DUSSELDORF (Oct. 20)
The 10 former SS officers and guards on trial for war crimes at the Treblinka concentration camp testified here today that 700, 000 victims, mostly Polish Jews, were put to death in the camp’s gas chambers by 40 Germans and Austrians and 18 Ukrainian guards within a 16-month period, from July 11, 1942 until November 19, 1943.
The court, which began hearing the war crimes trial last week, heard an account today giving the details of the carefully planned operation, which processed the victims in an hour and a half from their arrival by train to their entry into the death chambers. The victims were met on their arrival with a large sign which read: “Welcome to Treblinka,” while a five-piece band played marches. After entering the beautifully landscaped grounds of the camp, the victims were told to get undressed and proceed to the “showers,” where the lethal gas was administered.
The rate of slaughter was so great in the spring of 1943 that the camp personnel were unable to bury the bodies, the court was told. Photographs presented in court showed naked mothers with babies in their arms on their way to the gas chambers, and acres of charred bones of camp victims.
The first commander of the camp, an Austrian, Franz Stangl, was said by the defendants to have escaped to South America following the war, after he was interrogated by Austrian police who did not arrest him. His successor is the chief defendant here, Kurt Franz, who was described by his comrades as the absolute ruler of the camp who did not spare the use of the pistol and whip.