Methods and Materials (Continued)

Ground Photography

The primary ground photos used were the pictures contained in the so-called Kurt Franz Album. This source included a number of photographs taken by or for Kurt Franz, the deputy Commandant of Treblinka. These pictures had originally been discovered by German authorities during the process of arresting and arraigning Franz before his post war trial in 1965. All the photographs were taken between Franz's reporting for duty in 1942, and his departure in November of 1943 when the camp's razing and sanitization were completed. Although photographs were explicitly forbidden by an SS directive, Franz ignored the strictures and took numerous pictures of the facilities and of activities in the living camp and death camp areas. It seems that he avoided taking photographs of the more sensitive buildings (i.e. the gas chambers), but included several images of the work of the excavators around the burial pits. There is one picture showing cadavers at the opening of a grave. This picture has been published on the Internet, and is contained in Arad's Pictorial History of the Holocaust, but I have been unable to determine whether or not it came from the Franz Album. These pictures allow a rough positioning of the machines and, in one case, of an opened gravesite. There is one image in which the two gas chambers were recorded in a small corner of the picture frame: the older structure is partially, but clearly, visible. Of the newer, larger structure, only a portion of the gable roof can be seen. Other structures, such as the worker barracks, the Lazarette, or the SS barracks were not photographed. It would appear that Franz avoided photographing any security fencing in the pictures. However, in a few instances one can detect fencing in the background. These images provided valuable clues in locating and positioning the pictures.

The following table lists the aerial and terrestrial photos used.

Aerial Photography
Mission Frame Date Archive
GX120 fms124F-125 May 15 1944 USNARA
GX12225 fms258,259 Sept 1944 USNARA
GX72 fms 139,140 May 1944 USNARA
GX937 fm 74 1940 USNARA

Aerial photographs were reviewed at US National Archives and Records Administration building at College Park Maryland. This archive contains the complete library of Luftwaffe WW II coverage captured by the US in 1945. NARA permits researchers to view the first generation prints made from the original negatives. A Nikon 990 fitted with a macro lens was used to obtain high quality copies. These digital images were subsequently enhanced using tonal remap algorithms and spatial filters to bring out subtle details.

Ground Photography

Kurt Franz Album
Yad Vashem, Israel
Yad Vashem provided copies of pictures found in the possession of Kurt Franz, deputy Commandant of Treblinka, by German authorities before his trial in 1965. These photos include parts of the living camp, and a significant number of pictures of the excavators used in the death camp.
Kurt Franz Album & various
Ghetto Fighter's Museum Photo Archive
The Ghetto FighterĘs Museum maintains photo archive on the internet. Pictures are available of a variety of dates and events, including Treblinka in 1962.
Novosty Press
Several pictures from the period just after the Red Army Captured Treblinka.