The living camp housed the German and Ukrainian supervisory and guard force as well as the Jewish slave laborers (the arbeitsjuden). The Jewish prisoners performed all the tasks associated with processing the incoming convoy’s belongings and camp maintenance and construction. The prisoners were housed in a large U- shaped barracks just north of the reception area. This part of the living camp was enclosed by fencing and the prisoners were locked in every night. The area included an “appelplatz”, or roll call square.
The living camp was rigorously segregated from the death camp. The system of compartmentation extended from the visual aspects - earth mounds and pine boughs woven into the security fencing prevented one to see into the death camp - to insulating the Jewish slave labor from their fellow prisoners in the totenlager. The SS and Ukrainian force had their own support facilities - buildings for medical, messing, storage and other purposes. There were also workshops, and a stables. The living camp also held a small work force of polish women who cooked for the SS contingent and had days off as though they worked in an ordinary milieu. (Reference 19, p166) These women required housing. There was even a recreational site consisting of a zoo. The latter was a building built in a central location. It was bordered by a decorative birch fence. It had rustic settees scattered about, and the menagerie included foxes and various birds. There was a dove cote on the zoo building’s roof. All these facilities, at the direction of Commandant Stangl, were subject to decorative improvements by the Jewish slave laborers. Sereny, in her interviews with Stangl quotes him saying that the camp “became really beautiful”, with flower beds colorful paint schemes. (Reference 19, p166)
The primary task in reconstructing Treblinka’s appearance was to locate as many of the buildings as possible which served the uses described above. To this end, the first analysis done was to identify the buildings visible on the air photographs by correlating the aerial images with the corresponding images captured by Franz’s ground based camera. Here, the methods followed the techniques described in Appendix A - Identifying The Kurt Franz Camera . The first stumbling block was to overcome confusion caused by the erroneous identification of the bakery as a Ukrainian settler’s house, A number of accounts of the dissolution of Treblinka state that at the end the gas chambers were pulled down and the bricks used to construct a house for the Ukrainian guard recruited to serve as a farmer and guard. In fact, aerial photography shows conclusively that all but one of the buildings present in May of 1944, when Poland was still under German control, can be seen in Kurt Franz photos taken in 1942 and 1943. The exception is a large wooden building which seems to have been a barn and which was burned down after the Russians overran the region in August 1943.
Figure 6.1 presents a composite of a Franz Album and aerial photo. In the aerial image dated May 1944, only one new building is present, the aforementioned barn. All the other
In Figure 6.4, one can see aspects that were mentioned above. Namely the decorative birch fence, settees and tables also constructed out of white birch. Several barracks buildings can be seen, particularly from Station C. These belonged to the Ukrainian guard force. The ladder placed against the roof was a serendipitous find and was used for rough scaling of the building. Noteworthy in the ground photographs are the number of trees, ranging from small saplings to mature specimens. In particular, there are two towering pines just in front and just behind the zoo. These would have been ideal for precise triangulation, but they are gone from the aerial pictures. This is an indication that the ground pictures were taken in the fall of 1942. During the spring and summer of 1943, Stangl had the Jewish work force clear much of the remaining woods in the living camp area. It is also possible that during the uprising in August of 1943, the fires set by the prisoners damaged the trees so that they were felled as a part of the effort to erase signs of the camp’s existence. This would account for the lack of tree cover around the zoo and nearby by the time the aerial photography was flown in 1944. SCRIPT>
Having determined the location of the zoo, it was possible to also position to varying degrees of accuracy, all the surrounding buildings visible in the pictures containing the zoo. Some sites of other structures were identified from the aerial imagery alone. The functions of the building sites identified was based on available accounts. For example the SS barracks is shown on all maps of Treblinka as situated between the rail siding and the Kurt Seidel Street. Therefore, finding a building scar in this area on the aerial photography permitted assigning this identity to the vanished building, as was done in Figure 6.5.
Jewish Workforce Barracks
The large barracks that housed the Jewish slave labor force was “U” shaped. It was situated to the south of the rest of the living camp, and north of the reception area. It was fenced. During the mass revolt in August of 1943, it was probably burned down. The May 1944 aerial photographs evince only subtle signs of the remains of this big building. In figure 6.6,
The Stone Tower
Among the many puzzles of Treblinka is the stone tower which is captured on another Kurt Franz snapshot. This structure appears in Figure 6.9 while apparently in the final stages of construction. In the foreground is Kurt Seidel Street. The tower’s function may have been to remedy a weakness in the camp’s security. There was no guard tower overlooking the north western side. The tower may have been intended to plug this gap, while at the same time keeping the workforce busy. The moorish appearance of the
Living Camp Summary
Figures 6.11 and 6.12 are a graphic summation of the findings. Figure 6.11 was flown in September of 1944 and Figure 6.12 in May of that same year.
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