Polish Government Report

Report from the Polish Minister of the Interior in Exile in London to the British Government

August 1944


Treblinka A is for Poles who committed offences against the occupation army by not delivering the imposed quota of agricultural products, or were caught smuggling. The discipline is very severe—the prisoners are shot under the smallest pretext. The fame of this camp is established as well as that of Auschwitz / Oświęcim. In March 1942, the Germans started the construction of a new camp—Treblinka B, near Treblinka A. This camp was designated as a concentration camp for Polish Jews and for Jews from other European countries. Poles from the neighboring camp, and Jews caught in the small towns in the vicinity, were employed in the construction. The camp was completed at the end of April, when the centre point of the camp was constructed—the death house.

The new camp—Treblinka B—is situated on sandy hills among brush-wood. The area of the camp is comparatively small. It is about 5,000 hect. The camp is surrounded by a fence of greenery interwoven with barbed wire entanglements. Part of the fence runs through a young forest in the north. At the four corners of the camp, observation points were placed for the Lagerschutz (camp guard). The Lagerschutz consists mostly of Ukrainians armed with machine guns. At the observation points, strong searchlights have been placed to illuminate the entire place at night. Observation posts are also set in the middle of the camp and on the hills in the woodlands. The western border of Treblinka B is formed by a railway embankment along which runs a branch track that connects the camp with the main railroad track. The branch line was constructed in recent months in order that the transport trains could be delivered directly to the slaughter-house. The northern border of the camp is formed by a forest; east and south the border cuts through sandy hills. In the area of the camp, bushes form a long stretch parallel to the railroad track, starting in the north.

A railroad crossing is adjacent to the branch line; from that barrier there is an entrance to a square which holds two to three thousand persons. The square is fenced­-in with barbed wire. On the square, not far from the northern corner of the square, there is a guard house with a military post on 24-hour duty. South of the square, outside the fence, there is a clothing-sorting place, and further south there is an execution site of the camp Commandant, and the graves of the victims murdered by him. The arrival square is connected with the rest of the area by an entrance in the north-eastern corner of the fence. From there, a path runs through the woods for about 200 meters eastwards, and then turns at right-angles to the south and runs along the forest, parallel to the western limit of the arrival square. This road stops at a large building with an unusual shape: it is an unfinished one-storey brick construction, about 40 meters long and 15 meters wide. When we received the information concerning Treblinka B in the first half of September, this building was about to be finished.

The Germans began the construction of that building after the Aktion started (in Warsaw), probably in the middle of August, with the help of Jewish artisans picked out from among the Jews brought to Treblinka for slaughter. It is significant that the bricks for the construction had been brought from as far as Warsaw, in wagons attached to each transport. The bricks were loaded at the Warsaw ‘Umschlagplatz’ by Jewish workers. According to the report of an eyewitness, the interior of the building is as follows:

A corridor three meters wide runs through the middle, there are five chambers on each side, the height of each chamber is about two meters; the area is about 35 square meters. The execution chambers are without windows, but they have doors opening onto a corridor and a type of valve on the outside walls. (...)

In the walls, pipes are installed from which water-steam is supposed to pour into the chambers. This was death-house No. 2. A path skirts the building and runs along its western wall, finally ending at the next building, the nearby death-house No. 1. This building is at right-angles to death-house No. 2. It is a brick construction, much smaller than the other. It consists of only three chambers and a steam-room. Along the northern wall of this house runs a corridor from which there are doors to the chambers. The outside walls of the chambers have valves (until recently, doors which had been changed into valves for utility reasons) (sic). Also here, a scoop in the shape of a shallow vessel is placed at the height of the valves (sic). The steam-room is adjacent to the building: inside the steam-room there is a large vat which produces the steam. The hot steam enters the chambers through pipes installed there, each having the prescribed number of vents. While this machinery of death is in action, the doors and valves are hermetically closed. The floors in the chambers are made of terracotta which becomes very slippery when water is poured over it. There is a well next to the steam-room, the only well in the whole area of Treblinka B.

Not far from the death-house, south of the barbed wire and wooden fences, there is the grave-digger’s camp. The grave-diggers live in barracks next to which are kitchen buildings. On both sides of the camp there is a guard house. The remaining area of Treblinka B is destined for the murdered victims. A part of that area is already a large cemetery. At first, Poles employed in the camps dug the graves; later, the slaughter was intensified and the need for more ditches grew, special digging machines / bulldozers were brought, which ran day and night at grave digging. A diesel motor supplies the energy and its rattle is the characteristic sound in Treblinka B.


National Archives Kew FO 371/42806

© Holocaust Historical Society 2014