3 Execution site(s)
Jozef K., born in 1925, recalls: “At the very beginning, they [the Germans] were quite mild with the Jews. It changed when the SS soldiers arrived in the village. It wasn’t good. They started to create camps very quickly. The first camp was created in June 22, 1941, when the war with the Russians began. They brought people here who spoke Polish. Every Monday and every Friday, they took them [the Jews] to the forest, where they killed them. There is a monument there now. It has been a long time since I was there (…);” (Witness N°93, interviewed in Trawniki, on August 19, 2011)
Name of the camp: subcamp of the Majdanek in Lublin 2. Where was the camp? On the land of the former sugar mill. 3. What was the surface area of the camp? About 5 hectares. 4. Date of camp’s creation: May, 1942. 5. Date of camp’s liquidation: November, 1943. 6. In the camp, were there only Poles/only Jews from Poland or were there Poles and Jews from Poland? Poles, Russians, Ukrainians and Jews. 7. Where there any foreigners in the camp? If yes, what nationalities? Were there any foreign Jews? If yes, how many? There were Jews from the Czech Republic, Austria and Belgium. 8. What was the average population density in the camp? 500-10.000 people. 9. How many people were in the camp during its whole existence? About 20.000. 10. What happened to the camp prisoners after its liquidation? They were shot and burnt, only the Jews, about 10.000 of them. [Deposition of Aleksander G., the mayor of the Jaszczow village; GK 163/49]
Trawniki is a village in Świdnik County, Lublin Voivodeship, in eastern Poland. It is the seat of the administrative district called Gmina Trawniki. It lies approximately 33 km southeast of the regional capital, Lublin.
According to witness Jozef K, born in 1925, there were about 30 Jewish families living in Trawniki before World War II. They were mainly traders. They lived near the Trawniki train station, where they had their shops and also a synagogue. The nearest and only Jewish cemetery in all of the Trawniki gmina was in Biskupice.
In June 1942, the former sugar mill in Trawniki became a forced-labor camp for Jews. It was liquidated in September 1943 and from that moment, the place served as a subcamp of the Lublin/Majdanek concentration camp.
In 1942, Trawniki served as a transit camp for local Jews. After a “selection” conducted in the Piaski ghetto, several hundred Polish, German, and Austrian Jews were transported to Trawniki. Before the deportation to the Belzec killing center intended for the next day, many of the victims were locked up in a large barn overnight. Between 200 and 500 of the Jews died there from suffocation. The next morning, their bodies were put into wagons destined for Belzec.
During the summer of 1942, Trawniki began to serve as a forced-labor camp for Jews (Zwangsarbeitslager für Juden). The labor camp was built right next to the training camp for the Auxiliary police, called Trawniki men (German: Trawnikimänner), created in 1941. Two camps were separated only by the original stone wall that surrounded the abandoned sugar factory. Later, the Trawniki men participated in the extermination of Jews from Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka II. Trawniki also became a storage depot for the victims’ clothing from the killing centers. In June 1942, 20 to 40 Jewish women were brought to the camp to wash, sort and repair clothes.
By May 1, 1942, there were at least 5,633 Jews in the Trawniki labor camp. They were Jews from Germany, Austria and Slovakia, but most of them were Polish Jews from the whole country.
At the beginning, conditions in the camp were quite decent because the Nazis wanted to maintain a high production level, but that situation changed quite quickly. In winter, the workers didn’t receive any winter clothing, so epidemics became omnipresent and the general conditions in the camp deteriorated.
After the uprising in the Sobibor killing center in October 1943, Himmler decided that to prevent this kind of situation of happening again, he needed to order the killings of Polish Jews in the Lublin District. On November 3, 1943, the Ernefeste Aktion commenced. Police units, SS, Trawniki men and Battalion 101 shot around 6,000 Jews from Trawniki and Dorohucza. Witness Jozef K., born in 1925, recalls that during the executions the Nazis turned on the radio to overpower the sound of gunshots. A group of Jewish workers from Milejow was chosen to burn the victims’ corpses and to disperse the ashes. Once they finished, they were transferred to Lublin/Majdanek and the Trawniki labor camp was dissolved.
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