buried in
mass graves or piled up in camp II because
the workers did not have time to bury them.
The stench from the decomposing bodies could
be smelled up to ten kilometers away.
Many of the soon-to-be-murdered Jews waiting
in the railway wagons correctly guessed what
would happen to them; thousands instead
chose suicide in the trains over death at
the hands of the Nazis. In September 1942,
new gas chambers were built. These death
chambers could kill three thousand people in
Jews assembled in the Siedlce ghetto during
deportation to the Treblinka camp, forced to march
toward the railway station.
Siedlce, Poland, August 21-24, 1942.
Courtesy of the USHMM and the
Instytut Pamieci Narodowej.
Under guard, Jewish men, women, and children
board trains during deportation from Siedlce to
the Treblinka extermination camp.
Siedlce, Poland, August 1942.
Courtesy of the USHMM and the Dukumentationsarchiv
des Oesterreichischen Widerstandes.
train, victims were pulled from the train,
separated by gender, and ordered to strip
naked. In winter, the temperature often
dropped to -20 °C (-5 °F). The guards chose
who would go to the "infirmary." Jews who
were too resistant to the process were taken
to the infirmary and shot. Women had their
hair cut off before going into the gas
hair was used in the manufacture of
hair-yarn socks for 'U'-boat crews and
hair-felt footwear for the Reichs-railway"
to quote from a directive sent to all
concentration camp commanders in 1942.
chamber had portholes through which the
Germans could watch the victims die.
The victims were gassed with carbon monoxide
generated by diesel engines.
After the gassing of the victims in the gas
chamber, when the doors of the gas chamber
were opened, "the disfigured, bitten
prisoners, with ears torn off, lay on top of
each other in the most varied posture." The
bodies were initially buried in large mass
graves; in a later stage of the camp's
operation, they were burned on open-air
grids made of concrete pillars and railway
tracks. Sometimes, the people were not dead
and began to revive in the fresh air,
especially pregnant women. They were shot by
the guards and burned like the others. Some
800–1,000 bodies were burned at the same
time, and would burn for five hours. The
incinerator operated 24 hours a day.
centers had no other function, unlike
concentration camps where prisoners were
used as forced labor for the German war
effort. The camp was disguised as a railway
station to prevent incoming victims from
realizing their fate, complete with train
schedules, posters of destinations and what
appeared to be a working clock (in reality,
a prisoner would move the hands to the
approximate time before each convoy
The camp and the
process of mass murder is described by
Grossman, a Jewish correspondent serving in
the Red Army, in his work "A Hell Called
Treblinka," which was used as evidence and
distributed at the Nuremberg Trials.
On August 2,
1943, the prisoners in the work details
rebelled. They seized small arms, sprayed
kerosene on all the buildings and set them
ablaze. In the confusion, a number of guards
were killed but many more prisoners
perished. Of 1,500 prisoners, about 600
managed to escape the camp, but only 40 are
known to have survived until the end of the
war. There was also a revolt at Sobibor
two months later.
revolt, Treblinka ceased operation. Camp
commander Kurt Franz
recalled during his testimonies:
"After the uprising in
August 1943 I ran the camp single-handedly
for a month; however, during that period no
gassings were undertaken. It was during that
period that the original camp was leveled
off and lupins were planted."
The camp had been
badly damaged during the uprising, and the
murder of the Polish Jews was also largely
complete. It was decided to shoot the last
of the Jewish prisoners and shut down the
Globocnik wrote to Himmler:
"I have (on October
19, 1943), completed Operation Reinhard, and
have dissolved all the camps."
group of about thirty Jewish girls at
Treblinka was shot at the end of November.