In the second half of the 19th century, a complex of railway sidings was built north from the Stawki Street, serving the then Warszawa Nadwiślańska Station (later, Warszawa Gdańska). In the interwar period (1918-1939), it was mainly used by the Municipal Supply Services of Warsaw. During WWII, the place, called "Umschlagplatz" by Nazis ("reloading point" [[ref:|Part of the train station, used for reloading goods from cars to other modes of transport and vice versa. Stations used to clear goods should be equipped with at least a loading yard, a ramp and a cargo warehouse – editorial note.]]), served a point where Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto we gathered before being transported to the death camp in Treblinka.
Between 22 July and 21 September 1941, each day thousands of people were gathered on the fenced square and forced to wait for hours until a sufficient number of people was collected. Then, SS officers, with help of the Jewish police, brutally forced those waiting to get into freight carriages. The smallest signs of resistance or tardiness were punished with death. The Nazis would not allow any waste of room, so the people, beaten with rifle butts, were closely wedged together. The trains, overcrowded with exhausted people and guarded by armed guards, would take the route via Wołomin, Tłuszcz and Małkinia to the Treblinka extermination camp. Bodies of those who had been shot dead during the loading were left by the railway platform. Almost every day the Nazis would send to death approximately 5,000 to 6,000 people from the Umschlagplatz. Altogether, around 320,000 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto went through the Umschlagplatz.
One of them was Zygmunt Nissenbaum (1926-2001), founder of the Nissenbaum Family Foundation. In the book published in 1988, entitled Preserving Traces of Jewish Culture in Poland : For the Living and the Dead (Polish: Ratowanie śladów kultury żydowskiej w Polsce. Żywym i umarłym), Nissenbaum describes the deportation of his family to Umschlagplatz in the following way:
They arranged us in a row with our hands up, together with others dragged out of other houses (…) and herded us all to the Umschlagplatz. We helped an injured girl to walk. (....) On the Umschlagplatz, they ordered us to give away all our valuables. Then a familiar search and immediate execution followed. (....) They murdered the wounded girl who stood next to me. She had fallen because of exhaustion, an SS officer had approached her, put a rifle to her head and had fired a shot. An inch of ground had been dug, but she was still alive, moving her hands and moaning. So another SS officer had come and finished her off the same way. I was almost 16 at that time and had already witnessed many atrocities, but I still have that picture in front of my eyes. They loaded us up to carriages disinfected with chloride and windows boarded up. They beat us with rifles to squeeze us so that they could load the carriage with more people; they would also shoot at us to spread panic and have us wedged together even more closely. After that children were loaded onto our heads. We stayed locked for more than 24 hours, as it was the last transport and they were still busy rounding up Jews in the ghetto. We had to stand such horrible conditions for three days, after which we reached Treblinka. Those three days were scorching hot, we were literally suffocating, and people were dying while standing, dying of hunger and thirst[[ref:|Z. Nissenbaum (ed.), Ratowanie śladów kultury żydowskiej w Polsce. Żywym i umarłym, (1988).]].
Another witness of what happened on the Umschlagplatz was Ludwik Hirszfeld:
The hospital at Stawki, currently a reloading point, a place where people captured in the street were confined, presented a sight for which Dante's inferno was no match. The security service officers kept guard at the entrance. In front of the building, there were crowds of people in despair, calling the names of their closest relatives; in the windows - desperate masses of those captured. Among officers that formed a cordon a number of shabby people were lying, as there was no place for them. Inside the building crowded masses of people were lying on the floor on staircases and in corridors. Using the toilet was out of the question as it was forbidden to leave the rooms. They were lying next to each other in their own excrements with no water, no food, no underwear, and no places for sleeping and no access to the toilet. But the Germans became more demanding: 7,000 people did not satisfy them anymore and they raised the number up to 10,000 per day. At the same time, people started to realise that they were not going to be deported, but slaughtered. They learned that disabled and old people were immediately shot dead in the cemetery and thrown into mass graves. Some were put into carriages, a hundred per each instead of forty. German soldiers claimed that the train went to Babruysk, however, carriage numbers were recorded, which allowed to state that the same carriages returned after six hours. They went no further than to Małkinia, a town in close proximity to a death camp with gas chambers[[ref:|The Testimony of Professor Ludwik Hirszfeld (Polish: Świadectwo profesora Ludwika Hirszfelda), cited after: J. Grzesik, Zagłada Żydów 1939–1945, (2006).]].
In 1988, a monument designed by Hanna Szmalenberg and Władysław Klamerus was unveiled at the site of the Umschlagplatz. It was designed as a little square encircled by a wall. It resebles a train carriage or an entrance gate to the Umschlagplatz. In the front of the monument there is a gate crowned with a matzeva carved out of Swedish syenite. Opposite this entrance is a cracked wall with 400 names engraved on it in alphabetical order, together with the following inscription in Polish and Hebrew: “Between 1940 and 1943 over 300,000 Jews, after leaving the Warsaw Ghetto, followed this path of torture and death to the Nazi death camps.” [[ref:|E. Małkowska-Bieniek, Śladami warszawskich Żydów, (2008), 148.]].
Initially, the walls were made of "White Marianna" marble. In 2007, they underwent renovation under the supervision of architect Jan Beyga. The marble, due to its high sensitivity to weather, was replaced with granite from Zimnik in Lower Silesia.