The Extermination Camp, Treblinka: An Overview

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The Extermination Camp in Treblinka was built in the spring of 1942 near an existing penal labor camp and covered an area of 17 hectares. The camp was surrounded by a high barbed wire fence camouflaged with interwoven greenery to hide what was happening inside. Anti-tank obstacles ("Spanish horses") and rolls of barbed wire were placed outside the fence. Watch towers were additionally positioned around the camp.

The staff consisted of 25-30 Germans and Austrians who supervised the camp together with a guard company of about 100 men, mostly Ukrainians.

The first camp commandant was Dr Irmfried Eberl who was later replaced by Franz Stangl, with Kurt Franz as deputy commandant. The commander of this camp was eventually sentenced to life in prison.

On June 22, 1942 the first transports of people arrived, Jews deported from the Warsaw ghetto. From that day onwards, Jews were delivered to the camp from occupied Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, Yugoslavia and the USSR, as well as from Germany and Austria.

Polish and German Gypsies were also sent there. They were killed by exhaust fumes in gas chambers specially built for the purpose and it has been estimated that about 850,000 people were killed here.

When a person would come to Treblinka, they would arrive on a train at a depot that would look extraordinarily similar to that of a normal train station replete with schedules, clocks, ticket counters and all. At this point the people who were sick, invalids, and cripples were taken to the side and led into a building disguised like an infirmary flying a red cross flag. They were led through a lobby complete with upholstered chairs and then led through a door, shot in the neck and thrown into a pit.

In order to erase traces of the crime...