Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
The IMT Series
Treblinka Death Camp Guard – Brought to Justice
Fedor Federenko was born on the 17 September 1907 in the village of Sivash, in the Dniepro- Petrovsk region in the Ukraine. At his denaturalisation trial in Fort Lauderdale in 1978, the court’s protocol recorded the evidence as to his conduct during the Second World War:
Defendant was mobilized on June 23 1941, almost immediately after the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany. He was a truck driver, and the truck he drove was also mobilized.
He had no previous military training, and in the next two or three weeks his group was encircled twice by the German army. He escaped the first time, but was captured three days later by the Germans.
The Germans transported several truckloads of prisoners to Zhitomir, a former Soviet training camp, and defendant described the conditions as very bad and with little water or food.
The camp housed about 50-100,000 prisoners, with no barracks available for them. About two to three weeks he was transferred to Rovno. Next he was transferred to Chelm, Poland, a camp surrounded by barbed wire rolls.
Defendant estimated the population at Chelm at about 80,000 prisoners. Defendant described the conditions at Chelm as so bad that if you became ill, you rarely recovered.
He also indicated that food was at a minimum and that approximately 40,000 prisoners of war died over the winter 1941/42. One day at Chelm the Germans assembled the Soviet prisoners and walked down the line selecting 200 to 300 who were sent to Trawniki.
At Trawniki most of the guards were Volksdeutsche. Defendant is not a Volksdeutsche but Ukrainian. In the spring of 1942 the Germans gave black uniforms to all the prisoners. Volksdeutsche also wore black uniforms, but theirs were well tailored and of better material.
After the barracks had been constructed at Trawniki, the Germans gave instructions in the firing of rifles, such as field stripping and in marching. In the spring of 1942 defendant was sent to Lublin where at first the prisoners guarded their own camp and then were sent to the Jewish ghetto.
At Lublin the Soviet prisoners guarded houses, furniture – whatever was left. They were issued rifles which were not fired. The Soviet prisoners were converted from workers to guards at Lublin.
From Lublin defendant was sent to Warsaw along with 80 to 100 others. Defendant was transported to Treblinka as prisoner guard in approximately September 1942.
Yossef (Josef) Czarny testified at the same hearing in Fort Lauderdale:
Question: You stated that you saw Mr. Federenko, the “American” and one other SS soldier in the Lazarett on that date. Who was that other SS soldier?
Answer: The others were shooting there, too Miete, Sepp and Kiwe.
Question: On that one occasion where you claim to have seen Mr Federenko at the Lazarette, you stated that he was there with the “American” and one other SS guard. Who was that SS guard on that occasion, that one occasion?
Answer: I didn’t say that. I said that while I was throwing out the garbage, I saw Federenko shooting the people and also the Nazi called the “American,” the SS called the “American.”
Question: Then, Federenko and the “American” were the only two in the Lazarette at that time, is that correct?
Answer: Yes, yes, yes.
Anton Ivanovich Streltsov under oath recalled serving with Federenko:
“Federenko, Fedor, I do not know his patronymic, born about 1907 -1908, native of Crimea, station of Dzhankoy. I was employed together with him in the “SS” unit in the death camp in the small town of Treblinka. He had the rank of Oberwachman. He took part in the extermination of Soviet and Polish citizens in gas chambers, in the shooting of Polish Jews.
In the fall of 1943 he was sent together with me to the city of Danzig, then to Germany to the city of Hamburg, where we guarded prisoners. I do not know his present whereabouts. Distinctive marks: tall, average build, dark brown hair.”
Another former SS Trawniki- manner Yakov Savenko also testified about Federenko on the 5 January 1978:
“Once in the fall of 1942, some 500-600 people of Jewish nationality were driven from nearby populated places into the Trawniki camp and were locked up in a place that was not large enough for them and where they were apparently suffocating because noise and screams came from the place. This place was guarded by wachman guards.
Several days later a train came to fetch the prisoners. Somebody told me that Fedor Federenko had arrived with the train. Together with two other war prisoners I went to see Federenko.
The train consisted of several freight cars, in the centre of which was a passenger car in which the guards were quartered. Federenko was in this car. He was in the uniform I have described before and had a rifle. His mood was good. Federenko told me that he worked in the Treblinka death camp and had come here to get Jews.
Federenko said nothing concrete about the Treblinka camp and about his work and I did not ask because I understood that the Germans exterminated people in this camp. He invited us into his car and we sat there for several minutes and then Federenko discovered that he had lost his wallets, with money in it and began to accuse me.
I declared that I had not taken his wallet, and was offended and left. My companions also left with me. On the way back one of them told me that it was he who had picked up the wallet belonging to Federenko in the railroad car and showed me its contents.
It contained three thousand zloty. I wondered where he could have obtained so much money and decided that Federenko had stolen it from the Jews, because he could not have earned such a sum with honest work.
In general Federenko was remarkable for being of an uncommunicative nature yet at the same time always out to make some profit and did not miss an opportunity to acquire something.
Question: Describe the appearance of Fedorenko, Fedor. Could you identify him on a photograph?
Answer: So far as I remember, Federenko was tall, about 180-185cm. I remember this well, because I am 180cm tall, and he was slightly taller.
As to his age he must be a few years older than I am. In 1942 he was 35-36 years old. Federenko’s hair was dark brown, he has a large nose. I also remember that he had long hands. At the present moment I cannot say with certainty that I can identify Federenko on a photograph.”
Federenko survived the war and emigrated to America where he settled in Waterbury Connecticut, before moving to Miami Beach Florida. In 1978 he was arrested and brought for a denaturalisation trial in Fort Lauderdale.
Despite eye-witness testimony Judge Norman C Roettger said that the 71 year old had himself been a “victim of Nazi aggression.” He ruled that the prosecutors had failed to prove that Mr. Federenko committed any atrocities while at the camp, and that he could keep his United States citizenship.
On the 21 January 1981, the United States Supreme Court overturned this verdict and Federenko became the first Nazi war criminal to be deported to the Soviet Union, in December 1984. In a court in Kiev, in the Southern Ukraine during June 1986 he was found guilty of treason and taking part in mass executions.
His execution by firing squad was announced in July 1986.
The “Amerikaner” was the nickname for SS- Unterscharfuhrer Max Moller
Sepp was SS - Scharfuhrer Josef “Sepp” Hirthreiter
Kiwe was the Jewish prisoners nickname for SS –Oberscharfuhrer Kurt Kuttner
Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka by Yitzhak Arad, published by Indiana University Press, 1987.
Nizkor websites – Witness Statements
Holocaust Historical Society
Ivan The Terrible, by Tom Teicholz, published by Futura Books 1990
Copyright. Victor Smart H.E.A.R.T 2008