Treblinka was a death camp built 60 miles north-east of Warsaw. Treblinka's sole purpose was to murder. Whereas Auschwitz-Birkenau had factories attached to the vast complex there, Treblinka did not. Compared to a camp such as Auschwitz, Treblinka was very small - just 400 metres by 600 metres in size. In total, the camp covered just 17 hectares. However, unlike Auschwitz, it did not need space as 99% of those who arrived at Treblinka were dead within two hours.
Treblinka was built in 1942. To start with, the organisation of Treblinka was chaotic. The gas chambers broke down and trains bringing Jews were kept waiting with their 'cargo' still on board. The bodies of those murdered were not properly disposed of. The commandant, SS-Obersturmführer Eberl, proved incapable of running the camp. However, when a new SS commandant arrived, SS- Obersturmführer Franz Stangl, pictured above, the problems were swiftly sorted out and Treblinka was capable of murdering thousands of people a day.
A form of gallows humour existed among the SS at Treblinka. The victims were told that they had to take money to use the showers - a zloty - which was collected by Ukranian guards at the entrance to the gas chambers. This practice was eventually stopped. Stangl wanted Treblinka to be as efficient as was possible and such issues were to him a triviality that trespassed on good practice. Stangl's prime concern was to reduce the time it took between the arrival of the victims and their murder. At his trial after the war, Stangl claimed that Treblinka could murder 15,000 people in 14 hour period.
have done nothing to anybody that was not my duty. My conscience is
Treblinka was shut in November 1943. Himmler had visited the camp earlier in the year and had ordered that the camp should be wiped off the map of Poland. What had been built at Treblinka was destroyed by those who had built it and replaced with trees and shrubs. It is thought that as many as 850,000 were murdered at Treblika.