“Lazaret”, the infirmary of death
“Lazaret”, a fake infirmary, was a place of execution in the Treblinka II extermination camp, which at first glance looked like a field hospital on the outside. People who could not reach the gas chambers on their own, as well as prisoners unable to work or sentenced to death for various offenses, were directed to the so-called "Lazaret", which literally means “infirmary”.
In order to dull people’s vigilance, a red cross flag was hung in front of the entrance, and the whole area was surrounded by a tight high fence of barbed wire and masking branches. After crossing the gate, the prisoners were shot on the edge of a mass grave. In the grave, the bodies were first sprinkled with lime, and then they decomposed. In the summer of 1942, during the initial phase of the camp's operation, due to the temperature, as well as harsh travel conditions, the number of victims directly sent to “Lazaret” increased significantly. Decaying bodies gave off a terrible odor which could be sensed many kilometers from the camp. There were gas chambers in the camp already, but the infrastructure did not allow to kill as many prisoners as there were deported to the camp in that period.
Prisoners often had to wait in carriages until the front transport was liquidated. Irmfried Eberl, the first commandant of the Treblinka extermination camp, treated his position very seriously. He wanted to make it a model extermination camp. At that time, 2-3 transports arrived at the camp on a daily basis. One transport often consisted of 60 carriages which were divided into fragments of 20. Such a number of prisoners was introduced to the camp into the reception area, while the rest of the transport waited in line to die. Between July 23 and August 28, 1942, 312.5 thousand Jews were murdered in Treblinka (estimated data). At that time, the pits and furnace grates did not function yet.
At the turn of August and September 1942, the camp was reorganized, as a result of which the extermination process was significantly improved. A new commandant was appointed, SS-Obersturmführer Franz Stangl, who was responsible for the reorganization as an experienced officer from Sobibor. New, more "efficient" gas chambers were also built. As a result of these activities, among others, the waiting time of transports at intermediate stations decreased, and mass graves in the reception area became less useful.
Later, the corpses began to be burned in pits and on specially prepared grates. At the bottom of the excavation, a fire was constantly burning, sustained by throwing garbage and objects belonging to the murdered Jews. SS-Unterscharführer August Wilhelm Miete was responsible for the functioning of the "Lazaret". Prisoners named him "the angel of death".
“Lazaret” had an area of about 150-200 m². The entrance was located from the side of the railway siding. A sign with the inscription "Lazaret" hung next to it.