Scrapbookpages Blog

November 7, 2015

The story of Treblinka…transit camp or extermination center

My 19989 photo of the tiny village of Treblinka near the Treblinka camp

My 1998 photo of the tiny village of Treblinka near the Treblinka camp, taken during a light rain

Today, I  received an e-mail from Bradley Smith, telling me about the History Channel running  “Hitler’s Killing Machine” which is the story of Treblinka.

You can read all about Treblinka on my website, starting at

I  visited Treblinka with a private tour guide in 1998 and I  have since written several blog posts about Treblinka, which you can read at

I have a whole section about Treblinka on my website:

You can read below what I wrote about Treblinka after my visit to the camp in 1998:

The road to Treblinka which is way out in the boondocks

The road to Treblinka which is way out in the boondocks

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

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 at the top of this page] .

One lane railroad bridge on the road to Treblinka

One lane railroad bridge on the road to Treblinka

Just before you get to the Treblinka camp, you must cross a one-lane railroad bridge that was formerly used by both trains and cars, but is now used [in 1998] 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 reconstructed bridge is shown in my 1998 photograph below.

One lane bridge over the Bug river, on the way to Treblinka

My 1998 photo of the one lane bridge over the Bug river, on the way to Treblinka

The surface of the 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 the Soviet Union, and is now the country of Byelorussia or Belarus, formerly called White Russia.

According to my tour guide, today [in 1998] 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. There is a bend in the river near Treblinka, which required a bridge over the river in order to get to the village of Treblinka, although the village is located on the western side of the border between the former General Government and the Russian zone of occupation.

Hardly more than a creek, the Bug is shallow enough in some places so that one can wade across it, and according to historian Martin Gilbert, some refugees, from both sides, did wade across.

The movie “Europa, Europa” has a scene in which Jewish refugees are shown walking toward the Russian sector, trying to escape the Nazis in September 1939 by crossing the Bug river on rafts.

End of quote from my website, written in 1998.

As a result of my 1998 trip to Treblinka, on which I was the only tourist there, I believe that Treblinka was a transit camp and that there were no gas chambers there.