Documented History

As with Belzec and Sobibór, very few documents about Treblinka have surfaced after the war, but they allow us to draw a rough image of this camp’s history.

There were actually two camps at Treblinka. The first, later called Treblinka I, was a mere labor camp near a gravel pit. It was officially established by ordinance of the Governor of the Warsaw District dated 15 November 1941. The order to construct the camp, in which its purpose is also stated, was published on 16 December 1941 in the occupational government’s Official Gazette for the Warsaw District. The mining of gravel from the pits near Treblinka I was managed by a “SS Special Unit Treblinka,” which ran a formal company whose name translates to “German Earth and Rock Works, Inc., Gravel Works Treblinka.”

Treblinka II was some 2 km away from Treblinka I. It was established in the first half of 1942. One document relating to this is a labor certificate about building a railway spur from the main line up to the camp. It was issued by Central Construction Office of the Waffen-SS and Police Warsaw on 1 June 1942, and was valid for 15 days. The names of two German companies involved in constructing the camp are known. Also known are several documents from June and July 1942 that deal with the procurement of construction material for the expansion of the Treblinka Camp, hence for setting up Treblinka II. These documents list 1,300 meters of electric cables, 90 light bulbs and other lighting fixtures, but most importantly large quantities of water pipes (at least 160 m) and many pipe fittings, as well as fixtures needed to extract large amounts of water from a well. These items were evidently needed to build a sanitary installation of a significant size.

In what follows, if there is no qualifier, the terms Treblinka and Treblinka Camp refer to the Treblinka II Camp, hence the alleged extermination camp.

Numerous wartime documents confirm the deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka. Among them are railway schedules showing that a train went every day from Warsaw to Treblinka, returning empty. Another document shows that each train contained 5,000 Jews, and yet another that, between 22 July and 3 October 1942, 310,322 Jews were “removed” from the ghetto. The 22nd of July is therefore also the date when the Treblinka Camp is said to have started operating.

There are numerous documents regarding the organization of these “resettlement” transports, as they were officially called. On 21 August 1942, one month into the evacuation of the Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, the responsible Higher-SS leader reported to Goebbels on the deportations. He told Goebbels that the Jews are now “established in the East.” (See the entry on Joseph Goebbels.)

Finally, there is a telegram sent by Hans Höfle to the SS headquarters in Berlin on 11 January 1943, which was intercepted and deciphered by the British (see the entry on Hans Höfle). It states that, by the end of 1942, 713,555 Jews had arrived at “T”, which probably stands for Treblinka. The message contains no indications regarding the fate of the deportees.

There are also a few documents dealing with transports of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto which evidently went through Treblinka and ended up in the German-occupied eastern territories of the Soviet Union.

In 1943, the German authorities started relocating tens of thousands of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto who were employed by companies important to the war effort, to local concentration and labor camps. The companies were relocated as well, so these Jews could keep working for them. The Jews resisted that relocation, leading to the famous uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto, starting on 19 April 1943 and lasting until 16 May 1943.

Jews arrested during that uprising were either executed or sent to Treblinka, presumably to be eliminated there according to the Stroop Report, which summarized the events of the ghetto uprising from a German point of view. However, there are numerous witness accounts of Jews stating that, during the ghetto uprising, hundreds upon hundreds of Jews were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto through Treblinka to other camps, or sometimes directly to other camps. Several orthodox studies show in fact that tens of thousands of these uprising Jews were sent to other camps, among them primarily Majdanek. Many of the respective trains transited through Treblinka.

The Jews of the Białystok Ghetto suffered not quite as harsh a fate when that ghetto was dissolved in August of 1943. Eventually, some 25,000 Jews were deported to Treblinka, and orthodox historians have shown that most of them ended up in Majdanek, while others were sent to Auschwitz. Therefore, these deportees were all merely transited through Treblinka.

Propaganda History

Starting in late May 1942 and stretching into mid-July 1942, several reports of the Polish underground reported that Jews were deported in masses to Treblinka, where they were massacred by either getting buried alive, clubbed to death, shot or gassed. However, the camp was still under construction at that time, and Jews were deported to Treblinka only starting on 22 July 1942.

Only a month after deportations of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka began, the Polish underground press started reporting about it. Claims of mass murder, committed with a wide variety of conflicting killing methods, point to the propaganda purpose of these messages. Several early stories mentioned mobile gas chambers that could be moved over pits, where the dead bodies they contained were then dumped through some tipping mechanism.

The report of 8 September 1942 switched from mobile gas chambers to mobile gassing victims: it claimed that a convenient gas with a delayed effect was used which allowed the evidently cooperative victims to walk to their mass graves and fall into them before dying.

The author of an article published in the Yiddish periodical Oif der Vach (On Guard) dated 20 September 1942 wasn’t sure whether the Jews at Treblinka were gassed or electrocuted, but he was certain that, after the murder was completed, the room’s floor opened up and discharged the bodies “into a machine.” This rumor reflects false stories spread about the Sobibór Camp. The article also claimed that two more such camps existed: one in Belzec, and the other “in the vicinity of Pinsk,” which is totally made up.

A Polish underground report of 5 October 1942 reports about a “20 HP internal-combustion engine, which is in operation around the clock,” hence evidently driving an electricity generator. However, the engine’s fuel had been mixed with some “toxic fluids,” resulting in toxic exhaust gases used to kill the Jews. The report claimed a death toll of 320,000 Jews already by the end of August 1942 (that is, after just six weeks of operation), at which point only a little over 200,000 Jews had been deported to Treblinka.

Chroniclers of the Warsaw Ghetto (Emmanuel Ringelblum’s group) noted in late September 1942 that ordinary steam was used for mass murder at Treblinka. On 9 October 1942, they rumored that a “giant electric chair” – probably some huge electrocution facility – was used there to kill ten thousand Jews and Poles a day. Not even a week later, these chroniclers noted about Treblinka: “Method of killing: gas, steam, electricity.” It’s good practice to cover all bases.

A report of mid-October 1942 claimed that Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto were sent to Treblinka and Belzec Camps in trains sprinkled with chlorine and lime – a fable clearly inspired by Jan Karski’s black-propaganda rumors about mass murder by chlorinated-lime trains. Once they had arrived at the camps, the surviving Jews were supposedly murdered in a gas chamber. However, no Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto were ever deported to Belzec.

Several underground reports of October and November 1942 asserted that Jews deported to Treblinka were killed in gas chambers, without giving any specifics. One of the reports claiming to be an eyewitness story states that the gassing victims had a “bluish color.” However, carbon-monoxide gassing victims look distinctly reddish-pink, not bluish. The story was accompanied by a completely invented camp map.

On 25 November 1942, The New York Times published their first mention of the camp. They gave no details, other than to say that people shipped there were “mass-murdered” (p. 10). But this had the effect of bringing attention to the camp to a wide public audience.

A telegram dated 4 December 1942 from the Jewish Agency in Tel Aviv to the World Jewish Congress in New York claimed that Jews at Treblinka were either killed by pumping out the air or with some poison gas.

A Polish underground report sent to London on 31 March 1943 asserted that Treblinka was equipped “probably” with 100 (!) gas chambers. Another report sent with the same batch stated that three murder methods were used at Treblinka: Initially, the deportees were shot with machine guns, then they were steamed in steaming chambers, and finally they were killed during transit in Jan-Karski-style trains with floors covered with quicklime.

A Polish underground report of late April 1943, essentially repeated a month later, claimed that 15,000 Jews were murdered in Treblinka every day in an unspecified gas chamber. Their corpses were initially buried, but later, they used “corrosive acids so strong that the body together with the bones becomes shapeless and gets reduced to dust.” This is clearly fantasy-fiction.

On 25 June 1943, The New York Times reported that trainloads of Bulgarian Jews were being transported “to Treblinka camp, where the gas chambers can handle as many as 7,000 executions daily” (p. 4).

An alleged witness account of August 1943 mentioned “eight barracks built for 7,000 men,” but then, only one building “was flooded with gas.”

In November 1943, Marek Ptakowski mentioned “electric furnace engines” which had produced three million victims in just half a year. However, murder was carried out either by machine-gun fire, by burning in electric furnaces, by gas chambers, or by killing them directly in the trains, which entered “a huge hall, from where they returned full of corpses.”

A Polish underground report of 8 September 1943 mentions the inmate uprising of 2 August 1943. Orthodox historians assume that some 100 inmates managed to escape during that event, hence some 100 eyewitnesses, which should have been able to provide detailed, consistent and more or less identical descriptions on the alleged mass-murder method used at Treblinka. However, after that mass escape, the same more-or-less-senseless stories continued to circulate, with a focus on extermination by water vapor.

All the claimed killing systems mentioned above occurred sporadically and very briefly in the various reports about Treblinka. The killing method mentioned most often and described in detail was steam. It occurred for the first time in an account by the witness Jakub Rabinowicz in the second half of September 1942. It became the prevailing “truth” two months later, when the Warsaw Ghetto’s underground movement composed a long article dated 15 November 1942 that contained a very detailed description of the Treblinka Camp and its operations. It mentions a gas-chamber building killing with steam that consisted of ten chambers, each 35 square meters large, five each on both sides of a 3-m-wide corridor. A diesel motor is claimed to have provided the camp with electricity. By the time the report was written, the camp allegedly had already two million Jewish victims.

This report was sent to the Polish government in exile in London in early 1943. An English translation titled “Treblinka. Official Report Submitted to the Polish Government” appeared in 1943 in the anthology The Black Book of Polish Jewry. Since this was the Polish government’s official position, but also because it was said to be based on an eyewitness account and was very detailed, it was considered reliable, was widely disseminated, and was promptly echoed by subsequent reports and accounts too numerous to mention here.

Most of these reports were the work of journalists and propagandists, not of first-hand witnesses. Although they claimed to rely on witness accounts, these are never named. That changed after the Treblinka region had been conquered by the Red Army. Soon thereafter, Soviet and Polish commissions were set up and started interviewing survivors, railway employees and local residents.

The Soviets were the first to set up a commission. As a summary of the testimonies they collected – among them prominently Jankiel Wiernik’s 1944 book – the commission wrote on 24 August 1944 that every victim was “given soap, a towel and underclothing” on the way to the “bath.” However, this was not claimed by any witness. It is moreover safe to say that no sane executioner would have issued those items to thousands of people about to be killed, but only if they were about to take a shower and get fresh clothes afterwards.

If we follow the Soviet report, the execution facility allegedly “consisted of 12 chambers, each 6 × 6 m in size. 400 to 500 people were driven at a time into one chamber,” which would have resulted in an unlikely packing density of 11 to 14 people per square meter. The execution was carried out by a machine that “pumped the air out of the room.” Hence execution by vacuum. These claims were allegedly based on statements by the witnesses Abe Kon, Hejnoch Brener and Samuel Rajzman. However, creating a vacuum in a brick-and-mortar building is technically impossible (the external pressure would crush the walls), hence most certainly was not done. As a death toll, the report claimed three million victims, four times more than is currently claimed by the orthodoxy.

On 11 September 1944, the Soviet press agency TASS released a press release that deviated somewhat from the commission report. It mentioned an initial three-chamber facility, plus a later eight-chamber facility, operated with an unnamed gas rather than vacuum, and with observation windows in the door.

On 15 September 1944, a mixed Polish-Soviet commission issued a report summarizing its findings. It claimed that the camp’s gas-chamber facility had three rooms. Initially, victims were killed by “pumping the air out of rooms by means of a small car motor,” but later, unnamed chemicals were used instead. The chambers had roof windows for observations, a feature commonly claimed by witnesses about the Sobibór execution facility.

Also in September of 1944, during the Soviet investigations into Treblinka, Soviet-Jewish propagandist Vasily Grossman visited the area. Afterwards, he wrote a long article titled “Treblinka Hell,” which was later published by various outlets. It repeated the claims made by Jankiel Wiernik in his June 1944 essay, including the 3-million death-toll claim, but as a second murder method, it also mentioned “pumping the air out of the chambers with special pumps.”

Rachel Auerbach created her own version of Treblinka in a 1946 article, by mostly relying on Jankiel Wiernik’s script. However, she added a few absurd claims, such as self-immolating bodies, blood as an excellent fuel, and fat extracted from burning bodies. (See the entry dedicated to her.)

More witnesses were interrogated during the Polish investigations in preparation of the show trial against Ludwig Fischer, the German wartime governor of the Warsaw District (17 December 1946 to 3 March 1947).

Testimonies of identified witnesses recorded in the years 1942 through 1946, when memories were still fresh, unadulterated and most reliable – or so one should think – are listed in the following table. The date given after the name in the first column indicates when the respective deposition was made.


Claimed Murder Method

Miscellaneous Claims

Dawid Nowodowski / 18 August 1942

no mass murder claimed

Jakub Rabinowicz / 2nd half Sept. 1942

no method stated/steam/
gas, steam, electricity

diesel electricity generator

Abraham Krzepicki / Oct./Nov. 1942?


Abraham Krzepicki / after 26 Dec. 1942

gas, coming from pipes on the roof

saw normal shower room;
built crematorium building

Jankiel Wiernik / September 1943?


Jankiel Wiernik (?) / November 1943

initially machine guns
later unspecified gas chambers

3 million victims

Jankiel Wiernik / 6 June 1944

exhaust gas from Soviet tank-engine as electricity generator

yellow corpses; millions of victims; plagiarized map

Jankiel Wiernik / 4 January 1947

unspecified gas in chambers

2.5 million victims by Feb 1943, self-immolating corpses

Samuel Rajzman / 28 July 1944

initially vacuum
later toxic gas

10 chambers, 700-800 people each; 2,774,000 casualties

Samuel Rajzman / August 1944

initially vacuum
later gas

Samuel Rajzman / 26 September 1944

initially vacuum
later chlorine or Zyklon B

Abe Kon / 17 August 1944


12 chambers, 6 m × 6 m each
400 persons/m²

Abe Kon / 22 August 1944

gas (“turned on”)

12 chambers, 6 m × 6 m each
400 persons/m²

Abe Kon / 9 October 1945


12 chambers

Hejnoch Brener / 17 August 1944

no method stated

5,000 victims per batch

Hejnoch Brener / 9 October 1945


Stanisław Kon / 18 August 1944

no method stated

3 million victims total

Stanisław Kon / 18 August 1944

initially machine guns
later vacuum or exhaust gas

fireproof excavator dumped bodies on burning pyres

Kazimierz Skarżyński / 22 August 1944


Kazimierz Skarżyński / 23 August 1944

no method stated

special chamber”

Abraham Goldfarb / 21 September 1944

1st facility: engine gas; 2nd facility: first chlorinated lime, then engine gas

1st facility: tractor engine for both gassing and electricity

Abraham Goldfarb / 1986?

gas chamber

dead victims standing upright
chlorinated lime in trains

Oskar Berger / 1945

initially machine guns, later gas

Eugeniusz Turowski / 7 October 1945

initially machine guns
later gas chambers

ventilators in gas chambers
and under cremation grates

Oskar Strawczyński / 7 October 1945

vacuum or engine exhaust gas

Henryk Poswolski / 9 October 1945

after air evacuation, introduction of diesel exhaust gas

collapsible floors with cart underneath

Szyja Warszawski / 9 October 1945

first chlorine, then engine-exhaust gas

chlorinated lime in trains
self-immolating bodies

Aleksander Kudlik / 10 October 1945

after air evacuation, introduction of exhaust gas

Aron Czechowicz / 11 October 1945

liquid poured through roof chimneys, while engine runs

Henryk Reichman / 12 October 1945

after air evacuation, introduction of exhaust gas

victims black and blue
self-immolating bodies

Silvia Kersch / 12 December 1945

burned alive in 4 big furnaces

4 tall chimneys

Leon Finkelsztein / 28 December 1945

engine-exhaust gas
on engine failure, chlorine

chlorinated lime in trains
self-immolating bodies

Samuel Willenberg / 1945

no method stated


Samuel Willenberg / 1986

diesel-engine exhaust gases

from Soviet tank engine

Szymon Goldberg / 1946

after air evacuation, introduction of car exhaust gas; ether; chlorine

Jan Sułkowski / 1948

execution from a death bridge

Whereas propaganda messages of the Polish-Jewish underground during the war primarily claimed that mass murder at Treblinka was committed with steam, wartime and immediate post-war witnesses have two main foci: vacuum and engine-exhaust gas, with the latter gaining the upper hand as time went on. But there are always many other claimed methods, and several witnesses couldn’t agree on a method, or claimed diverging methods throughout the camp’s history. Again others changed their mind regarding the claimed murder method within just a few days, when interviewed again. One witness even flip-flopped twice (Abe Kon).

A detailed analysis of all these witness statements (see their respective entries) shows that the chaotic image created by the above table only gives the tip of the iceberg of the random chaos reigning among these testimonies in almost every regard. Most witnesses admit that they are reporting only from hearsay. The nature of the claims by many of those witnesses who do not openly admit that their knowledge is from hearsay at best – or who assert first-hand knowledge – suggests that they reported from hearsay as well.

Notably, the one witness who should definitely have first-hand knowledge – the camp mechanic Eugeniusz Turowski, who claims to have repaired gas-chamber equipment on several occasions – stated that he could not give any specifics at all.

While this testimonial chaos was still brewing and churning, the propagandists gearing up for the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal had a problem: what claims should they submit? The Soviets submitted with their Document USSR-93 the claim that murder at Treblinka had been committed “in gas chambers, by steam and electric current.” The Polish government decided to stick to what they had published in their report of 15 November 1942, meaning the Treblinka victims were steamed to death like lobsters (Document PS-3311).

This Polish government report of 15 November 1942 is of central importance for writing the history of the Treblinka Camp, because of its early date, its detailed description, its “authoritativeness” as an official government statement, and because it had been plagiarized and thus spread by other victims repeating its features (Wiernik, Goldfarb). However, its embarrassing insistence on steam chambers has orthodox historians resort to blatant forgeries to hide this fact from their readers. Yitzhak Arad, for instance, who contributed the entry on Treblinka to Gutman’s 1990 Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, discusses this Polish report in his 1987 book, yet writes four times that the report is about gas chambers, when in fact it is about steam chambers (Arad 1987, pp. 354f.).

It took the radical intervention of a Polish investigative judge to put an end to this testimonial anarchy. Zdzisław Łukaszkiewicz decided in 1946 to ditch all witness statements on Treblinka that contain anything else but engine-exhaust gases, and to write a cleansed version of Treblinka’s history. No more steam, vacuum, chlorine, chlorinated lime, electrocution, ether, toxic fluids or fuel additives, mobile gas chambers and delayed-action gases and whatever else had been claimed over the past four years. Łukaszkiewicz mainly took Wiernik’s later version of the tale, which aligned nicely with the version he had already cobbled together for the Belzec Camp, and dropped all the rest.

And that is essentially what the world has been stuck with ever since.

Later witness accounts, such as that by Eliyahu Rosenberg, followed this pattern, probably more influenced by Wiernik’s account, published in several languages and well-known among the survivor communities, rather than by Łukaszkiewicz’s report. Early orthodox holocaust historians, such as Léon Poliakov (1951) and Gerald Reitlinger (1953), gladly followed in Łukaszkiewicz’s footsteps by simply copying over to Treblinka (and also Sobibór) what Kurt Gerstein had claimed for the Belzec Camp: diesel-engine exhaust gasses had been used, period. It matters not that Gerstein has been totally discredited as a witness in the meantime. (Wiernik never mentioned the type of engine.)

The propaganda image painted by historians was cast in stone during two West-German show trials against defendants who had done duty at the Treblinka Camp. Both took place at Düsseldorf. The first, lasting from October 1964 to September 1965, saw ten defendants, among them Kurt Franz. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for the collective murder of 300,000 persons and for several individual murders. The second Treblinka trial, which took place from May to December 1970, had only one defendant: the second Treblinka commandant Franz Stangl. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for contributing to the murder of at least 400,000 Jews, but he died before the verdict came into effect.

While more than 100 witnesses had been interrogated for the first trial, this number went down to some 50 for the second trial. At that point in time, more than 20 years after the alleged events – and most importantly after the Eichmann Trial – the witness accounts were probably contaminated with the propaganda incessantly spread around the globe. However, neither the pre-trial investigators nor the judges did anything to find out what the sources of a witness’s knowledge were. In fact, the procedures of West Germany’s judicial office called Zentrale Stelle, which was spearheading the pre-trial investigations, made sure that witnesses’ memories were systematically contaminated with what the investigators already thought they “knew” about Treblinka and every defendant. (See the entry on the Zentrale Stelle.)

Furthermore, the Düsseldorf court had orthodox historians Helmut Krausnick (1964) and Wolfgang Scheffler (1971) testify as “experts” about the camp’s history. Both orthodox historians repeated what they had learned from sources, such as Łukaszkiewicz’s rigged report, and earlier accounts by their colleagues, such as Poliakov, Reitlinger and Raul Hilberg. None of them made the effort to go to the early sources as laid out in the above table.

Cornered this way, the defendants made the only smart choice open to them: they were cooperative with investigators, prosecutors and judges, confirmed what was considered to be true already anyway, didn’t contradict what orthodox historians claimed, yet at the same time tried to minimize as much as possible their own responsibility and contribution for what allegedly happened.

Within such a framework, no one asked questions about the ability of diesel-engine exhaust gases to kill; about traces of the murder victims, their mass graves and the alleged huge cremation pyres; or about the feasibility of burning 700,000 bodies within a short period of time on open-air incineration pyres.

The entire absurdity of this procedure became glaringly apparent during the Jerusalem show trial against John Demjanjuk, who was accused of having assisted in the mass murder of Jews at Treblinka as a Ukrainian auxiliary. When that case was reviewed by Israel’s Supreme Court, it threw out the entire case because all witness testimonies were considered unreliable, and all witnesses untrustworthy. But virtually the same witnesses had testified with the same stories at Düsseldorf.

Yet the propaganda image invented by Polish wartime propagandists, plagiarized by Wiernik, given official approval by Łukaszkiewicz, and cast in legal stone by German judges, stands to this day – protected in many countries by the threat of imprisonment for anyone who disagrees.

Death-Toll Propaganda

Victim numbers claimed for Treblinka
(For references not given here, see Rudolf 2023, p. 257)


V. Grossman, J. Wiernik, Soviet Commission 1944


Samuel Rajzman


Historian Ryszard Czarkowski


Franciszek Ząbeki


Rachel Auerbach


Historian Frank Golczewski


Historian Manfred Burba


Historian Wolfgang Scheffler


Historian Yitzhak Arad


Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (Gutman 1990, p. 1486)


Zdzisław Łukaszkiewicz


Soviet Prosecutor Smirnov (IMT, Vol. 8, p. 330)


Historians Raul Hilberg, Stanisław Wojtczak


Historians Helmuth Krausnick, Uwe D. Adam

200,000 – 250,000

Historian Jean-Claude Pressac

Forensic Findings

Three sets of forensic investigations were carried out on the grounds of the former Treblinka Camp:

Soviet Investigations

On 22 and 23 August 1944, a Soviet commission carried out an inspection of the Treblinka Labor Camp, where they found 13 individual graves and two mass graves with together a little over 300 bodies in a claimed grave volume of some 250 m³ – or just over one body per cubic meter. The Treblinka Death Camp was also inspected, but no excavations were carried out. Based on witness accounts and the superficial visibility of ashes and bone fragments on the campgrounds, the commission concluded that

“the cremation of people has been determined beyond a doubt. The extent of the extermination of human beings was monstrous: about three million.”

Polish Investigations

On 6 November 1945, a combined Jewish-Polish commission headed by Judge Łukaszkiewicz visited the former Treblinka campgrounds. They discovered that it had been devastated by wild diggings as well as by numerous explosions of bombs and artillery shells. These were created by the local populace and Soviet soldiers in search of gold and jewelry. They left behind a moonscape with uncounted craters up to 6 meters deep and 25 meters in diameter, and scattered human remains and garbage.

Between 9 and 13 November 1945, Judge Łukaszkiewicz supervised a series of excavations on the former campgrounds. While they found scattered human remains in a few places, they did not locate any mass graves or large volumes of soil mixed with ashes or human remains.

On 9 and 10 August 1946, Judge Łukaszkiewicz searched for mass graves in the area of the labor camp Treblinka I. His findings were quantitatively similar to the Soviet investigation mentioned above.

Therefore, Łukaszkiewicz’s investigations were a complete failure. Although he conducted excavations at the spot where the witness Samuel Rajzman had claimed a mass grave was located, nothing was discovered. Another dig at a location pointed out by witnesses to be the place where the two alleged gassing facilities once were encountered merely “undisturbed layers of earth.” The amount of burned and unburned human remains found was miniscule compared to the magnitude of slaughter claimed.

Hence, neither the Soviets nor the Poles uncovered even the slightest scrap of proof that Treblinka II, the alleged extermination camp, was the location of any kind of mass murder. However, the Soviets did not dig at all, and the Poles only in a few places.

British Investigations

Treblinka, air photo by C. Sturdy Colls
Air photo of the former Treblinka Camp, taken in 2012 by a team of British archeologists led by Dr. Caroline Sturdy Colls. The labels are theirs, and the term “probable” indicates that they haven’t found any clear-cut traces of anything.Treblinka, air photo of 1944, overlay with Sturdy Colls labels Air photo of the former Treblinka Camp,
taken in November 1944, with the same camp border line, markings and labels added as in the left photo by Sturdy Colls.

This was to change when a British team of forensic archeologists started investigating the campgrounds starting in 2011. The use of modern non-invasive technologies promised new results: ground-penetrating radar is capable of locating solid objects underground and disturbed layers of soil, while LIDAR can detect subtle changes in ground elevations from the air, which can be associated with subsiding mass graves.

Considering the havoc that wild grave diggers, exploding munitions and also the Polish excavations of 1945 must have left behind in the ground, some disturbed soil had to be found. But the amount of disturbed soil discovered in no way matches the volume of mass graves that was expected.

The orthodoxy claims that some 764,000 bodies were buried at Treblinka before the incineration of corpses was started. The British investigations only located a disturbed-soil volume of some 15,600 m³. Taking the top 50 cm off as a grave cover, this leaves some 14,300 m³ to bury corpses. If the bodies were as densely packed as in the mass graves discovered at the Treblinka I Camp (only a little more than a body per cubic meter), then only some 14,300 bodies were buried there. If we increase that packing density to an unheard-of extreme value of 10 bodies per cubic meter, then some 143,000 could have been buried there.

However, some of that disturbed volume resulted from the trenches dug by Łukaszkiewicz only containing undisturbed layers of soil, and quite a few of the bomb craters and wild digs of the immediate post-war time undoubtedly also turned otherwise undisturbed soil into disturbed soil.

No matter how we turn it, if we follow the currently available data, there was no room to bury at least (764,000 – 143,000 =) 621,000 corpses. Where did these corpses go?

Other Forensic Considerations

Diesel-engine exhaust gas is unable to kill within the time frame claimed. Hence, unfit for the claimed job was Treblinka’s murder weapon – which the orthodoxy decided upon only after Łukaszkiewicz’s manipulation of the historical record, and after early orthodox historians’ decision to cast claimed features of the Belzec Camp onto the Treblinka Camp.

The orthodoxy’s narrative regarding the incineration of killed inmates at Treblinka would have created formidable logistical challenges for the perpetrators and their assistants. All the corpses claimed had to be burned with open-air incinerations on huge pyres, since the camp had no cremation furnaces. The table shows some data about the claimed events.

Characteristics of Mass Graves and Mass Cremations at Treblinka
Claimed Found
no. of corpses 700,000 to 3 million scattered remains
space required (@ 6 bodies/m³) 116,700 to 500,000 m³ at most 14,500 m³
claimed cremation time April – July 1943, ca. 122 days
corpses cremated 5,700 to 24,600 per day
green wood needed (@ 250 kg/body) 1,430 to 6,150 metric tons per day
total green wood needed 175,000 to 750,000 metric tons

The wood needed to cremate these corpses had to come from local forests, which would have led to large swaths of land around the camp getting denuded of any trees, but that evidently didn’t happen. The space requirement for the many huge pyres, and the manpower needed to exhume the bodies; fell, transport and chop tens or even hundreds of thousands of trees; build and maintain the pyres; extract and scatter the ashes, would have been formidable.

According to the current orthodox narrative, at least some 700,000 bodies had to be burned at Treblinka. For this, some 175,000 metric tons of green wood would have been needed. The maximum number of inmates, claimed by any witness, who were deployed at Treblinka to cut trees and bring it to the camp as firewood was 100. Data based on experience with forced laborers such as PoWs shows that they could fell some 0.63 metric tons of trees per day. This makes some 63 tons of wood for 100 inmates per day. To cut some 175,000 metric tons would have taken them some 2,778 days of uninterrupted work, which is more than seven and a half years (!) – while they had only some 122 days to do it. Alternatively, to get the work done in time, it would have required 2,277 (!) dedicated lumberjacks.

Add to this the fact that the Polish forests were tightly managed by the German occupational forces as precious resources for lumber and fuel. Hence, the SS couldn’t send droves of inmates to adjacent forests and cut them down without getting permission to do so. Of course, there is no documental or material trace of any such massive tree-felling activity having been applied for, been granted, let alone occurred. Air photos taken of the Treblinka area by German reconnaissance planes in 1944 show no areas denuded of trees in the camp’s vicinity either.

None of it has left a trace: neither in witness statements, nor in documents, nor in the material and forensic record. In fact, if witnesses talk about details of the cremation of corpses, their claims are often ludicrous beyond belief: stories of self-immolating bodies abound among them. (See the entries for Leon Finkelsztein, Richard Glazar, Stanisław Kon, Chil Rajchman, Jean-François Steiner, Franz Suchomel, Szyja Warszawski and Jankiel Wiernik).

(For more details, see Mattogno/Graf 2023, pp. 77-89, 137-154; Mattogno 2021e, pp. 237-269, 273-295; Rudolf 2023, pp. 256-282.)

Current Orthodox Narrative

The current orthodox narrative follows largely the lines of the West-German verdicts of 1965 and 1971, which in turn are mainly based on Jankiel Wiernik’s 1944 booklet, although there are a few modifications.

According to this, the camp started operating with the first transport trains arriving from the Warsaw Ghetto on 23 July 1942. At this point, only one gas-chamber facility made of wood existed, which had three gas chambers in a row, each measuring 4 m × 4 m (rather than Wiernik’s 5 m × 5 m). A fourth room, an engine room, contained a diesel engine from a Soviet tank (probably a T-34, which had a diesel engine and was very common). Its exhaust gas was piped into the rooms and killed within half an hour. However, diesel-engine exhaust gas is not lethal in the timeframe considered, and no engine of a captured Soviet tank would have been used, because it would have been difficult to obtain, to transport, to install, to maintain and to get eventually needed spare parts.

Due to an alleged lack of gassing capacity, a new, solidly built gas-chamber facility made of bricks and concrete was constructed between August/September to October/November 1942. It had two times five chambers on either side of a corridor, each with a surface area of 8 m × 4 m (rather than Wiernik’s 7 m × 7 m). The old building was kept, so that the gas-chamber capacity, measured in room surface area, grew from initially 46 m² to 368 m², hence by a factor of eight.

The claim that a new building was needed is refuted by the transportation data. Orthodox historian Yitzhak Arad has asserted that, by the end of October 1942, 694,000 Jews had already been murdered in Treblinka’s old gas chambers. After that month, “only” another 187,390 had to be deported (Arad 1987, pp. 392-397). The ratio of the killings in the time intervals up to the end of October 1942 and after that is therefore 1:0.27. In other words, the need for gassing capacity shrank to almost a quarter, while the capacity increased eight-fold. Hence, if the original three small gas chambers were used at 100% capacity up to the end of October 1942, from there on, with the new chambers added, they were used only at less than 4% of their capacity!

So, why did the Polish report of 15 November 1942, and later also Wiernik and others, insist on more, larger gas chambers? It is rather simple: Three gas chambers were simply not monstrous enough. The demonic nature of the Germans had to be undergirded with ever-escalating atrocity claims. After all, Wiernik needed to accommodate 3 million victims, not “just” 700,000.

The next event in Treblinka’s history is the claimed visit by Heinrich Himmler in March 1943. During that visit, he allegedly ordered that burials needed to stop, and that all buried victims had be exhumed and cremated on pyres. However, there is no trace in the documental record that such a visit ever happened. In fact, Himmler’s alleged exhumation-cremation order is said to have been issued for each claimed camp at a different point in time. This indicates that there could not have been any plan or logic behind this, pointing at the random nature of these claims. (See the entry on open-air incinerations for details.) Still, based on this phantom event, huge cremations allegedly started in late March/early April 1943, and lasted four months, until the end of July 1943. The logistical challenges would have been insurmountable, as described in the section on “Other Forensic Considerations.” It simply cannot have happened, particularly not as described by many witnesses.

The one event in Treblinka’s history about which everyone agrees that it is true and real is the inmate uprising of 2 August 1943 with the subsequent escape of 100 to 200 inmates. It is striking, however, that most inmates who later testified claimed to have had no direct knowledge of the alleged exterminations, because they were not members of the inmate teams working in Treblinka’s extermination sector, which was allegedly strictly cordoned off and inaccessible to all other inmates.

Here we need to pause. The orthodoxy claims that Treblinka’s primary objective was to mass murder hundreds of thousands of deportees. Therefore, it is only logical that most of the work that had to be done in that camp would have related to that mass murder. Here are the tasks allegedly done:

  • cutting the hair of thousands of inmates;
  • removing precious-metal tooth fillings after the execution;
  • hauling the victims out of the chambers;
  • exhuming bodies still lying in older mass graves;
  • felling huge numbers of trees;
  • hauling the trees into the camp;
  • debranch and sawing and/or chopping them to manageable firewood sizes;
  • building large pyres with firewood and corpses;
  • maintaining the fires;
  • clearing the burned-down pyres;
  • sifting through large amounts of ashes in search of unburned pieces;
  • putting unburned remains back onto a pyre;
  • disposing of the ashes.

Therefore, if the orthodox narrative were true, by far the largest number of inmates in that camp would have been employed in that very mass-murder sector. Furthermore, these inmates also should have had the highest motivation for an uprising for obvious reasons. Hence, when a revolt broke out, it had to be expected that it foremost encompassed exactly these inmates. In consequence, most escapees and survivors, and thus witnesses, also should have consisted of these inmates.

In addition, these inmates would have had the strongest motivation to tell their tale, as they were the ones who had seen all the claimed horrors. Judicial authorities also would have had strong motives to locate and interrogate these witnesses, as they were the ones with first-hand knowledge.

However, we find the exact opposite to be true: most witnesses claimed to have had no direct knowledge of what transpired in that extermination sector. And many of those who gave the impression of first-hand experiences made statements so outlandish that we must conclude that they, too, had no first-hand knowledge.

Using Occam’s Razor, the simplest explanation

  • for the invisibility of events unfolding in Treblinka’s extermination sector, as claimed by numerous witnesses;
  • for the systematically false claims about the alleged gas-chambers in Treblinka’s extermination sector;
  • and for the scarcity of alleged survivors from that sector,

is the simple fact that Treblinka’s extermination sector never existed.

(For more on Treblinka, see Mattogno/Graf 2023; Mattogno 2021e; Mattogno/Kues/​​Graf 2015.)

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