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Holocaust History: Concentration Camps

This LibGuide is a starting point for general research on the concentration camps, with resources on genocide, survivor memoirs, and primary sources.

Brief History

The Treblinka death camp was located near the village of Treblinka, Poland. There were two camps. The first opened in December 1941 as a forced labor camp. The second camp, about a mile away, was much larger and opened in July 1942. The SS officials of Operation Reinhard chose the remote site with excellent railway connections as a killing center. Treblinka II was divided into three parts: reception area, a living area for German staff and guards, as well as for the relatively few Jewish prisoners chosen to facilitate the camp’s goal of mass murder, and the killing area.

Massive deportations from Warsaw began in July 1942 and were followed by deportations from Radom, Bialystok, and as far away as Thrace and Macedonia. Upon arrival at Treblinka II in railway freight cars, victims were separated by sex, stripped of their clothing and other possessions, marched into buildings, and gassed with carbon monoxide from ceiling pipes.

During the late spring and summer of 1943, the camp’s resistance leaders, knowing that their own death was imminent, decided to stage a revolt. On August 2, 1943, prisoners seized weapons from the camp armory but were discovered before they could complete their planned take over of the camp. Several hundred prisoners stormed the main gate in an attempt to escape but were mowed down by machine-gun fire from the guard towers. Some 300 managed to escape the camp, but most were tracked down and murdered by the SS.

From late July 1942 through September 1943, the Germans killed an estimated 925,000 Jews at Treblinka II, as well as an unknown number of Christian Poles, Roma, and Soviet prisoners-of-war. Treblinka I, the forced-labor camp, continued operations until late July 1944. The German personnel ordered Treblinka II to be dismantled in the fall of 1943. In late July 1944, as the Soviet army neared the camp, the SS shot the remaining Jewish prisoners, between 300 and 700. The Soviet Army entered both camps during the last week of July 1944.


The following summary derived information from the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust.

Sala and Aron Samueli Holocaust Memorial Library

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