Chapter III: Investigations, Camp Plans, Statistics
1. Soviet Investigations and Forensic Examinations
In the middle of August 1944, the 65th Soviet Army conquered the region around Treblinka. The Military Examining Judge of the Military Office of Prosecution First Lieutenant of Justice Jurowski went to work immediately, supported by other officers - Major Kononjuk, Major V.S. Apresjan, First Lieutenant F.A. Rodionov, Major M.E. Golovan, and Lieutenant N.V. Kadalo - and carried out investigations between August 15 and 23 on the grounds of the camps Treblinka I and Treblinka II. He furthermore questioned witnesses: Samuel Rajzman, Lucjan Puchała, Marianna Kobus, Stanisław Zdonek, Barbara Zemkiewicz, Józef Pukaszek, Stanisław Kon, Mieczysław Anyszkiewicz, Tadeusz Kann, Franciszek Wesolowski, Max Lewit, and Kazimierz Skarzyński.
On August 22 and 23, the investigatory committee, accompanied by local Polish officials, went to Treblinka in order to carry out investigations on the spot. Three mass graves and 13 individual graves were discovered by this. The exhumation of the bodies yielded the following picture:
- Grave 10 m × 5 m × 2 m in dimension, with 105 bodies, which had been buried in layers of 5 to 7 each. Upon each layer of bodies, a layer of earth 45 to 50 cm thick had been piled.
- Grave 10 m × 5 m × 1.9 m in dimension, with 97 bodies in layers of 5 to 6 bodies respectively, with interposing layers of earth 50 cm thick.
- Grave 10 m × 5 m × 2.5 m in dimension, with 103 bodies in layers of 5 to 6 each, with 50 cm of earth lying between.
On August 24, 1944, a commission composed of the Soviet officers previously named as well as representatives of the local Polish authorities produced the first official report concerning the camps Treblinka I and II. With respect to Treblinka II it says there:
"The camp Treblinka II was an enormous death combine. From all nations of Europe occupied by the Germans, the entire Jewish population was brought here for burning, besides many 'unfit' people of other nationalities. The death factory, in which the SS-men ruthlessly and zealously exterminated millions of people, was in operation around the clock for 13 months, from July 1942 until September 1943. This diabolical undertaking ceased to exist only after the prisoner revolt in the Jewish camp.
Dozens of witnesses attest to have seen how up to three transports of Jews, with 60 cars each, arrived in the camp on a daily basis. The trains left the camp either loaded with sand or empty.
Martyrs of the camp who were left with their lives tell that they were delivered in railway cars in which there were 150, 180, or even 200 persons each. While traveling they were dying of hunger. There was no water. They drank urine. [...]
At the railway branch line at Treblinka there was something in the camp which resembled a fine train station; the length of the platform was reckoned for 20 cars. All special buildings, where people were murdered, were carefully camouflaged on the outside as beautiful facilities. The avenues were sprinkled with sand and bordered by flowers, garden beds and fir trees - all this in order to deceive the 'passengers.' [...]
Some persons, who escaped the pyre through a miracle, have portrayed the nightmarish images of the incineration of people:
The Jews delivered to the camp were received by the SS-unit. The men were led to a special square, but the women and children were taken to the barracks. Beautiful and young Jewesses were taken by the Germans for themselves for a night. All men, women, and children were told to undress. The women's hair was shorn and it was sent to Germany as raw material. The clothes were sorted and likewise sent to Germany. The victims were ordered to take along valuables - gold, paper money, documents. The naked people were shown to a cashier's counter one by one, and they were told to deposit everything. After they had done this, they were allowed to go on and were led along the sand-strewn, flower-bordered avenue into the 'bath,' where they were given soap, a towel and underclothing. After depositing of the valuables, already on the way to the 'bath,' the polite tone gave way to roughness. Those who were walking were urged on by rods and beaten with canes.
The 'bath' was a house, which consisted of 12 cabins, each 6 × 6 m in size. 400 to 500 people were driven at a time into one cabin. It had two doors, which could be sealed hermetically. In the corner, between ceiling and wall, were two openings connected with hoses. Behind the 'bath' stood a machine. It pumped the air out of the room. The people suffocated within 6 to 10 minutes. The second door was opened and the dead were brought on wheelbarrows to the special ovens.
In these, important scholars, physicians, teachers, musicians, the relatives of noted personalities were cremated. In such a way the sister of the famous psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, the brother of the French Minister Sourez [?] and others were incinerated. (Witness testimony of Abe Kon, Hejnoch Brenner, Samuel Rajzman).
A huge area of the camp was covered with cinders and ashes. The road, which connected the two camps and is three kilometers long, was covered with cinders and ashes to a height of 7 - 10 cm. One could recognize the presence of lime in large pieces of cinder with the naked eye. It is well known that lime is a product of burning bones. There were no production sites in the camp, but cinders and ashes were brought out of the camp every day by the ton. This freight was loaded onto railroad cars, and 20 to 30 peasant carts distributed them and poured them onto the road. (Witness testimony of Lucjan Puchała, Kazimierz Skarzinski. Stanisław Krym inter alia).
The statements of the witnesses, the book 'One Year in Treblinka' [by Jankiel Wiernik], the presence of a large quantity of ashes and cinders, the presence of personal commodities and documents strewn on the grounds as well as excavated from the pits confirm that there were ovens in the camp where people were cremated. In the beginning, the Germans buried the bodies of the murdered. After Himmler had visited the camp, the bodies were dug up with an excavator and cremated.
At the present it is difficult to uncover the traces and secrets of this oven for the cremation of people, but based upon the available data, one can picture it.
The oven - this was a large trench 250-300 m in length, 20-25 m in width and 5-6 m deep, excavated by an excavator. Driven into the bottom of the ditch were three rows of reinforced concrete posts, one-and-a-half m in height each. The posts were connected to one another by cross-beams. On these cross-beams rails were placed at intervals of 5 to 7 cm. That was a gigantic oven grill. A narrow-gage spur track led down to the edge of the trench. (Witness testimony of Abe Kon, Hejnoch Brenner, Samuel Rajzman, and the content of the book 'One Year in Treblinka'). [...]
The Germans attempted to delete the traces of their atrocities. After the revolt of the Jews they destroyed all camp buildings, which were still intact after the fire. Oats, rye, and lupines were now planted on the grounds of the former 'death camp.' What remains are the walls of the burned residential building and of the cattle stall of the colonist Strebel, who was settled on the territory of the camp. Remaining as marks of the existence of the camp are: an abatis of barbed wire, ashes, cinders, and a great number of pits, where household objects of the cremated Jews have been buried."
The report ends with six "conclusions," of which the most important is the first:
"On the basis of the preliminary facts, the cremation of people has been determined with no doubt. The extent of the extermination of people was monstrous: about three million."
On September 11, a "Report of the front-line press TASS" was compiled, which bore the title "The Death Camp in Tremblinka" (sic). We reproduce the most significant excerpts:
"Tremblinka! At this word people tremble and look fearfully sideways. People who lived in the vicinity of Tremblinka could not sleep at night: the screams of men, women, and children whom they were murdering ripped through the darkness. The stench penetrated from there. They were burning people there. [...]
Tremblinka - that is the same as Majdanek. It is one of the numerous factories of death, with which the Germans thickly covered the Polish soil.
The 'Tod-Lager', as the Germans themselves officially called it, was established close to Tremblinka sometime in June 1942. [...] By the beginning of July, the first transport arrived, filled to the bursting point with people - with 'living raw material,' as the doomed were officially called. The camp gate opened with the sound of a lively march, and inside poured the stream of living people. From this point on, this stream was uninterrupted for two years. The voracious gate consumed up to two thousand people daily. [... A fat Unterscharführer sent the human chain into the 'bath.' This was a low square room without windows, with a heavy entrance door. A large hose, through which gas was carried, led into the 'bath.' The people were forcefully pushed into the 'bath,' the door was tightly closed with a steel bar, the Unterscharführer gave a signal, and the 'bath-master' switched on the machinery of death.
In the beginning, the 'bath' had three compartments and could hold 1,200 people. The Germans, however, were not satisfied with this capacity, and they quickly constructed a new building three times bigger. Here there were 8 chambers and the bath could accommodate 4,800 people at a time.
The people in the 'bath' died under horrible tortures after ten minutes. The 'bath-master' recorded this by means of a small glass window in the door. Here, every minute was costly - after all, thousands of other people were waiting their turn. For this reason, the 'bath' functioned with German thoroughness. Those for whom there was no room were beaten dead or flung onto the pyre alive.
The corpses were retrieved from the 'bath' by a special squad; they were stacked upon rails which ran across wide pits. In the pits a fire burned that was never extinguished. This was the final stage of the 'processing.' The corpses were cremated and the human ashes were brought to Germany to fertilize fields. Even the roads inside the camp were sprinkled with it. [...]
1. Byelo-Russian Front
Tass Special Correspondent"
On the 15th of September, a Polish-Soviet commission, consisting of Magister P. Sobolevski, the Secretary of the Polish-Soviet Commission for the Revelation of German Crimes, M. Chodzko, the representative of the information and propaganda department of a Polish institute, as well as G.E. Levakov, the representative of the War Soviet of the 2nd Byelorussian Front, composed a "protocol of a provisional preliminary investigation and reconnaissance in the former concentration camp Tremblinka," in which the recent investigations of Soviet military justice were summarized, and from which we cite some excerpts:
"[...] The site of Tremblinka lies 7 km from the railway junction of Małkinia in the Sokolowski district. The German bandits put down a railway line to the place where the camp was located, in order to be able to bring the transports of prisoners directly and unnoticed into the concentration camp.[...]
The concentration camp Tremblinka consisted of two sections, which were at a distance of one-and-a-half kilometers from each other. The first section was named 'Death Camp No. 2.' This camp itself, on whose grounds two burned-down farm buildings can now be found, broke down into two parts, and a railroad track led to this Camp No. 2. Here, something along the lines of a train station was constructed in order to disguise the actual mission - the extermination. A three-fold barbed wire abatis was camouflaged with tree branches. For this reason the people taken here believed initially that they were at a transit point on their journey to the east.
In the first section of Death Camp No. 2, the prisoners who had been delivered there had to undress. They were instructed to deposit their clothing at a certain place, and then the naked people were forced to run with arms raised in the direction of the so-called bath. This was only an apparent bath; it actually was a gas chamber consisting of three rooms. In the beginning, the method of pumping the air out of the space by means of a small car engine was employed. Then, as a result of the great number of those destined for death, they began to use chemicals. About 400 people could be crowded in this space at a time. On the roof of this - hermetically sealable - building was a small window, through which the death struggle of the dying could be observed. [...] Approximately 400 Jews worked at this chamber, who dragged out the corpses of the asphyxiated and threw them into enormous trenches, which were located in the area of Death Camp No. 2 and which had been prepared beforehand and excavated by an excavator.
In the winter of 1943, the German murderers proceeded to exhume and burn the corpses. For this purpose they also used an excavator. The personal documents found here, torn into pieces and thrown away, prove that citizens of Poland, of the Soviet Union, of Czechoslovakia and other nations, members of the intelligentsia as well as simple workers, were killed here.
The second section of the concentration camp was named 'Camp No. 1' and was located one-and-a-half kilometers away from the Death Camp. [...]
The objects found bear witness to the fact that here men, women, and children of every age were interned in entire families. The things found, like, for example, violin parts, children's toys, devices for waving the hair [hair curlers], books and the like, show that many came to this place who did not suspect the destination of their journey. Pieces of burned and destroyed passports confirm that citizens from Poland, the USSR, Czechoslovakia, and other nations occupied by the Germans were interned here."
On September 24, the Soviet investigatory commission drew up the first official plan of the camp Treblinka.
2. Polish Investigations and Forensic Examinations
After the conclusion of the previously described investigations, the Treblinka matter was allowed to rest for more than a year. But the preparations for the Nuremberg Trial awakened the interest of the Jewish Central Historical Commission as well as of the Polish State Prosecutor's office for that camp. On November 6, 1945, the latter carried out an inspection trip to Treblinka, in which participated: Rachel Auerbach and Józef Kermisz as representatives of the said Jewish Commission, Judge Zdzisław Łukaszkiewicz, State Prosecutor J. Maciejewski, land surveyor K. Trautsolt, the witnesses Samuel Rajzman, Tanhum Grinberg, Szimon Friedman, and M. Mittelberg - all members of the Association of Former Treblinka Inmates - J. Slebczak, President of the district council of Siedlce, Major Jucharek from the neighboring village of Wólka Okrąglik, and finally photographer Jakob Byk. In January 1946, R. Auerbach described the inspection as follows:
"Our car came to a stop. We got out: this was where the camp area began. According to our measurements, it is 15 hectares. A well-paved road runs parallel to the railroad tracks for about 11/2 kilometers and then comes to a dead end. Another road branches out from it and comes to an end even sooner. The surface of both roads contains a weird mixture of coal and ashes from the pyres where the corpses of the inmates were cremated. The second road leads in the same direction as the 'Road to Heaven' of which no trace is now left. Just a bit of the concrete foundations of a horses' stable - this is all that is left today of the camp buildings, the barbed wire fences, the barracks, the watchtowers, the gas chambers. Some of the buildings were burned down by the uprising, and the rest were carried off by human scavengers from neighboring villages after the arrival of the Red Army.
While the Germans were still here, the whole area had been plowed up and sown with lupine grass. And the lupine grass really grew and covered the whole surface with a green mask. It looked as if all the traces of crime had been wiped away. But since then, during the past year, the human jackals and hyenas have been coming to the burial ground and here is the picture that we saw:
Here and there, like patches of grass near the seashore, half-covered by the shifting sands, there were still little clumps of withered lupine. Not one level place in the whole area. Everything had been torn up and dug up, little hills and holes. And upon them, beneath them and among them, all sorts of objects. Aluminum kettles and pans, enameled tin pots - blackened, dented, full of holes. Combs with teeth broken off, half-rotted soles from ladies' summer sandals, broken mirrors, leather briefcases. All this is near the station platform where the camp's first barbed wire fences had been.
We began our tour at the place where the transports had been unloaded and we continued on the road which the Jews who were brought here had followed. What we saw here was the remnants of the Treblinka 'Werterfassung'. Remnants of the huge piles of Jewish property, which had been packed up and sent away, incinerated, cleared off, and yet still could not be completely cleared away. It was not possible to clear away every trace of what the hundreds of thousands of people who had passed through here had experienced. Here was the physical evidence, here were the corpora delicti [...]
But the physical evidence was not limited to objects. As we moved farther into the grounds, we walked over a field which was sown with human bones.
The bombs had revealed the contents of the desecrated soil. Leg bones, ribs, pieces of the spine, skulls big and small, short and long, round and flat.
If only we could get an ethnologist to come here!
He could have made the most accurate anthropological measurements relating to the racial features of the Jewish people. [...]
We were now standing where the gas chambers had been, the huge mass graves and the pyres. In some places, the smell of death was still mingled with the odor of fire. Indeed, here and there we could see little piles of white ashes along with blackened bones, heaps of soot. All this had been buried several meters deep in the soil, mixed with sand and covered with more sand, but the explosions had brought it to the surface again. In one place the simultaneous explosion of several bombs had created a huge crater. Deep down in the hole, some outlines could be dimly seen through the fog.
'Those aren't just bones,' explained the District Attorney. 'There are still pieces of half-rotted corpses lying there, bunches of intestines.'
By now, the district attorney and the judge knew every nook and cranny here. They had been conducting their investigations for some time. They had examined both Jewish and non-Jewish witnesses, taken measurements and carried out minor excavations."
For the purpose of performing an official investigation of the scene of the crime, Judge Łukaszkiewicz had gone to Treblinka. As he later explained, he acted
"[...] at the request of the State Prosecutor of the District Court in Siedlce of September 24, 1945, further induced by a letter of September 18, 1945, of the Main Commission for the Investigation of the German Murders in Poland."
After bidding farewell to the visitors, Łukaszkiewicz set to work with a group of workers. Between November 9 and 13, he undertook a thorough examination of the grounds as well as a series of excavations. Afterwards he composed an official protocol, which we reproduce in full in view of its significance:
"Protocol of the tasks performed on the grounds of the death camp Treblinka, which forms the object of the judicial examination.
From November 9 to 13, 1945, the examining magistrate of Siedlce, Z. Łukaszkiewicz, together with the State Attorney for the District Court of Siedlce, J. Maciejewski, performed the following tasks on the camp grounds:
November 9, 1945
Excavations were begun on the grounds using the services of 20 workers who had been mustered by the village administration for carrying out roadwork. The excavations began at the location described by the witness Rajzman on November 6, where the so-called 'camp hospital' had stood and where, according to the witness, a mass grave is supposed to exist. Since a bomb crater 4 to 5-meter deep is present at the said location - two bombs still lie at a slight distance from this crater - the digging was begun in this crater. In the course of this work numerous Polish, as well as Russian, German, Austrian, and Czech coins as well as broken pieces of various kinds of containers were discovered. At the end of the work, at approximately 3 pm, at a depth of 6 meters, we encountered a layer which had not been reached previously. There were no human remains found.
November 10, 1945
The work was continued, with 36 workers assigned who had been commandeered for roadwork. At a depth of 6 meters begins a layer which has never before been uncovered by anyone. It consists partly of all sorts of kitchen utensils and different kinds of household objects; there are also pieces of clothing. At a depth of 7 meters, we reached the floor of the pit - a layer of yellow sand which is not mixed with gravel. By means of expansion of the excavation we succeeded in determining the shape of the pit. It has sloping walls, and the bottom measures about 1.5 meters [sic!]. The pit was presumably excavated with an excavator. During the course of the excavations, numerous more or less badly damaged Polish documents were discovered, further a badly damaged personal identity card of a German Jew, as well as several more coins: Polish, German, Russian, Belgian, and even American. After we had made certain that this pit, filled with broken pieces of the containers mentioned, ran in a north-south direction on the grounds of the camp area - 2 meters more [in a northerly direction] had been excavated - the workers started work at this location.
November 11, 1945
A series of test excavations were performed at the place where the [gas] chambers had to have been located, in order to find their foundation walls if possible. Pits 10 - 15 meters in length and 1.5 meters deep were dug. Undisturbed layers of earth were uncovered by this.
The largest of the craters produced by explosions (numerous fragments attest to the fact that these explosions were set off by bombs), which is at maximum 6 meters deep and has a diameter of about 25 meters - its walls give recognizable evidence of the presence of a large quantity of ashes as well as human remains - was further excavated in order to discover the depth of the pit in this part of the camp. Numerous human remains were found by these excavations, partially still in a state of decomposition. The soil consists of ashes interspersed with sand, is of a dark gray color and granulous in form. During the excavations, the soil gave off an intense odor of burning and decay. At a depth of 7.5 meters the bottom was reached, which consisted of layers of unmixed sand. At this point the digging was stopped here.
November 13, 1945
With the assistance of 30 workers employed for roadwork, the opening of a pit was begun - a site where refuse was deposited in the northeastern section of the camp. In this location, as the workers from the nearby hamlets explained, a very large number of documents were found up till now. Work was begun at this location where the people [of that area] had dug a three-meter-deep pit in a search for gold. During the course of the digging, broken pieces of all sorts of kitchen containers as well as a large number of rags were continually found. Aside from the coins discovered so far, Greek, Slovakian, and French ones were found, as well as documents in Hebrew and Polish and remnants of a Soviet passport. At a depth of 5 meters the work was stopped due to the steadily worsening weather conditions.
The Examining Judge The State Attorney
The Examining Judge of Siedlce, on November 13, 1945, rules in consideration of the fact that with great probability no mass graves are any longer to be found on the grounds of the former camp today, as is to be concluded from the witness testimonies examined so far and from the results of the works carried out at the site, and in consideration of the oncoming autumn, the present rainfall and the necessity of a rapid conclusion of the judicial preliminary investigations, in view of all these facts to stop the work on the territory of the former death camp Treblinka.
The Examining Judge
On December 29, 1945, after the conclusion of his preliminary investigations, Łukaszkiewicz issued a protocol with 14 paragraphs, which - as already mentioned - was presented by the Soviets at the Nuremberg Trial as Document USSR-344. In the third paragraph, which bears the title "Current condition of the camp terrain", it says the following:
"With the assistance of an expert land surveyor and witnesses, I made an exact inspection of the terrain. According to the measurements, the area of the camp is approximately 13.45 hectares and had the shape of an irregular quadrilateral. No remnants of facilities of the former death camp exist any longer. The only things that remain of the structures are: a ditch with remains of burned wooden poles protruding up, which lead into the cellar, wall bricks from the foundations of the camp's domestic economics building and the site of the well. Here and there one finds traces of the burned-out wooden poles of the fence and remains of barbed wire. There are also some sections of paved walks that remain. Nonetheless, there are still other traces that hint at the existence and functions of the camp. In the northwestern section of the area, the surface is covered for about 2 hectares by a mixture of ashes and sand. In this mixture, one finds countless human bones, often still covered with tissue remains, which are in a condition of decomposition. During the inspection, which I made with the assistance of an expert in forensic medicine, it was determined that the ashes are without any doubt of human origin (remains of cremated human bones). The examination of human skulls could discover no trace of wounding. At a distance of some 100 m, there is now an unpleasant odor of burning and decay. In the southwestern direction, a portion of the camp terrain is covered by aluminum - enamel - glass and porcelain dishes - kitchen utensils - hand luggage - rucksacks - pieces of clothing, etc. There are innumerable holes and craters on the property."
Łukaszkiewicz summarized the investigations carried out a month earlier at that location as follows:
"During the work on the terrain, I found no mass graves, which, in connection with the statements by the witnesses Romanowski and Wiernik, leads to the conclusion that nearly all of the bodies of the victims were burned, all the more so since the camp was liquidated early and the murderers had much time. The ground of the camp was ploughed and sown. Ukrainians were settled there, who fled before the arrival of the Red Army (witnesses Kucharek and Lopuszyński)."
On August 9 and 10, 1946, Łukaszkiewicz, along with the surveyor Trautsolt and the court physician Wakulicz, searched for mass graves in the area of the camp Treblinka I. In the forest by the village of Maliszewa, about 500 m south of the camp, a total of 41 mass graves were found, of which 40 had been desecrated; many bodies were strewn around them. One grave was only partially violated, and from it 10 corpses were able to be recovered. The court physician examined 112 skulls and determined that only in two cases a shot in the head had been the cause of death. The entire surface of the graves amounted to 1,607 m2. Concerning the number of the bodies discovered, Łukaszkiewicz wrote:
"Due to the destruction of the graves, it is not possible to count the bodies which have been there. The medical expert Mieczysław Piotrowski affirms, however, that one grave of 2 × 1 × 1 m (without taking into consideration the upper level of earth which covers the bodies) contains at least 6 nude bodies. Considering the size of all 41 graves, and under the assumption that the levels of corpses reach only up to 1.5 m in depth (the depth of the graves is up to 3 m), one can calculate that at least 6,500 people were buried there."
On this occasion, the surveyor Trautsolt drew a map of the area of Treblinka I, on which he indicated the exact position of the graves. Of these, 17 were aligned in a row in a north-south direction; their total length was approximately 510 m.
This report provokes the following reflections:
- It may well be that a grave of 2 m × 1 m × 1 m can hold up to six bodies, but these measurements correspond to an entirely normal single grave. If one wished to dig mass graves, these would not have been merely one meter wide. Until evidence to the contrary, it is therefore to be assumed that such a grave contained only one body.
- These (mass-)graves could have been violated only in the period between October 1944 and August 1946, thus by the Poles, the Soviets, or by both simultaneously - but for what reason?
- If merely the remains of 122 people were found there, as the Polish judge remarks, where, then, were those of the other ca. 6,400?
The likeliest supposition would be that the bodies were dug up by the local authorities and buried at the cemetery of the nearby village, possibly also in the vicinity of the camp, where there is still a cemetery today. In this case, it would of course have been strange that Łukaszkiewicz had heard nothing of it. But there is yet another, more disturbing explanation, to which we shall later return: the alleged violation was presumably done in order to be able to exaggerate the number of victims of Treblinka I. If one takes the three mass graves found by the Soviets in August 1944 as a comparison, then the 41 graves, at the same density, would have been able to hold at most 3,000 bodies. On the other hand, Łukaszkiewicz had carelessly written in his report of December 29, 1945, that
"in this camp [Treblinka I] approximately 50,000 Poles and Jews were killed."
One further question suggests itself: Who were the dead in Treblinka I? One knows with certainty that a typhus epidemic was raging in that camp in the fall of 1943. In fact, a list was kept with the names of 148 prisoners who for the most part had succumbed to this illness from November 12 to December 20, 1943. The epidemic had broken out some months before, and for this reason a car with 11 tons of calcium hypochlorite was sent to Treblinka I on September 20 from the concentration camp at Lublin (Majdanek), which obviously was supposed to be scattered on the layers of bodies.
Since around 10,000 prisoners were interned in Treblinka I during the time of its existence, one can assume that the mass graves uncovered by the Soviets and Poles contained the bodies of all - or nearly all - who died there. That is, further graves or traces of mass cremations were not found.
3. Assessment of the Investigations
In her previously cited report, Rachel Auerbach spoke pompously of "physical evidence" and "corpora delicti." But actually neither the Soviets nor the Poles uncovered even the slightest scrap of proof that Treblinka II operated as an extermination camp. The Soviets, in their report of August 24, 1944 - cited in section 1 of this chapter - saw themselves compelled to make the following admission:
"At the present it is difficult to uncover the traces and secrets of this oven for the cremation of people, but based upon the available data, one can picture it."
Even the investigations performed by Łukaszkiewicz proved to be a complete failure in terms of this central question. He arranged excavation at a quite definite spot in the camp where, according to the witness S. Rajzman, a mass grave was located, but discovered nothing of the kind. He had trenches dug, 10-15 m long and 1.5 m deep, at the places where, according to witnesses, the two alleged buildings for gassing had stood, yet merely encountered "undisturbed layers of earth." To be sure, he did find skulls, but without wounds from shooting. All the evidence examined by him (coins, documents, rags, containers, remnants of various objects) show merely that there was a camp at that place, and the human remains as well as the ashes prove only that bodies were buried or cremated in the camp. Nothing produced even the trace of evidence for a mass murder, to say nothing of such a crime committed against several hundred thousand people.
Among the objects discovered, the skulls as well as the human body parts found in a state of decomposition deserve particular attention. From whom did they come? If we hold to the official historiography, this question remains unanswered. According to this, the cremation of the bodies exhumed from the mass graves was finished by August 2, 1943, the day of the prisoner revolt. During this revolt, at least 300 to 400 prisoners are supposed to have been killed within the camp or in the vicinity of the wire fence, and in the following three weeks, allegedly more than 30,000 Jews from the ghetto of Białystok were gassed, whose bodies neither the Soviets nor the Poles discovered. If there were such killings, these victims therefore must have been cremated. The same is true for the bodies of those killed in the revolt. The surviving prisoners were not, say, killed on the spot, rather they were transferred to Sobibór on December 20, 1943, as can be gathered from a corresponding Wehrmacht bill of lading. If decomposing body parts were found in November 1945, this discovery is also inconsistent with the thesis that the victims involved were murdered more than two years before. Finally, it is strikingly problematic that no single complete body was discovered.
From whom, therefore, did the skulls and body parts come? Were they perhaps taken from the mass graves of Treblinka I? Could these have been the remains of victims of the typhus epidemic, which had raged in the camp at the end of 1943? This hypothesis seems all the more plausible as none of the skulls exhibited gunshot wounds. It could also furnish an explanation for the odd circumstance that Treblinka II was bombed: the bombs destroyed not only the two buildings, which in all probability were left intact by the Germans, but also scattered the rotted body parts over a wide area and thus increased the horrible effect of the 'extermination camp'. In fact, the discovered body parts were thoroughly exploited in propaganda.
4. Plans of Treblinka
On his inspection of the area of the former camp Treblinka II of November 9 to 13, 1945, Łukaszkiewicz was accompanied by the sworn surveyor K. Trautsolt. With the help of witnesses, Trautsolt drew an accurate plan of Treblinka II as it was at that time. The plan, whose directional axes are transposed, shows an irregular quadrilateral whose sides have the following lengths:
- North side (actually the east side): 376.5 m
- East side (actually the south side): 471.5 m
- South side (actually the west side): 490 m
- West side (actually the north side): 240 m
Thus, the overall area of the Treblinka II camp was approximately 134,500 m2 (13.45 hectars).
On the plan the ruins, which existed in the camp area, are also entered: a burned out cellar ("piwnica spalona"), designated by the letter 'e', as well as the destroyed house of a settler ("dom burzony kolonisty"), marked with the letter 'l'.
On another, typographically identical map, surveyor Trautsolt added the facilities that had allegedly been present on the camp area according to witness testimony. Łukaszkiewicz published two versions of this map, of which the first is quite poor, the second of a higher quality. On the latter, the (alleged) extermination zone, also referred to by many witnesses as 'Camp II' within Treblinak II, is exactly shown. It is an irregular quadrilateral. If one takes the sides of the camp as a scale, it can be calculated how long the sides of the cremation zone had to have been:
- North side (east): 188 m
- East side (south): 110 m
- South side (west): 174 m
- West side (north): 52 m
This Camp II is the alleged Death Camp, a subsection of the Treblinka II camp, in which the two gassing installations, the mass graves, and the incineration pits are supposed to have been located. According to this, the surface area of this zone would have been some 14,000 m2 (1.4 hectars), that is, a tenth of the entire camp Treblinka II. The rest of the area of Treblinka II, also referred to as Camp I, housed the guards, camp administration, rag sorting and collecting locations, etc.
With respect to the shape and the size of the entire camp, this plan conforms quite accurately to the aerial photographs produced over Treblinka II in May and November 1944. On the other hand, the results of the forensic examinations have significantly less correspondence with what can be seen in these aerial photographs.
The air photo of May 15, 1944, shows five buildings in the northwest sector of the camp, in a trapezoidal zone of approximately 60 m × 100 m in size. In the south and east, it is bordered by a grove, in the west by the road then leading into the camp as well as by the fence existing at that time. Quite obviously, these buildings have nothing to do with the 'farmhouse,' which the SS is supposed to have constructed after the liquidation of the camp and in which it is supposed to have left behind a Ukrainian for the purpose of watching over the zone.
In the air photo of November 1944, one sees only two buildings still there; the three others have apparently been destroyed.
The camp Treblinka I was evacuated on July 23, 1944, and the German troops withdrew from the area around Treblinka at the end of July. Thus, when the Soviets took over the camp area in August 1944, they must have found the two buildings still intact, but, as already determined, they wrote in the report of September 15, 1944, that only "two burned-down farm buildings" were still standing on the camp area. In November 1945, when Łukaszkiewicz came on his tour of inspection, the two buildings no longer existed. Thus they had to have been destroyed by the Soviets or the Poles between September 1944 and November 1945. For what reason? It is highly probable that the other three houses were also destroyed by the Soviets or Poles. The SS in particular would have, in any event, destroyed all five instead of leaving two of them standing. For what purpose would it have done this? In order to leave behind one lonesome Ukrainian in the territory of the enemy? What could his mission even have been? The story is fishy.
Yet this is not the end of the curious aspects. Łukaszkiewicz found several bomb craters on the camp grounds and even two unexploded bombs. The largest crater was 6 m deep and possessed a diameter of approximately 25 m. Therefore the camp must have been bombed, and most surely not through an error. The Germans, who according to official historiography had wiped away all the traces of their crimes by dismantling the barracks, tearing down the walled structures, leveling, plowing the terrain and planting it with lupines, would have had no interest in bombing the camp, for in the first place there was nothing left to destroy, and in the second place, the craters produced by the bombs would have rendered visible the traces of the alleged mass murders. From an aerial image of the camp Treblinka II taken in November 1944, it is further revealed that the camp at that time - therefore after the area was taken by the Red Army - had not yet been bombed.
Thus, the bombardment must have been caused by the Soviets. But the camp Treblinka had already been liquidated in November 1943, and there were no military targets in its direct vicinity. Treblinka I, which was still in operation in May 1944, was not bombed. Why, therefore, did the Soviets drop bombs on Treblinka II? Perhaps in order to obliterate the many traces left behind by the SS, traces which could in no way be made compatible with the thesis of mass extermination, and to lay false tracks that seemed to confirm this thesis?
As far as the shape and size of the camp is concerned, one may regard the plans of the camp mentioned above as reliable, since firstly they were drawn by a professional surveyor on the basis of measurements done at the site, and secondly, they correspond well to the aerial photographs. One can therefore accept them as a standard for comparison for all plans, which were drawn earlier or later by ex-prisoners of the camp or based upon their descriptions. With one exception, which will be discussed later, the camp continually shows the shape of an irregular quadrilateral.
With respect to the buildings existing in the camp and other facilities, on the other hand, we depend entirely upon the statements of witnesses, since not a single German camp plan has been preserved. The differences between the plans produced by former inmates are less revealing than the graphical development of the so-called 'Camp II', thus of the alleged extermination camp.
On that plan, which was enclosed with the report of November 15, 1942, the entire camp is dominated by the two extermination facilities, as if the 'Camp I', the administrative sector with quarters, kitchens, storehouses etc., did not exist at all. The two steam execution installations with three or, respectively, ten chambers, which were then transformed into engine exhaust gas execution facilities by J. Wiernik on the map published in his writings of 1944, appear in all later plans with the same shape and in the same location. Thus, in the beginning, 'Camp I' was not depicted at all, and 'Camp II' consisted exclusively of the two Death Houses.
The first official plan of Treblinka was produced by the Soviet investigatory commission on September 24, 1944. It has the shape of an irregular quadrilateral, which corresponds to the actual form of the camp only in rough features. On this plan 'Camp I' possesses a clearly outlined structure, which was later adopted by the drawers of many other plans. But 'Camp II' is still dominated by the two extermination facilities (this time with air evacuation chambers), which are called 'Bath No. 1' and 'Bath No. 2' and which correspond to the steam execution facilities of the plan of November 15, 1942. The Soviets have added two further, continually recurring facilities: the undressing-barracks (60 m × 12 m) as well as the path surrounded by barbed wire, which leads to the execution facility and was later baptized 'hose'. On his plan drawn in 1945, J. Wiernik adopted the Soviet representation of the 'Camp I' and enriched 'Camp II' by two cremation grates, two watchtowers, a gallows, several workshops (for cabinetmakers, shoemakers, metal workers), quarters for the guard detachment, prisoners' kitchens, prisoners' barracks, a laboratory, women's quarters, a laundry as well as prisoners' showers. On this plan the mass graves are not yet individually shown. This first occurred at the Düsseldorf Treblinka Trial of 1964f., when State Prosecutor A. Spieß had an official camp plan made that happily displayed four "corpse pits."
The trail to this 'official' plan was obviously severely tortuous. Some plans, which arose in the direct post-war period, show quite substantial deviations even from the previously described copies. In 1946, Arie (Aleksander) Kudlik drew a plan, in which merely the second of the two extermination facilities is to be seen in 'Camp II', but there are five circles designated as "crematoria". The plan produced by the witnesses Laks and Płatkiewicz deviates even more firmly from the better known. N. Blumental, who published this drawing in 1946, described its origin as follows:
"The copy of the plan 'Death Camp Treblinka,' together with the explanation relating to it, was sent to the Jewish Central Historical Commission by Moszek Laks, who was called 'Mietek' in Treblinka. He arrived in the camp from Suchedniów (Kielce district) on September 22, 1942. According to the statement of the witness, the plan was made by him and by Mr. Płatkiewicz during his stay in the camp. The witness took part in the revolt and then escaped into the woods with the plan. From August 2 until January 17, 1945, Herr Laks remained in hiding. His credibility is confirmed by: Maniek Płatkiewicz, who participated in the Treblinka revolt. They drew the plan while potato peeling in the cellar during their stay in Treblinka. The witnesses have produced the original made in Treblinka, on which basis a corresponding copy was made."
If this is correct, the plan would have to be the most accurate of any drawn by the witnesses, for it is based not upon bare memory, but instead upon direct observation of the camp. It actually is the only one that depicts the form of the buildings and installations, which are numbered 1 to 53 and show diverse sub-numerations. The legend of the picture explains these buildings and installations, with short anecdotes from the camp history inserted now and then. The two authors mention installations, which are missing from the other plans, for example the sports field for the Ukrainian guard detachment (17), the recreation space with parasols and chairs for the SS-men (10), an armored vehicle always ready for action (12), the bicycle parking-place (11), the petrol station (15), the projecting roof for protection of the stove-oil containers (16), the vegetable gardens (4), the extinguishing basin (39), the maneuvering space for trucks (44), the coal supplies (45), a false train station, consisting of a barracks with the inscription "Obermajdanki," a clock and a placard with the inscription "Wołkowysk- Białystok Train Station," ticket room, time table, doors to the waiting rooms of the first, second, and third class with bar, all of it phony (50/1-6), four placards with information about the type of clothing, which the Jews had to deposit there when they had undressed (wool, silk etc.), and last of all some statues: that of a Ukrainian assault group advancing into battle (21), that of a shepherd pasturing his animals (32), that of Jews who are going to work with shovels and picks beneath the sign "To the Ghetto" (36). In the legend to the picture, there also appears an explicit reference to the mass killings - "Road to the Death Camp" - but it is the strangest thing that even this 'Death Camp', the 'Camp no. II', doesn't appear at all on this plan, as if it were an unimportant detail. Maybe the two artists did not yet know at that point in time how many extermination facilities they should show and how.
Samuel Willenberg rectified this deficiency more than forty years later by publishing a plan of the camp in his memoirs about Treblinka, in which the camp has the shape drawn by the surveyor Trautsolt, and the buildings are represented corresponding to the technique employed by Laks and Płatkiewicz. Of course 'Camp II' possesses those installations, which are supposed to have existed there according to the official version, i.e. the two alleged killing facilities, three mass graves, a cremation grate and a barracks for the Jewish prisoners.
As we shall see in the last chapter of this book, in all probability 'Camp II' contained facilities of quite a different kind.
5. Number of Victims of Treblinka: Origin of the Official Figure
In the preceding chapter we have seen that the report of November 15, 1942, was already speaking of two million murdered in Treblinka at that point in time. In his 1944 writing, J. Wiernik gave no exact number, but spoke merely of "millions of people." On April 24, 1944, the Soviet investigatory commission set the number of victims at three million. S. Rajzman, as the chief witness, subdivided the number of victims according to nations of origin. At his interview of September 26, 1944, he stated the following (the linguistic flaws here, as well, are the fault of the Soviet translator):
"Daily, 3-4 transports arrived in the camp. There were, of course, days on which 1-2 transports arrived, but that was an exception, not the rule. In each transport 6,000-7,000 people of Jewish nationality arrived. Our illegal groups, as I have already said, kept careful record of all contingents that arrived in the camp. Jews from various countries of Europe were brought into the camp. 120,000 arrived from Germany itself, and among them:
|Bulgaria and Greece||15,000|
Thus, since the records were kept, and indeed from October 1, 1940 to August 2, 1943 [sic!] - there were a total of 2,775,000 men, women, old people and children, of Jewish nationality brought into the camp."
Of course Wassili Grossmann adopted the Soviet three million figure. In December 1945, Łukaszkiewicz attempted a first detailed accounting of the claimed Treblinka victims and in doing so introduced those methods, which were supposed to become the standard procedure of the official historiography:
"It is clear that up to now an exact statement of the number of victims is still not possible. One should take care to note that the camp in Treblinka was no longer active from the Fall of 1943 and that the murderers had enough time to obliterate all traces. The most proper procedure, according to my opinion, would be to determine the number of transports as accurately as possible. Enumerations based upon the capacity of the chambers would not have been accurate, since it is of course unknown how frequently they were filled and to what degree. In determining the number of transports, I have referred to the testimony of witnesses, in particular train workers, and documents of the Treblinka station. In the time span from August 1942 until the middle of December 1942, the transports were extremely numerous. In this period I am assuming, with very conservative calculations, one transport per day. (Jewish witnesses declare that most of the time there were 3 transports daily, while Polish railway workers say 2). Afterward, in the period of time from the middle of January until the middle of May 1943, the average number of transports was one per week (witnesses: Reisman [sic] and Abe Kohn [sic] say that there were even 3 transports weekly). The number of cars in one transport was determined to be 50. (It emerges from the documents that many transports consisted of 50 cars.) The number of days in a month - 30; the number of weeks in a month - 4. In this way, we arrive at the total number of 7,500 cars from August 1, 1942, to May 15, 1943."
The author then cites some German railway documents, to which we shall return later and from which it can be seen that, from August 17 to August 23, 1943, 266 cars left Białystok for Treblinka. He continues:
"A total of 266 cars. I assume an average of 100 persons in a car. However, most of the witnesses say the number was 200. Thus, without any exaggeration, we must set the number of victims at 781,000. For illustration I add that I am able, on the basis of objective documents: telegrams, railway time-tables, bills of lading etc., to determine with complete accuracy the shipment of over 2,000 cars with Jews, although the documents mentioned represent only a small fraction of the railway documents. In my opinion, this proves that the above mentioned calculation is very conservative."
However, the Polish judge's claim, according to which 2,000 cars have been documented, does not correspond to reality. In the second of his two writings composed in 1946, he mentions the railway documents in his possession, to wit:
- the railway schedule no. 548 of August 3, 1942.
- the railway schedule no. 562 of August 25, 1942.
- the railway schedule no. 594 of September 21, 1942.
- the railway schedule no. 552 of February 1, 1943.
- the railway schedule no. 567 of March 26, 1943.
- the railway schedule no. 290 of August 7, 1943.
- railway placard of August 17, 1943.
- telegram of August 18, 1943.
From these documents a total of 809 cars can be counted. Two items are uncertain: the railway schedule no. 548 of August 3, 1942, in which one train per day with 58 cars is announced, and the railway schedule no. 552 of February 1, 1943, in which 6 transports with 12,000 persons are mentioned, but without a statement as to the number of cars. Under the assumption of a passenger density of 100 per car as assumed by Łukaszkiewicz, these 6 transports with an average of 2,000 occupants then had an average of 20 cars per transport, so that the total number of cars was not 2,000, but (809+6×20=) 929.
In the work mentioned, the author takes on his previously cited number of victims, yet undertakes some modifications. For the period of August 1, 1942, until December 15, 1942, he starts with 135 transports, which corresponds to one transport per day for 135 days. For the period from January 15, 1943 (according to him, no transports arrived between December 16, 1942, and January 14, 1943) until May 15, 1943, he assumes 16 transports (that is, 1 transport per week × 4 months × 4 weeks per month = 16 transports), thus a weekly transport during 16 weeks. He adds in the transports that arrived in August 1943, which according to him resulted in the following picture:
- August 17 and 18: 2 trains with 39 cars each = 78 cars
- August 18: 1 train with 35 cars
- August 21-23: 5 trains with 38 cars each = 190 cars.
Since he is assuming that each train had an average of 50 cars with 100 occupants per car, the (135+16=) 151 transports equal (151×5,000=) 755,000 deportees. For the 303 cars of August 1943, one arrives at 30,300 deportees, so that a total of (755,000 + 30,300 =) 785,000 people would have been sent to Treblinka; the author rounds this figure to 800,000.
In the report of December 1945, he had written that on August 17, 1943, a single train of 41 cars arrived at Treblinka, yet now he speaks of two trains with 39 cars each, which is surely more correct. In the ninth chapter we will return to this question.
The Jewish Central Historical Commission, to be sure, accepted Łukaszkiewicz's drastic reduction from the Soviet number of three million, but on the other hand held the figure of the Polish judge (800,000) to be too low. In her work, which appeared in 1946 and which has already been cited several times, Rachel Auerbach writes:
"On the basis of the commission's findings and of our own calculations, we believe that the figure of over 3,000,000 Jews killed in Treblinka, which has been cited by various authors, is definitely too high. The true figure was probably a little over one million.
The mass executions in Treblinka began on July 23, 1942, which that year happened to be the date of Tisha b'Av (the traditional Jewish day of mourning and fasting for the Temple in Jerusalem), and definitely ended in the middle of September, 1943. The largest number of transports were brought in during the months of August, September, October, November, and the first half of December, 1942. At the end of August there was a hiatus of one week because too many corpses and too much clothing had accumulated and the camp staff was unable to cope with the workload. Subtracting that one week, their still remain four and one half months, with 144 days of full 'production,' in the gas chambers. According to all the testimony that has been heard, one to three transports would arrive at Treblinka each day. Each transport consisted of an average of 6o boxcars, and each boxcar held between 80 and 150 people. According to a number of witnesses, there were days when the transports had above-average passenger loads, and the number of transports arriving was more than three. On such days the gas chambers were in operation until 1 a.m. and finished off more than 20,000 corpses within 24 hours. But on the other hand there were days when the transports were much smaller, particularly those from Germany, Czechoslovakia, and other west European countries, with the deportees arriving in passenger cars which were not so crowded (except that there were many trunks and special baggage cars). Besides, we must take into account the possibility that the witnesses might have counted each 20-car section which was brought onto the camp siding from the Treblinka station as a separate transport. [...]
Thus, we are assuming an average of one transport daily with 60 boxcars each, and 100 people in each car, for the 'busy season' of Treblinka 'production.' This would be equivalent to an average of 6,000 persons per day. Multiplied by 144 days this would yield a total of 864,000 souls.
From the middle of December, 1942 until the middle of January, 1943 - the Gentile holiday season - there was a pause in transports, a vacation of sorts. After this pause, the shipments became much less frequent. Two, or at most three, transports arrived each week. During March and April hardly any transports arrived. The last transport seen by the Jewish witnesses arrived in mid-May, 1943; it consisted mainly of people deported from Warsaw after the Warsaw ghetto uprising.
[...] We know for certainty that transports of Jews from Białystok arrived during that period. Taking into account all the information available to us, we figure that at least 25 transports of Jews perished in Treblinka between mid- January and September, 1943 (or about the time of the uprising) and about 10 transports after the uprising - or about 35 transports in all. According to our previous estimate of average number of cars per train and deportees per car, this makes a total number of 210,000 souls. Added to the total for the 'busy season' of transports, this would yield a grand total of 1,074,000; in other words, just over one million Jews."
The verdict of the Düsseldorf Jury Court of September 3, 1965, devoted a separate paragraph to the question of the number of victims of Treblinka:
"In the extermination camp Treblinka at least 700,000 persons were killed, predominantly Jews but also to a lesser extent Gypsies. These findings are based upon the expert report presented by Dr. Helmut Krausnick, the Director of the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, to the Jury Court. In his expert report, the expert has utilized all the devices customary in historical science and accessible to him in the German and foreign archives, among them the so-called Stroop Report [...], the protocols of the trial of major war criminals before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, and the incomplete official railway documents found after the war (schedules, telegrams, and railway placards) about the transports to Treblinka, which have been the subject of the main proceedings and which the Jury Court has placed at the disposal of the expert.
The expert Dr. Krausnick has said the following, inter alia:
According to the Stroop Report, in the period from July 22, 1942, to October 3, 1942, approximately 310,000 and in the period from January to mid-May 1943 approximately 19,000 Jews were brought in freight trains from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka."
However, the Stroop Report actually reads as follows:
"The first large resettlement action took place in the period from 22 July to 3 October 1942. In this action 310,322 Jews were removed. In January 1943 a second resettlement action was carried out by which altogether 6,500 Jews were affected."
Thus, Treblinka is not even mentioned in this passage of the Stroop Report. In the verdict it says further that from August 21, 1942, to August 23, 1943, transports arrived in Treblinka with Jews (but also Gypsies) from many other Polish cities as well as Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Greece. The judges go on to cite Krausnick as follows:
"An exact number of the persons taken to Treblinka in this manner, however, cannot be determined, since especially with regard to the railway transports only a portion of the railroad documents is at hand. Nevertheless, one may estimate the number of persons brought to Treblinka by freight and passenger trains - disregarding the approximately 329,000 Warsaw Jews - at about 271,000, if one assumes an average number of 60 boxcars per train, an average occupancy of 100 persons per boxcar and of 50 persons per passenger car, so that a freight train would have transported about 6,000 and a passenger train about 3,000 Jews to Treblinka."
Since, according to Krausnick, the numbers were often higher (why, then, were they taken as average figures?), and since thousands of Jews and Gypsies are supposed to have arrived by other means of transport, according to him the total number of victims had to be higher.
"For all of these reasons it would be scientifically supportable to estimate the number of the persons killed in Treblinka at being at least 700,000."
There is, however, not a lot of substance to the pompously invoked 'science' of this estimate. Aside from the fact that deportees are still a long way from being 'people killed', the number of 329,000 people deported from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka, although plausible in terms of the order of magnitude, is not documented at all, while the figure of 271,000 people brought from other places into the camp is a number plucked entirely from thin air. The resorting to the number and occupancy of cars of a deportation train merely serves to conjure up a basis for calculation, which in reality does not exist, because the number of the deportation trains is simply and plainly not known. The figures stated by Krausnick were obviously invented, every single one of them, in order to reach the result of (329,000 + 271,000 =) 600,000. Krausnick simply adds 100,000 invented deportees and in doing so does not once make the effort of even stating a fictitious source!
At the end of above quoted citation from the Düsseldorf verdict, A. Rückerl furnishes the following reference in a footnote:
"In an expert opinion given at the second Treblinka Trial in the Fall of 1969, the expert Dr. Scheffler came to the conclusion, based upon more recent research, that in the extermination camp of Treblinka a total of more than 900,000 people were killed, almost exclusively of Jewish descent."
As far as we know, this expert opinion of Wolfgang Scheffler has never been published. In 1976 Scheffler, in collaboration with one Ino Arndt, wrote an article, in which the succinct prose reads:
"According to the findings of the Jury Court in the first Düsseldorf Treblinka Trial (1964-1965), which are based upon (incomplete) documents (time-tables, telegrams, railroad car placards) evaluated by the professional rendering his expert opinion, upon the so-called Stroop Report, upon the literature, and upon witness testimony, in Treblinka at least 700,000 people, predominantly Jews but also Gypsies (approximately 1,000), were killed. The expert in the second Treblinka Trial (1969/70) arrived at a number of 900,000 victims based upon the most recent results of research."
The two authors refer in a footnote to an earlier Rückerl book, in which, however - here as well in a modest footnote! - the same exact thing appears! Thus, it is clear that the reference to "the most recent results of research" does not refer to any discovery of previously unknown documents - such are in fact not mentioned - but rather exclusively to new arithmetical acrobatics with large unknown factors (number and capacity of trains, period of the deportations).
With respect to the treatment of the number of victims, nothing better occurred to Stanisław Wojtczak, the author of the most substantially documented summary of the Treblinka literature (1975), than to take up the hypothesis of judge Łukaszkiewicz. He divides the history of the camp into three periods: during the first (July 23 to mid-December 1942) 640,000 people were murdered, during the second (January to mid-May 1943) 80,000 and during the third (August 2, 1943, to the closing of the camp) a further 30,000, therefore a total of 750,000.
In 1982, Uwe Dietrich Adam divided the camp history into two periods, that from July 23, 1942, to August 28, 1942, with 215,000 victims, and that from September 1942 to October 1943 with 485,000 victims, so that the total number of victims amounts to 700,000.
In his book, which appeared in 1987, Yitzhak Arad, as the only one to do so, has issued a detailed list of the transports to Treblinka. Since this is very long, we restrict ourselves here to reproducing the districts of origin and the numbers:
Divided according to year, Arad 's data give the following picture:
- 1942: 824,170
- 1943: 57,220
An accurate classification of these numbers by month is not possible, since the waves of deportation often began during one month and ended during the one following. But the following picture emerges as an approximation:
|July and August:||314,000||January:||28,220|
Arad names about 140 localities, from which deportations to Treblinka are supposed to have departed, and supplies in each case the exact number of the deported. Upon what source does he rely in doing this? He refers to censuses of the Jewish Councils in general, to memoirs and diaries of survivors, some Jewish studies and "documents of the German railway administration", concerning which he explains:
"If we consider that each fully loaded boxcar transported 100 to 150 people, we are able to determine the approximate number of the Jews taken along in each transport."
By which we would have wound up again, by good fortune, with the method of the judge Łukaszkiewicz!
Actually, Y. Arad - without admitting this - relies upon, more than anything else, the Atlas of the Holocaust by British-Jewish historian Martin Gilbert, first published in London in 1982. This work contains an abundance of numerical data about the deportation of Jews but maintains a total silence regarding the sources. As far as Poland - and, in particular, the deportations to Treblinka - is concerned, the figures of Gilbert are for the most part the product of fantasy: he has done nothing more than assign numbers snatched out of thin air to the individual locations from which real and contrived transports departed; numbers whose total sum came to the figure determined beforehand, of 840,000! Even a fleeting glance at the tables shows this incontrovertibly. For example, on table 168 there are approximately sixty locations of the Białystok district, from which transports are supposed to have departed for Treblinka on November 2, 1942. To this endless column of mostly unknown small country towns Gilbert allots extremely exact numbers of deportations. If there had really been precise figures for these small towns, they would naturally have been cited first and foremost by the Polish researchers and historians; but, as we have seen, the latter had to confine themselves to hypothetical enumerations of trains and cars.
This means that M. Gilbert's data about the transports to Treblinka were for the most part confabulated from thin air and are devoid of scientific value. Exactly the same thing applies to Y. Arad 's transport lists, which are based upon Gilbert's book.
In 1965, a little book appeared from the pen of one Manfred Burba, which contained statistics and a bar graph whose columns' heights indicate the number of Treblinka victims. Arranged by district and nation of origin, the numerical portion appears as follows:
|District Białystok:||122,000||Total (other nations):||29,000|
|Sum of Victims||All Victims|
The chart refers to the monthly number of victims. Though it contains no figures, these can be derived without difficulty from the height of the columns, which reflect the numbers:
|Total 1942:||837,000||Total 1943:||75,000|
Thus, according to M. Burba, 912,000 people were killed in Treblinka. Concerning his sources, the author writes:
"The calculation of the number of victims is essentially based upon documents of the German Reichsbahn [German imperial rail system] and upon surveys and censuses of the most diverse kind in the ghettos in occupied Poland as well as eyewitness narratives."
Yet in reality, Burba 's figures are based upon the previously mentioned lists of Y. Arad, with which he raised the number postulated by him (881,390) to 883,000 and added to it 29,000 deportees from Slovakia, Theresienstadt, and Greece, which are not mentioned by Arad.
The arbitrariness, with which such statistics are produced, is even more blatantly evident in the calculations of Ryszard Czarkowski, who devotes an entire chapter to them in his Treblinka book published in 1989. He divides the history of the camp into five periods:
|First Period:||June 25 to July 23, 1942|
|Second Period:||July 23 to December 15, 1942|
|Third Period:||December 15, 1942, to January 9, 1943|
|Fourth Period:||January 15 to August 2, 1943|
|Fifth Period:||August 2 to August 23, 1943.|
For the first period, Czarkowski relies upon the testimony of Jan Sułkowski, according to whom the gas chambers of the first killing facilities were put into operation on June 25, 1942, and from then on one transport of Jews daily arrived at Treblinka. Czarkowski, accepting the figures given by Łukaszkiewicz (50 cars per train, 100 persons per car), for a period of 30 days (June 25 to July 23) gets (30 × 50 × 100 =) 150,000 people deported to Treblinka and murdered there, even before the camp was opened!
For the second period, Czarkowski arbitrarily assumes 125 days of operation and 2 transports per day, so that in this time span not fewer than (125 × 2 × 50 × 100 =) 1,250,000 people are to be recorded as having been deported and murdered!
The figure for the third period he calculates in the following fashion: according to an issue of the newspaper Wiadomosc, 120,000 Jews were sent to Treblinka from August 19, 1942, to January 9, 1943. Czarkowski divides this number by the number of days contained in the time span involved, multiplies the result by the number of days between December 15 and January 9 and rounds the product to 22,000, and in doing so shows no concern whatever about the fact that the information appearing in said newspaper boldly contradicts his assumption for the second time period: if, from July 23 to December 15, 1942, 1,250,000 Jews were really deported to Treblinka and 22,000 from December 15, 1942, to January 9, 1943, then, from August 19 to December 15, 1942 (120,000-22,000=) 98,000, and from July 23 to August 19, 1942, (1,250,000-98,000=) 1,152,000 Jews had to have been taken to Treblinka, which gives an average of 41,000 per day for the period just named!
For the fourth period Czarkowski accepts the hypothesis proposed by Łukaszkiewicz of one transport per week, but he arbitrarily lengthens the time period of deportations by 6.5 weeks and by means of this artifice using 26 weeks, gets (26 × 50 × 100 =) 130,000 deportees.
For the fifth and final period, he adopts without reservation the 303 cars reckoned by Łukaszkiewicz; this corresponds to 30,300 deportees, which Czarkowski rounds to 30,000. Thus he comes up with (150,000 + 1,250,000 + 22,000 + 30,000=) 1,582,000 victims!
To be sure, this result is clearly naked insanity, yet the method employed by Czarkowski is exactly the same as that used by the other authors previously cited, with the exception of M. Gilbert and Y. Arad, who proceed more subtly in that - as demonstrated - they parcel out to a certain number of locations, according to utterly arbitrary criteria, a number of victims determined beforehand in order to create the illusion that the total number of those deported to Treblinka, along with their places of origin, are accurately known.
Even more remarkably, not one of these authors refers to the report made by the statistician Richard Korherr at the beginning of 1943 at the instruction of Heinrich Himmler, although very accurate numbers of the Jews deported to the supposed extermination camps are given in this. In his overview concerning the "Evakuierung der Juden" (evacuation of the Jews, Part 4 of the fifth chapter of his report), Korherr wrote:
"Transportation of Jews from the
Eastern provinces to the Russian east: 1,449,692
Processed through the camps in
the General Gouvernement area: 1,274,166
through the camps in the Warthegau: 145,302"
The camps considered as located "in the General Gouvernement area" are Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka; the camp in the Warthegau was Chełmno. The number given, 1,274,166, is the very number of victims, according to this historiography, of the three camps in the General Gouvernement up to the end of 1942. If this had been true, the following would have been the result of this: since Bełżec, to which usually 600,000 victims are ascribed, was closed in December 1942, and since Herr Dr. Scheffler himself postulates for Sobibór 180,000 as the total number of victims for the whole year of 1942, then (1,274,166 - 600,000 - 180,000 =) approximately 494,000 people would have to have been killed in Treblinka in 1942, and with the addition of a maximum number of 75,000 for the following year of 1943, one would arrive at 569,000. How can Herr Dr. Scheffler, who assumes for Bełżec not the usual 600,000, but 800,000 victims, speak seriously of 900,000 Treblinka victims? According to his numbers, in the year 1942 a total of 1,880,000 people had to have been 'gassed' in the three camps of the General Gouvernement area, thus 600,000 more than were 'processed' according to the Korherr Report!
In this section we wish to demonstrate not so much the differences in the numerical data of the various authors as the incredible superficiality and illogic of their method. Since they are all speaking not only of deportees, but of people murdered - therefore of people who are supposed to have been killed by means of exactly described techniques - the shocking method of their calculations is coupled with an astonishing lack of critical intellect, which often verges on dullness and is strikingly apparent when compared with the two isolated representatives of official historiography who have brought at least a modicum of critical thinking to this field.
In the year 1953, Gerald Reitlinger was already writing:
"It would in any case have been impossible to gas the greater part of the 310,000 Jews who were deported from Warsaw, together with an unknown proportion from other ghettos, in three gas chambers, each measuring fifteen feet square, in no more than seventy-five working days."
Faced with salvaging what could be salvaged in light of this impossibility, he deduced:
"Therefore a large proportion must have died in the trains."
This is likewise an untenable claim: according to the train schedule no. 548 of August 3, 1942, the trip from Warsaw to Treblinka in particular lasted only 3 hours and 55 minutes, and even if the conditions in the overcrowded trains were execrable, under no circumstances could they have resulted in a mass-dying among the occupants.
In an interview granted by Jean-Claude Pressac in 1995, which was published for the first time in 2000 with changes made according his wishes, Jean-Claude Pressac proposed his own original statistics for the alleged victims of the eastern camps, in which he started fundamentally with their attested capacity for extermination:
"I have attempted to determine the number of victims of the camps designated as extermination camps on the basis of material facts: the surface area of the gas chambers and number of the persons which they could hold; time for a gassing; number of gassings daily; number of transports arriving daily with consideration of the actual capacity of the chambers, etc. In comparison with the numbers of Hilberg, which are based upon Polish sources, I arrive at the following figures:
- Chełmno: 80,000 to 85,000 instead of 150,000;
- Belzec: 100,000 to 150,000 instead of 550,000;
- Sobibor: 30,000 to 35,000 instead of 200,000;
- Treblinka: 200,000 to 250,000 instead of 750,000;
- Majdanek: fewer than 100,000 instead of 360,000;"
If we take the lowest of his estimates, Pressac therefore reduces the total number of victims of these five 'extermination camps' (Auschwitz is not considered in the statistics) from 2,010,000 to 510,000. But the number given by him for Majdanek - the only one of these camps from which documentary data were obtained - is still more than double the actual number, for the documents reveal that in Majdanek about 42,300 (Jewish and non-Jewish) prisoners died. One page later Pressac adds:
"Concerning the massacre of the Jews, several fundamental notions must be questioned. The given numbers [by official historiography] are to be thoroughly revised. The expression 'genocide' is no longer suitable."
Since Pressac does not rely upon documents, but merely upon the theoretical maximum capacity of extermination facilities, whose existence remains unproven, his numbers are of course extremely contestable, but one thing is certain: whoever speaks of a mass extermination in Treblinka - to confine ourselves here to this camp - cannot blindly accept the monstrosities claimed by the witnesses and is not released from the duty of soberly taking into consideration that, which Pressac calls "material facts." We shall return to this point in the following chapter.
Finally, the reader's attention may be directed to one more grotesque statistical detail, which arises out of the claim that because of the over-loading of the first 'gas chamber' building with only three killing-chambers another large building with ten more chambers was constructed.
According to the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, this new building was being constructed into October of 1942. Consequently, we assume that this installation began operations in November 1942. According to the same Encyclopedia, the chambers in the old building had a total area of about (3 × 4 × 4 m2 =) 48 m2, but the new ones had a total area of 320 m2. From November 1942, therefore, (48 m2 + 320 m2 =) 368 m2 were available in the camp for mass killing. The ratio of the areas before and after November 1942 was thus 48 m2 ÷ 320 m2 = 1:6.67.
As already stated, according to Y. Arad, 694,000 people are supposed to have been murdered in Treblinka up to the end of October 1942, but after that 'only' 187,390 more. The ratio of the killings in the time intervals up to the end of October 1942 and after that is therefore 1:0.27. If one assumes that the original three small 'gas chambers' were used at 100% of their capacity up to the end of October 1942 - otherwise there would have been no reason to build the new, larger building - for the thirteen gas chambers which were available from November 1942, there was a utilization factor of only (0.27÷6.67=) 4%!
The question that occurs in light of this statistical fact is obvious: For what reason are the ten new, larger 'gas chambers' supposed to have been built, if afterwards they were not needed at all? The grotesque contradiction between mass killings claimed for the respective time periods and the massive expansion of extermination capacity maintained by the witnesses is strong evidence that the latter claim is based not upon facts but rather has an origin in propaganda: three 'gas chambers' were simply not monstrous enough. The demonic nature of the German had to be undergirded with ever escalating 'facts.'
|Time span||# of chambers||Area||Number of murdered||Utilization claimed|
|Up to the end of October '42:||3||48 m2||694.000||100%|
|From November 1942:||10+3||368 m2||187.390||4%|
|||GARF, 7021-115-11, pp. 15-43.|
|||Document n. 1, undated but clearly compiled on August 22 or 23, 1944. GARF, 7021-115-11, p. 1.|
|||Document n. 2, August 23, 1944. GARF, 7021-115-11, p. 2.|
|||Document n. 3, August 23, 1944. GARF, 7021-115-11, p. 3.|
|||Document, August 24, 1944. GARF, 7021-115-9, pp. 103-110.|
|||GARF, 7021-115-8, pp. 217-221.|
|||In the German language.|
|||Even if so, the Germans would have called it "Todeslager," as "Tod-Lager" is a construction which would never be used by a German speaker.|
|||In the manuscript "up to 7,000 people" originally appeared, but this was corrected by hand.|
|||GARF, 7021-115-11, pp. 43-47.|
|||See section 4.|
|||Donat, op. cit. (note 4), p. 19.|
|||R. Auerbach, "In the fields of Treblinka," op. cit. (note 29), pp. 70-72. according to A. Donat, the trip took place on November 7, 1945, while Judge Łukaszkiewicz names November 6 as the date (see below).|
|||USSR-344. GARF, 7445-2-126, p. 319 (p. 1 of the report).|
|||Reproduction of the document in S. Wojtczak, op. cit. (note 61), pp. 183-185.|
|||USSR-344. GARF, 7445-2-126, pp. 19a-20 (p. 3f of the report).|
|||Ibid., p. 324a (p. 12).|
|||Z. Łukaszkiewicz, "Obóz pracy w Treblince," in: Biuletyn Głównej Komisji Badania Zbrodni Niemieckich w Polsce, III, 1947, p. 120. - Cf. also S. Wojtczak, op. cit. (note 61), p. 135. Wojtczak claims that according to the expert Piotrowski, the graves contain 10,000 bodies.|
|||See Document 6 in the Appendix.|
|||USSR-344. GARF, 7445-2-126.|
|||Reproduction of the document in S. Wojtczak, op. cit. (note 61), pp. 159-164.|
|||J. Gumkowski, A. Rutkowski, Treblinka, op. cit. (note 78), reproduction on unnumbered page.|
|||Informator encyclopedyczny, op. cit. (note 65), p. 528.|
|||Y. Arad, op. cit. (note 72), p. 298.|
|||Cleared up by Z. Łukaszkiewicz, Obóz straceń w Treblince, op. cit. (note 38), p. 61.|
|||Both of the buildings are clearly visible on an aerial photograph of November 1944, thus after the invasion of the area by the Red Army, but it is not clear whether they are intact or partially burned out: U.S. National Archives, Ref. No. GX 12225 SG, exp. 259; the exact date of the photograph, which was published by John C. Ball for the first time, is unknown, cf. Photograph 11 in the Appendix.|
|||See Document 7 in the Appendix. A similar, simplified plan was reproduced by A. Neumaier, "The Treblinka Holocaust", in: G. Rudolf (ed.), op. cit. (note 81), p. 483; cf. Document 8. As is obvious from the plan, it originates from the archive of the Main Commission for the Investigation of Hitler Crimes in Poland (Głównej Komisji Badania Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Polsce).|
|||The north-south line on the map actually corresponds to the east-west line.|
|||See Document 9 in the Appendix.|
|||See Document 10 in the Appendix.|
|||See Photograph 10 in the Appendix.|
|||Rückerl, NS-Vernichtungslager..., op. cit. (note 62), p. 240. This settler, who allegedly was named Strebel, as we have seen, is supposed to have fled shortly before the arrival of the Red Army according to the Soviet report of August 24, 1944.|
|||See Photograph 11 in the Appendix.|
|||. Wojtczak, op. cit. (note 61), p. 130.|
|||The body parts found on the camp grounds by the Poles are rationally explainable only by bomb explosions.|
|||See Document 2 in the Appendix.|
|||Cf. Chapter II, Section 5.|
|||See Document 4 in the Appendix.|
|||See Document 11 in the Appendix.|
|||See Document 12 in the Appendix.|
|||See Document 13 in the Appendix.|
|||See Document 14 in the Appendix.|
|||Wydawnictwo Centralnej Żydowskiej Komisji Historycznej (ed.), Dokumenty i Materiały, op. cit. (note 40), p. 190.|
|||See Document 15 in the Appendix.|
|||S. Willenberg, Revolt..., op. cit. (note 83), p. 6.|
|||Donat, op. cit. (note 4), p. 185.|
|||See Section 1 of this chapter.|
|||USSR-337. GARF, 7445-2-126, p. 240.|
|||W. Grossmann, Die Hölle von Treblinka, op. cit. (note 26), p. 32.|
|||USSR-344. GARF, 7445-2-126, pp. 323-323a (p. 9f. of the report).|
|||Z. Łukaszkiewicz, Obóz straceń w Treblince, op. cit. (note 38), pp. 36-39.|
|||R. Auerbach, "In the fields of Treblinka," op. cit. (note 29), pp. 52ff.|
|||Rückerl, NS-Vernichtungslager..., op. cit. (note 62), pp. 197f.|
|||PS-1061. IMT, Vol. XXVI, pp. 634f.|
|||Rückerl, NS-Vernichtungslager..., op. cit. (note 62), pp. 198f.|
|||Ibid., p. 199.|
|||Ino Arndt, Wolfgang Scheffler, "Organisierter Massenmord an Juden in nationalsozialistischen Vernichtungslager" in: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Volume 2, 1976, pp. 127f.|
|||Adalbert Rückerl, NS-Prozesse, Verlag C.f. Müller, Karlsruhe 1971, p. 38.|
|||S. Wojtczak, op. cit. (note 61), pp. 151f.|
|||Uwe Dietrich Adam, "Les chambres à gaz," in: Colloque de l'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Allemagne nazie et le génocide juif, Gallimard-Le Seuil, Paris 1985, pp. 248f.|
|||Y. Arad, op. cit. (note 72), pp. 392-397.|