The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Liquidation of the Camps
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Liquidation of the Camp After the uprising, on August 18 and 19, 1943, another two transports slated for extermination arrived in Treblinka, bringing Jews from Bialystok. Shortly afterward the Germans destroyed the gas chambers and the other installations that remained after the revolt, and with that put an end to the camp. While the liquidation of the camp was no doubt in accord with a plan that predated the uprising, its timing was probably moved up in wake of the revolt. On October 20 most of the remaining Jewish prisoners were transferred to Sobibor, where they were killed. Another 25-30 prisoners remained in Treblinka and were shot there a few days later. In order to cover up the crime, a farm-house was built on the site of the camp, trees were planted, and a Ukrainian peasant was employed to guard the deserted place. (Sereny, op. cit., pp. 249-250; Franciszck Zabecki, 'Rozbicie obozu w Treblince', Warsaw, 1977, pp. 94-95)

The Treblinka Revolt in Polish Sources

The idea of the uprising, its organization and implementation were entirely the fruit of prisoner initiative. No assistance nor encouragement whatsoever was received from the outside. In a number of Polish sources, which appeared for the first time in 1969, mention is made of a plan by the Armia Krajowa (Fatherland Army) to attack Treblinka and free its prisoners. According to what is written, this was in coordination with the Jewish underground in the camp. It is also stated in these publications that on August 2 the camp was in fact attacked from the outside. (Ibid., pp. 96-99; Tedyslaw Razmowski, "Akcja Treblinki," 'Dzieje Najnowsze', Vol. I, 1969,, pp. 167-172) It should, however, be noted that these accounts are filled with imprecisions, contradictions and a lack of clarity and confused information about the labor and penal camp -- Treblinka 1, where most of the prisoners were Poles -- and about the Treblinka annihilation camp. It is more reasonable to suppose that the Armia Krajowa's planned attack had to do with Treblinka 1. In not a single testimony by survivors of Treblinka is there any mention of a link with the Polish underground or with any other underground outside the camp, or any hint whatever of assistance received from outside. Nor is Polish assistance in the revolt mentioned in the reports of the Polish underground written during the war and dealing with the Jews' uprising in Treblinka. The same holds for the German sources, and for the two Treblinka trials, where no Polish attack on Treblinka is mentioned. It is certain that had such an attack occurred it would have aroused responses on a wide front, including reprisal measures, and would have appeared in the German reports. It thus can be stated with absolute certainty that the Polish underground did not extend any aid whatever to the revolt in Treblinka. The Polish underground did not attack German camps in which Polish prisoners were held in detention, even though ihose Poles were themselves members of the underground. Moreover, it is known that the Armia Krajowa was not distinguished by its sympathy for the Jews, and it is difficult to suppose that its forces would have carried out an offensive operation against a camp within which, with the exception of some 2,000 Gypsies, only Jews were imprisoned and annihilated. Furthermore, survivors of Treblinka tell of many instances in which Armia Krajowa people conspired against them after their escape from the camp. (For testimonies of escapees from the camp who were given a hostile reception by the surrounding population, see Abram Krzepicki, "Relacje dwoch zbiegow z Treblinki II," BZIH, No. 40, 1961, pp. 78-88. Sereny, op. cit., pp. 244-245; testimony of Goldfarb, op cit., pp. 28-29)

Infuence of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on the Treblinka Uprising

The idea of an uprising and the formation of the underground in Treblinka occurred before the Warsaw ghetto uprising. In the testimonies of Treblinka survivors, we find conflicting views on the effect information about the Warsaw ghetto uprising and its outcome had on the prisoners and members of the underground in Treblinka. On the one hand is the claim that word of the Jewish fighting lifted morale and fostered a fighting spirit in Treblinka. On the other hand, the view has been put forward that the remnants of Warsaw Jewry who were brought to Treblinka had given up on the possibility of rescue by means of revolt or escape; this discouraged the prisoners in Treblinka and cast a cloud of pessimism over the camp. (Wilenberg, op. cit., pp. 52-53; Kon, op. cit., p. 536; testimony of Strawczynski, op. cit., p. 50)

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