FLASHBACK: Frank Stiffel – Super Survivor or Simple Fraud?

Stiffel claims to have spent six days in the “death camp” Treblinka – from September 4 to September 9, 1942 – before managing to escape accompanied by his brother Martin.[2] The brothers were deported to Treblinka together with their parents, as well as Martin’s wife. At arrival, Frank saw his parents and his brother’s wife led away, supposedly to the camp’s alleged homicidal gas chambers. In the following passage, he describes what he observed from the closed-in yard were newly arrived deportees were gathered:

This yard, with the three barracks and the four towers, was just a molecule. The real Treblinka must be lying behind the jealous fence of mummified firs. A continuous grinding sound was coming from there, something like a dentist's drill magnified to the millionth power. This sound was the real Treblinka. And the smell. The nauseating sweetish smell, similar to the one emitted by burning pork sausages. This smell, too, was the real Treblinka. And the shots. And the little explosions that sounded like grenades. They erupted sporadically there, at the other side of the firs. They, also, were the real Treblinka.[3]

A bit later, he writes that the water in Treblinka had

the strong smell of burnt skin, but so did all of Treblinka[4]

One might perhaps argue that some kind “nauseating sweetish smell” might emanate from decomposing corpses, but obviously Stiffel is talking about the smell of burning corpses here – thus the “smell of burnt skin” sticking to everything in the camp. However, orthodox historiography has it that the first cremations in Treblinka – conducted outdoors on huge pyres, since no crematory ovens were ever installed at the site – took place in late March or early April 1943 – more than half a year after Stiffel’s escape.[5] Only one witness, Richard Glazar, talks of cremations in 1942, and he claims that they begun in November that year, a whole two months after Stiffel left the camp.[6]

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