Shelves: biography I found this by pure chance. Oct 12, Nicholas Holloway rated it really liked it A chilling account. Writing about an Operation Reinhard extermination centre, the author and survivor provides valuable insight to the operation of Treblinka. His personal experiences are grim as the work of the Sonderkommando in Camp 2 is detailed.
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Camp Treblinka was divided into two sections. In Camp No. Jews from foreign countries brought considerable luggage with them. Camp No. Two men were working there. They wore white aprons and had red crosses on their sleeves; they posed as doctors. They selected from the transports the elderly and the ill, and made them sit on a long bench facing an open ditch. Behind the bench, Germans and Ukrainians were lined up and they shot the victims in the neck.
The corpses toppled right into the ditch. After a number of corpses had accumulated, they were piled up and set on fire. The barracks housing the Germans and Ukrainians were located some distance away, and so were the camp offices, the barracks of the Jewish workers, workshops, stables, pigsties, a food storage house and an arsenal. The camp cars were parked in the yard.
To the casual observer the camp presented a rather innocuous appearance and made the impression of a genuine labor camp. It contained a barrack for the workers, 30 x 10 meters, a laundry, a small laboratory, quarters for 17 women, a guard station and a well. In addition there were 13 chambers in which inmates were gassed. All of these buildings were surrounded by a barbed wire fence.
Beyond this enclosure, there was a ditch of 3 x 3 meters and, along the outer rim of the ditch, another barbed wire fence. Both of these enclosures were about 3 meters high, and there were steel wire entanglements between them. Ukrainians stood on guard along the wire enclosure. The entire camp Camps 1 and 2 was surrounded by a barbed wire fence 4 meters high, camouflaged by saplings.
Four watchtowers stood in the camp yard, each of them four stories high; there were also six one-storied observation towers. Fifty meters beyond the last outer enclosure there were tank traps. When I arrived at the camp, three gas chambers were already in operation; another ten were added while I was there. A gas chamber measured 5 x 5 meters and was about 1.
The outlet on the roof had a hermetic cap. The chamber was equipped with a gas pipe inlet and a baked tile floor slanting towards the platform. The brick building which housed the gas chambers was separated from Camp No.
This wooden wall and the brick wall of the building together formed a corridor which was 80 centimeters taller than the building. The chambers were connected with the corridor by a hermetically fitted iron door leading into each of the chambers. On the side of Camp No. The platform was about 80 centimeters above ground level. There was also a hermetically fitted wooden door on this side. Each chamber had a door facing Camp No. The victims were led into the chambers through the doors leading from the corridor, while the remains of the gassed victims were dragged out through the doors facing Camp No.
The power plant operated alongside these chambers, supplying Camps 1 and 2 with electric current. A motor taken from a dismantled Soviet tank stood in the power plant.
This motor was used to pump the gas, which was let into the chambers by connecting the motor with the inflow pipes. The speed with which death overcame the helpless victims depended on the quantity of combustion gas admitted into the chamber at one time. The machinery of the gas chambers was operated by two Ukrainians. One of them, Ivan, was tall, and though his eyes seemed kind and gentle, he was a sadist. He enjoyed torturing his victims.
He would often pounce upon us while we were working; he would nail our ears to the walls or make us lie down on the floor and whip us brutally. While he did this, his face showed sadistic satisfaction and he laughed and joked. He finished off the victims according to his mood at the moment.
The other Ukrainian was called Nicholas. He had a pale face and the same mentality as Ivan. The day I first saw men, women and children being led into the house of death I almost went insane. I tore at my hair and shed bitter tears of despair. I suffered most when I looked at the children, accompanied by their mothers or walking alone, entirely ignorant of the fact that within a few minutes their lives would be snuffed out amidst horrible tortures.
Their eyes glittered with fear and still more, perhaps, with amazement. It seemed as if the question, "What is this? But seeing the stony expressions on the faces of their elders, they matched their behavior to the occasion. They either stood motionless or pressed tightly against each other or against their parents, and tensely awaited their horrible end. Suddenly, the entrance door flew open and out came Ivan, holding a heavy gas pipe, and Nicholas, brandishing a saber.
At a given signal, they would begin admitting the victims, beating them savagely as they moved into the chamber. Between and persons were crowded into a chamber measuring 25 square meters. Parents carried their children in their arms in the vain hope that this would save their children from death.
Dogs were set upon them, barking, biting and tearing at them. To escape the blows and the dogs, the crowd rushed to its death, pushing into the chamber, the stronger ones shoving the weaker ones ahead of them. The bedlam lasted only a short while, for soon the doors were slammed shut. The chamber was filled, the motor turned on and connected with the inflow pipes and, within 25 minutes at the most, all lay stretched out dead or, to be more accurate, were standing up dead.
Since there was not an inch of free space, they just leaned against each other. They no longer shouted, because the thread of their lives had been cut off.
They had no more needs or desires. Even in death, mothers held their children tightly in their arms. There were no more friends or foes. There was no more jealousy. All were equal. There was no longer any beauty or ugliness, for they all were yellow from the gas. And why all this? I keep asking myself that question. My life is hard, very hard. But I must live on to tell the world about all this barbarism.
As soon as the gassing was over, Ivan and Nicholas inspected the results, moved over to the other side, opened the door leading to the platform, and proceeded to heave out the corpses. It was our task to carry the corpses to the ditches.
We were dead tired from working all day at the construction site, but we had no recourse and had no choice but to obey. We could have refused, but that would have meant a whipping or death in the same manner or even worse; so we obeyed without grumbling.
We worked under the supervision of a Hauptmann [captain], a medium-sized, bespectacled man whose name I do not know. He whipped us and shouted at us. He beat me, too, without a stop.
A pack of dogs, along with Germans and Ukrainians, had been let loose on us. Almost one-fourth of the workers was killed. The rest of us tossed their bodies into the ditches without further ado. Fortunately for me, when the Hauptmann left, the Unterscharfuhrer relieved me from this work. Between ten and twelve thousand people were gassed each day. We built a narrow-gauge track and drove the corpses to the ditches on the rolling platform. The picture here was entirely different; I shall never forget it.
My blood froze in my veins. The yard was littered with thousands of corpses, the bodies of the most recent victims. Germans and Ukrainians were barking orders and brutally beating the workers with rifle butts and canes. The faces of the workers were bloody, their eyes blackened and their clothes had been shredded by dogs. Their overseers stood near them. A one-storied watchtower stood at the entrance of Camp No.
It was ascended by means of ladders, and these ladders were used to torture some of the victims. I saw that scene for the first time in the evening. The moon and the reflector lights shed an eerie light upon that appalling massacre of the living, as well as upon the corpses that were strewn all over the place.
The moans of the tortured mingling with the swishing of the whips made an infernal noise. When I arrived at Camp No.
The bunks had not yet been finished, and there was a canteen in the yard.
Rok w Treblince
A Year in Treblinka. Warszawa , p. It happend in Warsaw on 23rd August , at the time of the blockade. I had been visiting my neighbors and never returned to my home again. We heard the noise of rifle fire from every direction, but had no inkling of the bitter reality. Agile and quick of movement, he was here, there and everywhere. He looked us very appraisingly, his eyes glancing up and down the ranks.
A Year In Treblinka
Life[ edit ] He had first lived in Kobrin, Poland but he and his father, both master cabinetmakers, did not wish to be in competition with family members Natan Wiernik who were also master cabinetmakers, thus they moved to Biala Podlaska. Jankiel Wiernik was a member of the "Bund" movement from In late the German Nazis created the Warsaw Ghetto and Wiernik was forced to relocate there along with all Polish Jews in the capital. He was transported to Treblinka on 23 August , during the murderous Grossaktion Warsaw. Following his successful escape from the extermination camp Krzywoszewski family rescued him.