Reconstruction of the Death Camp (Continued)

Even if the sum of the available information were only the aerial photos, what has been found so far in this analysis could be considered quite important. It has established an objective base for the survivor accounts in the photographic data. Thus the written descriptions and the modeling and maps can be substantiated by features visible on the aerial images. The method is not absolute, but rather depends on a convergence of evidence. There exists, however, a picture taken by Kurt Franz, the deputy Commandant of Treblinka, which is unique: the only extant picture containing images of an Aktion Reinhard gas chamber. This picture has been widely published as showing one of the excavators used at Treblinka for digging the burial pits and later for opening and removing the corpses for burning. In the background of this picture are the old and new gas chambers. Only a portion of the gable end roof of the new chambers is visible, but the last third of the older building is clearly evident.
Figure 36 shows the picture in question. In the enlargement of the excavator (Figure 37), a number of important and interesting details become visible and are of great interest. Annotation 1 points to two of the lager's Jewish worker 'Sonderkommando' carrying a stretcher. Two men and a stretcher were the means by which the corpses were moved, either from the gas chambers to the burial pits and cremation grates, or from the burial pits to the grates. Annotation 2 refers to a gate which is open. Number 3 indicates a small building. Its location is in the area where some sources show the location of a well, so it possible that it is a pump house. Viernick stated that the gas chambers were hosed down after use, which established that water under pressure was available. This structure stands outside of a security fence running from a gatepost north towards the new gas chambers. Number 4 indicates the western half of the gable end of the new large gas chambers. At 5 is a board fence serving to screen activity in the death camp from the view of the victims directed to the older facility. At six is a window into the motor room of the small gas chambers where the engines used to produce the killing gases were located.

All the factors determined from the Franz photograph were used to expand what could be inferred about the killing facilities. Since there was a security fence running north on the east side of the buildings, one could conclude that it must have served to prevent victims from attempting to escape from the killing site - an inconvenience to the SS who would have had to run them down in around the burial pits and burning grates. This fence line would entail placing gates to allow the dead to be removed by 'Sonderkommando' details. The purpose of the gate (Annotation 2) was to permit continued passage along the access road into the 'Totenlager'.

The photograph in Figure 36 was subjected to the same sort of measurements and graphical analysis described above in the section about the living camp. Measurements were made to determine the angular separation to all of the features of interest, and these were then
plotted on an overlay so that their positions could be established on the aerial photography. The camera's exposure station and the frame's coverage were established this way, as well as achieving the best fit of features in the ground picture to the aerial image (see Appendix A ). The results of this analysis are shown in Figure 38. In the figure, the angular coverage of Franz's camera is shown, and the elements in that picture are drawn in the relative positions determined from the measurements. The camera was computed to have been about 80 meters [262 feet] from the gate, and about 10 meters [32 feet] from the excavator.