Treblinka I

Most of us know the name Treblinka in the same way we know Auschwitz. Were it not for the name of one of the largest Nazi extermination camps, hardly any of us would know this small village about ten miles northeast of Warsaw. What is less well known is that Treblinka consisted of two independent camps, about two kilometers apart. The first of these two camps was not the Treblinka extermination camp, but a labor camp (Arbeitslager) established in 1941. The camp was set up in a forest next to a large gravel pit where the majority of prisoners were forced to work. Other prisoners were forced to work in workshops within the camp. Treblinka had good rail connections and there was already a road to Treblinka. This contributed to the choice of Treblinka as a place to establish a Holocaust camp.

Construction of the extermination camp began about two kilometres from the labour camp and some of the prisoners had to work on building the extermination camp. When it was completed in July 1942, it was named Treblinka II and the former labor camp was named Treblinka I. Treblinka I consisted of about thirty barracks/buildings and about 2,000 prisoners sat at most in the camp at one and the same time. Although Treblinka I was not by definition an extermination camp, prisoners died for the same reasons as in other concentration camps. Outside the camp, the Nazis had set up a special execution site. When the prisoners in Treblinka II rebelled in August 1943, this had the consequence of the destruction of Treblinka II. Treblinka I was not involved in the uprising and continued to exist until the summer of 1944 when the Soviet Red Army approached the area. The camp and the prisoners were evacuated and the Nazis tore the camp. Between 1941 and 1944, about 20,000 prisoners passed through Treblinka I.

Current status: Demolished with museum (2015).

Location: 52° 37' 01" N, 22° 02' 19" E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

Unlike Treblinka II, where there are no foundations or ruins left, it’s the opposite in Treblinka I, which makes it really interesting to walk around the area. At almost every ruin there is an information board about the ruin. Treblinka I also makes the visit to Treblinka II much more interesting when they are put in relation to each other, the disadvantage may be that it is about two kilometers to walk between the two camps.

Follow up in books: Arad, Yitzhak: Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka – The Operation Reinhardt death camps (1987).