The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Operation Reinhard:
Geographic Location: Treblinka


Treblinka, the third Reinhard camp, was located about fifty miles northeast of Warsaw, and was established during June and July, 1942. Killing began on July 23, with the Jews of the Warsaw and Radom districts the victims. The design was similar to that described above, for Sobibor. (Get pub/orgs/israeli/yad-vashem/ yvs16.05 for construction details) There were three gas chambers initially, each 4 meters by 4 meters in size. Ten more were built between the end of August, 1942, and the beginning of October of the same year. Upon their completion, an entire load of twenty railroad cars could be gassed at the same time - roughly 2400 victims per day. A prisoner describes the beginning of his journey to the camp:

The first transport of 'deportees' left Malkinia on July 23, 1942, in the morning hours. ...It was loaded with Jews from the Warsaw ghetto.

... The train was made up of sixty closed cars, crowded with people. The car doors were locked from the outside and the air apertures barred with barbed wire. ...It was hot, and most of the people in the freight cars were in a faint. (Zabecki, 39-40, as cited in Arad, Belzec)

The killing was about to begin....

During this early period, before mid-August, 5,000 to 7,000 Jews arrived in Treblinka every day. Then the situation changed, the pace of transports increased, and there were days when 10,000 to 12,000 deportees arrived, including thousands who had died en route and others in a state of exhaustion. This state of affairs disrupted the "quiet welcome" designed to deceive the deportees into believing they had arrived at a transit station and that before continuing their journey to a labour camp they must be disinfected. Blows and shooting were needed to force those still alive but exhausted to descend from the freight cars and proceed to the square and the undressing barracks.(Arad, Belzec) Abrahman Goldfarb, who arrived at the camp on August 25th., relates:

"When we reached Treblinka and the Germans opened the freight-car doors, the scene was ghastly. The cars were full of corpses. The bodies had been partially consumed by chlorine. The stench from the cars caused those still alive to choke. The Germans ordered everyone to disembark from the cars; those who could were half-dead. SS and Ukrainians waiting nearby beat us and shot at us ..." (A. Goldfarb testimony, Yad Vashem Archives 0-3/1846, 12-13, as cited in Arad, Belzec)

Oskar Berger, who was brought to Treblinka on August 22, described the scene:
"As we disembarked we witnessed a horrible sight: hundreds of bodies lying all around. Piles of bundles, clothes, valises, everything mixed together. SS soldiers, Germans, and Ukrainians were standing on the roofs of barracks and firing indiscriminately into the crowd. Men, women, and children fell bleeding. The air was filled with screaming and weeping. Those not wounded by the shooting were forced through an open gate, jumping over the dead and wounded, to a square fenced with barbed wire." (Kogon, 218, as cited in Arad, Belzec)

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