- CHARGE NUMBER 6 OF THE POLISH GOVERNMENT AGAINST HANS FRANK: MASS MURDERS OF JEWS SYSTEMATICALLY CARRIED OUT AT THE EXTERMINATION CAMP OF TREBLINKA ESTABLISHED 1942; DESCRIPTION OF ATROCITIES THERE PERPETRATED; FRANK’S RESPONSIBILITY FOR THESE CRIMES (EXHIBIT USA-293)
C e r t i f i c a t e
This will certify that the document entitled “Charge No. 6, Camp of Treblinka,” concerning the extermination of Jews in this camp, is hereby officially submitted by the Polish Government to the International Military Tribunal by the undersigned under the provisions set forth in Article 21 of the Charter.
Dr. Tadeusz Cyprian
Polish Deputy Representaive of the United Nations War Crimes Commission in London
Nurnberg, the 5th December, 1945
CHARGE No. 6.
In accordance with article 6 of the Charter the Polish Government indicts Dr. Hans FRANK, Governor General of Poland, of the following crime:
The German authorities acting under the authority of Governor General Dr. Hans Frank established in March 1942 the extermination-camp at Treblinka, intended for mass killing of Jews by suffocating them in steam-filled chambers.
Particulars of the alleged Crime
In 1940 the German authorities established in the village of Treblinka, near Malkinia close to the railway-line Warsaw-Bialystok, a concentration camp for Poles who refused to deliver contingents of agricultural products ordered by the German administrative authorities. In November 1941, the District Governor of Warsaw, Dr. FISCHER, proclaimed this camp as a general concentration camp for the whole district of Warsaw and ordered all Poles to be deported there who some way or other contravened against the orders or prohibitions of the German authorities. Later on this camp was named “Treblinka A”.
In March 1942, the Germans began to erect another camp “Treblinka B’ / in the neighbourhood of “Treblinka A”/, intended to become a place of torment for Jews.
The erection of this camp was closely connected with the German plans aiming at a complete destruction of the Jewish population in Poland which necessitated the creation of a machinery by means of which the Polish Jews could be killed in large numbers. Late in April 1942, the erection of the first three chambers was finished in which these general massacres were to be performed by means of steam. Somewhat later the erection of the real “death-building” was finished which contains ten death chambers. It was opened for wholesale murders early in autumn 1942.
It may be mentioned here that there were several phases in the development of the persecution of the Jews in Poland. During the first period /till October 1940/ the Germans were aiming only at the moral degradation and complete pauperisation of the Jews by all kinds of restrictions of their rights, by the confiscation of their property etc., but later on they turned to their gradual annihilation and destruction as a nation. This change of policy is apparent in their treatment of the ghettos, first they had only to isolate the Jews from the Aryans but later on they were /the ghettos/ the very means of the physical annihilation of the Jews.
Healthier and stronger Jews were deported for forced labor while those who remained in the Ghettos were decimated by starvation and epidemics. As these methods did not produce the desired results more drastic measures were adopted. Wholesale massacres were organized in the Ghettos and, finally, a complete annihilation of the ghettos was decided upon.
The Jews had simply ceased to exist. Special camps were established for this purpose where the destruction of human lives was carried on by mechanized means. The best known of these death camps are those of Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor /in the Lublin district/. In these camps the Jews were put to death in their thousands by hitherto unknown, new methods, gas and steam chambers as well as electrical current employed on a large scale. The victims were recruited chiefly from the General Government, and particularly from the following districts: Warsaw, Radom, Lublin, Krakow, Lwow, but Jews from outside the General Government were also sent there, particularly from the Bialystok district where the Ghettos were maintained for a long time and where in the summer months of 1943 about 10,000 Jews were rounded up and transported to Treblinka for extermination.
The main part of the “work” was done in summer and autumn 1942. Winter 1942 and the year 1943 were used for “mopping up operations”, i.e. for the extermination of those who managed to dodge the main round-up and of those younger Jews who were employed in war industry. To indulge in their lust for destruction the Germans did not hestitate to put to death even those younger Jews although their man-power was badly needed and their loss — as admitted by the Germans themselves — was a serious handicap for the war effort.
The Camp B of Treblinka is situated in hilly, wooded country. It covered an area of 5,000 he /8 sq. miles/ and was fenced off by hedges and barbed wire. It is bordered in the north by a young forest, in the west by a railway embankment while low hills shut it off from the East and South. There are several observation posts in the camp for the camp guard /Lagerschutz/ as well as searchlights used for securing the camp during the hours of darkness. A side track leads from the main railway track on to a loading platform adjoining a large open place fenced off by barbed wire, where several thousands persons can be accomodated at the same time. To the north stands a large barrack and in the south-western corner an observation post. The place to the south of the barbed wire fence was used for sorting out pieces of clothes of the victims which were fit for further use /Lumpensortierungsplatz/. Further on to the south is the place of execution and a mass grave. A gate opens from the place to a road leading to the buildings and one of them is divided by a narrow corridor into two parts and measures approx. 40 yards by 25 yards. On each side of the corridor are situated five chambers whose height is about 6 and a half feet. There are no windows, The doors can be shut hermetically.
The second building consists of three chambers and a boiler-room. The steam generated in the boilers is led by means of pipes to the chambers. There are terracota floors in the chambers which become very slippery when wet. Along the southern wall of the building runs a long platform where the bodies of the victims were piled up after execution. A well is situated near the boiler-room.
Behind this building and separated from the rest of the camp by barbed wire stands a barrack and a kitchen destined for the grave diggers. On both sides of these buildings are situated observations. As the executions grew in numbers, mass graves were dug out by motor driven machines and not by hand and shovel as in the beginning.
The camp was guarded by Germans of the SS-detachments and by Ukrainians. The officer to who this guard was subordinated was the SS-Capt. SAUER. This garrison /Lagerschutz/ performed also duties of executioners, while menial services had to be performed by the inmates of the camps themselves, so e.g. the unloading of the trucks, stripping of the victims and sorting out of their clothes and shoes /Lumpensortirung/ the emptying of the death chambers and the burying of the bodies. When a new transport arrived some of the Jews were picked out to do this work so long till they broke down morally under the impression of this organized and mechanized mass murder. Then they had to dig their own graves and take up their position at them, whereupon they were shot one by one by SAUER personally. Their last duty before dying was to push the body of
the preceding victim into its grave. A new party was then chosen to continue their work in the camp. The sadism of SAUER in enjoying the shooting personally sounds incredible, but his guilt has been established beyond any doubt.
The average number of Jews dealt with at the camp in summer 1942 was about two railway transports daily, but there were days of much higher efficiency. From autumn 1942 this number was falling.
After unloading in the siding all victims were assembled in one place where men were separated from women and children. In the first days of the existence of the camp the victims were made to believe that after a short stay in the camp, necessary for bathing and disinfection, they would be sent further east, for work. Explanations of this sort were given by SS men who assisted at the unloading of the transports and further explanations could be read in notices stuck up on the walls of the barracks. But later, when more transports had to be dealt with, the Germans dropped all pretence and only tried to accelerate the procedure.
All victims had to strip off their clothes and shoes, which were collected afterwards, whereupon all victims, women and children first, were driven into the death chambers. Those too slow or too weak to move quickly were driven on by rifle butts, by whipping and kicking, often by SAUER himself. Many slipped and fell, the next victims pressed forward and stumbled over them. Small children were simply thrown inside. After being filled up to capacity the chambers were hermetically closed and steam was let in. In a few minutes all was over. The Jewish menial workers had to remove the bodies from the platform and to bury them in mass graves. By and by, as new transports arrived, the cemetery grew extending eastern direction.
From reports received may be assumed that several hundred thousands of Jews have been exterminated in Treblinka. Exact figures are impossible to obtain as the Germans did not bother to keep any records concerning the number of Jews deported to this camp and killed there. It will be even impossible to establish some correct figures because as early as spring 1943 the Germans began to exhume the bodies and to burn them so as to destroy all evidence of the crimes perpetrated. These exhumations continued until summer 1943, when victims were able to start a mutiny and to kill some of the guards enabling thus several hundred Jews to escape from the camp.
The above the description of the mass murders in Treblinka gives only a faint idea of the horrors which prevailed in the camp. It is practically impossible to imagine the sufferings of the victims in the camp and to grasp the full extent of the atrocities. For the victims transported to the camp in cattle trucks and exposed for several days to the most cruel sufferings of body and soul, death in the steam chambers must have almost come as a welcome relief. Their only crime consisted in the fact of belonging to a race condemned by Hitler to death.
The responsibility of Dr. Hans Frank for the setting up of the camp at Treblinka and for the mass killings described above is inherent to his official position as Governor General of Poland.
The camp could not be set up without either his direct order or, at least, his approval, and the numbers of people killed there clearly indicate, that these atrocities were elements of a systematic policy of extermination. All those connected with the “liquidators” of ghettos and of the Jews themselves took their orders from the Governor General.