Stroop on Treblinka.

by Jamie McCarthy
translations by Gord McFee

Holocaust-deniers claim that the Treblinka death camp was in fact merely a transit camp, where Jews were kept for a short while before being sent to work somewhere else. [1] It is strange that none of them has commented on the explicit descriptions to the contrary in the well-known "Stroop Report."


Treblinka was one of the three "Action Reinhard" death camps. Together with Belzec and Sobibor, it served as the destination for well over a million people - almost exclusively Jews - who were killed immediately upon arrival. Except for a small camp complement of prisoners and SS to perform the killing actions, none of the arrivals survived their stay at the camp.

Treblinka was the last of the three to be built. Construction began in May/June of 1942 and the first exterminations began in July. In the first five weeks a quarter-million were killed in this one camp alone. Larger gas chambers were built in September and the exterminations resumed. Before the camp was closed, 800,000 human beings lost their lives within this sixty-acre plot of land. [2]

The dismantlement of Treblinka began after Himmler's visit to the headquarters of Operation Reinhard and the death camps in late February and early March 1943. Before the camp could be closed, the bodies of eight hundred thousand victims still had to be exhumed and incinerated and other work done to obliterate all incriminating eidence. In March and April 1943 a few convoys arrived from the destroyed Warsaw ghetto, from Yugoslavia, and from Greece, but this hardly delayed the razing of the camp. [3]

As SS-Sergeant Franz Suchomel described it:

"Treblinka was a primitive but efficient production line of death. Understand? Primitive, yes. But it worked well, that production line of death." [4]

In January 1943, Heinrich Himmler visited the Warsaw Ghetto, where tens of thousands of Jews still remained after having been concentrated there for the last three years. He ordered it cleaned out. SS-Brigadeführer (Major-General) Jürgen Stroop was assigned this task and took his military troops to fight the starving Jews. The operation began in April 1943.

This operation was unlike most others performed against the Jews for several reasons. Those who remained in the ghetto knew their cause was hopeless, as they had witnessed hundreds of thousands sent to their deaths since July 1942. They fought back with great determination. They lacked for military weapons but, mostly with improvised explosives and the few rifles they had, managed to delay Stroop's operation for four weeks and to kill many Nazis in the process. [5]

Stroop commemorated his successful "murder expedition" [6] by producing a 75-page book, plus 50 pages of photographs, about the event. Consisting largely of telegrams about the operation, this book is a very important historical record. The so-called "Stroop Report" has never had its authenticity challenged, even (to our knowledge) by Holocaust-deniers who reject incriminating documents almost as a matter of course.

The telegrams on four particular days reveal facts about Treblinka, however, which Holocaust-deniers may prefer to ignore. Its T-II camp, [7] where the exterminations took place, is explicitly identified as the destination for the "liquidation" and "destruction" of captured Jews.

The last mass exterminations at Treblinka took place after an uprising of the Jewish prisoners in August 1943, and the last equipment was dismantled by the remaining Jews (who were then shot) that November.

April 25, 1943:

In total, 1690 Jews were captured alive. According to stories from the Jews, there have definitely also been parachutists dropped here and bandits who have been supplied weapons from an unknown location. 274 Jews were shot, and as on other days, uncounted Jews were buried alive in the blown-up bunkers and, as near as can be determined, burned. With today's bounty of Jews, a very large portion of the bandits and lowest elements of the Ghetto has, in my opinion, been captured. Immediate liquidation was not carried out due to the onset of darkness. I will attempt to obtain a train for T II for tomorrow, otherwise the liquidations will be carried out tomorrow.

April 26, 1943:

At this time there are no more captured Jews in Warsaw. The previously mentioned transport to T.II was successful.

May 13, 1943:

The few Jews and criminals still remaining in the ghetto have for 2 days used the refuges available in the ruins in order to go back to their well-known bunkers at night, and there to eat and supply themselves for the next day. No evidence on further bunkers known to them can be obtained from the captured Jews. The rest of the inhabitants, where the fire fight took place, were destroyed by the strongest explosive charges. From a Wehrmacht operation 327 Jews were captured today. These captured Jews will only be sent to T.II.

May 24, 1943:

Of the overall total of 56,065 captured Jews, about 7,000 have been destroyed in the course of the large-scale action in the former Jewish living quarter. 6,929 Jews were destroyed by transport to T. II, so that overall, 13,929 Jews were destroyed. It is estimated that, in addition to the number of 56,065, 5 - 6,000 Jews were destroyed by explosions and fire.

In this last entry, the most explicit, we have translated the German word "vernichtet" as "destroyed." It is incidentally the same word used to refer to the destruction of bunkers. Other acceptable translations would be "exterminated" or "annihilated." There is no doubt as to its meaning.

Inspired by research by Dr. Daniel Keren.


Notes

1. For example, see Weber, Mark and Andrew Allen, "Treblinka," Journal of Historical Review, Vol. 12, p. 133, available at http://ihr.org/jhr/v12/v12p133_Allen.html. Despite acknowledging that human ashes were found buried on the Treblinka site to a depth of twenty feet, the "revisionist" authors conclude:

...there is no hard or compelling evidence that Treblinka was a mass extermination center where hundreds of thousands of Jews were systematically put to death. To the contrary, credible reports of transfers of Jews from Treblinka eastwards to the occupied Soviet territories, the relative lack of secrecy and security in the camp, and the small size of the area where the bodies were supposedly buried, all suggest instead that this was a transit center.

2. Kogon, Eugen, Hermann Langbein and Adalbert Rückerl, Nazi Mass Murder, 1993, pp. 124ff, 131ff. Camp area is an estimate.

3. Ibid, p. 136.

4. SS Unterscharführer Franz Suchomel, interviewed on hidden camera for the film Shoah. Transcript from the book of the same name, Claude Lanzmann, 1985, p. 54.

5. Snyder, Louis, Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, 1976, p. 374.

6. This was the term coined by Colonel-General Alfred Jodl:

The dirty arrogant SS swine! Imagine writing a 75-page boastful report on a little murder expedition, when a major campaign fought by soldiers against a well-armed army takes only a few pages.

Reitlinger, Gerald, The Final Solution, 1953, p. 276, citing G.M. Gilbert, Nuremberg Diary, 1947, p. 69.

7. "T II" is not often mentioned, but it is indeed the name of the extermination portion of the Treblinka camp. For an example of Holocaust-deniers acknowledging this, even as they deny other facts, see Weber and Allen, op cit.