No exhumations of former German concentration camp victims: prosecutor

“The exhumations of Polish victims of the German concentration camp in Treblinka I planned for April 15-30, 2019, will not take place,” said the National Public Prosecutor's Office spokesperson.

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The decision was made by Deputy Prosecutor General of the Main Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation. Its legal basis is rooted in Polish law, namely the December 1, 2001, health minister’s decree on dealing with corpses and human remains, that states dead bodies and human remnants may not be exhumed after April 15.

“The planned proceedings cannot be accomplished by [April 15] because the exhumation works were to be conducted on the large 5,000 square meters terrain of the [former] German Concentration Camp for Poles Treblinka I. [Because of the breadth of the selected terrain] it is impossible to precisely determine the number of burial pits and the number of human remains that could be revealed and exhumed,” reads the Prosecutor General’s statement.

Made for Poles to work till death

The 17-hectares Treblinka I Concentration Camp was designed by Germans at the decree of Warsaw District Governor Ludwig Fischer issued on November 15, 1941, and remained in operation until July 23, 1944. Surrounded by an over two-meters-tall barbed wire wall, the camp was reserved for Poles who were sent there from all over German-occupied territory to work for the occupier until they died.

The Polish prisoners were put in wooden barracks and slept on rough wooden planks. The camp’s staff consisted of several dozen Schutzstaffel (SS) officers and around 100 Ukrainian guardsmen trained at the SS Trawniki training centre.

As many as 20,000 people were imprisoned at the Treblinka I camp and around half of them were murdered or died of exhaustion there. Poles who were arrested for hiding Jews from Germans constituted a large number of prisoners. Polish citizens were sent to work in gravel pits, at levees construction, drainage channels digging and logging.

Two kilometres away from Treblinka I, the German occupiers of Poland built the Treblinka II extermination camp for Jews. Around 800,000 people died there.