Scrapbookpages Blog

December 31, 2012

The Treblinka zoo

Filed under: Buchenwald, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 3:06 pm

Update: July 16, 2013   Read my later posts about the zoo here and here.

Continue reading my original post:

There is a discussion in the comments section of my blog, regarding a photo in the Yad Vashem Museum which shows bears in a zoo.  The following words are included in the museum’s caption of the photo, which is shown below:

The photograph is from the private album of Kurt Franz from the time of his service as Deputy Commandant of Treblinka. The album was presented by the prosecution at Franz’s trial in Dusseldorf during the years 1964-5.

Photo of bears, enhanced in PhotoShop

Photo of bears at Treblinka, enhanced in PhotoShop

Kurt Franz was the Commandant of the Treblinka camp when a zoo was built in the camp.  Franz was never stationed at Buchenwald, and as far as I know, he never visited Buchenwald.  If the above photo of bears in a zoo was taken at Buchenwald, why would Kurt Franz have had this photo in his private photo album? (I have since learned that Kurt Franz did serve at Buchenwald during the time that the zoo was built there.)

In my home library, I have a copy of the book entitled Treblinka, The inspiring story of the 600 Jews who revolted against their murderers and burned a Nazi death camp to the ground, written by Jean-Francois Steiner. Today, I read the entire book again, looking for any mention of the zoo at Treblinka.

This quote is from page 338 in Steiner’s book:

Halfway up the main street [in the Treblinka camp] there branched off to the left another, smaller street […] Later, in early Spring, an offshoot of this road was built to the west; it led to a zoo that was being laid out. […] In the center of the park was a hexagonal building covered with little birch logs. On each side of the building were the cages: there was a cage for the birds, a cage for the squirrels, et cetera.

There is no mention, anywhere in this 415 page book, of bears in the Treblinka zoo.  However, in the quote from the book which I wrote above, “little birch logs” are mentioned. On the left side of the photo, there are little birch logs.  There are no little birch logs in photos of the Buchenwald zoo.

On page 398 of Steiner’s book, there is this quote:

At Camp Number One [ the camp for the SS officers] an S.S. officer strolls slowly through the zoological garden.

I would not describe the Buchenwald zoo as a “garden,” whereas the photo, which I think was taken at Treblinka, could be described as a photo of bears in a “zoological garden.”

For all of these reasons, I believe that the photo above was taken at Treblinka.