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Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Yad Vashem Studies XVI:  Operation Reinhard (8/11)
Summary: Treblinka - from July 23 to August 28, 1942
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Nizkor Project, Vancouver Island, CANADA
Keywords: Yad Vashem,belzec,sobibor,treblinka
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Archive/File: orgs/israeli/yad-vashem/yvs16.02
Last-modified: 1993/03/29
XRef: yad_vashem index

                       YAD VASHEM STUDIES
                              XVI
                     Edited by Aharon Weiss

                          YAD VASHEM
           MARTYR'S AND HEROES' REMEMBRANCE AUTHORITY
                        JERUSALEM 1984

                    "Operation Reinhard": 
       Extermination Camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka

                         Yitzhak Arad 

        Treblinka -- from July 23 until August 28, 1942 

   The procedure adopted upon the arrival of the trains was the same as
   that in Sobibor: two German railroad workers, classified as being
   reliable, took over the transport from the Treblinka station to the
   extermination camp, a distance of 4 km.  The Pole Franciszek Zabecki
   described the arrival of the deportation train from the Warsaw
   ghetto: 

      A small locomotive stood ready in the railroad station to
      transport the first section of freight cars into the carnp.
      Everything had been planned and prepared in advance.  The train
      consisted of 60 closed freight cars fully loaded with people:
      young ones, old ones, men and women, children and babies.  The car
      doors were locked from the outside and the air holes covered with
      barbed wire.  On the running boards on both sidej and on the roof
      about a dozen SS-soldiers stood or lay with machine guns at the
      ready.  It was hot and most of the people in the freight cars were
      deadly exhausted...  As the train came nearer it seemed as if an
      evil spirit had taken hold of the waiting SS-men.  They drew their
      pistols, returned them to their holsters, pulled them out agian,
      as if they wanted to shoot and kill.  They approached the freight
      cars and tried to reduce the noise and the weeping; but then they
      screamed at the Jews and cursed them, all the while urging the
      railroad workers to hurry: "Quick, faster!" After that they
      returned to the camp in order to receive the deportees.
      (Franciszek Zabecki, 'Wspomnienia dawne i nowe', Warsaw, 1977 pp.
      39 f)

      As the train approached the extermination camp, the engine blew a
   prolonged whistle which was the signal for the Ukrainians to man
   their position in the reception sector and on the roofs of the
   buildings.  One group of SS-men and Ukrainians took up positions on
   the station platform.  As soon as the train was moving along the
   tracks inside the camp, the gates behind it were closed.  The
   deportees were taken out of the freight cars and conducted through a
   gate to a fenced-in square inside the camp.  At the gate they were
   separated: men to the right, women and children to the left.  A large
   placard announced in Polish and German: 

       Attention Warsaw Jews!  You are in a transit camp from which the
       transport will continue to labor camps.  To prevent epidemics,
       clothing as well as pieces of baggage are to be handed over for
       disinfection.  Gold, money, foreign currency, and jewellery are to
       be deposited at the "Cash Office" against a receipt.  They will be
       returned later on presentation of the receipt.  For physical
       cleanliness, all arrivals must have a bath before travelling on.
       (Verdict of LG Dusseldorf AZ 81 Ks 2/64, p. 81.) 

   The undressing procedure and the manner in which the victims were led
   to the gas chambers were almost identical to those described for the
   Sobibor camp.

   During this first phase, from the beginning to the middle of August,
   5,000 - 7,000 Jews arrived every day in Treblinka.  Then the pace of
   the transports increased; there were days on which 10,000 - 12,000
   deportees reached the camp, together with thousands who were already
   dead and others who were utterly exhausted.

   Abraham Goldfarb, who arrived there on August 25, described the
   scene:

      When we arrived in Treblinka and the Germans opened the
      freight cars we beheld a horrible sight. The car was full of
      corpses.  The bodies were partly decomposed by chlorine. The
      stench in the cars made those still alive choke.  The Germans
      ordered everyone to get out; those still able to do so were half
      dead.  Waiting SS and Ukrainians beat us and shot at us...

      On the way to the gas chambers Germans with dogs stood along the
      fence on both sides.  The dogs had been trained to attack people;
      they bit the men's genitals and the women's breasts, ripping off
      pieces of flesh.  The Germans hit the people with whips and iron
      bars to spur them on so that they pressed forward into the
      "showers" as quickly as possible.  The screams of the women could
      be heard far away, even in the other parts of the camp. The
      Germans drove the running victims on with shouts of: "Faster,
      faster, the water will get cold, others still have to go under the
      showers!" To escape from the blows, the victims ran to the gas
      chambers as quickly as they could, the stronger ones pushing the
      weaker aside.  At the entrance to the gas chambers stood the two
      Ukrainians, Ivan Demaniuk and Nikolai, one of them armed with an
      iron bar, the other with a sword.  They drove the people inside
      with blows...  As soon as the gas chambers were full, the
      Ukrainians closed the doors and started the engine.  Some 20-25
      minutes later an SS-man or a Ukrainian looked through a window in
      the door.  When they had ascertained that everyone had been
      asphyxiated, the Jewish prisoners had to open the doors and remove
      the corpses.  Since the chambers were overcrowded and the victims
      held on to one another, they all stood upright and were like one
      single block of flesh.  (Yad Vashem Archives 0-3/2140) 

   Breakdowns and interruptions occurred in the operation of the gas
   chambers.  During the initial phase the personnel did not know how
   long it would take to asphyxiate the victims.  On occasion the doors
   were opened too early and the victims were still alive, so that the
   doors had to be closed again.  The engines which produced the gas
   occasionally failed.  If such mishaps occurred when the victims were
   already inside the gas chambers, they were left standing there until
   the engines had been repaired.  Some 268,000 Jews met their deaths in
   the first extermination wave in Treblinka, which lasted five
   weeks--from July 23 to August 28.

    The gas chambers with their technical breakdowns were unable to cope
   with such enormous numbers.  Those who could not be pressed inside
   were shot in the reception camp.  Many prisoners and additional
   ditches were needed in order to bury all those who had been shot, in
   addition to the thousands who had died during the transports.  An
   excavator from the gravel pit in the nearby Treblinka punishment camp
   was used for digging additional mass graves.

   But this did not solve the problem and at the end of August chaos
   still reigned in Treblinka.  Reports of what went on in the camp
   reached headquarters.  Globocnik and Wirth arrived, assessed the
   situation, and dismissed Eberl, the camp commandant.  Stangl, from
   Sobibor, who was without work because of repairs on the tracks, was
   appointed commandant of Treblinka.


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