Suzanne hired a tour guide through a Jewish genealogical society in Warsaw to pick us up at our hotel and take us on a tour of Treblinka. It is a couple hours from Warsaw and in the middle of nowhere. I’m not kidding about it being in the middle of nowhere either. The location was picked because it was unlikely to be discovered yet at the same time also had a train stop so it was easy to transport people there. Seriously writing this post is making my stomach hurt.
On the way to Treblinka the tour guide explained to us the difference between a concentration camp and an extermination camp. In the former, some prisoners were forced to do labor while in the later people were murdered.
Treblinka was burned to the ground and a memorial now stands in its place. When we first arrived, we saw where the train tracks used to be both; both the train that ran through the town and the special section of the track at ran to the camp. My pictures are up on Facebook.
A fake station was built there to reassure people that they were indeed being relocated and there was nothing to fear. There were even signs for the bathrooms. People gave their suitcases and belongings to coat room counter, received a ticket, and then headed out to a changing area where there heads were shaved and they were given a towel. They were then told to head to the showers which of course weren’t really showers. Their valuables were sorted through and loaded back on the trains.
After seeing that, we went to the small museum where there is a model of Treblinka I and Treblinka II. Treblinka one was used for Polish prisoners who were forced to build Treblinka II. They were then murdered so they couldn’t tell anyone about it.
From there we went to the where Treblinka II was. Large stones lined where the border had been. A railroad track monument was also there as well as large boulders where the guards barracks had been.
Two gas chambers were housed behind the station. Behind that was a fire pit to burn the bodies and two large pits for the bodies and later the ashes. In memory of the victims, stones have been placed on top of the pits. There is a stone for each city where the Jewish people who were murdered at Treblinka lived. In addition, at the beginning of the memorial there are large stones with the names of the countries where the Jewish people who were murdered there lived.
To say it’s overwhelming in an understatement. To say it’s sickening doesn’t do it justice. I am definitely glad that I went, but I felt sick the entire time I was there.