Appendix C - Military Operations Around Treblinka in 1944

The timing of military actions around Treblinka is important because it impinges on the question concerning the scarring visible on the September aerial photography. It is known that after the Soviet Forces overran eastern Poland and took Warsaw, the local peasantry churned the grounds of the camp seeking gold and other valuables, rumored to have been buried there by the Jews before being murdered. If the photography was taken shortly after the Red Army captured Treblinka, the scarring can be interpreted as largely due to camp structures and practices before its dissolution.

Although the precise moment that the sanitized remnant of Treblinka was abandoned by the SS caretaker is unknown, given the military situation, he and his family must have fled sometime in late August, just before the Soviets renewed their offensive which led to the capture of Warsaw. The map

shown in Figure C1 shows the position of the two Soviet Armies engaging the German center in early August. Glantz et al, p213 have written that as of 5 August: "The three rifle corps of the 47th Army were stretched out on a front of over 80 kilometers, from south of Warsaw to Siedlce, and were unable to renew the drive on Warsaw or to the Narew River." Glantz continues, saying that in late August, the Soviet forces concentrated on defending a bridgehead just southeast of Warsaw against strong German counter attacks and on seizing crossings over the Narew River (northeast of Warsaw). It was not until 3 September that Red Army units forced the Bug River and overran areas to the west of the 5 August front, which included Treblinka.

Given these historical facts, it is presumed that the destruction of the remnants of Treblinka occurred in early September, just before the Luftwaffe flight that took GX12555, and that very little treasure hunting had yet begun.

Figure C2 is shown below to demonstrate how near Treblinka was to the fighting at the time GX12555 was flown. The image is of Treblinka Station. The mass of vehicles includes armor (the dark, square shaped object lined up along the tracks) and wheeled vehicles. These belong to Soviet units.

Treblinka was of interest to the Soviets. Soviet security personnel were examining and photographing the camp soon after they captured it. There are prints available that were taken in the fall of 1944, shortly after the camp was overrun. Given these facts, it is likely that Treblinka was not yet greatly disturbed by treasure seekers when the German aerial photography was acquired in September.