In 2019 the Polish government installed permanent memorial markers at the site of the former Treblinka train station. This small station was located 4.5 Km from the Treblinka death camp, where from July 1942 - August 1943 the Germans murdered around 900,000 people, mostly Jews. At this station, the Germans divided the long trains of arriving victims into smaller sections before driving them into the camp.
Typically, a deportation train from Warsaw was 60 cars in length and carried 6000 - 8000 people - men, women, and children. At the station, the train would be divided into three sections of 20 cars. A smaller engine would drive from the camp to this station and push each section of 20 cars to the death camp separately. The people would exit the cars inside the camp as German officers lied to them telling them that they were at an ordinary transit station en route to a labor camp. The station agent at the small train station was a Polish man named Francizek Zabecki.
Zabecki was a spy for the Polish resistance and secretly recorded the number of victims the Germans murdered. He was never caught by the Germans and provided valuable testimony after the war as to the events that happened here. In this video, director Randall Christopher talks with educator and guide Waclaw Wojciechowski about a photo taken on this spot by Zabecki on August 2, 1943 of smoke from the death camp burning during the prisoner uprising. Wojciechowski then explains the mindset of the time and how in some ways the catastrophe resulted from many people’s inability to believe that a modern nation would plan and organize the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
Years later, the station agent Zabecki described how when a German engineer in 1942 told some of the Polish railway workers the true purpose of the camp which was being built none of them believed him. But Zabecki believed him. Still, he said, “…it was beyond - not just experience, but imagination, wasn’t it?” (from Into That Darkness, by Gitta Sereny) Our thanks to Waclaw Wojciechowski, Jacek Kozlowski, Edward Kopowka, and Sandy Robinson, Jr., Memorial Film Grant