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October 7, 2011

Malkinia Junction, where the trains to Treblinka stopped

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 4:25 pm

Treblinka is a tiny village in northeastern Poland, near the location of a Nazi extermination camp with the same name. During World War II, a railway line, called the Malkinia-Siedlce line, ran directly east from Warsaw to Malkinia Junction.  The Treblinka extermination camp was located 4 km or 2.5 miles southeast of the Malkinia Junction.  The Germans built a spur line from the junction into the Treblinka camp and train cars were backed into the camp, 20 cars at a time.

Jews from Warsaw were sent to Treblinka

German soldiers standing at the Malkinia station

Why did the Nazis choose such a remote spot to kill the Jews?  Was it because they wanted to keep their genocide of the Jews a secret?  The Majdanek camp, which had a number of gas chambers, was on a major road, just outside the city of Lublin. The main Auschwitz camp, which had a gas chamber, was located in a suburb of a town of 13,000 people. The Dachau gas chamber was 10 miles from Munich.  No, it wasn’t the need for secrecy; it was the railroads that determined the location of the Treblinka extermination camp. 

Malkinia Junction was the end of the line for the eastern railway line (Ostbahn) because there were no railroad bridges across the Bug river into the Polish territory that had been a part of Russia between 1772 and 1917.  If the Nazis had been planning to get rid of the Jews with a program of “transportation to the East,” as they claimed, they would need to stop at the Bug river before continuing on to the East.

When train tracks were built in Russia in 1842, they were “broad gauge” or 1524 mm. (5 feet wide).  Train tracks in Western Europe were based on the “standard gauge” or 4 ft. 8 1/2 inches.  Western railroad cars could not run on the broad gauge tracks on the eastern side of the Bug river.

In October 1998, a private tour guide drove me to the memorial site at the location of the Treblinka death camp.  On the way, we drove over a railroad bridge which is a reconstruction of the bridge that was there in the 1940s.  This bridge crosses a bend in the Bug river; it does not go over the river into the former Russian territory.

One lane bridge over Bug river for trains, cars and pedestrians

I wrote an account of my 1998 trip, which I am quoting below from my own website, scrapbookpages.com:

As you get near the village of Treblinka, there is a line of beautiful chestnut trees alongside the road on the right. You see old men walking along the road, carrying bundles of sticks on their backs. There are farm families digging potatoes and burning the dried potato vines in the fields. Occasionally, you see a stork’s nest on a roof near the chimney, or a large ant hill at the edge of a forest, surrounded by a tiny log fence for protection. There are old wooden Catholic churches and white cottages with thatched roofs along the road. Telephone poles are topped with glass insulators, the kind you see for sale in antique stores in America. The farther you travel down this road, the farther you seem to go back in time.

Near Malkinia Junction, the road now has ancient concrete barriers to prevent cars from leaving the road, and quaint old railroad crossing signs. From Malkinia Junction, a branch line runs south from the Ostbahn (Eastern Railroad line) to the village of Treblinka where there was a small train station in the 1940ies.

Large vehicles cannot go past this point on road to Treblinka

Finally you get to a narrow archway over the road, the purpose of which is to keep vehicles larger than 2.5 tons from proceeding beyond this point. The arch is shown in the photograph above. Just before you get to the camp, you must cross a one-lane railroad bridge that was formerly used by both trains and cars, but is now used only by cars and pedestrians. According to Martin Gilbert in his book “Holocaust Journey,” this bridge was rebuilt some time after 1959; the bridge had been destroyed during World War II.

The surface of the reconstructed bridge is made of wood and the train tracks are not level, which would cause any train using the bridge to list to one side. The tracks of the railroad lines in Germany and Poland were then, and still are today, a different width, or gauge, than the tracks across the eastern border of the Bialystok District in what used to be Russia, and is now the country of Byelorussia or Belarus, known in America as White Russia.

According to my tour guide, today trains from Germany or Poland must stop at the Bialystok eastern border and change to wider wheels which can run on the different gauge tracks in Russia. In 1941, it was necessary for the German invading army to extend the standard European gauge tracks into Russia, as they advanced. The poor condition of the roads in Poland and Russia hampered the advancing Germany troops when their vehicles would become mired in three feet of mud. Three kilometers from Treblinka was located the main railroad line into Russia, through the Bialystok province.

After the joint conquest of Poland by the Germans and the Russians in September 1939, the river Bug (pronounced Boog) became the border between the German-occupied General Government of Poland and the Russian zone of occupation; then Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941 and conquered the strip of eastern Poland that was being occupied by the Russians. Treblinka is located in the former General Government.

On January 20, 1942, a conference was held in Wannsee, a suburb of Berlin, where plans were made for the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” Three extermination camps, called the Operation Reinhard Camps were planned at this conference. Treblinka was the last of the Operation Reinhard camps to be set up; the other two were Sobibor and Belzec. All three of the Operation Reinhard camps were located on the western side of the Bug river.

In June 1941, the German Army invaded the Soviet Union and gained control of the area formerly known as the Pale of Settlement, where the Jews were confined. By the time that the Aktion Reinhard camps were set up in 1942, German troops had advanced a thousand kilometers into Russia. Their plan was to transport the Jews as far as the Bug river and kill them in gas chambers, then claim that they had been “transported to the East.”  Treblinka was second only to Auschwitz in the number of Jews who were killed by the Nazis: between 700,000 and 900,000, compared to an estimated 1.1 million at Auschwitz.

If the Jews were “transported to the East,” as the Nazis claimed, where are they now?  I don’t know, but near every Jewish holiday, there is an ad on TV asking for money for the Jews currently living in Russia.  After the war, when Germany offered to pay reparations to the Holocaust survivors, there were some survivors who were denied reparations because they had come to Western Europe from Russia.

9 Comments

  1. Auschwitz wasnt in operation as a death camp when Treblinka was in full tilt.It didnt get any gas chambers or full operational Crema until later.The RSHA as opposed to T4 had to act as corpses were being burnt in the open on railroad rails and open pits .They were so bad that human fat spread across the country in droplets and the corpses were smothered in liquified human fat buried under the pits and didnt decompose and still hasnt .There arnt any mysteries about the holocaust except why people deny it .Sad Gits

    Comment by alfsboy — September 16, 2013 @ 11:32 am

    • Are you saying that Auschwitz was not a death camp, from the moment that it was first opened, but only became a death camp at a later date?

      The world first learned that the Jews were being gassed at Auschwitz when resistance fighters in the Polish Underground passed this information on to the Polish government in exile in Great Britain. On June 25, 1942, The Telegraph, a British newspaper, ran a story about the mass murder of Jews in gas chambers at Auschwitz. The headline read “Germans murder 700,000 Jews in Poland.” According to this first report, which was also broadcast on the radio by the British BBC in June 1942, a thousand Jews a day were being gassed.

      Are you saying that Treblinka was not in “full tilt” from the time that it was first set up? That is correct. In June 1941, a forced labor camp for Jews and Polish political prisoners was set up near a gravel pit, a mile from where the Treblinka death camp would later be located. The labor camp became known as Treblinka I and the death camp, which opened in July 1942, was called Treblinka II or T-II.

      It was known, in June 1942 that Jews were being gassed at Auschwitz. The Treblinka II camp, which was the death camp, was opened in July 1942. So Auschwitz WAS a death camp BEFORE the Treblinka death camp was opened.

      T4 was the euthanasia project. It had nothing to do with Treblinka. RSHA was the Reich Security Main Office which had many different divisions, and was not exclusively devoted to gassing the Jews. Are you saying that Himmler, who was the head of RSHA, had to act because “human fat spread across the country in droplets” What did Himmler do to stop the spread of human fat in the pits at Treblinka?

      I had to look up “Sad Gits.” Git is British slang. I am not aware that Americans use this term.

      Comment by furtherglory — September 16, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

  2. You say Jews were brought in train cars into Treblinka and then returned empty. I say yes to this.

    You say train tracks changed size at the Polish border from standard to wide gauge. I say yes, this is how it was pre-July 1941 but not after. Train track gauges were standardized to normal size with the invasion, All around Treblinka had normal size rails when it operated as a death camp.

    You say Nazis claimed they transported Jews to the East. I say, who said this after the war? No one I have talked to. Not Eichmann.

    You say the missing Jews might be in Russia. I say where is the real evidence for that allegation?

    Comment by Ray — October 11, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

    • The trains to Treblinka did not return empty. They returned with the clothing worn by the Jews on the trains; the clothing was taken to Majdanek where it was disinfected. Why not disinfect the clothing at Treblinka since they had plenty of Zyklon-B at Treblinka which they were using to gas the Jews? Or better yet, why not take the Jews to Majdanek to gas them since there were plenty of gas chambers at Majdanek? Some of the Jewish communities from which the Jews were taken to Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor were closer to Majdanek than to the Operation Reinchard camps. Why not send them to Majdanek to be gassed? Especially since Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka did not have Zyklon-B gas chambers at first. Keep in mind that the three Operation Reinhard camps (Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor) were set up after the Wannsee Conference and they were named after Reinhard Heydrich who was the person who headed the Conference. Why was there a need for three more camps to gas the Jews when they already had Auschwitz and Majdanek, both of which could be reached by rail from Warsaw?

      You are correct that the Germans built new tracks that were standard gauge after they invaded the Soviet Union, but trains had to stop at Treblinka because there were no railroad bridges across the river.

      After the war, Goering testified at the Nuremberg IMT that what we call the Final Solution was “the Total Solution to the Jewish Question in Europe” which he said was “transportation to the East.”

      The evidence for the missing Jews being in Russia is that around one million Jews were denied reparations by the German government because they had come from Russia to the Displaced Persons camps in Germany.

      Comment by furtherglory — October 11, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

      • You have many questions which I believe I can try to help answer and would like to comment on, but here is what I have for now.

        You asked why not disinfect clothing at Treblinka instead of shipping it to Majdanek as Treblinka already had Zyklon-B for its gas chambers on Jews. From my readings this whole question is based upon false premises. Most trains did return empty to their original launch point, where more transports were readied. Late historian Raul Hilberg records many such documents in his work. Trains that took clothes to Majdanek were more limited, as common sense would dictate, as only a fraction of the cargo of a transport to Treblinka would consist of clothes. Most of such cargo would be human beings and so it only stands to reason that many fewer trains were needed to bring all of such clothes to Majdanek. There are also many testimonies recording the stockpiling and organizing of clothing. Secondly, there was no need for Zyklon-B at Treblinka, nor did the camp utilize said product. The gas chambers were operated with engine exhaust from combustible engines, with carbon monoxide serving as the lethal agent. Engine exhaust will not clean and fumigate clothes. Conversely if Treblinka was used to clean the Jews why not clean the clothes too? Did the Nazis want the Jews to be naked?

        You ask why not send the Jews to Majdanek instead of the Operation Reinhard camps, not Reinchard. Interesting question. Majdanek did not have a functioning gas chamber until October 1942. At that time many hundreds of thousands (if not more than million) of ‘useless eaters’ had already been gassed at the three Reinhard camps. It is my understanding that there were gassings in Majdanek in late 1942. These numbers are recorded in the so-called Hoefle telegram. And these gas chambers, without mechanical ventilation mechanisms, would take a significant time to ventilate before the corpses could be destroyed. Regarding Auschwitz, it too lacked purpose built gas chambers at the start of Operation Reinhard. Instead converted farm houses and cell prisons were used for this purpose at the time. You say why not use the two camps, I say what is wrong with using the other three too? They were constructed to murder people while Auschwitz and Majdanek had to adapt to gassings from the normal camp practice. Once morgue gas chambers were purposefully built and finished in 1943 most of the Reinhard camps no longer functioned.

        I have also seen German army maps of eastern Poland and there were many places to cross the Bug River.

        Some questions for you now:

        1) What day during the trial did Goering state that Jews were “transported to the East”?
        2) Where can I find specific sources on the million Jews returning from Russia into Germany?

        Comment by Ray — October 11, 2011 @ 4:07 pm

        • “… Treblinka already had Zyklon-B for its gas chambers on Jews”

          No.

          Zyklon-B was only used for gas chambers at Auschwitz. The other camps used exhaust gas from internal combustion engines in fixed gas chambers at Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec, and in mobile gas trucks (Gaswagen) at Chelmno.

          The information about Malkina Junction is very interesting

          Comment by Mike Ashworth — November 23, 2016 @ 3:26 am

  3. I recall reading about General Patton’s complaints about the Jews from Russia coming into the DP camps. He didn’t like the way these Jews acted and he deplored their crude manners. There were one million Jews who were denied reparations because they had not been in any of the camps at the end of the war; they had been in Russia during the war. I know that some Jews escaped by wading across the Bug river in September 1939. This is shown in the movie “Europa, Europa.” The escape route across the Bug river was stopped by the Russian invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939.

    Comment by furtherglory — October 8, 2011 @ 5:59 am

    • I was just reading a lot about this yesterday in the NY Times archives.

      It seems that tens of thousands of Jews fled across the Bug, (possibly hundreds of thousands, very possibly the missing Reinhard Jews) and were forced by gunpoint across the Bug by the Nazis, but were then arrested by the Soviets and sent to Siberia, etc.

      So Russia knows where a hell of a lot of the missing Jews are. They put them in THEIR camps and killed them.

      Comment by Eric Hunt — October 8, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

  4. Maybe a couple of Jews escaped and miraculously survived in the Soviet Paradise.

    Comment by Eager for Answers — October 7, 2011 @ 7:39 pm


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