Reconstruction of Treblinka: Methods and Materials

The reconstruction of the Camp employed three sets of sources. These were:

1. Sketch maps prepared in various ways by survivors or by other individuals based on survivor accounts. These maps appeared in books by Sereny, Arad, and Glazar. (Reference 1,12,19)

2. Aerial photography flown by the Luftwaffe in 1944, which was reviewed and copied at the National Archives and Records Administration (US NARA).

3. Ground photos. Most of these were comprised of the pictures contained in the so called 'Kurt Franz Album'. Copies of these photographs were provided by Yad Vashem and by the Ghetto Fighters' Museum.

Many bits and pieces of evidence drawn from the sources were combined. In general, the aerial photographs formed the foundation for all conclusions. This was so both because it provided a geometric underpinning, and because many structures razed months before the coverage was flown could still be detected on the pictures. Ground photography was also correlated to the aerial images, thus affording a firm method of positioning structures and features appearing in the ground exposed pictures. In some cases, individual trees, seen on the ground photos were identified on the aerial coverage and thus afforded a means of positioning the buildings.

Maps

Maps appear in a number of well-known sources including the books by the journalist Gita Sereny, the historian Hilberg, and survivors Glazer, Viernik and Willemberg. In addition, a reconstruction by Jacob Wiernik in the form of a model of Treblinka exists, and photographs of it are on the Internet.

The site maps formed a basic reference giving the relative locations and orientations of the camp's buildings and layout. They varied from source to source quite a bit in many details. One map (Figure 13) which was of value was drawn by Jacob Wiernik,
an escapee and survivor of Treblinka. This map is wildly out of scale, but it was prepared by Wiernik in Warsaw immediately after his escape. Wiernik's map thus benefited from the advantage of being prepared while the experience at Treblinka was reasonably fresh. Of limited usefulness in reconstructing the camp as a whole, it provided some good insights, namely, that the 'tube' was sited in woods (the tube was a fenced and screened alley way which led from the undressing barracks to the gas chambers), and had a right angle turn in it.

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