Introduction

According to official historiography, several million Jews were killed by poison gas in six National Socialist camps during the Second World War.

Two of these camps, Auschwitz and Majdanek, are supposed to have originally been established as normal concentration camps, but later served as 'extermination camps'[1] as well, in which the able-bodied Jews were used in forced labor, while those unable to work were gassed. Furthermore, as the official historical version would have it, there were four 'pure extermination camps,' namely Treblinka, Sobibór, Bełżec, and Chełmno (Kulmhof), serving the exclusive purpose of annihilating Jews. Except for a handful of 'labor Jews,' who were necessary for keeping the camp in operation, all Jews transported there, regardless of age or state of health, were murdered without any record being made of them.

Treblinka, Sobibór, and Bełżec, often designated in the literature as 'Camps of Operation Reinhardt,'[2] were located in the east of the General Gouvernement, thus in German-occupied Poland. In these three camps, mass murder was supposedly committed in stationary gas chambers by means of exhaust gasses from diesel engines. On the other hand, in Chełmno, situated northwest of Lodz, gas vehicles were supposed to have served as murder weapons. According to the official version of history, in all four 'pure extermination camps' the corpses of the murdered were initially buried in enormous mass graves, but later, when it became clear that the military defeat of the German Reich was impending, exhumed and burned in the open air.

The claims about mass murder and the disposal of bodies are based entirely and exclusively upon eyewitness testimony. Documents from these camps are almost completely missing, which the official version of history explains by saying that either the National Socialists did not compile any or - in the case that such did exist - they destroyed them in time in order not to leave behind any proof of their atrocities. For the same reason, it is claimed, Treblinka, Sobibór, Bełżec, and Chełmno were also totally destroyed before the German retreat. In fact, the visitor finds almost no tangible traces at the sites where these camp once were.

Under these circumstances, an historian, who wishes to check with scientific methods the picture of the four 'pure extermination camps' outlined here, sees himself confronting a far more difficult task than a researcher who has set himself the same goal with respect to Auschwitz or Majdanek. The latter can study the documents of the camp administration, which are available in great number; he can examine the quarters - some of them preserved in undamaged condition, others in ruins - which according to the prevailing notion served as gas chambers for killing human beings, to see whether their structure was suited for such a function and whether the crematoria were capable of turning into ashes the number of bodies claimed. All of these possibilities are denied to the historian of the 'pure extermination camps.'

The theme of the present study is Treblinka, which was situated not far from the hamlet of the same name, approximately 80 km northeast of Warsaw. Treblinka is without a doubt the best known of the four 'pure extermination camps;' in public consciousness, imprinted by media reports, it has become one of the darkest hallmarks of the 'Holocaust,' second only to Auschwitz.

The Treblinka camp consisted of two camps, Treblinka I and Treblinka II. It is undisputed that Treblinka I served purely as a labor camp. The alleged 'extermination camp' bore the designation Treblinka II. This was about 4 km distant from the village of the same name, less than 2 km from the Bug River; it was on the train line running from Ostrów Mazowiecki to Siedlce, which intersected with the more important railway line from Warsaw to Białystok at the Małkinia Station. All three of the alleged 'eastern extermination camps' had been erected in a border zone: Treblinka near the border between the General Gouvernement and the Białystok region, Sobibór not far from that between the General Gouvernement and the Reichskommissariat Ukraine, and Bełżec between the district of Lublin and the district of Galicia.

Treblinka II was situated in an area, which was by no means particularly remote, and it concealed few secrets. The train line leading from the village of Treblinka to Siedlce ran at a distance of only 300 meters from the camp, parallel to the nearby road; a branch of this train line led to the camp, and from there to the labor camp Treblinka I. Scarcely two kilometers farther on is the village of Wólka Okrąglik; in the opposite direction, approximately 2 km distant from Treblinka I, were the hamlets of Grady and Poniatowo.[3]

If one believes the testimony of eyewitnesses, lively contacts existed between the camp inmates and the local populace, with which a barter trade flourished. The Polish peasants "came with the aim of doing business;"[4] they brought the prisoners all kinds of food, which they exchanged for gold:[5]

"And so it came to pass that baskets filled with rolls, roasted chickens, cheese, butter, cream, and so forth began to arrive each day at Treblinka."

A little more than 2 km away from Treblinka II, the Germans had established the camp Treblinka I, where prisoners were occupied chiefly in the production of gravel from an enormous pit.

The few material traces of Treblinka II,[6] which still existed at the arrival of the Soviets in August 1944, were completely removed during the course of the years and no longer exist today. From 1959 until 1964, Treblinka attained its present form: a large sector of the camp ground was embedded in concrete and 17,000 cement blocks reminiscent of grave monuments[7] were erected there. In the center, a gigantic monument of stone[8] was built. At the entrance to the camp, stones proclaim in several languages that here "more than 800,000 Jews" were killed between July 1942 and August 1943.[9] Railroad ties of concrete, flanked by a platform likewise made of concrete, symbolize the train tracks and the train platform of the camp.[10] Otherwise there is nothing for the eye to see than a meadow rimmed by fir trees.[11]

By a forest path of some two kilometers length, one reaches the area where Treblinka I once stood, and along the way one can see the old gravel pit.[12] Shortly before this, one comes upon a small cemetery where Polish prisoners rest who died in the labor camp.[13] On an area of the former camp ground, surrounded by a woods of fir trees,[14] concrete foundations can be found, approximately 12 m × 60 m in dimension, upon which former camp barracks stood.[15]

In Section 3 of Chapter III, the reader will find a detailed description of the area in which Treblinka I and Treblinka II were located.

From time to time during the immediate post-war period, there was talk of up to three million people as having been murdered in Treblinka II.[16] The two most important standard works of contemporary 'Holocaust' historiography mention the number of victims as 750,000 (Raul Hilberg),[17] or as 870,000 (Encyclopedia of the Holocaust).[18]

The last named standard work, the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, contains a summary of the official picture of the Treblinka camp, which we reproduce in the following excerpt:[19]

"[Treblinka] was situated in a sparsely populated area near Malkinia, a railway station on the main Warsaw-Białystok line; the camp's precise location was 2.5 miles (4 km) northwest of the village and railway stop of Treblinka. The site selected was heavily wooded and well hidden from view. A penal camp, known as Treblinka I, had been set up nearby in 1941; Poles and Jews were imprisoned there, working in quarries[20] from which they extracted materials used in the construction of fortifications on the German-Soviet border. [21]The extermination camp was established as part of Aktion Reinhard [Operation Reinhardt]; work on it began in late May and early June of 1942 and was completed on July 22 of that year. The project was carried out by German firms, using inmates of Treblinka I and Jews brought in from neighboring towns. In addition to the camp structures and gas chambers, a branch railway track, leading from the camp to the nearby railway station, was constructed. Huge pits were dug within the camp grounds to be used as mass graves.

The camp was laid out in a rectangle 1,312 feet wide by 1,968 feet long (400 x 600 m), [...].

The extermination area, called the 'upper camp' by the Germans, was in the southeastern part. Covering an area of 656 by 820 feet (200 x 250 m), it was completely fenced in and separated from the rest of the camp. In this area was a brick building containing three gas chambers, each measuring 13 by 13 feet (4 x 4 m). An adjoining shed housed a diesel engine that produced the carbon monoxide for the chambers. The gas was introduced by way of pipes attached to the ceilings of the gas chambers that ended in what looked like shower heads, to create the impression that the chambers were merely bathhouses. In the building a hallway led to each of the three gas chambers; inside each, facing the entrance, was a second door through which the dead bodies were removed. At a distance of 492 to 656 feet (150-200 m) from the gas chambers, to the east of the building, lay the huge trenches in which the bodies were interred. A narrow path, fenced in on each side and camouflaged with tree branches, led from the reception area to the extermination area. It was along this path, nicknamed the 'pipe,' or 'tube' (Schlauch), that the Jews, now naked, were driven to the gas chambers.

The camp's first commander was SS-Obersturmführer Imfried Eberl. In August 1942 he was replaced by SS-Obersturmfuhrer Franz Stangl, the former commander of Sobibór. The German staff, numbering between 20 and 30 SS men, all of whom had taken part in the euthanasia program, held the command and administrative positions in the camp. A Ukrainian company consisting of 90 to 120 men served as camp guards and security personnel. They had the tasks of ensuring that no Jews would escape and of quashing any attempt at resistance. Some of the Ukrainians were given other duties, including the operation of the gas chambers. Most of them were Soviet prisoners of war who had volunteered to serve the Germans and had been enlisted and trained for their duties at the trawniki camp. [22]...]

Groups of Jewish prisoners were employed on construction work as well, which proceeded even while the extermination process was in operation. They were also kept busy cutting tree branches in the adjoining woods and using them for camouflage, as well as on other jobs. These prisoners were taken from the incoming transports, put to work for a few days or weeks at the most, and then selected out and killed, their places taken by new arrivals. [...]

The Treblinka extermination process was based on experience the Germans had gained in the Bełżec and Sobibór camps. An incoming train, generally consisting of fifty to sixty cars (containing a total of six thousand to seven thousand persons), first came to a stop in the Treblinka village railway station. Twenty of the cars were brought into the camp, while the rest waited behind in the station. As each part of a transport was due to enter the camp, reinforced Ukrainian guard detachments took up position on the camp railway platform and in the reception area. When the cars came to a stop, the doors were opened and SS men ordered the Jews to get out.

A camp officer then announced to the arrivals that they had come to a transit camp from which they were going to be dispersed to various labor camps; for hygienic reasons, they would now take showers and have their clothes disinfected. Any money and valuables in their possession were to be handed over for safekeeping and would be returned to them after they had been to the showers. Following this announcement, the Jews were ordered into the 'deportation square.'

At the entrance to the square, the men were ordered into a barrack on the right and the women and children to the left. This had to be done on the run, with the guards shouting at them, driving them on, and beating them. The women and children were made to enter a barrack on the left side of the square, where they had to undress. Beginning in the fall of 1942, the women's hair was shorn at this point, behind a partition that was put up for this purpose. From the barrack, they entered, naked, the 'pipe' that led to the gas chambers. Women and children were gassed first, while the men were kept in the deportation square, standing naked and waiting until their turn came to enter the 'pipe.' Once the victims were locked inside the gas chambers, which had the appearance of shower rooms, the diesel engine was started and the carbon monoxide poured in. In less than thirty minutes, all had died of asphyxiation. Their bodies were removed and taken to the trenches for burial. [...]

A group of two hundred to three hundred, kept apart from the other Jewish prisoners, was employed in the extermination area, on such tasks as removing the corpses from the gas chambers, cleaning the chambers, extracting the victims' gold teeth, and burying their bodies. When the practice of cremating the bodies was introduced in the spring of 1943, with the aim of removing all traces of the mass murder that had been committed in Treblinka, this group of prisoners was charged with the task.

The Germans soon realized-as they previously had at Bełżec and Sobibór-that the bottleneck in the extermination process at Treblinka was the limited capacity of the gas chambers, which covered an area of no more

than 57 square yards (48 sq m). It was therefore decided to increase the number of gas chambers, and ten more were built between the end of August and the beginning of October 1942, with a total area of 383 square yards (320 sq m). They were inside a brick building that had a hallway down the center and five doors on each side, each door leading to a gas chamber. A second door in each chamber could be opened only from the outside and was used to remove the corpses. The capacity of the new gas chambers was more than sufficient for the entire human load of twenty railway cars at one time. [...]

The mass extermination program at Treblinka went into effect on July 23, 1942, and the first transports to reach the camp were made up of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto. Between that date and September 21, 254,000 Jews from Warsaw and 112,000 from other places in the Warsaw district were murdered at Treblinka, making a total of 366,000 from the district. From the Radom district 337,000 Jews were murdered, and from the Lublin district 35,000, most of them before the winter of 1942-1943. [...]From the Białystok district, over 107,000 Jews were taken to Treblinka to be killed, most of them between November 1942 and January 1943.

Jews from outside Poland were also killed at Treblinka. From Slovakia, 7,000 Jews who had first been deported to ghettos in the Generalgouvernement were murdered in the summer and fall of 1942; from Theresienstadt, five transports brought 8,000 Jews in the period from October 5 to October 25, 1942. From Greece, over 4,000 Jews who had first been deported from their homes in Thrace to Bulgaria came in the latter half of March 1943; and from Macedonia, the part of Yugoslavia that Bulgaria had annexed, 7,000 Jews were murdered in Treblinka at the end of March and the beginning of April 1943. From Salonika, at least one transport of 2,800 Jews came at the end of March 1943.

A total of 29,000 Jews from countries other than Poland were murdered at Treblinka. Two thousand Gypsies as well were among the victims there. The mass extermination program continued until April 1943, after which only a few isolated transports arrived; the camp had fulfilled its function.

In late February and early March of 1943, Heinrich Himmler visited Treblinka; following this visit, in accordance with his orders, an operation was launched to burn the bodies of the victims. The mass graves were opened and the corpses were taken out, to be consumed by the flames of huge pyres (the 'roasts'). The bones were crushed and, together with the ashes, were reburied in the same graves. This burning of corpses in an effort to obliterate traces of the killings was continued until the end of July 1943. On its completion, the camp was shut down, in the fall of 1943. A total of 870,000 people had been murdered there. [...]

Several efforts at resistance were made in Treblinka, both by individuals and by entire transports, [...] At the beginning of 1943, a resistance group was formed among the inmates. [...]

When the burning of the bodies was nearing completion and it was clear that both the camp and the prisoners were about to be liquidated, the leaders of the underground resolved that the uprising must not be postponed any longer. A date and time were fixed: the afternoon of August 2, 1943. [...] those resistance members who had arms in their hands opened fire at the SS men and set some of the camp buildings on fire. Masses of prisoners now tried to storm the fence and escape from the camp; they were fired at from all the watchtowers and most of them were hit, falling in or near the fence area. Those who succeeded in getting out of the camp were apprehended and shot by additional German security forces who had been alerted to the scene and, pursuing the escaped prisoners, combed the surrounding area. Of the approximately seven hundred and fifty prisoners who had tried to make their escape, seventy survived to see liberation.

Most of the camp structures, except for the gas chambers, were made of wood and went up in flames. Of the prisoners who were left, some were killed on the spot, while the rest were made to demolish the remaining structures and fences and obliterate the traces of the activities that had taken place at the camp. When this work was over, these prisoners too were shot. The grounds were plowed under and trees were planted; the camp was turned into a farm, and a Ukrainian peasant family was settled there."

Such is the account of the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust.

We have set ourselves the task of subjecting the portrait of the 'extermination camp' of Treblinka as summarized here to a critical examination, and should it not stand up to this examination, of offering an alternative thesis regarding the real function of the camp.

Jürgen Graf is responsible for the Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 5, and the Conclusions. Carlo Mattogno bears responsibility for all of the remaining chapters.

We express our sincere gratitude to Prof. Robert Faurisson, Mark Weber, and Dr. Miroslav Dragan for sending important material and/or suggestions regarding publications germane to our subject.

It was originally planned to include the results of the ground radar investigations in this book as carried out at Treblinka by Engineer Richard Krege. However, in view of the significance of the subject as well as the expansion of the ground radar investigations to the camps Bełżec and Auschwitz, it was decided to treat this topic in a work of its own, which will be published by the same publishers as this work.

Our book is dedicated to our late friend, certified engineer Arnulf Neumaier, a tireless fighter for the historical truth, whose article "The Treblinka Holocaust," published in the anthology Dissecting the Holocaust, represents a milestone in the scientific research of this camp.


Notes

[1]This English term does not appear in a single German document of the war period.
[2]This operation, whose purpose consisted, in part, of the confiscation of Jewish property, owes its name to the State Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Fritz Reinhardt, and not, as is claimed in most of the official historiography, to Reinhard Heydrich. The basis for this error may lie in the fact that in some documents of the war period 'Reinhard' (without the t) appears as an alternate way of writing Reinhardt. In reference to this, see Carlo Mattogno, "Sonderbehandlung" ad Auschwitz. Genesi e significato, Edizioni di Ar, Padua 2001, p. 46; an English translation of this book will appear soon: Special Treatment in Auschwitz, Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago, IL, 2004.
[3]See Document 1 in Appendix.
[4]Eyewitness statement by Samuel Willenberg, in Alexander Donat (ed.), The Death Camp Treblinka, Holocaust Library, New York 1979, p. 192.
[5]Eyewitness statement by Abraham Krzepicki, in A. Donat, ibid., p. 125.
[6]See Chapter III.
[7]See Photo 1 in the Appendix.
[8]See Photo 2 in the Appendix.
[9]See Photo 3 in the Appendix.
[10]See Photo 4 in the Appendix.
[11]See Photo 5 in the Appendix.
[12]See Photo 6 in the Appendix.
[13]See Photo 7 in the Appendix.
[14]See Photo 8 in the Appendix.
[15]See Photo 9 in the Appendix.
[16]This number was given by, for example, Wassili Grossmann in Die Hölle von Treblinka, Verlag für fremdspachige Literatur, Moscow 1946 (see Chapter 1).
[17]Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, three volumes, Holmes & Meier, New York 1985, p. 893, 1219.
[18]Israel Gutman (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, 4 vols., Macmillan, New York 1990, vol. 4, p. 1486.
[19]Ibid., pp. 1481-87.
[20]More correct would be: 'In a gravel pit.'
[21]The last half sentenced was omitted in the German version, vol. 1, p. 1427, as there was no German-Soviet border during that time. The German version also additionally and correctly states that the camp was built under the aegis of the "SS-Zentralbauleitung Warschau."
[22]The Trawniki camp, situated southeast of Lublin, served among other purposes as a training site for the concentration camp personnel.