Monday, February 27, 2012

Sobibor part 2


Toward the end of 1942, the SS began both in Belzec and Sobibor in a large-scale campaign to destroy the traces of the crime. In Sobibor, by this time some 100,000 people had been buried in pits. The decay process was causing the earth to heave and a horrible stench spread, this not only polluted the air above the camp, but the whole environment. Vermin spread, and there was a risk of contaminating the groundwater. All the dead had now to be exhumed and burned. So a heavy shovel excavator was taken to Sobibor, which was to dig a new pit. Over the pit, the prisoners constructed out of used railway sleepers  that were placed on a cement base, a huge grate, on which 1,000 corpses should be burned daily. The prisoners of the "Forest Command" had to find  large quantities of wood to burn corpses some in advanced stages of decay and stack them onto the pyre. The victims of the newly arriving transports at that time were no longer buried in pits, but taken immediately from the gas chamber to the pyre for the cremation. Flames and smoke of these massive fires struck several meters high and were visible from far away. [Few particulars about the body-burning procedure at Sobibor are known because no inmate from the Sobibor extermination sector "Camp III" survived. Witnesses mentioned the pyres being doused with gasoline or another flammable liquid, and huge fires flaring up so high that they could be seen far and wide; Ukrainian guards in their watchtowers found it hard to breathe when the wind blew in their direction from the burning grids. The smell of burned flesh prevailed throughout the camp and its vicinity. The bones that survived cremation were crushed with hammers.sic]
From some transports a number of young and vigorous men and women were selected for physical work. In most cases, the SS men asked specifically for skilled craftsmen among the newcomers. Every day some of them were shot, beaten or taken to the gas chamber, but they were replaced by newcomers. After some time, less of the laboring prisoners(Arbeitssklaven) were murdered in order not to compromise the effectiveness of the work-flow. Nevertheless, these prisoners knew that their deaths had only been suspended and that each of them had always expected that that day would come.
In all three extermination camps of "Aktion Reinhardt" the prisoners were working in the same way, under the supervision of their capos, involved in the murder cases of their captors as well as in ensuring that the property of the victims was retrieved, collected and handed over to the SS.. In addition, they all had to do physical work with the increasingly expanding service business and requirements according  to the needs and personal tastes of the SS. Yet they lived in the shadow of death, same as all the others and in anticipation of their own end. They lived in fear of the violence of the guards and from their own overseer, from sickness, which meant death, before the terrible asphyxiation in the gas chambers of Camp III. As a foremen and supervisors who were used in all the National Socialistic Concentration Camps,  prisoners were appointed as "capos" by the SS, who were granted special privileges, but as easily removed if they did not come up to standards.
40-50 prisoners were working as the "Train Station Commando ". They were forced to open the incoming trains and pass the command of the SS to the newcomers immediately to jump out of the wagons. Then they had to remove the dead and transported them to the pits, finally, the trains were to be cleaned so thoroughly that no visible traces remained. A group of about 40 prisoners formed the "Transport Command", which was used in the camp II at the undressing of the victims. These prisoners helped the children to undress and then brought the clothes to the collection point. There the clothing was searched, sorted and stored. The prisoners of the "Transport Command" were also forced to carry people who were too weak to walk for their execution.
The "rags commando" (Lumpenkommando)was between 80 and 120 prisoners, the largest labor team. Divided into several groups, the prisoners had to sort clothes and other belongings of the victims, browse for valuables and other personal belongings and remove any reference to the identity of the former owner, such as badges or the sewn-on Star of David. Sorted and bundled, the clothes were loaded into railway wagons and sent to the German Reich. "Also, I sorted clothes," said Regina Zielinski: "One day I was busy with a big pile of women's clothing, suddenly I spotted a brown plaid jacket and I said to the other girls that this is the jacket of my mother, but they looked at me doubtfully, and said that there were still so many jackets like this, but I was sure. Mother's jacket was tailored to measure, because we had one Taylor(Schneider) in pre-war times in Lublin, who used his Label (Etikett) with his name and I recognized the jacket. I said, "I'll prove to you that this is the jacket of my mother. My mother sewed her wedding ring into the small pocket". When the German guards just was not looking -. You had to be very careful - I cut out the bag in a fold of the lining, I found the wedding ring, it was the coat of my mother". (17).
Reference(17) Peter Monteath, Frauen im Holocaust,Gerlingen 2001,page 313.
About 20 people made up the commando called the "Gold Jews", which consisted of jewelers, watchmakers and former bank employees. Their task was to collect valuables such as jewelry, watches, gold, bank notes and securities, which had been taken from the victims, collect and had them sorted. People, luggage and clothing had to be closely examined, and although all the valuables had to be eventually  delivered to the German Reich,  a thriving and extremely dangerous smuggling system developed by the "Gold Jews". The SS guards who enriched themselves shamelessly on the possession of the victims, ordered the "Gold Jews", to withhold  gold or valuables and pass it on to them. And the Ukrainian guards enriched themselves by all means necessary and exchanged gold and jewelry for women and alcohol in the area. Sometimes the prisoners were able to bribe Ukrainian guards with valuables in exchange for food or medications.
The "barber commando" worked at Sobibor in a shack that was located inside the "tube"(Schlauch), which was divided and forked at this point. Only women who were on their way to their deaths were forced into this barrack, where their hair was cut off. As the 15-year-old Thomas Blatt ordered by an SS man into the Hairdresser's barracks, he did not know what to do, "quickly and easily cut into thick strands, said a friend, you need not cut close to  head." one of the women struggled and did not want to come forward.  As the overseer used with a whip on her, she attacked him with fists and scathed him with her fingernails, but the bullets of the Germans were faster and killed her instantly. Then most of them were resigned to their fate without resisting. A young girl was crying over the loss of her beautiful hair and asked that it not be cut too much of it in sections. Only a few minutes, and they would die without the least we could do about it. "(18) The hair of the victims was collected and processed into industrial felt and yarn forwarded to the German Reich.
Reference(18) Blatt,Nur die Schatten bleiben,page137
In the nearby forests the "Forest Kommando" worked under close supervision, the firewood and other wood that was needed in the camp, trees had to be felled. In addition, some of the prisoners were there for the cleaning and maintenance of the camp, the planting of fruit and vegetables, the maintenance of horses and livestock and supply, for both the SS and Ukrainian guards and the other prisoners as well. As "Court Jews"(Hofjuden) as the prisoners were called, were used for cleaning and maintenance of the SS barracks or as tailors, shoemakers, mechanics, carpenters or jewelers  exclusively for the personal needs of the SS. The goldsmith Stanislaw Szmajzner came on May 12, 1942 from Opole(Oppeln) to Sobibor. "Although I knew nothing but the horrors of the camp, I felt that my life was hanging on a thread,  I stepped out of line and offered my services."I am a jeweler and you might need me". Wagner looked at me and was not convinced.  My survival instinct made ​​me open my briefcase, with an appropriate a golden monogram on it."Look, I said, "this is my job." Wagner checked my briefcase and took me away from the crowd. I took my brother and my cousin with me. They were later killed." (19)
Reference (19) From Opole to Sobibor.Testimony Stanislaw Szmajzner in: Novitch, Sobibor, page 46
[Wagner was in charge of selecting which prisoners from the newly arrived transports would be used as slave laborers in and outside the camp, and which would be sent to their deaths in the gas chambers. When Wagner was on vacation or attending to duties elsewhere, Karl Frenzel assumed his role within the camp.
More than any other officer at Sobibor, Wagner was responsible for the daily interactions with prisoners. Wagner supervised the routine and daily life at Sobibor, and he was one of the most brutal SS officers.(he was in fact a Master Sergeant,  not a commissioned officer.sic) Survivors of the camp described him as a cold-blooded sadist. Wagner was known to beat and thrash camp inmates on a regular basis, and to kill Jews without reason or restraint. After World War II, Gustav Wagner was sentenced to death in absentia by the Nuremberg Trials, but escaped with Franz Stangl to Brazil. It is speculated that the Vatican helped Wagner to flee to Syria and then to Brazil. Wagner was admitted as a permanent resident on April 12, 1950. Wagner was issued a Brazilian passport on December 4, 1950.  He lived in Brazil under the pseudonym Günther Mendel until he was exposed by Simon Wiesenthal and arrested on May 30, 1978. Extradition requests from Israel, Austria and Poland were rejected by Brazil's Attorney General. On June 22, 1979, the Brazilian Supreme Court also rejected a West German extradition request.
Wagner, in a 1979 BBC interview, showed no remorse for his activities in running the camp, remarking:
“I had no feelings.... It just became another job. In the evening we never discussed our work, but just drank and played cards.”
In October 1980, Wagner was found with a knife in his chest in São Paulo. According to his attorney, Wagner committed suicide. His date of death was determined to be October 3, 1980. Other sources claim that his suicide is suspicious, pictures of his body available makes you wonder.sic]

Gustav Wagner death photo after committing alleged suicide
Up to 150 women who had been selected to work, were engaged in sorting clothes, in cleaning, washing and ironing. They took care of the flower and vegetable beds and did the sewing and knitting for the SS. They lived just like the men in constant anticipation of their own death and fear of the unbridled violence of their guards. Regina Zielinski remembers her time in the laundry: "One day I was not feeling well, I had an ear infection I was standing in front of the stove and waited for the water to boil, in this way some heat came to my ear.. the other girls had not noticed that a German had come in.. He dragged me out onto the so-called timber yard, where the men chopped wood. Unfortunately, as on that particular day Gustav Wagner was on supervision duty. Wagner gave orders that I had to be beaten. They had these very, very long whips of steel, which was wrapped in leather. I was much thinner than today. If I would have been larger,  my kidneys might not have taken as much damage"
The entire camp operation was determined by the frequency and volume of incoming Transports, as Thomas Blatt describes it: "As a little time had passed and I gradually became familiar with the system, and realized there were two distinct camp operations for prisoners. It was divided into different groups of fixed working positions, those that were sorting clothing, shoes, and valuables, the second work-flow was going on at the moment when a transport had arrived with Jews. Then out of the crowd workmen were formed into Sondergruppen) to separate the new arrivals into groups,  this included the train station commando(Bahnhofkommando), which received the Jews at the Ramp (Bahnsteig). this group was responsible for the transit shed where the hand luggage was kept, the people that took the clothes to the sorting table and  those who raked the path of the narrow "Ascension Street"(Himmelfahrtsstraße) when the Jews had gone through, and the hairdressers who had the hair cut off the women. After the newcomers were slaughtered, everything returned to "normality" and we prisoners devoted again ourselves to our previous assignments". (21)
Reference(21)Blatt,Nur die Schatten bleiben,page140
It took considerable time, until the prisoners who were in the areas of the camp I and II before they realized what really went on in camp III, and that their family members and all other people who had been in their transport, were killed immediately after their arrival . Stanislaw Szmajzner, who had been admitted on 18 May 1942 and immediately had begun to work for the commander Stangl and his deputy Wagner creating jewelery, asked the two about the whereabouts of his parents, "Wagner replied kindly:"They are doing well and I'm sure that you will soon be with them "on 18 May, I received a message from a friend who was also deported. "Say the funeral prayer for your parents, they are dead, along with everyone else. "from that day on, I pondered on revenge".  Herschel Zuckerman, who had reported on his arrival as a cook, recalled: "The gas chambers were disguised so well that I thought for ten weeks, that my fellow prisoners, who had come with me, were in a labor camp. In our kitchen we cooked soup for camp III and Ukrainian guards would pick up the pots. Once I hid a note in Yiddish in a dumpling... "know brother let me know what you are doing",  the response was attached to the bottom of the pot, "You should not have to asked.  The people are gassed and we have to bury them. "(23)
Reference (23) From Kurow to Sobibor.Testimony of Herschel Zuckerman, in ibid, page 107

Karl Frenzel, in charge of the Bahnhofskommando and the Judenarbeitslager in Lager I. On the right is Erich Bauer, who called himself the "Gasmeister" of Sobibor. Note: Bauer is in Wehrmacht Uniform, not SS
In early 1942, Bauer was transferred to Odilo Globocnik, the SS and Police Leader of Lublin in Poland. Bauer was given an SS uniform and promoted to the rank of Oberscharfuhrer (Staff Sergeant). In April 1942, he was dispatched to the Sobibor death camp where he remained until the camp's liquidation in December 1943.
At Sobibor, Erich Bauer was in charge of the camp's gas chambers. At the time the Jews called him the Badmeister ("Bath Master"),while after the war he became known as the Gasmeister ("Gas Master"). He was described as a short, stocky man, a known drinker who regularly overindulged. He kept a private bar in his room. While other SS guards were neatly dressed, Bauer was different: he was always filthy and unkempt, with a stench of alcohol and chlorine emanating from him. In his room, he had a picture on the wall of himself and a picture of all of his family with the Führer.
Apart from beatings, whipping and randomly shooting prisoners, Bauer enjoyed setting Sobibor's attack dogs on Jewish prisoners. Among these dogs was a huge mixed breed similar to a St. Bernard by the name of Barry. Barry was trained to attack prisoners on a variety of different commands. Bauer's favorite command was Mensch, fass den Hund!, translated to "Man, grab that dog!". The pun here was the reversal of the words 'man' and 'dog', the former referring to Barry and the latter to the dog's victim. Upon the command, Barry would attack the chosen Jewish prisoner.
On October 14, 1943, the day of the Sobibor uprising, Bauer unexpectedly drove out to Chelm for supplies. The uprising was almost postponed since Bauer was at the top of the 'death list' of SS guards to be assassinated prior to the escape that was created by the leader of the revolt, Alexander Pechersky. The revolt had to start early because Bauer had returned earlier from Chelm than expected. He discovered that SS-Oberscharführer Rudolf Beckmann was dead and started shooting at the two Jewish prisoners unloading his truck. The sound of the gunfire prompted Pechersky to begin the revolt early.
At the end of the war, Bauer was arrested in Austria by the Americans and confined to a POW camp until 1946. Shortly afterwards he returned to Berlin where he found employment as a laborer cleaning up debris from the war.
Erich Bauer was arrested in 1949 when two former Jewish prisoners from Sobibor, Samuel Lerer and Esther Raab, recognized him during a chance encounter at a Kreuzberg fair ground. When Ester Raab confronted Erich Bauer at the fair, he reportedly said "how is it that you are still alive?" He was shortly arrested and his trial started the following year.
During the course of his trial, Bauer maintained that at Sobibor he only worked as a truck driver, collecting the necessary supplies for the camp's inmates and the German and Ukrainian guards. He admitted being aware of the mass murders at Sobibor, but claimed to have never taken any part in them, nor engaged in any acts of cruelty. His primary witnesses, former Sobibor guards SS-Oberscharführer Hubert Gomerski and Untersturmführer Johann Klier testified on his behalf.
The court, however, convicted Erich Bauer based on the testimony of four Jewish witnesses who managed to escape from Sobibor. They identified Bauer as the former Sobibor Gasmeister, who not only operated the gas chambers in the camp but also engaged in mass executions by shooting as well as in a variety of particularly vicious and random acts of cruelty against camp inmates and victims on their way to the gas chambers.
On May 8, 1950 the court, Schwurgericht Berlin-Moabit, sentenced Erich Bauer to death for crimes against humanity. Since capital punishment was abolished in West Germany, Bauer's sentence was automatically commuted to life imprisonment. He served 21 years in Alt-Moabit Prison in Berlin. During his imprisonment, he admitted to his participation in mass murder at Sobibor and even occasionally testified against his former SS colleagues.
He died in Berlin Tegel prison on February 4, 1980.sic]

The situation of the prisoners who had been selected to work in the death zone in Camp III, was even more desperate and hopeless than the prisoners in the camps of I and II, you were completely isolated from the rest of the camp and endured physical and emotional pain usually only over a short time. The prisoners from the other camp areas were constantly in danger of being sent to camp III. "This part of Sobibor was our nightmare", wrote Thomas Blatt as  the following reminder: "It was a sunny July day.  The locomotive that pulled the narrow gauge dump     trolleys(Schmalspur-Kippwagen), had given up the ghost.  Zydmund Tuchman, who had been promoted kapo was ordered with three other prisoners to push some wagons loaded with tinned     food(Konservendosen) to the gate of camp III, the gas chamber area. Prisoners from other areas were strictly prohibited to throw so much as a glance at camp III. Under Zygmunds supervision the group managed up to the gate, but instead to obey the command and then immediately turn around, they were too slow and the gate to camp III went open before their eyes, not anyone of the group was allowed to return. I did not see my friend Zygmund again".
Even in Camp III, there were different work details: One group had to remove the dead from the gas chambers and stack them up. Another group had the gas chambers cleaned of blood and excrement before the next victims were rushed in. They also cleaned up the "tube"(Schlauch) and then spread fresh sand over it and raked it evenly. Several hundred men formed the "corpse commando"(Leichenkommando). They were forced to transport the dead to the pits and throw them in. First, however, the commando of "Dentists" had tooth fillings made ​​of gold and platinum as well as artificial teeth removed. In addition, these "Dentists" were forced to search the bodies of the dead for hidden valuables. Working in the pits, was a commando whose job it was to stack up the dead and cover each layer with sand. From Sommer1942 working prisoners from Camp III, had to carry out the exhumation and cremation of the bodies, before they themselves were shot or driven into the gas chamber. To eliminate all contact between Camp III and the remaining camp areas, they had their own kitchen and laundry, another group of prisoners had to do maintenance and repair work.
The lives of the working prisoners in the extermination camps was by an analogy organized to all military National Socialist concentration camps. Everywhere possible the daily running started by the awakening, and subsequent  morning roll call, twelve hours a dizzying work until the evening roll call. Throughout the diet was inadequate, the Hygiene conditions miserable and medical care under primitive conditions carried out by fellow prisoners inmost cases. In all the concentration camps, the prisoners lived in uncertainty about their imminent fate and in constant fear of disease, violence from their captors and their own overseers, the arbitrary "punishments" of beatings or extra work imposed. In all camps, there were also among the prisoners, cruelty and betrayal, as well as selfless help and mutual moral support.

                    continued under Part 3

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sobibor Part 1

Sobibor Part 1

Sobibor is the name of a small town in eastern Poland near the border with Belarus. It lies on the line-Wlowada-Chelm in the middle of a sparsely populated wetland. Sobibor is also the name of one of three death camps, the other two were Belzec and Treblinka, in the spring of 1942 within the framework of the so-called Operation Reinhard this camp was built there. Heinrich Himmler, instructed the SS and Police Leader of the District of Lublin, Odilo Globocnik, the former Gauleiter of Vienna and fanatical National-socialist to the end-th degree, the leadership of the "Aktion Reinhardt" with the goal to murder all Jews living in the General Government with poison gas .The General Government  included the German-occupied parts of Poland, who had not been affiliated with the German Reich, and which included the districts of Cracow, Warsaw, Radom and Lublin, after the invasion of the German Wehrmacht into the Soviet Union during June 1941 the area around Lemberg was also added to this region. It was intended to murder all Jews from the Lublin district in Sobibor.

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In Auschwitz, the murder by poison gas had already started in October 1941. After trial gassings of Polish prisoners and Russian prisoners of war in the basement of Block 11, the first Jews from Upper Silesia were killed with Zyklon B in the morgue of the crematorium I. In Chelmno (Kulmdorf), from the so-called Warthegau, after December 1941 there were at least 152,000 Jews and 5,000 Gypsies put  into gas vans, i.e. they were taken into tightly closed transport vehicles into which the exhaust gases of the engines had been connected. This method proved to be cumbersome and time consuming. In the death camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka over a period of 21 months there were 1.75 to 2 million people who were  murdered. The number of victims at Sobibor is estimated at 15,0000-250, 000 humans. A more accurate determination of the numbers is no longer possible, since all records were destroyed. The estimates are based on the reconstruction of transports going through railway stations and statements of Polish railway officials. It seems to be that Sobibor was probably used exclusively to exterminate Jews. In addition to the majority of Polish citizens were Dutch, German, French, Czechs, Slovaks and Soviets as well. The prisoners who had not died during the transports or arrived in a poor healthy condition were shot immediately upon arrival, the others were herded into chambers into which carbon monoxide gas was forced in, where the victims suffered an agonizing death by suffocation.

According to the historian Pohl of the three death camps of "Aktion Reinhardt" Sobibor is best explored. after an uprising by the prisoners on 14 October 1943, about 300 of them managed to escape from the camp. 46 prisoners among them nine women survived the end of the war. With them it was a comparatively large group of survivors of an extermination camp, that could bear witnesses to the crimes committed. However, none of the prisoners survived, those working in Camp III, in the immediate area of ​​the killing installations, and had been completely isolated from the rest of the camp. The testimony of the survivors were in a series of court cases, both crucial to the conviction of the members of the SS and members of the Ukrainian guards who had murdered at Sobibor.
Two historical studies on the main basis for today's certain knowledge of the extermination camp of Sobibor appeared in 1987, the study of the Holocaust scholar and former director of the Jerusalem Yad Vashem, Yitzahak Arad, on the "Aktion Reinhardt" that both reflect the memories of survivors and especially since the end of the war, summarizes the research done in Poland. Dedicated exclusively to the history of the monograph is Sobibor's Dutch survivor Jules Schelvis, who was deported with his family on June1,1943 from  Holland to Sobibor. He himself had been transferred to the labor camp at Dorohucza and had survived as the only one of its transport.(1) Only decades after his release he began to gather all the information available on the history of Sobibor and forwarded his records to the judicial authorities for evaluation. Jules Schelvis appeared in 1982 than before the jury in the retrial at Hagen, of the the former SS officer Karl Frenzel as plaintiff (Nebenklager). His book was published in 1993 in the Dutch language and 1998 in the German language. Nevertheless, Sobibor is to a wider public until now largely unknown.
[(1)This statement is not quite correct: Of the approximately 700 Dutch men who, upon arrival, were immediately transferred to labor camp Dorohucza to dig peat, two survived the war[not one sic] In the rest of the Lublin district, only thirteen women and one man were liberated, though not all at Dorohucza or Lublin.(writers comment)]
At the start of the Second World War, Frenzel was drafted into the Reich Labor Service. However, he was soon released because he had many children to support. His brothers were in the army, and he felt left out of the action. Responding to an appeal to loyal party members, Frenzel applied for special service in the military through his SA unit, but instead he was assigned to Action T4, the Nazi state's program to kill all people with disabilities. When the Wehrmacht later called for his service, T-4 prevented his transfer.
Along with other T4 recruits, Frenzel reported to the Columbus House in late 1939, where he was first checked for political reliability and then watched film on the supposed degeneration of handicapped people. First he worked in the laundry and as a guard at Grafeneck Castle, then he worked in construction at Bernburg, and finally became a stoker at Hadamar Euthanasia Centre. As a stoker, he was responsible for removing the dead bodies from the gas chambers, breaking out gold teeth, and burning the bodies, as well as various other tasks around the gas chambers and crematoria. It is also speculated that Frenzel helped in the design of the gas chambers at Hadamar. Like his colleagues, this was Frenzel's first experience with gassing and burning people, which would be useful later in the extermination camps. On 20 April 1942, he was assigned to Operation Reinhard and sent to Sobibor extermination camp.
Frenzel claimed that when he received his orders, he was told that Sobibor was merely a work camp which he had to guard. When he found out the camp's true nature, he was forbidden from discussing it with anyone, as it was to be kept a state secret. The penalty for violating this was imprisonment at a concentration camp or death.
Frenzel was the commandant of Camp I, which was the forced labor camp, at Sobibor. He also commanded the Bahnhofkommando. Frenzel served as Gustav Wagner's replacement as the quartermaster-sergeant of the camp when Wagner was attending to duties elsewhere or was on vacation. During these times, Frenzel selected which prisoners from the newly arrived transports would work in and outside the camp (in effect, also selecting the vast majority that would go to the gas chambers) In this capacity, Frenzel carried out genocide, taking part in the industrial-scale extermination of thousands of inmates as part of Operation Reinhard.
Frenzel freely used his whip on inmates without reservation. Erich Bauer, one of the commanders of Camp III, stated: "He [Frenzel] was one of the most brutal members of the permanent staff in the camp. His whip was very loose." For instance, in spring 1943, when a worker prisoner tried to take his own life and was found dying, Frenzel shouted that Jews had no right to kill themselves — only Germans had the right to kill. Frenzel whipped the dying man and finished him off with a bullet. Years later in an interview, Frenzel claimed that he was always fair in doling out "punishments". In the spring of 1943, after two Jews from Chelm escaped from the camp, the staff consulted amongst themselves and Frenzel announced the verdict that every tenth prisoner at the morning roll call would be executed. Frenzel personally walked along the lines of the roll call and pulled the victims out of line to be shot at Camp III. Twenty prisoners were shot as a reprisal for the two who escaped.
Unlike many SS men, Frenzel supposedly had his limits. He testified that he tried to avoid participation in the more murderous actions of the camp. For instance, when he was put in charge of the trolley that transported Jews to the gas chambers, he protested. Frenzel states:
After the disembarking of the train, the children and the feeble Jews were forcibly thrown onto the trolley. Terrible scenes happened then. The people were separated from their families, pushed with rifle butts, lashed with whips. They cried dreadfully, so I could not cope with this task. Reichleitner complied with my request, and he appointed Bredow to escort the trolley.
After the prisoner revolt of 14 October 1943, Frenzel helped in dismantling the camp. He was then sent to participate in Sondertruppe R in Trieste and Fiume, which confiscated the houses of deported Jews in Italy
At war's end, he was arrested by United States troops at a P.O.W. camp near Munich, but was soon released. Frenzel found a job in Frankfurt as a stage lighting technician. On 22 March 1962, whilst on a break at work, he was again identified, arrested and brought to trial along with other former SS officers at the Sobibor trials on 6 September 1965.
The official charge brought against Frenzel was the personal murder of 42 Jews and participation in the murder of approximately 250,000 Jews.
Frenzel's justification for his activity at Sobibor:
“As I already pointed out, under the prevailing war conditions, which are now difficult to comprehend, I unfortunately believed that what was going on in Sobibor was lawful. To my regret, I was then convinced of its necessity. I was shocked that just during the war, when I wanted to serve my homeland, I had to be in such a terrible extermination camp. But then I thought very often about the enemy bomber pilots, who surely were not asked whether they wanted to carry out their murderous flights against German people in their homes in such a manner. ”
On 20 December 1966, Frenzel was sentenced to life imprisonment for personally murdering six Jews, and for his participation in the mass murder of a further 150,000 Jews as Commandant of Sobibor's Lager (camp) No:I.  He was released on a technicality in 1982, re-tried, and again sentenced to life imprisonment on October 4, 1985. Due to his advanced age and poor health, the sentence was not imposed and he was released.
Sobibor survivor Thomas Blatt was among those called to testify as witnesses against Frenzel at the post-war trial, and when Blatt traveled to the court venue city, Blatt and Frenzel met at a hotel in order to discuss historical questions and technical details about camp operation for the history of the uprising Blatt was then writing; the event is presumed to be the only time that a Nazi death camp supervisor was interviewed by a death camp prisoner.
In the years after the war, Frenzel frequently expressed remorse for his actions, but explained that he had simply complied with his duty. He renounced his belief in the Nazi Party.    "Ever since 1945, I have been cursing the Nazis — for everything, for what they did, and everything they stood for. I fought against the devil. Since 1945 I have refrained from any involvement in politics."
In the 1987 movie Escape from Sobibor, Karl Frenzel was played by Kurt Raab.
Karl Frenzel spent the last years of his life in a retirement home in Garbsen near Hannover, where he died on September 2, 1996.
In a 1983 interview, Frenzel — who was at the camp from its inception to its closure — admitted the following about Sobibor:
“ Poles were not killed there. Gypsies were not killed there. Russians were not killed there...only Jews, Russian Jews, Polish Jews, Dutch Jews, French Jews.”
Frenzel's testimony contrasts greatly with a memorial plaque at the site today, which reads "HERE THE NAZIS KILLED 250,000 RUSSIAN PRISONERS OF WAR, JEWS, POLES AND GYPSIES."
“When my children and friends ask me whether it is true, I tell them yes, it is true. And when they say, but this is impossible, then I tell them again, it is really true. It is wrong to say that it never happened.”sic]

There probably already existed in the fall of 1941 the plan to build a camp at Sobibor. The site fulfilled the necessary conditions. It was lying on a railway line, and there was plenty of space to keep and store the property of the victims. It was also far removed from greater estates, conveniently placed for mass murder that could remain unnoticed beyond the immediate environment. In January / February 1942, the site, which covered twelve acres and was later extended to 60 Hector had to be fenced. Construction began in March 1942. A group of civilian workers from the area and about 80 Jews from nearby ghettos were forced to construct the buildings and have them fenced in. They were supervised by ten Ukrainian guards ("Trawnikis'). The site management was that of Richard Thomall, a member of the SS construction office in Lublin, who was also responsible for the construction of the camp at Belzec and the layout and structure corresponded to that of that camp, however, Sobibor was larger, of the existing buildings, a former post-office was converted as the commandant's o villa and a forestry house was used as an administration building. A small chapel was used as an additional execution site. Otherwise, the camp consisted of three distinct separated areas.

The chapel, which along with all the surrounding camp area became prohibited territory for the Poles soon after the Germans arrived. The Chapel is no longer there, a Roman Catholic Church was built on the same spot in 1987.
The Pre-Entrance(Vorlager) and camp I were the management area(Verwaltungsbereich). The Vorlager bordered directly on the railroad track, where the transport trains arrived. There, the first arrivals saw a big sign that read "SS Sonderkommando". In the Vorlager were the commander's villa, accommodation and supply facilities for the members of the SS, the armory and other warehouses located. The barracks of the Ukrainian auxiliary troops were also within this range of the Vorlager. Camp I had three living barracks for Jewish laboring prisoners, a kitchen, the roll call square(Appellplatz) and workshops in which the prisoners worked for the needs of the SS men, painting, tailoring and knitting. It had Sattlers, had Carpenters, Smiths that performed forging and Boot-makers repairing shoes or other leather goods. On the average 50 Jewish prisoners worked in the camp I.
Camp II, which was shielded by a wooden fence against the views of the new arrivals, was the reception area. Tis was the Main Center of the SS, as well as stables for horses, pigs, chickens and ducks. Also, an acreage for fruit and vegetables were created there. In addition, Camp II was the collection point for the entire possession of the victims and sorted and separated by clothing, food and valuables. Documents and personal documents of the victims were burned. Up to 400 prisoners, including about 100 women who were regualary assigned to this function at Camp II. Between Camp II and Camp III, a small airfield was created. Also leading from Camp II was a small, about 150 meters long andn three to four meters wide corridor to Camp III. This corridor was designated as the"Schlauch" (Tube) was fenced with barbed wire, which was interwoven and camouflaged with pine branches.

 In camp III stood the stone building with the gas chambers. These contained three large chambers, each measuring about  four by four meters square.and could hold up to 200 people  when driven into them. Beside it was a wooden shed in which a 200-hp diesel engine was installed, the exhaust gases went  through pipes into the hermetically sealed chambers. In addition, there was a kitchen and bunkhouse for the Jewish prisoners who worked there, a log cabin for the SS, a guard tower and a 60 meter, by 20 meters wide and six to nine meters deep pit(Grube) where the the victims were buried. In June 1943 the entire area was mined in a 15 meters distance from the outer fence.
Also in the early summer of 1943 they started with  the establishment of a fourth camp in which a large ammunition depot and captured weapons where meant to be held. This part of the camp was never completed.

As in other extermination camps the prerequisite at Sobibor were surprises, haste, terror and deceit, the most important method to enable a smooth process to accomplish largely murder through a well organized system, to eliminate the most unsuspecting victims without hold-ups. The Polish Jews had been since the invasion of the German Wehrmacht into Poland during September 1939 experienced two and a half years of terror by many SS-Units, persecutions were behind them before they were deported to extermination camps. They had known the loss of property and freedom, had been herded into ghettos and forced labor, starvation and deprivation had thus weakened them physically and mentally. They were in many cases, eyewitnesses of murders by the German occupiers, where family members or friends and acquaintances had fallen victim. They were aware of mass executions and death camps, and they knew that their situation was almost hopeless. And yet they were oblivious  in most cases, and had no idea what awaited them at Sobibor.
Survivors described the shock they experienced when they arrived: "Although we had heard about Sobibor," said Thomas Blatt, who was brought in April 1943 as a 15-year-old from the nearby village of Izbica to Sobibor, "We understand now what this place was really meant to be for us. I tried to understand the dimensions of all that, but it did not work." On the question to an acquaintance, whom he had met on his arrival he asked him, "just tell me Jozek, what will I do if I stay here?", He answered calmly: "This is an extermination camp, here are no exceptions made​​,  you and the other people of your transport you are here because 72 Dutch Jews were killed here a few days ago who had  tried to organize an escape, you have taken their place". Itzhak Lichtman, who was deported in May 1942 from Zolkiewka to Sobibor, was told that his group on the way to the railway station,  Polish children and adults accompanied them and shouting: "Hey, Zydzi, idziecie spalenie na" (Jews, you'll be burnt ) We spoke Yiddish, but we also understood Polish. Nevertheless, we did not comprehend the meaning of these words and their way of teasing and mild abuse. We had heard of the death camp at Belzec, but we did not believe it. "It was simply inconceivable that all the newcomers, with a few exceptions, which were selected for slave labor(Arbeitssklaven) would be killed immediately and temporarily spared which was only a short time delay before they were intended for death.
The victims, who were deported from Western European countries to Sobibor, the existence of an extermination camp was even less imaginable. They had mostly believed the statements of their persecutors, that they "would move" for work in the East, and tried as much as possible to take their personal belongings and property with them. "In March 1943 we were on our way to Poland," said the Dutch women Selma Wijnberg, who was deported from the camp at Vught in Holland to Sobibor. "Many of us were hoping to meet their families again. German nurses distributed medicines to the sick. It all looked normal" To the deception of those left behind in Holland and maintain the guise of civility, the SS demanded some sacrifices from those in Sobibor, by writing postcards to relatives, which, however, was not specified as the senders place as Sobibor, but "Wlodawa".

Even the Soviet-Jewish prisoners of war who had experienced the German policy of extermination at close range, before they were taken in September 1943 as part of the recent deportations to Sobibor from Minsk, had no knowledge of the extermination camps. For example, reported Alexander Petchersky, who led a few weeks later the revolt of the prisoners that they were still unsuspecting during transit, although farmers made movements and signs to them that they went to their deaths The Germans did not realize that Petchersky was a Jew, until he was stripped naked, [this was a standard practice during fightings in the Western Fronts as well,  my Unit took a handful of GI's prisoner, but could not provide for them and they were handed  over to an SS-Detachment, the first thing they did, had their trousers pulled down. Only one was circumcised and they made fun of him, but in my opinion he was not a Jew, as there are different methods of circumcision.sic]
Mid-April 1942 there were about 250 Jews, mostly women, brought from the nearby labor camp Krychow to Sobibor and murdered during a "test gassings"(Probevergasung) in the presence of all SS-men present in the camp. Early May 1942  began the first phase of the factory-scale killing in Sobibor, which lasted until the end of July 1942. During this period there have been from 90.000 to 100.000 people eliminated. These were mainly Polish Jews from the Lublin district, but also deported Jews from outside of Poland. At least 10,000 German and Austrian Jews were murdered between April and June 1942 in Sobibor. Of the 39,000 Slovak Jews who had been first brought to the Lublin district, approximately  24.500 were murdered in Sobibor. Between March and Juni1942 13,000 Czech, German and Austrian Jews that arrived via Lublin from Theresianstast at least 6000 found their death at Sobibor.
The trains stopped at the station at Sobibor. 18-20 railway wagons were run on a siding onto the unloading ramp. If the trains were longer, they were divided. They included, however, rarely more than 20 wagons, which contained 2,000 to 2,500 people. The  SS personnel was informed of the arrival of a  transport approaching, and the Ukrainian guards formed a corridor, so that none of the arriving inmates could escape. The wagon doors were opened and forced the people out by yelling orders, with beatings and threats, in a hurry to jump from the wagons. and run into the camp. All luggage had to be left behind. Sick and infirm were withheld in order to separate them from the rest of the group. The patients were then loaded onto horse-drawn wagons and they were told that they would be taken to the "hospital"(Lazarett). In reality they were taken to about 200 meters away to the old chapel. There they were dragged from the carts and shot close to a shrub-lined pit. In June / July 1942  narrow-gage railway trolleys were built, with which the sick were taken off the ramp straight down to the execution pits in Camp III and then killed there. The rest of the arrivals in the camp II learned that they were taken to the showers before they would continue their journey  to work assignments.

In the meantime, their clothes should be disinfected. Men and women had to undress separately. The children stayed with the women. All valuables were to be removed and deposited.  Anyone who tried to hide something, was immediately shot. Ada Lichtman reported: "We heard word for word, as Sergeant Michel, who was standing on a small table, was able to convince the people to calm down, he promised them that after the bath all their property would be returned to them, and he reiterated, it was time that the Jews should now contribute a little to the productivity themselves,  they would all go to the Ukraine to live and work  there. The speech sparked enthusiasm and confidence among the people,  they reacted with spontaneous applause, and sometimes they even sang and danced as well. "
The naked prisoners were segregated by sex and rushed through the "tube"(Schlauch) to Camp III. On the way the women were taken into a shed to cut off their hair before they were all chased directly into the gas chamber. Everything was done in utmost haste, accompanied by the shouts of the guards, of beatings and verbal abuse, sometimes even dogs were used onto the defenseless. The victims were in shock, had no opportunity to orient themselves and ran to escape the terror, straight into the gas chambers. There are reports that a large flock of geese, kept for the diet of the SS-men were startled, their cackling were meant to drown out the deafening screams of the terror of the victims. The agony of suffocation took 20 to 30 minutes. Two to three hours after the arrival of a transport the victims were already buried in the pits.

At the end of July 1942 the railway line between Lublin and Chelm had to be be repaired, because the tracks sank into the marshy ground. The transports could not come for a few months to Sobibor, and the exterminations had to be interrupted. During this same period there were three more gas chambers, in which 600 people could be killed at the same time was extended thus doubling its capacity. The renovated building was divided into two parts by a central corridor and on each side were three chambers. In October 1942, both the repairs were completed on the tracks and the construction work to expand the gas chambers.
The second phase of mass murder began in early October 1942. At this time, the narrow gage railway carriage(Loren) within the camp  was put into operation, the sick and infirm were transported directly from the ramp to the pits for execution.
By early Oktober1942 28,000 people came from the district of Lublin to Sobibor, followed by another 4.500 Jews that arrived at irregular intervals during May 1943 from there as well.
Of the more than 75,000 Jews who were deported between March 1942 until the summer of 1944 from France to death camps, most of them went to Auschwitz. In March 1943, three transports from the French Camp Gurs were taken into the Lublin District. An unknown number of these prisoners were transported to Majdanek for work, all the others were sent to Sobibor for elimination. In July 1942, the deportation of Dutch Jews began into the Extermination Camps(Vernichtungslager).Of the 105,000 Dutch Jews, that came between July 1942 and September 1944 from the camps of Herzogenbusch(Vught) and Westerbork in passenger trains to Auschwitz and Sobibor a total of 34.131 people were transported in 19 transports to Sobibor (15).
Reference (15) Schelvis,Vernichtungslager, page 316

A transport of about 5.000 prisoners arrived from Majdanek in July 1943 in Sobibor, which due to the particular awfulness of their physical codition  will remain in the memories of those survivors that were members of the work detachment. The arrivals were wearing striped prison garb and were weakened to the  extreme. Many people were already dead upon arrival.  On this particular day there was a  technical problem with the killing facilities, the prisoners had to spend one day and one night in the open before they were murdered. About 200 people died during the night from exhaustion, were killed in some way or shot. The next morning, the stronger of the working team in the camp supported the weak to make their way to the gas chambers.Some of the Sobibor's had to remove the dead left behind at the assembly area and taken away. Dov Freiberg, who was assigned to this work, wrote: "The SS man Frenzel selected 20 prisoners and told us we should work naked, as the bodies are dirty and were full of lice. We had the dead carried away to about 200 meters towards the. railway carriages which had to be pushed away. Although we were accustomed to this kind of work, it is not possibly describe our feelings, as we bore the dead while on our bare bodies. the Germans herded us on with shouts and blows.

Video Pits at Sobibor

As I dragged the body of a man, I stopped and I saw no Germans in the area, I put him on the ground. And established as the body of the man whom I thought was dead raised himself on his elbows, and looked at me with wide eyes and asked: 'Is this still a long way' he spoke the words with great effort and then collapsed. At that moment I felt blows on my head and back. The SS man Frenzel beat me with a whip. I took the "living" dead at his feet and dragged him to the dumper carriage. "(16)
Reference (16) Dov Freiberg, Testimony, in YVA, A-361, accrdg. Arad, Belzec, P128
During the winter months of 1942/43 and in the spring and summer of 1943, Jews from South Galizien were  taken primarily from the Lemberg district to Sobibor. Their numbers are estimated at 15,000 to 20,000. It is no longer able to determine how large the number of those who came from Belzec, which was in the process of closure and disarray, were forwarded to Sobibor. In some cases, the Jews had been forced before their departure to undress. This was a precautionary measure, as attempts to escape during the journey and jump out of railway wagons would be hampered. Between October 1942 and June 1943 70000-80000 Jews were sent from the General Government to Sobibor. The total number of victims from the area are estimated between 145,000 to 150,000 persons. By the early summer of 1943 the deportations from the General Government  was as good as completed. Only a few Jews whose labor was still required in certain industrial facilities remained behind.
In June 1943, the evacuation of the ghettos in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and the western part of Belarus(Weißrussland)had been ordered. A large part of the able-bodied Jews, the SS transferred them from there into Concentration Camps to work in the armament industry. In September 1943, transports of 2,700 Jews went from the ghetto of Lida, as well as another 5,000  from the Wilna ghetto to Sobibor. From the 6000-8000 Jews that had survived  the liquidation of the ghetto out of a total of 75.000 in Minsk in the summer of 1943 which had been crowded together there at the beginning of the German occupation, 6000 of them were sent during September 1943 to Sobibor. 

                                                         continued under Part 2                                                              

Friday, February 17, 2012


None of the perpetrators of Treblinka were made responsible or had to appear before a court of the country in which they committed their crimes, because the staff of "Aktion Reinhardt" in late 1943 had been transferred with Odilo Globocnik at it's head to northern Italy. Globocnik committed suicide in British captivity, the "Inspector of the extermination camps" Christian Wirth was killed in May 1944 by partisans in the area of ​​Trieste. Against  Glibocnik's, Staff member Ernst Lerch, and against the squad leader SS Sturmbannführer Hermann Höfle, both of which came from Austria, as was Globocnik,  the Austrian Authorities traced them at the beginning of the 1960s. Höfle, hanged himself on 21 August 1962 in a Viennese prison, Lerch was arrested in 1971 in Klagenfurt, but his case was dropped.
 As far as the Polish Authorities were concerned,  they believed that there was insufficient evidence to identify any individual of the Staff of the extermination camp Treblinka and the prospect of a successful prosecution was doubtful and did not pursue  the subject any further. (36)
Reference (36) Rückel,NS-Vernichtungslager, page 331
Treblinka was mentioned during the Nürnberg War Crimes Tribunal, but only as a side issue in comparison of the murder of Jews at Auschwitz. From the Polish and Sowjet side, they presented eyewitnesses who did describe the method of Gassings, at the same time it showed as well, how little was known of past activities during the period of the post-war years. One witness  told  the Polish Investigation Commission, that not only Gas was used for murdering, another second method was applied: In special boilers, steam was produced which was used-at least temporarily-to kill Jews.
During sentencing of Hans Frank, the German Generalgouverneur in Poland, Treblinka (as well as Majdanek) had been pointed out as places of mass murder, the other Extermination Camps on Polish Territory,  Chemno, Bezec and Sobibor were not mentioned.(37)
Reference(37)IMT Vol I page282f and 334f
During an investigation in July 1946 at Frankfurt am Main into the killing of disabled people at the Hadamar Euthanasia Institution, the locksmith, Josef Hirtreiter was arrested. At the Hadamar Process it could not be proven that  Hirtreiter had participated in the killing of the mentally ill. He was not sentenced but transferred to a detention center in Darmstadt  for his de-Nazification Hearing. Before the Tribunal at Darmstadt, he then reported that he had been an SS guard at a "concentration camp called Malkina",  where he had done service prior to the victims being put into a gas chamber, monitored them while undressing and had valuables removed from them. The Tribunal classified  Hirtreiter as a main culprit and sentenced him as "atonement" for ten years into a labor camp[This Law was changed after 1948 in Germany.sic]  Through a Newspaper Article in July 1948, the Frankfurt Prosecutor became aware that  Hirtreiters activities could easily be identified as being done in Treblinka. The court in Frankfurt convicted him in March 1951, and accused him of murder. Hirtreiter was for a  number of cases sentenced to lifelong imprisonment, and he lost his civil "Freedom" and political Rights(Freiheitsberaubung) for life as well. He was released in 1977 for health reasons and died the following year.
In July 1959 the Attorney General in Frankfurt, sent the files of the Hirtreiter-Prozesse to the "Central Office of the State Justice Administrations for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes." The Central Office opened their proceedings in December 1958. The systematic investigation, which began immediately in Ludwigsburg resulted in the first Treblinka Trial of Kurt Franz and others before the District Court Düsseldorf. The District Court had jurisdiction because Franz, who had been held from 2 Dezember1959 in custody, was domiciled in Düsseldorf. During the 103 days of hearings which was going on between the 12 October 1964 and September 1965,  Treblinka was the subject of the indictment. In addition, Kurt Franz, the last camp commander and nine other officials of the SS were also on trial. The private photo album of Kurt Franz, on which he had written the heading "Good Times"(Schöne Zeiten) Images from the extermination camp for the family, was among the documents of evidence in the Treblinka process. About 100 witnesses were heard and numerous experts testified. The court went several times to witness-interrogations to the U.S., Canada and Israel. Although the defendants did confess, but claimed that they had to obey orders (Befehlsnotstand) and tried, as long as possible to deny any  involvement in the murder of Jews.
The sentence had been passed on 3 September. Four defendants received life-long imprisonment:,  Kurt Franz, first deputy, then the last camp commander, August Miete and Willi Mentz, both SS-Sergeants, who was a leader in the "hospital"(Lazarett) , the other one had shot new intakes immediately upon arrival, Arhur Matthes, of the SS who had been chief sergeant at camp II ("death camp") (Totenlager). Gustav Münzbewrger, SS-Unterscharführer, who had the authority to control " the new gas house", received twelve years, the administrative manager Otto Stadie (he had been storm troop leader, which corresponded to a staff sergeant in the Army) got seven years, Franz Suchomel (Chief of the "Gold Jews") Erwin Lambert (supervisor of gas chambers), Albert Rum (command and oversight in camp II) received six, four and three years' imprisonment respectively;[these had to spend time in penitentiaries, harsher conditions than standard jails.sic]  Otto Horn, also once an entrusted SS Unterscharführer with  the command and  oversight in camp II, was acquitted.
Eight of the nine defendants appealed, as did the prosecutor for a revision. It was rejected by the Federal Court on 30 June 1970. Due to an intervening change in law it was indeed converted from penitentiary(Zuchthaus) into penal servitude(Freiheitsberaubung). Kurt Franz was in May 1993 because of health reasons and old age, he was then 79 years old,  released from prison. He had previously spent up to 33 years in prisons under criminal investigations (Strafhaft).
Franz Stangl, commandant of Treblinka, from August 1942 to August 1943, could for a long time avoid the earthly justice. At war's end he returned to  Wels in Austria where his wife lived .As an SS Captain he came under "automatic arrest" by US Authorities and sent  to an internment camp at Glasenbach near Salzburg. That he had been commander of Treblinka remained, during the two-year stay there undetected. But  Stangl in 1947 was arrested in Linz for his involvement during "Action T4" and and remanded into police custody (Untersuchungshaft). In May 1948 he could escape towards Graz, where he met with his former deputy at Sobibor, Gustav Wagner, and after several  stops in the South  the two fled with former SS comrades and other Officers to Rome.There, accommodation was given for Stangl by  Bishop Alois Hudal, the smuggler of many NS-criminals from justice. Born in Graz, Hudal was rector of the German College of Santa Maria dell 'Anima and responsible as  head of the Papal Foundation for Austria's Refugee Committee. Fanatical anti-Semite, and since 1933 self-appointed architect of bridging between Nationalism  and Catholicism Hudal provided with the blessing of the Pope until 1951 NS-perpetrators on their way to South America with money and documents (which were issued by the Red Cross for stateless if their identity, real or fake - was confirmed by a religious organization).
Stangl asked around in Rome to find Hudal, who received him with open arms: "The bishop came into the room where I waited, He held out both hands and said, 'You have to be Franz Stangl, I've been expecting you!"  When asked by journalist Gitta Sereny, who recorded their conversations with the former concentration camp commandant, what Bishop Hudal had done for him,  said: 'it was not until he got me into a hotel in Rome, where I was to remain until my Papers would be finished  and then he gave me a little (bisser'l) money I had almost none, then after two weeks or so, he summoned me and gave me a new passport, a Red Cross passport". As a librarian at the college Germanicum Stangl waited, who was living there at Bishop Hudal place at Via della Pace 20, until his documents for his journey were finished. Bishop Hudal gave Stangl a visa to Syria, where he had arranged a job in a weaving mill for him. Three years later, in 1951, Stangl emigrated with his family, who had followed him there, from Syria to Brazil,where he worked as a mechanic at Volkswagen do Brasil in Sao Paulo. 1967 Brazil gave in to strong international pressure and after long delays to an extradition request of the Federal Republic, Austria, Poland and the United States. (One of the main reason that they left early was the persistent interest the Manager of the weaving factory showed in his adolescent daughter.sic)  

In the second Treblinka process, which commenced 13 May until December 22, 1970 conducted before a jury [there is no jury system, the German expression used is "Schwurgericht"which is a panel of judges and I could not find a better translation.sic]  in Dusseldorf, where the former camp commandant, Franz Stangl had to answer for his crimes. He had claimed that he had just (ledichlich) been responsible for the collection of valuables from the victims of "Operation Reinhard" at Treblinka. The murder of the Jews was solely within the responsibility of Christian Wirth, "the inspector of concentration camps". In addition, Kurt Franz who had been his deputy,  was the actual camp commander (Lagerführer) All the surviving victims as well as the witnesses vehemently disagreed with this presentation.
The court heard over 50 witnesses traveled for a local hearing to Poland, and sentenced Stangl just before Christmas 1970 due to communal murder committed on at least 400,000 Jews to life imprisonment (lebenslanger Haft), the sentence was not final because Stangl, had filed for a review. On 28 June 1971 after a heart attack in a Düsseldorf prison (Justizvollzugsanstalt) at the age of 63 he died.
A single "Trawniki", a member of the guards who had been recruited from Soviet prisoners of war and trained at the Trawniki camp for services under the supervision and on orders of the SS, was convicted by a court of the Federal Republic of Germany: Franz Swidersky,  who had done Guard Duties at the forced labor camp which was in the vicinity of death camp (Treblinka I) and received 1971 a prison sentence of seven years. Other Trawniki men were convicted by Soviet courts
The most spectacular attempt a Trawniki-trained member of the protective teams to deliver earthly justice, was the case of John (Ivan) Demjanjuk. The Ukrainian was born in 1920, immigrated early 1950s as a "displaced person"(DP) into the United States. He lived and worked as an auto mechanic in Cleveland, Ohio, until 1981 when the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), the Authority, to investigate naturalizations applications that had surreptitiously obtained, and detected him as "Ivan The Terrible" from Treblinka. Demjanjuk was stripped of his U.S. citizenship. Through testimony and documents (including one from the Soviet Union, the U.S. authorities had asked to provide them with an SS identification card), he was regarded as(damit überführt) a "prime"case. An extradition proceeding was adjudicated  on October 31 1985,  Demjanjuk was transferred on 27 February1986 to Israeli authorities.

John Demjanjuk hearing his Death Sentence during his Trial in Jerusalem, Israel
As of February 16, 1987 Demjanjuk was before the Jerusalem District Court which sentenced him on 18 April 1988 to death. The trial against the alleged perpetrators of Treblinka took place in an atmosphere of excited emotions that were directed also against the defense of Demjanjuk. (42) An appeal to the Supreme Court of Israel ended on 27 July 1993 with an acquittal of the accused, since there were considerable doubts as to his identity as "Ivan the Terrible" the sadist of Treblinka. Demjanjuk was undoubtedly a Trawniki man had been part of the entourage of the SS and had done duties in Sobibor, but he was not the man who had run and served the Treblinka  extermination machinery of the  gas chambers.
Reference(42)Representations to the Demjanjuk case is characterized by passion brought forward in varies positions. Compare the book the defense of Yoram Sheftel, "The Rise and Fall of  a show trial." From Hebrew into English by Hain Watzmann, London 1994.
[When they filed the claim against Demjanjuk in Cleveland they got a tremendous amount of credit from the entire national and local press in the United States. And people were praised like heroes. Here they just founded a new organization within the Justice Department and yet it was able to put its hands on the worst Nazi criminal alive. Then, a year later, in connection with another case altogether, the case of Feodor Fedorenko, the OSI received a hundred pages of documents from the American Embassy in Moscow, which a day before had received these same 100 (pages of) documents from the Soviet procuracy. Now these documents dealt not only with Fedorenko, but with many other Treblinka guards, including the two guards who operated the gas chambers in Treblinka, that is, Ivan Marchenko and Nikolai Shelayev. Three of the statements contained unequivocal data that there is no way whatsoever that Demjanjuk could be "Ivan the Terrible" because Ivan Marchenko was the right one. And they concealed this evidence.
And as far as the conspiracy is concerned, it's also worse. The French never made an attempt on Dreyfus' life, while the OSI, by extraditing Demjanjuk to the state of Israel knew very well that his life was in danger. And when he was sentenced to death for being "Ivan the Terrible," those people in the Justice Department, which had the entire dossier proving that he is not, kept silent and kept concealing this evidence. So, in the matter of the conspiracy also, it's worse then the Dreyfus affair..sic]
After eight years in prison Demjanjuk returned back to the U.S. and fought successfully to regain his citizenship and again complained against his extradition to Israel. On 17 November 1993, the Court in Cincinnati came to the conclusion that the expatriation of 1981 had not been done correctly. The Justice Department had withheld evidence which could have been in favor of the accused, the "Nazi Hunters" of the OSI and with them the U.S. Department of Justice were in difficulties for its disgraceful methods of conduct. In 2002, the U.S.once again would not recognize Demjanjuk as a citizen, because he had been a guard in the camps of Sobibor, Majdanek and Flossenbürg and had concealed this from the immigration authorities in the 1950s. In June 2005, an immigration court ordered the deportation of Demjanjuk to the Ukraine. If Ukraine were not receiving the man than he should alternatively be deported to Poland or Germany, the court ruled. In February 2008, the 87-year-old John Demjanjuk still struggled against the enforcement of the court order. The Demjanjuk case is the lesson of choice for trouble, and aides to punish perpetrators of the Holocaust. The Ukrainian had undoubtedly been a doer, not the man they suspected, and benefit came from the persecuting zeal in the U.S. which woke up too late and then tried in proportion to reverse the evidence were possible and shift the ongoing problems onto other countries.

[Demjanjuk was tried in Munich and sentenced to 5 years jail, out on bail (as at Feb 2012) and is in poor health in a nursing home awaiting the decision of the court, but I believe the court has since reversed its decision.(I am open for correction)
Germany changed its whole traditional jurisdiction for a conviction of John. For 70 years it was agreed by all German prosecutors, courts and the government, that those helpers of the Nazis, who had no power of command, should not be prosecuted. Around 100.000 German helpers met these conditions and were granted amnesty. The only one, who did not get this amnesty, was the foreigner, John Demjanjuk.
For 70 years it was a main principle of German law that being present at a death camp, does not lead to a conviction of being an accessory to murder. This very important rule was changed only for John Demjanjuk and nobody else, by the Munich court.For 70 years it was a main principle of German law that being present at a death camp, does not lead to a conviction of being an accessory to murder. This very important rule was changed only for John Demjanjuk and nobody else, by the Munich court.sic]

One facet of the grotesque story of Treblinka is the biography of George Wagner, also known as Hans Wagner, Jean Wagner alias Günter Renemer . Under this last name he was born on 8 March 1918 in Dresden, after the elementary school he took up an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker​​, then joined the SS, was a guard in the Lichtenburg concentration camp, but was dismissed in 1937 because of financial irregularities. His career as an impostor, pathological liar, con man was created when he was drafted in 1940 into the army, and did his possible best to avoid Front Line Fighting, and in the spring of 1942 was back in the ranks of the SS as a squad leader, then did service as a sergeant in Lublin. He had been ordered for guard services to the forced labor camps(Zwangsarbeitslager) ("Treblinka I") near the death camp.
For the suppression of the uprising in August 1943 the SS had called from the labor camp at the nearby death camp for help. Alias Günter Reinemer was therefore involved in the execution of the survivors of the uprising. He said and made the following statement ​​45 years later: "We have carried out the liquidations, partly with the MG 42, and sometimes they stood in rows up to three deep and we shot with pistols or sub-machine guns. The command to fire, I was not the one to give myself, that was given by the NCO's. I just got the order to liquidate ..... So, I have passed it on. "(43)
Reference(43)Georg Wagner's testimony on 27/08/1988, by Egmont R. Koch, Wagner's confession. As an SS man disguised as a Jew, Munich 2001, page 77

Reinemer was certainly not a credible witness. His whole post-war history is against him. But that he had information about Treblinka and made these statements ​​voluntarily seem to be factual,  in August 1988 when he had been traced by two German private detectives in Caracas Venezuela, there is no doubt that he had been there. A security office from a German company tracked him down for industrial espionage and fraud investigations, they had no idea of ​​his SS past and were very surprised as a notorious liar and a cheat by his voluntary confession during their approach instead, which lasted for days. Reinemer or( Wagner) died immediately afterwards. He was 70 years old. His story sounds fantastic, but it is correct on all essential points: After the collapse of the Nazi state, he spied on behalf of U.S. Departments on his war comrades and worked as a Nazi-Hunter, was employed as an engineer at Air France in Paris, lived in France, married there and had three children (from his German marriage, which took place in 1939, emerged two children), then he lived a few years in East Germany, before he returned and lived from 1957 to 1973 in the Federal Republic as a bigamist and "chief engineer" on the loose.

Quite absurd after all, are  the last 15 years of the life of the former SS man. In 1973 he travels to Israel, meets a wealthy Jewish widow, Rosa Rabinowicz, who comes from Krakow, pretends to be a Holocaust survivor, follows her to Venezuela and marries her. In Caracas, "George Wagner" makes a career as a director of a Swiss company that is in the industrial design and plant developments. Then he establishes himself as an independent contractor, but will inevitably be suspected in such a way that he is investigated. Wagner was buried in 1988 in the Jewish cemetery in Caracas,  his wife Rosa had never known about his true identity. The case has, even after the confession, attracted little attention. until early January 2001, after thorough research, it was shown in the evening program of the ARD, as the story entitled "Wagner's confession" to a larger audience.

[SS Killer Recruited By The CIA-Given Jewish Identity
By Alan Hall
 The secret life of a former Nazi war criminal, who spied for America's Central Intelligence Agency after the Second World War in return for a fake Jewish identity, was disclosed [on German TV.sic] The story of how Günter Reinemer, an S.S. lieutenant who commanded death squads at the Treblinka concentration camp, escaped the death penalty because of the CIA is told in a documentary which [was screened sic] in Germany. Reinemer was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Jews at Treblinka, the first concentration camp in Poland. More than a million Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto were killed at Treblinka. Given the identity Hans-Georg Wagner by the CIA, he later married a Jewish woman,[after he was circumcised sic] lived in Israel and was buried in a Jewish cemetery[ in Venezuela sic]. His story might have been buried with him had he not felt the need to confess in 1988, shortly before he apparently committed suicide. His statements form the basis of the documentary Wagner's Confession.The role of the American intelligence service in the days after the war has still to be fully explained. With the Third Reich vanquished, America sensed that it needed every ally available to fight the coming Cold War and was not too particular about its recruits. The CIA recruited Nazi scientists and much smaller fry, such as Reinemer, by offering the choice: work for the US or almost certainly forfeit your life at a war crimes tribunal.
Reinemer's journey from war criminal to respected Jewish businessman was exposed only in the final days of his life because of suspicions over his financial trustworthiness. In 1988, as Wagner, he was living in Caracas, Venezuela, when he secured a job as consultant engineer to the Jewish-owned Venergia submarine battery manufacturer. There were some on the board who doubted the motives, and the fiscal propriety, of Wagner, as money went missing. That led to the appointment of Klaus-Dieter Matschke of the KDM company in Frankfurt, which specializes in the prevention of industrial espionage.Wagner was arrested by the Venezuelan secret service in August 1988 and tortured with electrical cattle prods after the company voiced its suspicions about him. Herr Matschke persuaded the authorities to let him take over. At first Reinemer stuck to his story that he was a Jewish businessman. "Then, after about a week of questioning him, 'I threw a thick bundle of files on to my desk and just shouted at him: 'Name, rank, last military assignment.'
 "Perhaps the tone of command, perhaps the weariness from the past few days, perhaps a need to break with the past - I don't know what it was, but he looked up and said: 'Reinemer, SS Death's-Head Division, Treblinka.' It was the start of a comprehensive confession."For the next week Reinemer agreed to dictate his story to Herr Matschke. Reinemer, born in Dresden in 1918, told how he joined the Nazi party and later the SS and was attached to Treblinka in 1942. He said that later he commanded a squad which clubbed prisoners to death after a failed uprising and later led more prisoners into a forest to be executed. "I recalled the camp commander's order to the SS guards," he told Herr Matschke. " 'Restore calm with no regard to the consequences.' I went into the forest with a detachment of 110 Jews. I lined them up and gave the order to fire."At the end of the war he put on the uniform of an ordinary German soldier but was recruited by the CIA after being discovered in a prisoner of war camp.
He spent several months at a US military base at Frankfurt-Höchst, where he learnt rudimentary intelligence techniques and was circumcised. He was given a Jewish identity and sent as a Holocaust survivor to Calbe, East Germany, where he was to spy on old Nazis and new communist technologies at the local power plant. He went with his second wife, a Frenchwoman, and stayed until 1957 when he abandoned his family and fled West. According to intelligence files examined in German archives, the CIA forgot about him and no further action was taken against him. He stayed in West Germany until 1969, when he moved to Israel. In 1972 he moved to Venezuela with a Polish-Jewish woman whom he had married. His widow, Rosa, said: "He fooled me for more than two decades about his past. Imagine, me, a Jew, living with a Jew-killer. I would have killed him myself had I known."
After confessing his identity he was found dead two days later. Herr Matschke said: "You have to ask yourself: how many other Reinemers did America spirit to safety?"sic]


As the Allies retook control of lands that had been occupied by the Germans, they came across many Nazi camps. In some instances, they had tried to destroy all evidence of the camps, in order to conceal from the world what had happened there. In other cases, only the buildings remained as the Nazis had sent the prisoners elsewhere, often on death marches. However, in many camps, the Allied soldiers found hundreds or even thousands of emaciated survivors living in horrific conditions, many of whom were dying of undernourishment and disease.
The liberation of the concentration and extermination camps began in Eastern Europe when Soviet troops reached Majdanek in July 1944. Soon they found many other camp sites, some of which were camouflaged from the outside. The British and American troops who were approaching from the west did not reach the concentration camps of Germany until the spring of 1945. What they found were tens of thousands on the verge of death, as well as piles upon piles of corpses. The Allied liberators tried to help the survivors, but many died anyway in the weeks after liberation. Others had difficulties to adjust and integrate into a normal civilized life.
Survivors of the Holocaust also displayed a characteristic set of psychiatric problems which were often linked to the horrors they faced in the camps.  There have been thousands of research studies outlining the psychological consequences of their internment and later reintegration into post-war society.   Survivors reporting on their experiences in the camps tended to identify lingering issues stemming from the constant fear of their lives that they experienced, as well as physical trauma resulting from beatings, hunger, and forced labor.  These stressors tended to poison all interpersonal contacts and relations.  Survivor guilt was an additional factor given that most prisoners lost family members and friends leaving them with the feeling that they had been wrongly spared while more worthy victims died.  Since many prisoners often engaged in whatever acts they deemed necessary for survival (including stealing food or cooperating with their captors), an additional burden of guilt was often added.  Along with harsh treatment, prisoners were typically subjected to severe indoctrination designed to justify the genocidal policies and reinforce the idea that they deserved to die.  That survivors were left with deep psychological scarring wasn't surprising.  Some Israeli researchers later reported an extremely high incidence of psychiatric disorders among survivors which typically persisted for decades in many cases.   Ironically,  inmates with pre-existing psychiatric problems were typically the first to be killed (in keeping with Nazi eugenic policies relating to mental illness).
When the former commander of the Nazi extermination camp Treblinka, Kurt Franz, was arrested in 1959 a search of his home yielded a scrapbook with horrific photos of the holocaust titled “Beautiful Years.”
A short summery:
Kurt Franz reviewed the prisoner roll call and participated in meting out punishments. For instance, when seven prisoners attempted to escape the camp, Franz had them taken to the Lazarett and shot. He ordered a roll call and announced that if there were further attempted escapes, and especially if they were successful, ten prisoners would be shot for every escapee. Franz enjoyed shooting at prisoners or those still in the rail cars with his pistol or a hunting rifle. He frequently selected bearded men from the newly arriving transports and asked them whether they believed in God. When the men replied “”yes””, Franz told each man to hold up a bottle as a target. He would then say to them, “”If your God indeed exists, then I will hit the bottle, and if He does not exist, then I will hit you.”” Then Franz would shoot at them with a gun.“Undoubtedly, [Kurt Franz] was the most terrifying of all the German personnel in the camp… witnesses agree that not a single day passed when he did not kill someone. ”Kurt Franz also had experience as a boxer before arriving at Treblinka. He put this training to sadistic use by victimizing Jews as punching bags. On occasion he would “”challenge”” a Jew to a boxing duel (of course the prisoner had to oblige), and gave the prisoner a boxing glove.
The commander owned  holocaust photos scrapbook named beautiful years of glove, keeping one for himself and giving the other glove to the prisoner, to give the illusion of a fair fight. But Franz kept a small pistol in the glove that he kept for himself, and he would proceed to shoot the prisoner dead once the gloves were on and they had assumed the starting boxing position.Oscar Strawczinski wrote:“He rode through the camp with great pleasure and self-confidence. Barry, his big, curly-haired dog would lazily drag along behind….””Lalke””[he was called by prisoners by this name] would never leave the place without leaving some memento for somebody. There was always some reason to be found. And even if there were no reason — it made no difference. He was an expert at whipping, twenty-five or fifty lashes. He did it with pleasure, without hurrying. He had his own technique for raising the whip and striking it down. To practice boxing, he would use the heads of Jews, and naturally there was no scarcity of those around. He would grab his victim’s lapel and strike with the other hand. The victim would have to hold his head straight so that Franz could aim well. And indeed he did this expertly. The sight of a Jew’s head after a “”training session”” of this sort is not difficult to imagine.Once Lalka was strolling along the platform with a double- barrelled shotgun in his hand and Barry in his wake. He discovered a Jew in front of him, a neighbour of mine from Czestochowa, by the name of Steiner. Without a second thought, he aimed the gun at the man’s buttocks and fired. Steiner fell amidst cries of pain. Lalka laughed. He approached him, commanded him to get up, pull down his pants, and then glanced at the wound. The Jew was beside himself with pain. His buttocks were oozing blood from the gashes caused by the lead bullets. But Lalka was not satisfied. He waved his hand and said, “Damn it, the balls haven’t been harmed!” He continued his stroll to look for a new victim. Franz also frequently enjoyed kicking and killing babies from the arriving transports.[6]Franz was promoted to Untersturmführer (Second Lieutenant) and became an appointed official on 21 June 1943 on the orders of Heinrich Himmler. On 2 August 1943, Franz along with four SS men and sixteen Ukrainians went for a swim in the nearby Bug River, which depleted the security at Treblinka significantly and helped to improve the chances of success of the prisoner revolt that took place at the camp that day. After the revolt, the camp’s commandant Franz Stangl left. Kurt Franz served as his replacement, and he was instructed to dismantle the camp and to eliminate every trace of evidence that it had ever existed. Franz had at his disposal {of}some SS men, a group of Ukrainian guards and about 100 Jewish prisoners who had remained after the uprising. The physical work was carried out by the Jews during September and October 1943, after which thirty to fifty prisoners were sent to Sobibor to finish dismantling there, and the remainder were shot and cremated on Franz’s orders.After Treblinka, in late autumn 1943, Franz was ordered to Trieste and northern Italy, where he participated in the persecution of partisans and Jews until the war’s end
After the war:
Following the war, Kurt Franz first worked as a laborer on bridges until 1949, at which point he returned to his former occupation as a cook and worked in Düsseldorf for 10 years until his arrest on 2 December 1959. A search of his home found a photo album of the Treblinka horrors with the title, “”Beautiful Years””. At the Treblinka Trials in 1965, Franz denied having ever killed a person, having ever set his dog on a Jew, and claimed to have only beaten a prisoner once. On September 3, he was found guilty of collective murder of at least 300,000 people, 35 counts of murder involving at least 139 people, and for attempted murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was released in 1993 for health reasons. Kurt Franz died in Wuppertal in 1998.