From the Record of Interrogation of the Defendant
February 20, 1945. I, Lieutenant EPPEL’, Investigator of the
Fourth Department of the “SMERSH” Directorate of
Counterintelligence of the Second Belorussian front
interrogated as defendant –
LELEKO, Pavel Vladimirovich, born in 1922, native of the
village of Chaplinka, Chaplinka district, Nikolayev Region,
Ukrainian, citizen of the USSR.
The interrogation began at 10.10 a.m.
Question: What was the purpose of the Treblinka camp?
Answer: A camp is not a quite precise definition of what
was there in reality. This was not a camp, because not
counting the servicing crews, nobody was housed there, but
it was an especially equipped factory for the mass
extermination of people.
Question: How long were you in service in the Treblinka
Answer: I was in service in the Treblinka camp for one
year, from September 1942 to September 1943.
Question: What position did you hold there?
Answer: In the [**69] Treblinka camp I held the
position of a guard.
Question: Where was the Treblinka camp located?
Answer: The Treblinka camp was located some 500 meters
from the Malkinia-Kosow highway, about two-three km from the
Treblinka railroad station, at the edge of a forest. To the
West of the camp, some two km away, there is the village of
Question: Describe the exterior appearance of the camp?
Answer: The Treblinka camp is divided into two parts:
Camp no.1, or as the prisoners called it, the “death camp”,
and the worker’s camp, called Camp no.2. The camps were
situated at a distance of some 2-3 km from each other.
Question: What did the “death camp” look like?
Answer: The “death camp” was located on an area of about
7-8 hectares, which was fenced in by two rows of barbed wire
reaching 3 (three) meters in height. Beyond the barbed wire
stretched a continuous line of metallic anti-tank obstacles
enmeshed in barbed wire. The entire area of the camp, in the
shape of an irregular quadrangle, was divided into three
sections by rows of barbed wire. The barbed wire was
intertwined with bushes and branches in order to prevent the
possibility of seeing from one section [**70] into the
Question: What did the first section of the “death camp”
Answer: The first section of the “death camp” contained
all the service buildings of the servicing personnel. There
were there four barracks housing the Russian and Ukrainian
guards, three barracks housing the Germans who directed the
mass extermination of the people. The commander of the camp
and his secretary lived in a separate barrack. Right by the
barbed wire separating the first section from the second and
the third stood the barrack surrounded by barbed wire in
which were housed some 1000 prisoners condemned to death.
They were called the “worker crew” and were used to service
the camp. In addition to the above mentioned barracks there
were also two barracks one of which served as storage area
and bakery in which the prisoners worked, and the other as a
dining room for the Russians. A branch road led from the
Malkinia-Kosow highway to the first section of the camp.
Question: What did the second section of the “death camp”
Answer: The second section of the “death camp” was the
receiving point of the doomed prisoners. A railroad branch
extended here from Treblinka village. [**71] Near the
railroad stood two wooden barracks in which the belongings
and clothing of the people to be exterminated were stored.
One of the barracks had been given the appearance of a
railroad station. A wooden facsimile of a clock had been
nailed above it. Prior to each arrival of a fresh batch of
people, one of the prisoners climbed on the roof of the
barrack and moved the arms of the clock to make it show the
time corresponding approximately to the actual time. A
wooden sign representing a hammer and saw was nailed above
the clock. Below the clock was a small panel on which the
sechedule [sic] of departure of trains for L’vov, Rovno,
Dnepropetrovsk, Tarnopol” [sic] and other Ukrainian cities
was written in several languages. Still further down were
small windows above one of which was a sign that read
“cashsinr,” and above the other, another sign that read
“station master”. All this decoration was made in order to
delude the people brought here to die. To complete the
illusion, there were also large posters reading “Palestine
waits for you”, “the Ukraine will give you work and bread”
and other slogans and appeals.
* * *
Two more barracks stood about 70-100 meters from [**72]
the above mentioned two barracks situated by the railroad
branch and serving as storage space for belongings and
clothing of the doomed prisoners. One of these two barracks
served as an undressing place for the women. The men were
undressed near the other barrack, right there on the street,
winter and summer. The food, belonging [sic] and clothing
taken from the doomed prisoners were stored inside this
second barrack. Inside the women’s undressing room there was
also a so -called “cashier’s office” where the women were
ordered to hand over their money, jewelry, and valuable
[sic] for “safekeeping”. Beyond the “cashier’s office” booth
was a fenced in area where the hair of the women was cut.
Men handed over their valuables and money also in a special
“cashier’s office” situated not far from the second barrack.
Both barracks were fenced in by barbed
A road led from the undressing rooms [sic] the third
section of the “death camp” and terminated at the building
where the extermination of people took place.
Question: What did the third section of the “death camp”
Answer: The road from the undressing rooms, fenced on
both sides by barbed wire intertwined with branches [**73]
led to the gas chamber building where people were
exterminated with gas obtained from running diesel engines.
As the people directed to the gas chambers were told that
they were being taken to a bath-house, the outward
appearance of the gas chamber building was also made to
resemble a bath house. It was a single storied brick
building, its exterior covered with plaster and whitewashed.
It was about 25 meters long and 15 meters wide. The entrance
to the building was ornate and there were stucco moldings.
Flowers grew right by in long boxes. There was no door at
the entrance. Instead of it there was a heavy hanging made
from a rug. Beyond it started a narrow passage which ended
at the opposite wall. To the right and to the left of the
passage there were five doors that closed hermetically and
led into the special chambers where the poisoning took
place. The chambers were about six meters long and as wide,
about two to five-three meters high. In the center of
the ceiling there was an electric light bulb in which there
was no wiring and there were two “shower” heads through
which poisonous gas was fed into the chamber.
The walls, floor and ceiling of the chamber were of
cement. On the [**74] opposite side to the entrance door
there was another, likewise hermetically closing door,
through which the bodies of the poisoned people were
removed. As many as 500 men, women and children were pushed
into the chambers indiscriminately. Eight chambers out of
the ten existing in the gas chamber building were used to
poison people. In the two remaining ones, there were two
powerful German engines, about 1.5 meters high – two engines
in all. Each engine fed gas to four death chambers. Some 20
meters from the above mentioned gas chamber building stood
the building of the old gas chambers, which contained only
three gas chambers.
This building functioned until 1943. But as it was unable to
handle the enormous number of people brought by the Germans
to the “death camp”, the new, large gas chamber building
that I have described above was built. After it came into
use, the old one was no longer utilized. An incinerator for
the burning of bodies was situated about 10 meters beyond
the large gas chamber building. It had the shape of a cement
pit about one meter deep and 20 meters long. A series of
furnaces covered on the top with four rows of rails extended
along the entire length of one [**75] of the walls of
the pit. The bodies were laid on the rails, caught fire from
the flames burning in the furnaces and burned. About 1000
bodies were burned simultaneously. The burning process
lasted up to five hours. Not far from the gas chamber
building, also in the third section, there was a barrack
housing the working-crew composed of doomed prisoners and
which comprised up to 500 persons.
* * *
Question: What was the system of mass extermination of
people in the German death camp of Treblinka?
Answer: Two to three trainloads of doomed prisoners
arrived daily at the Treblinka railroad station. Each train
consisted of 60 cars. The train was brought in three
installments into the second section of the “death camp”.
Twenty cars were brought in every half hour. As soon as the
cars crossed the barbed wire, the guard was changed. The
policemen escorting the train remained outside the camp and
left on the locomotive to fetch the next batch of prisoners.
The railroads [sic] cars brought into the camp were
immediately unloaded by the guards. We started to unload the
cars with the help of the so-called “blue crew” consisting
of doomed prisoners wearing a blue armband on the sleeve.
Those arriving were told that they must first go to the bath
house and will then be sent further to the Ukraine. But the
sight of the camp, the enormous flaming pyre burning at one
end of the camp, the suffocating stench from decomposing
bodies that spread form some 10 km around and was
particularly strong within the camp itself, made it clear
what the place really was. The people chased out of the cars
with whips guessed immediately where they had been brought;
some attempted to climb over the barbed wire of the fencing,
got caught in it, and we opened fire on those who were
trying to escape and killed them. We tried to quiet down the
fear-crazed people with heavy clubs.
After all those who were able to walk had been unloaded,
only the ailing, the killed and the wounded remained in the
railroad cars. These were carried by the prisoners belonging
to the “blue crew” into the so-called “infirmary”, the name
given to the place where the ailing and the wounded were
shot and the dead were burned. This place became
particularly crowded when the prisoners marked for death who
were brought in the railroad cars attempted to commit
Thus in March 1943 there arrived a train in which half
[**77] of the prisoners cut their throats and hands with
razors. While unloading was going on, the prisoners cut
themselves with knives and razors before the eyes of us, the
policemen, saying: “anyhow you will kill us”. The majority
of those who did not die of self-inflicted wounds were shot.
After the unloading, all those who could stand on their feet
were chased toward the undressing place. There the women
were separated from the men and pushed into a special
barrack, while the men were told to undress right there
outside another barrack.
During the first years of the existence of the camp, women
and men undressed together in the same barrack. But it
happened once that the prisoners attacked the “chief of the
working crew” in the undressing barrack. Somehow the man
managed to escape from there. Several policemen and Germans
immediately rushed in. One of the Germans started firing
into the crowd from his sub-machine gun. After they had
stopped shooting, the Germans and the policemen started to
beat with clubs and whips those who survived. After this
incident, men were assigned to a special place in the open
air in which to undress, by the barrack, across from the
women’s undressing place. [**78]
Pushed by the clubs of the Germans and the policemen, the
men threw off their clothing, having first handed their
valuables and money to a special “cashier’s office”. The
women were obliged to remove their shoes before entering the
undressing place. They were forced to remove all their
clothing under the supervision of German policemen and
prisoners of the so-called “red crew” [sic] Those who
resisted were whipped. Very often the Germans and the
policemen tore off and cut off the clothing of those who did
not want to undress or undressed too slowly. Many women
begged to be allowed to keep at least some clothing on their
persons, but the German, [sic] smiling cynically, ordered
them to undress “to the end”.
The policemen or the workers threw to the ground and
undressed those who refused to do so. The undressed women
were told to hand over all their valuables and money to the
“cashier’s office”. After this the women were driven in
groups to another part of the barrack, where 50 prisoners –
“hairdressers” were working. The women sat on a long bench
and the “hairdressers” cut off their hair. The cut hair were
[sic] packed in large bags and sent by trainloads to
Germany. One of the Germans [**79] told me that in
Germany they are used to fill mattresses, also for soft
upholstery. He said that this hair make [sic] very good
mattresses and the Germans buy them willingly.
After their hair was cut the women were sent in batches
to the third section of the camp, to the “bath house”, but
in reality to the gas chamber to be exterminated there.
Before entering the gas chamber building they passed along a
long path bordered on both sides with a high fence made of
barbed wire and branches. Along the edge of the path stood
policemen and Germans. Each one held a whip or a club.
I stood repeatedly on the edge of this path with other
policemen and drove along with a whip the women and the men
into the gas chamber building. Many women were not quite
sure that they would not be exterminated and in order to
have some means of subsistence in the future, they hid some
valuables on their persons.
To prevent this, the Germans placed special controllers in
the center of the path. When they noticed that a woman
walked along the path holding her legs close together, she
was stopped at once and cynically examined, and if anything
was found on her, she was beaten almost to death. The men
walked more [**80] quietly down this path. Several times
I heard how one, speaking to another, said: “Why are you
weeping? Do you believe you can arouse compassion in those
Germans?” Frequently we could hear cries of “Hail Stalin!”,
“Hail the Red Army!” To us Russian guards, they said: “Today
you exterminate us, and tomorrow the Germans will be killing
When the procession of doomed people approached the gas
chamber building, MARCHENKO and Nikolay, the motorists of
the gas chambers shouted: “Walk faster, or the water will
become cold!” Each group of women or men was pushed from
behind by some German and very frequently by Franz, the camp
commander himself, escorted by dogs. As they approached the
gas chambers, the people stared to recoil in horror,
sometimes they tried to retrace their steps.
Then whips and clubs were used. Franz immediate [sic]
ordered his dog to attack the naked
people. Being trained for this, it grabbed them by their
genitals. Aside from the motor operators who had dogs with
them, there were five or six Germans near the gas chambers.
With whips and clubs they chased people into the passage of
the gas chamber building and then into the gas chambers. The
Germans and the motor [**81] operators then competed as
to atrocities with regard to the people to be killed.
MARCHENKO for instance, had a sword with which he mutilated
people. He cut off the breasts of women.
When the chamber was filled to capacity, the Germans or
the motorists came to the door and stated beating up the
naked people with a rubber whip and at the same time set
their dogs against them. The prisoners shrank away into the
depth of the chamber yielding place to more prisoners. Such
a pressing-in occurred several times so that some 700 to 800
people could be crowded into the not-so-large chambers.
When the chambers were filled to the very limit, the Germans
started to throw in the children left by the women either in
the undressing place or more frequently outside the gas
chamber building. As the ceiling of the gas chambers was
very low, the children thrown into the chamber
hit the ceiling and then, disfigured, sometimes with broken
heads, fell on the heads of the prisoners.
When loading of the chambers was completed, they were
sealed off by hermetically closing doors. Motorists
MARCHENKO and Nikolay started the motors. The gas produced
went though the pipes into the chambers. The process of
suffocation [**82] began. Some time after the motor had
been started, the motorists looked into the chambers through
special observation portholes situated near each door, in
order to determine how the process of extermination
was going on. When asked what they saw, the motorists
answered that the people were writhing, crushing each other.
I also tried to look through the porthole, but for some
reason could see nothing. Gradually the noise in the
chambers died down. Some fifteen minutes later the motors
were stopped and there was an unusual silence.
While extermination of this batch of prisoners went on, a
new bath of condemned people arrived into the camp. The
entire process started all over again.
Subject: Demjanjuk Case – U.S. Court of Appeals (12 of 17)
Organization: The Nizkor Project https://nizkor.org