Shoah Script - Dialogue Transcript

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Shoah Script





Making this film was a long and difficult battle.

I could not have waged it without the support

and the faith of a number of men and women,

some of whom are now gone.

This film is theirs as well.



I thank the members of my crew,

those men and women who took part

in the campaigns of research, reporting, filming.

Especially Irène Steinfeldt-Lévi

and Corinne Coulmas, who seconded me, even

risking their personal safety in times of danger.

And Ziva Postec, who worked beside me day

after day for five years, on the editing of the film.



My gratitude also goes to Yehuda Bauer,

Professor of Contemporary Jewish History

at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,

and Raül Hilberg, Professor of Political Science

at the University of Vermont in Burlington (U.S.A.)



The story begins in the present at Chelmno,

on the N#arew River, in Poland.

Fifty miles northwest of Lodz,

in the heart of a region that once had

a large Jewish population,

Chelmno was the place in Poland

where Jews were first exterminated by gas.

Extermination began on December       .



At Chelmno         Jews were murdered

in two separate periods :

December      - spring      :

June      - January     .

But the way in which death was administrated

remained the same throughout : the gas vans.



Of the         men, women and children

who went there, only two came out alive :

Mordechai Podchlebnik and Simon Srebnik.

Srebnik, a survivor of the last period,

was a boy of thirteen when he was sent

to Chelmno.



His father had been killed before his eyes

in the ghetto in Lodz ; his mother

died in a gas van in Chelmno. The SS placed him

in one of the « Jewish work details »,

assigned to maintaining the extermination camps

and that were in turn slated for death...



With the ankles in chain, like all his companions,

the boy shuffled through the village of Chelmno

each day. That he was kept alive longer

than the others, he owed to his extreme agility,

which made him the winner of jumping contests

and speed races that the SS organized

for the chained prisoners.



And, also, to his melodious voice :

several times a week, when the rabbits

kept in hutches by the SS needed fodder.,

young Srebnik rowed up the Narew,

Chelmno's river, under guard,

in a flat-bottomed boat,

to the alfalfa fields at the edge of the village.

He sang Polish folk tunes and in return

the guard taught him Prussian military songs.



Everyone ln Chelmno knew him.

The PoIish farm foIk and German civillan as weII,

since this PoIish province was annexed to the Reich

after the falI of Warsaw, germanized and renamed

WartheIand. Chelmno was changed to Kulmhof,

Lodz to Litzmannstadt, Kolo to Warthbrücken, etc...

German coIonlsts had settIed every where

in Wartheland, and there was even a German

grade school in Chelmno itseIf.



During the night of January        

two days before Soviet troops arrived,

the Nazis killed all the remaining Jews

in the « work details » with a bullet in the head.

Simon Srebnik was among those executed.

But the bullet missed his vital brain centers.

When he came to, he crawled into a pigsty.



A polish farmer found him there.

The boy was treated and healed

by a Soviet Army doctor.

A few months later Simon left for Tel Aviv

along with other survivors of the death camps.

I found him in lsrael and persuaded him

to return to Chelmno with me.

He was then forty-seven years old.



''A little white house...''



''Lingers in my memory...''



''Of that little

white house...''



''l dream each night...''



He was     /  years old. He

had a lovely singing voice



and we heard him.



When l heard him again,

my heart beat faster,



because what happened

here... was a murder.



l really re-lived

what happened.



lt's hard to recognize,

but it was here.



They burned people here.



A lot of people

were burnt here.



Yes, this is the place.



No one ever left here again.



The gas vans came in here...



There were two huge ovens,



and afterward, the bodies

were thrown



into these ovens, and the

flames reached to the sky.



To the sky?






lt was terrible.



No one can describe it.



No one can



recreate what

happened here.



lmpossible ! And no one

can understand it.



Even l, here, now,



l can't believe l'm here.



No, l just can't believe it.



lt was always this peaceful

here. Always.



When they burnt      people

-- Jews -- every day,



it was just as peaceful.



No one shouted. Everyone

went about his work.



lt was silent. Peaceful.



Just as it is now.



''You, girl, don't you cry.''



''Don't be so sad.''



''For the dear summer

is nearing...''



''and l'll return with it.''



''A mug of red wine,

a slice of roast,''



''that's what the girls

give their soldiers.''



''When the soldiers

march along,''



''the girls open their doors

and windows.''



They bought the Germans made

him sing on the river.



He was a toy to amuse them.



He had to do it.



He sang, but his heart wept.



Do ''their'' hearts weep

thinking about that now ?



Certainly, very much so.



They still talk about it

around the family table.



it was public,

so everyone knew of it.



He said that was

true german irony,



people were being killed,

and he had to sing.



That's what l thought.



What died in him in Chelmo?



Everything died.



But he's only human,

and he wants to live.



So he must forget.



The other survivor :




He thanks God for what remain

and that he can forget.



And let's not talk

about that.



Does he think it's good

to talk about it?



For me it's not good.



Then why is he talking

about it?



Because you're

insisting on it.



He was sent books on the

Eichmann trial, where he was



and he didn't even

read them.



He survived, but is he

really alive, or...?



At the time, he felt

as if he were dead,



because he never thought

he'd survive,



but... he's alive.



Why does he smile

all the time?



What do you want him

to do... cry?



Sometimes you smile,

sometimes you cry.



And if you're alive,

it's better to smile.



Why was she so curious

about this story?






Daughter of MOTKE SAlDL,

survivor of VlLNA (LlTHUANlA)



lt's a long story.



As a child, l had little

contact with my father.



He went out to work and

l didn't see much of him.



Besides, he was a silent man

he didn't talk to me.



And when l grew up and was

strong enough to face him,



l questioned him. l never

stopped questioning him,



until l got at the scraps of

truth he couldn't tell me.



lt came out haltingly.



l had to tear the details

out of him,



and finally,

when Mr. Lanzmann came,



l heard the whole story

for the second time.



The place resembles Ponari :

the forest, the ditches.



lt's as if the bodies

has been burned here.



Except there were

no stones in Ponari.



PONARl : forest where most

of the Vilna Jews were massacred.



But the Lithuanian forests



are denser than

the lsraeli Forest, no?



Of course.



The trees are similar, but

taller and fuller in Lithuania.



ls there still hunting

here in Sobibor forest ?



Yes, there are lots

of animals of all kinds.



Was there hunting then?



Only manhunting.






Somes victims tried

to escape.



But they didn't know

the area.



At times people heard

explosions in the minefield,



sometimes they'd find a deer



and sometimes a poor Jew

who tried to escape.



That's the charm of our

forests : silence and beauty.



But it wasn't always

so silent here.



There was a time when

it was full of screams



and gunshots,



of dogs' barking,



and that period




.is engraved on the minds

of the people



who lived here then.



After the revolt, the Germans

decided to liquidate the camp



and early in the winter




they planted pines that were

three or four years old,



to camouflage all the traces.



That screen of trees?






That's where the mass

graves were?



When he first came

here in     



you couldn't guess

what had happened here,



that these trees hidden

the secret of a death camp.



How did he react, the first

time he unloades corpses,



when the gas van

doors were opened?



What could he do? He cried.



The  rd day, he saw

his wife and children.



He placed his wife in the

gravs and asked to be killed.



The Germans said he was

strong enough to work,



that he wouldn't

be killed yet.



Was the weather very cold?



lt was in the winter of

     in early January.



At that time, the bodies

weren't burned, just buried?



No, they were buried and

each row was covered with dirt.



They weren't being

burned yet.



There were around

four or five layers.



The ditches were




They dumped the bodies

in theses ditches



and they had to lay them out

like herrings, head to foot.



So it was they who dug

up and burned



all the Jews of Vilna?






ln early Jan.      we began

digging up the bodies.



When the last mass

grave opened,



l recognized my whole family.



Who in his family

did he recognize?



Mom and my sisters.

  sisters with their kids.



They were all in there.



How could

he recognize them?




survivor of VlLNA



They'd been

in the earth   months



and it was winter.



They were very well




l recognized their faces,

their clothes too.



They'd been killed

relativerly recently?



And it was the last grave?



The Nazi plan was for

them to open the graves



starting with the oldest?



The last graves

were the newest



and we started with the oldest

those of the first ghetto.



ln the first grave there

were       bodies.



The deeper you dug,

the flatter the bodies were.



Each was almost a flat slab.



When you tried to grasp

a body, it crumbled,



it was impossible to pick up them.



We had to open the graves,

but without tools.



They said : ''Get used to

working with your hands''.



With just their hands?



When we first opened

the graves,



we couldn't help it,

we all burst out sobbing.



But the Germans almost

beat us to death.



We had to work at

a killing pace for two days,



beaten all the time,

and with no tools.



They all burst out sobbing?



The Germans even

forbade us to use



the words ''corpse''

or ''victim''.



The dead were blocks

of wood, shit,



with absolutely

no importance...



Anyone who said ''corpse''

or ''victim'' was beaten.



The Germans made us

refer to the bodies



as ''Figuren'', that is



as puppets, as dolls,



or as ''Schmattes'',

which means ''rags''.



Were they told

at the start



how many ''Figuren'' there

were in all the graves?



The head of the Vilna

Gestapo told us :



''There are       people

lying there,



''and absolutely no trace

must be left of them.''



lt was at the end

of November     .



They chased us away

from our work,



and back to our barracks.




from the part

of the camp called



the death camp,



flames shot up. Very high.



ln a flash,

the whole countryside,



the whole camp

seemed ablaze.



lt was already dark.



We went into our barracks,



and ate...



And from the window,

we kept on watching



the fantastic backdrop

of flames



of every imaginable color,



red, yellow, green, purple.



And suddenly one

of us stood up.



We knew



he'd been an opera

singer in Warsaw.



His name was Salve, and...



facing that curtain

of fire, he began



chanting a song



l didn't know :



''My God, my God,



''why hast Thou forsaken us?







''We have been thrust

into the fire before,



''but we have never

denied Thy Holy Law.''



He sang in Yiddish,



while, behind him, blazed



the pyres



on which



they had begun then,

in November     



to burn the bodies

in Treblinka.



That was the first time

it happened.



We knew that night



that the dead would

no longer be buried,



they'd be burned.






When things were ready,

they poured on fuel,



and touched off the fire.



They waited for a high wind.



The pyres usually burned

for   or   days.



There was a concrete

platform some distance away,



and the bones

that hadn't burned,



the big bones of the feet,

for example,



we took...



There was a chest

with two handles,



we carried

the bones there,



where others



had to crush them.

lt was very fine,



that powdered bone.



Then it was put into sacks



and when there

were enough sacks,



we went to a bridge

on the Narew river,



and dumped the powder.

The current carried it off.



lt drifted downstream.




U.S.A. survivor of AUSCHWlTZ



The Jewish cemetery

is LODZ today



AUSCHWlTZ : the town



Mrs. Pietryra,

you live in Auschwitz?



Yes, l was born here.



And you've never

left Auschwitz?



No, never.



Were there Jews in Auschwitz

before the war?



They made up   %

of the population.



They even had

a synagogue here.



Just one?



Just one, l think.



Does it still exist?



No, it was wrecked.



There's something

else there now.



Was there a Jewish

cemetery in Auschwitz?



it still exists.

lt's closed now.



lt still exists?







What does that mean?



The don't bury there now.



Was there a synagogue

in Wlodawa?



Yes, and it's

very beautiful.



When Poland was ruled

by the csars,



that synagogue

already existed.



lt's even older than

Catholic church.



lt's no longer used.



There's no one to go to it.



These buildings

haven't changed?



Not at all. There were

barrels of herrings here,



and the Jews sold fish.



There were stalls,

small shops,



Jewish business,

as the gentleman says.



That's Barenholz's house.



He sold wood.



Lipschitz's store was there.

He sold cloth.



This was Lichtenstein's.



What was there, opposite?



A food store.



A Jewish store ?



There was a notions

shop here,



it sold thread, needles,

odds and ends,



and there were also

three barbers.






- Was that fine house Jewish?

- lt's Jewish.



And this small one?






And the one behind it?



These were all Jewish.



This one on the left, too?



That one too.



Who lived in it?




He was in

the cement business.



He was very handsome,

and cultivated.



Here there was a blacksmith

named Tepper.



lt was a Jewish house.



A shoemaker lived here.



What was his name?









You get the feeling Wlodawa

was a Jewish city.



Yes, because it's true.



The Poles lived farther out

the center was wholly Jewish



What happened to

the Jews of Auschwitz?



They were expelled

and resettled,



but l don't know where.



What year was that?



lt began in      which

was when l moved here.



This apartment also

belonged to Jews.



According to our




the Auschwitz Jews were

''resettled'', as they say,



nearby, in Benzin and

Sosnowiecze, in Upper Silesi.



Yes, because those were

Jewish towns.



Does she know what happened

to the Jews of Auschwitz?



l think they all ended

up in the camp.



That is, they returned

to Auschwitz?






All kinds of people

from everywhere



were sent here.



All the Jews came here...

to die.



What's they think

when Wlodawa's Jews



were all deported

to Sobibor?



WLODAWA - Sobibor :    miles



What could we think?



That it was the end of them,

but they had foreseen that.



How so?



Even before the war, when

you talked to the Jews,



they foresaw their doom,

he doesn't know how.



Even before the war

they had a premonition.



How were they taken to

Sobibor? On foot?



lt was frightful.

He watched it himself.



They were herded on foot to

a station called Orkrobek.



There they put the old

people first



into waiting cattle cars,



then the younger Jews,



and finally the kids.



That was the worst : they

threw them on top of the others.



Were there a lot

of Jews in Kolo?



A great many.



More Jews than Poles.



And what happened

with the Kolo Jews?



Was he an eye-witness?






Yes. lt was frightful.



Frightful to see. Even the

Germans hid, they couldn't see that.



When the Jews were herded to

the station, they were beated,



some were even killed.



A cart followed the convoy

to pick up the corpses.



Those who couldn't walk,

the slain?



Yes, those who'd fallen.



Where did this happen?



The Jews were collected

in the Kolo synagogue.



Then they were herded

to the station,



where the narrow-gauge

railroad wen to Chelmno.



lt happened to all the Jews

in the area, not just in Kolo.



Absolutely. Everywhere.



Jews were also murdered

in the forests



near Kalisz,

not far from here.



ABRAHAM BOMBA, survivor of




TREBLlNKA by road



He was born here






and has been here

even since.



He lived at this very spot?



Right here.



Then he had a front-row

seat for what happened.






You could go up close or

watch from a distance.






They had land on the far

side of the station.



To work it, he had

to cross the track,



so he could see everything.



Does he remember the first

convoy of Jews



from Warsaw

on July        ?






He recalls the first

convoy very well,



and when all those Jews

were brought here,



people wondered, ''what's to

be done with them?''



Clearly, they'd be killed,

but no one yet knew how.



When people began to

understand what was happening



they were appalled, and they

commented privately



that since the world began,



no one had ever murdered so

many people that way.



While all this was happening

before their eyes,



normal life went on?

They worked their fields?



Certainly they worked,

but not



as willingly as usual.



They had to work,



but when they saw all this,

they bought,



what if our house is

surrounded and we're arrested.



Were they afraid for

the Jews, too?



Well, he says,

it's this way :



if l cut my finger,

it doesn't hurt him.



They saw that happened to

the Jews : the convoy came in



and then went

to the camp, and



the people vanished.



He had a field under

    yards from the camp.



He also worked during

the German occupation.



He worked his field?






He saw how they were




he heard them scream,

he saw that.



There's a small hill : he

could see quite a bit.



What did he say?



They couln't stop

and watch.



lt was forbidden. The

Ukrainians shot at them.



But they could work a field

    yards from the camp?



They could.



So occasionally he could

steal a glance,



if the Ukrainians

weren't looking.



He worked with

his eyes lowered?






He worked by the barbed wire

and heard awful screams.



His field was there?



Yes, right up close.



lt wasn't forbidden

to work there.



So he worked,

he farmed there?



Yes. Where the camp is now,



was partly his field.



lt was off limits, but they

heard everything.



lt didn't bother him to work

so near those screams?



At first is was unbearable.

Then you got used to it.



You get used to anything?






Now he thinks... impossible.



Yet it was true.



So he was the convoys




There were    to    cars

in each convoy



and there were

two locomotives



.that took the convoys

into the camp,



taking    cars at a time.



And the cars came

back empty?






Does he remember...?



Here's how it happened :



the locomotive picked up   

cars and took them to the camp



That took maybe an hour,



and the empty cars

came back here.



Then the next    cars

were taken, and meanwhile,



the people in the first   

were already dead.



They waited, they wept,



they asked for water,

they died.



Sometimes they were naked in

the cars, up to      people.



This is where they gave the

Jews water, he says.



Where was that?



Here. When the convoys

arrived, they gave water to



Who gave the Jews water?



We did, the Poles.



There was a tiny well,

we took a bottle and...



Wasn't it dangerous

to give them water?



Very dangerous.



You could be killed for

giving a glass of water.



But we gave

them water anyway.



ls it very cold

here in winter?



lt depends.



lt can get to minus   

minus   .



Which was harder on the

Jews, summer or winter?



Waiting here, l mean.



He thinks winter, because

they were very cold.



They were so packed in the

cars, maybe they weren't cold.



ln summer they stifled :

it was very hot.



The Jews were very thirsty.

They tried to get out.



Were there corpses

in the cars on arrival?






They were so packed in that

even those still alive



sat on corpses for

lack of space.



Didn't people here who

went by the trains



look through the cracks

in the cars?



Yes, they could look in

sometimes as they went by.



When they were allowed,

they gave them water, too.



How did the Jews

try to get out?



The doors weren't opened.

How'd they get out?



Through the windows.



They removed

the barbed wire



and came out

of the windows.



They jumped, of course.



Sometimes they just




sat down on the ground,



and the guards came and

shot them in the head.



They jumped from the cars...

What a sight!



Jumping from the windows.



There was a mother

and child.



- Jewish?

- Yes.



She tried to run away



and they shot her

in the heart.



Shot who... the mother?



Yes, the mother.



This gentleman has lived here

a long time, he can't forget.



He says that now he can't

understand how a man



can do that to another

human being.



lt's inconceivable,

beyond understanding.



Once when the Jews asked for

water, a Ukrainian went by,



and forbade giving any.



The Jewish woman had asked

for water...



threw her pot at his head.



The Ukrainian moved back,



maybe ten yards, and opened

fire on the car.



Blood and brains were

all over the place.



Lots of people

opened the doors,



or escaped through

the windows.



Sometimes the Ukrainians

fired through the car walls.



lt happened chiefly

at night.



When the Jews talked to each

other, as he showed us,



the Ukrainians wanted

things quiet,



and they asked... yes,

asked them to shut up.



So the Jews shut up and

the guard moved off.



Then the Jews started talking

again, in their language,



as he says, ra-ra-ra,

and so on.



What's he mean, la-la-la,

what's he trying to imitate?



Their language.



No, ask him :



was the Jews' noise

something special ?



They spoke Jew.



Does Mr. Borowi

understand ''Jew'' ?






Did he hear screams

behind his locomotive ?



Obviously, since the

locomotive was next to the camp.



They screamed,

asked for water.



The screams from the cars

closest to the locomotive



could be heard very well.



Can one get used to that ?



- No. -



lt was extremely

distressing to him.



He knew that the people

behind him where human, like him.



The Germans gave him

and the other workers



vodka to drink.



Without drinking, they

couldn't have done it.



There was a bonus



that they were paid not

in money, but in liquor.



Those who worked on other

trains didn't get this bonus.






He drank every drop he got

because without liquor



he couldn't stand the

stench when he got here.



They even bought more liquor

on their own,



to get drunk on.



From the station to the

unloading ramp in the camp,



how many miles ?









We traveled for two days.



On the morning

of the second day we saw



that we had left




and were heading east.



lt wasn't the SS

guarding us,



but the Schutzpolizei,



the police,

in green uniforms.



We were in ordinary

passenger cars.



All the seats were filled.



You couldn't choose.



There were all numbered

and assigned.



ln my compartment there was

an elderly couple.



l still remember :

the good man



was always hungry and

his wife scolded him,



saying they'd have

no food left



for the future.






Then, on the second day,



l saw a sign for Malkinia.



We went on a little farther.



Then, very slowly, the train



turned off of

the main track,



and rolled at a walking

pace through a wood.



While he looked out,



we'd been able to open

a window.



The old man in our

compartment saw a boy...



Cows were grazing...



And he asked

the boy in signs,



''Where are we ?''



And the kid made

a funny gesture. This !



Across the throat.



A Pole ?



A Pole.



Where was this ?

At the station ?



lt was where the train

had stopped.



On one side

was the wood,



and on the other

were fields.



And there was a farmer

in a field ?



We saw cows



watched over

by a young man,



a farmhand.



And one of you

questioned him ?



Not in words, but in signs,

we asked,



''What's going on here ?''



And he made that gesture.

Like this.



We didn't really



pay much attention to him.



We couldn't figure out

what he meant.



Once there were foreign

Jews -- they were this fat...



This fat ?



Riding in passenger cars.



There was a dining car,

they could drink,



and walk around, too.



They said they were going

to a factory.



On arrival they saw kind

of a factory it was.



We'd gesture...



Gesture how ?



That they'd be killed.



These people made

that sign ?



He says the Jews didn't

believe it.



But what does

that gesture mean ?



That death awaited them.



The people who had

a chance



to get near the Jews did

that to warn them...



He did it too ?



That they'd be hanged,

killed, slain.






Even foreign Jews from

Belgium, Czechoslovakia,



from France too, surely.



And from Holland...



These didn't know,



but the Polish Jews knew.



ln the small cities

in the area,



it was talked about.



So the Polish Jews were

forewarned, but not the others.



Who'd they warn, Polish

Jews or the others ?



All the Jews.



He says the foreign Jews

arrived here in passenger



they were well dressed,

in white shirts,



there were flowers in the

cars, and they played cards.



From what l know,

that was very rare,



Jews shipped

in passanger cars.



Most arrived

in cattle cars.



lt's not true.



lt's not true ?



What did Mrs. Gawkowska say?



She said he may not have

seen everything.



He says he did.



Once, at the Malkinia

station, for example,



a foreign Jew left

the train



to buy something at the bar.



The train pulled out and

he ran after it...



To catch up to it.



So he went past these

''pullmans'', as he calls them



those Jews who were calm,




and he made

that gesture to them.



To all the Jews,

in principle.



He just went along

the platform ! Ask him !



Yes. The road was

as it is now.



When the guard

wasn't looking,



he made that gesture.



Ask Mr. Gawkowski

why he looks so sad.



Because l saw men marching

to their death.



Precisely where are we now ?



lt's not far... a mile

and a half from here.



What, the camp ?



What's that dirt road

he's indicating ?



That's where the rail line

into the camp was.



Did Mr. Gawkowski, aside

from the trains of deportees



he drove from Warsaw

or Bialystok



to the Treblinka station...



Did he ever drive

the deportee cars



into the camp from

the Treblinka station ?



Did he do it often ?



Two or three times a week.



Over how long a period ?



Around a year and a half.



That is, throughout

the camp's existence ?



This is the ramp.



Here he is, he goes to the

end with his locomotive,



and he has the    cars

behind him.



No, they're in front of him.



He pushed them ?



That's right,

he pushed them.



ln February      l began



working here as

an assistant switchman.



The station building,

the rails, the platforms



are just as they were in

     ? Nothing's changed ?






Exactly where did

the camp begin ?






l'll show you exactly.






there was a fence that ran

to those trees you see there.



And another fence, that ran

to those trees over there.



So l'm standing inside the

camp perimeter, right ?



That's right.



Where l am now is    feet

from the station,



and l'm already

outside the camp.






So this is the Polish part,

and over there was death.






On German orders, Polish

railmen split up the trains.



So the locomotive

took    cars,



and headed toward Chelm.



When it reached a switch,



it pushed the cars into the camp

on the other track we can see.



The ramp began there.



So here we're

outside the camp,



and back here we enter it.



Unlike Treblinka, the statio

here is part of the camp.



And at this point

we are inside the camp.



This track was

inside the camp.



And it's exactly as it was ?



Yes, the same track.



lt hasn't changed since then.



Where we are now is what was

called the ramp, right ?



Yes, those to be

exterminated were unloaded.



So where we're standing is



where        Jews were

unloaded before being gassed.






Did foreign Jews arrive here

in passenger cars, too ?



Not always.



Often the richest Jews,



from Belgium, Holland,




arrived in passenger cars,



sometimes even in  st class.



They were usually better

treated by the guards.



Especially the convoys

of Western European Jews



waiting their turn here,



Polish railmen saw the women

making up, combing their hair



wholly unaware of what

awaited them minutes later.



They dolled up.



And the Poles couldn't tell

them anything : the guards



forbad contact

with the future victims.



l suppose were there fine

days like today.




some were even finer.



RUDOLF VRBA, survivor of







And suddenly it started :

the yelling and screaming.



''All out, everybody out !''



All those shouts,

the uproar, the tumult !



''Out ! Get out !



''Leave the baggage !''



We got out stepping

on each other.



We saw men



wearing blue armbands.



Some carried whips.



We saw some SS men.



Green uniforms,



black uniforms...



We were a mass,



and the mass swept

us along.



lt was irresistible.



lt had to move

to another place.



l saw the others undressing.



And l hear : ''get undressed!

You're to be disinfected !''



As l waited, already naked,



l noticed the



SS men separating

out some people.



These were told

to get dressed.



A passing SS man suddenly

stopped in front of me,



looked me over, and said :



''Yes, you too, quick, join

the others, get dressed.



''You're going to work here,

and if you're good,



''You can be a kapo --

a squad leader.''



BlRKENAU : the ramp



We were taken to a barracks.



The whole place stank.



Piled about five feet high



in a jumbled mass,



where all the things people

could conceivably have brought.



Clothes, suitcases,






stacked in a solid mass.



On top of it, jumping

around like demons.



People were



making bundles,



and carrying them outside.



l was turned over to one

of these men.



His armband said,

''Squad Leader''.



He shouted,

and l understood



that l was also to pick up

clothing, bundle it,



and take it somewhere.



As l worked, l asked him :



''What's going on ? The undressed

ones... Where are they ?



And he replied :

''Dead ! All dead !''



But it still hadn't sunk in,

l didn't believe it.



He'd used the Yiddish word.



lt was the first time

l'd heard Yiddish spoken.



He didn't say it very loud,



and l saw he had tears

in his eyes.



Suddenly he started




and raised his whip.



Out of the corner of my eyes,

l saw an SS man coming.



And l understood that l was

to ask no more questions,



but just to rush outside

with the package.



All l could think of then

was my friend Carel Unger.



He'd been at the rear

of the train,



in a section that had been

uncoupled and left outside.



l needed someone.

Near me. With me.



Then l saw him.

He was in the  nd group.



He'd been spared too.



On the way, somehow, he had

learned, he already knew.



He looked at me,



all he said was : ''Richard,

my father, mother, brother...



He had learned

on the way there.



Your meeting with Carel :



how long after your arrival

did it happen ?



lt was... around    minutes

after we reached Treblinka.



Then l left the barracks,



and had my first look

at the vast space



that l soon

learned was called



''the sorting place''.



lt was buried under mountain

of objects of all kinds.



Mountains of shoes,

of clothes,    feet high.



l thought about it

and said to Carel :



''lt's a hurricane,

a raging sea.



''We're shipwrecked.

And we're still alive.



''We must do nothing



''but watch

for every new wave,



''float on it,



''get ready

for the next wave,



''and ride the wave at all

costs. And nothing else.''



Greenery, sand

everywhere else.



At night, we were

put into a barracks.



lt just had a sand floor.



Nothing else.



Each of us simply dropped

where he stood.



Half-asleep, l heard



some men hang themselves.



We didn't react then.

lt was almost normal.



Just as it wast normal

that for everyone



behind whom the gate

of Treblinka closed,



there was death,

had to be death,



for no one was supposed



to be left to bear witness.



l already knew that,



three hours after



arriving at Treblinka.







Born in BERLlN



Lived there throught

the war.



(in hiding beginning

in February     )



Now lives in lSRAEL




SS unterscharfuhrer



Are you ready ?



- Yes.

- Then we can...



We can begin.



How's your heart ?

ls everything in order ?



Oh, my heart... For the

moment, it's all right.



lf l have any pain,

l'll tell you.



We'll have to break off.



Of course.



But your health,

in general, is...



The weather today

suits me fine.



The barometric pressure is

high : that's good for me.



You look to be in good

shape, anyway.



Let's begin with Treblinka.






l think that's best.



lf you could give us



a description

of Treblinka.



How did it look

when you arrived ?



l believe you

got there in August ?



Was it August    or    ?



The   th ?



l don't know exactly.

Around August   .



l arrived there

with seven other men.



From Berlin ?



From Berlin.



From Lublin ?



From Berlin to Warsaw,

from Warsaw to Lublin,



from Lublin back to Warsaw

and from Warsaw to Treblinka.



What was Treblinka

like then ?



Treblinka then was operating

at full capacity.



Full capacity ?



Full capacity !



Trains arrived...



The Warsaw ghetto

was being emptied then.



Three trains arrived

in two days,



each with three, four, five

thousand people aboard,



all from Warsaw.



But at the same time,

other trains came in



from Kielce and

other places.



So three trains arrived,



and since the offensive

against Stalingrad was in fear,



the trainloads of Jews were

left on a station siding.



What's more,

the cars were French,



made of steel.



So that while      Jews

arrived in Treblinka,



     were dead.



ln the...



ln the cars.

They had slashed



their wrists, or just died.



The ones we unloaded

were half-dead



and half-mad.



ln the other trains

from Kielce



and elsewhere,



at least half were dead.



We stacked them

here, here,



here and here.



Thousands of people



piled one on top

of another.



On the ramp ?



On the ramp.



Stacked like wood.



ln addition,



other Jews, still alive,

waited there for two days :



the small gas-chambers

could no longer handle the number.



They functioned day and

night in that period.



Can you please describe,

very precisely,



your first impression

of Treblinka ?



Very precisely.

lt's very important.



My first impression

of Treblinka,



and that of some of the other

men, was catastrophic.



For we had not been told



how and what... that

people were being killed there.



That they hadn't told us.



You didn't know ?



No !



lncredible !



But true.

l didn't want to go.



That was proved

at my trial.



l was told :



''Mr. Suchomel, there are

big workshops there



''for tailors

and shoemakers,



''and you'll be

guarding them.''



But you knew

it was a camp ?



Yes. We were told :



''The Fuhrer ordered

a ressettlement program.



''lt's an

order from the Fuhrer.''



Understand ?



Ressetlement program...



No one ever spoke

of killing.



l understand.



Mr. Suchomel, we're not

discussing you,



only Treblinka.



You are a very important




and you can explain

what Treblinka was.



But don't use my name.



No, l promised.



All right, you've arrived

at Treblinka.



So Stadie, the sarge,



showed us the camp



from end to end.



Just as we went by,

they were




the gas-chamber doors,



and people fell out

like potatoes.



Naturally, that horrified

and appalled us.



We went back and sat down

on our suitcases



and cried like old women.



Each day,     Jews

were chosen



to drag the corpses

to the mass graves.



ln the evening, the

Ukrainians drove those Jews



into the gas-chambers

or shot them.



Every day !



lt was in the hottest

days of August.



The ground undulated



likes waves

because of the gas.



From the bodies ?



Bear in mind, the graves

were maybe   



   feet deep,



all crammed with bodies !



A thin layer of sand

and the heat. You see ?



lt was a hell up there.



You saw that ?



Yes, just once,

the first day.



We pucked and wept.



You wept ?



We wept too, yes.



The smell was infernal.



Yes, because gas was

constantly escaping.



lt stank horribly,

for miles around.



Miles ?



Miles !



You could smell it all around,

not just in the camp ?



Everywhere. lt depended on

the wind. The stink



was carried on the wind.



Understand ?



More people kept coming,

always more,



whom we hadn't

the facilities to kill.



Those gents were in a rush

to clean out the Warsaw ghetto.



The gas-chambers couldn't

handle the load.



The small gas-chambers.



The Jews had to wait

their turn for a day,



  days,   days.



They foresaw

what was coming.



They foresaw it.



They may not have been

certain, but many knew.



There were Jewish

women who



slashed their daughters'

wrists at night,



then cut their own.



Others poisoned themselves.



They heard the engine

feeding the gas-chamber.



A tank engine was used

in that gas-chamber.



At Treblinka the only gas

used was engine exhaust.



Zyklon gas,

that was Auschwitz.



Because of the delay,



Eberl, the camp commandant,



phoned Lublin and said :



''We can't go on this way.

l can't do it any longer.



''We have to break off.''



Overnight, Wirth arrived.



He inspected everything

and then left.



He returned with people

from Belzec,






Wirth arranged to suspend

the trains.



The corpses lying there

were cleared away.



That was the period

of the old gas-chambers.



Because there were

so many dead



that couldn't be gotten

rid off,



the bodies piled up

around the gas-chambers



and stayed there

for days.



Under this pile of bodies

was a cesspool :



  inches deep,

full of blood, worms...



and shit.



No one wanted

to clean it out.



The Jews preferred

to be shot



rather than work there.



Preferred to be shot ?



lt was awful. Burying their

own people, seeing it all...



The dead flesh came off

in their hands.



So Wirth went there




with a few Germans



and had long belts

rigged up



that were wrapped around

the dead torsos to pull them...



Who did that ?



SS men.



Wirth ?



SS men and Jews.



SS men and Jews !



Jews too ?



Jews too !



What did the Germans do ?



They forced the Jews to...



They beat them ?



Or they themselves helped

with the clean-up.



Which Germans did that ?



Some of our guards who

were assigned up there.



The Germans themselves ?



They had to.



They were in command !



They were in command, but

they were also commanded.



l think the Jews did it.



ln that case, the Germans

had to lend a hand.



The black execution wall

in the courtyard of block ll




the original camp



Filip, on that Sunday

in May     



when you first entered



the Auschwitz creatorium,

how old were you ?






lt was a Sunday in May.



lt was a Sunday in May.



We were locked in an

underground cell in Block    



We were held in secret.



Then some SS men appeared



and marched us along

a street in the camp.



We went through a gate,



and around     feet away,



    feet from the gate,



l suddenly saw a building.



lt had a flat roof,

and a smokestack.



l saw a door in the rear.



l thought they were taking

us to be shot.




survivor of the   liquidations



of the AUSCHWlTZ

''special detail''.



Suddenly, before a door



under a lamp in

the middle of this building.



a young SS man told us :



''lnside, filthy swine !''



We entered a corridor.



They drove us along it.



Right away, the stench,

the smoke choked me.



They kept on chasing us



and then l made out

the shapes



of the first two ovens.



Between the ovens, some

Jewish prisoners were working.



We were in the crematorium's

incineration chamber



in Camp l at Auschwitz.



From there, they herded us



to another big room,



and told us to undress

the corpses.



l looked around me.



There were hundreds

of bodies,



all dressed.



Piled with the corpses



were suitcases, bundles



and, scattered everywhere,



strange, blueish-purple




l couldn't understand

any of it.



lt was like a blow on the

head... as if you'd been stunned.



l didn't even know

where l was.



Above all, l couldn't

understand how they



managed to kill

so many people at once.



When we undressed

some of them,



the order was given

to feed the ovens.



Suddenly, an SS man

rushed up and told me :



''Get out of here !

Go stir the bodies !''



What did he mean,



''Stir the bodies'' ?



l entered

the cremation chamber.



There was a Jewish prisoner,



Fischel, who later

became a squad leader.



He looked at me

and l watched him



poke the fire

with a long rod.



He told me,

''Do as l'm doing



''or the SS will kill you.''



l picked up a poker



and did as he was doing.



A poker ?



A steel poker.



l obeyed Fischel's order.



At that point l was in shock

as if l'd been hypnotized,



ready to do



whatever l was told.



l was so mindless,

so horrified



that l did everything

Fischel told me.



So the ovens were fed,



but we were so




that we left

the fans on



too long.



The fans ?



Yes. There were fans to make

the fire hotter.



They worked too long...



The firebrick

suddenly exploded,



blocking the pipes




the Auschwitz




with the smokestack.



Cremation was interrupted.



The ovens were out

of action.



That evening,

some trucks came,



and we had to load the rest,



some     bodies,



into the trucks.



Then we were taken...



l still

don't know where...



but probably

to a field at Birkenau.



We were ordered

to unload the bodies



and put them in a pit.



There was a ditch,

an artificial pit.



Suddenly, water gushed up

from underground



and swept

the bodies down.



When night came,



we had to stop

that horrible work.



We were loaded

into the trucks



and returned

to Auschwitz.



The next day, we were taken

to the same place



but the water had risen.



Some SS men came

with a firetruck



and pumped out the water.



We had to go down

into that muddy pit



to stack up the bodies.



But they were slimy.



For example, l grasped a

woman, but her hands...



Her hand was slippery, slimy

l tried to pull her,



but l fell over backward,

into the water, the mud.



lt was the same

for all of us.



Up to, at the edge of the pit,

Aumeyer and Grabner yelled,



''Get cracking, you filth,

you bastards !



''We'll show you,

you bunch of shits !''



And in these...



how shall l say ?

-circumstances-   of my ''friends''



couldn't take any more.

One was a French student.



All Jews !

They were exhausted.



They just lay there

in the mud.



Aumeyer called



one of his SS men :



''Go on, finish off

those swine !''



They were exhausted. And

they were shot in the pit.



There were no crematorium

at Birkenau then ?



No, there weren't

any there yet.



Birkenau still wasn't

completely set up.



Only Camp Bl, which was late

the women's camp, existed.



lt wasn't until the spring of

     that skilled workmen



and unskilled laborers,

all Jews,



must have gone

to work here



and built the   crematorium.



Each crematorium

had    ovens,



a big undressing room,

around      square feet,



and a big gas-chamber



where up to      people

at once could be gassed.






The new gas-chambers were

built in September     .



Who built them ?



Hackenhold and

Lambert supervised



the Jews who did the work



the bricklaying, at least.



Ukrainian carpenters

made the doors.



The gas-chamber doors




were armored bunker doors.



l think they were brought

from Bialystok,



from some Russian bunkers.






What was the capacity of

the new gas-chambers ?



There were   of them, right?



Yes. But the old ones

hadn't been demolished.



When there were a lot of

trains, a lot of people,



the old ovens were put back

into service.



And here... the Jews say

there were   on each side.



l say there were  



but l'm not sure.



ln any case, only the upper

row, on this side,



was in action.



Why not the other side ?



Disposing the bodies would

have been to complicated.



Too far ?



Yes. Up there, Wirth had

built the death camp,



assigning a detail

of Jewish workers to it.



The detail had

a fixer number in it,



around     people,



who worked only

in the death camp.



But what was the capacity

of the new gas-chambers ?



The new gas-chambers...

Let's see... They could



finish off      people

in two hours.



How many people at once

in a single gas-chamber ?



l can't say exactly.

The Jews say    .






That's right,    .



lmagine a room this size.



They put more in

at Auschwitz.



Auschwitz was a factory !



And Treblinka ?



l'll give you

my definition.



Keep this is mind :



Treblinka was a primitive,



but efficient production

line of death.



A production line ?



Of death. Understand ?






But primitive...?



Primitive, yes.



But it worked well, that

production line of death.



Was Belzec

even more rudimentary ?



Belzec was the laboratory.



Wirth was camp commandant.



He tried everything

imaginable there.



He got off

on the wrong foot.



The pits were overflowing



and the cesspool seeped

out in front of the SS mess-hall.



lt stank...

in front of the mess-hall,



in front of their barracks.



Were you at Belzec ?



No. Wirth with his own men.



With Franz,

with Oberhauser



and Hackenhold...

he tried everything there.



Those   had to put the bodies

in the pits themselves



so that Wirth could see

how much space he needed.



And when they rebelled...

Franz refused...



Wirth beat Franz with a whip.



He whipped Hackenhold, too.

You see ?



Kurt Franz ?



Kurt Franz.



That's how Wirth was. Then,

with that experience behind



he came to Treblinka.



Excuse me.



How many quarts of beer

a day do you sell ?



You can't tell me ?



l'd rather not.

l have my reasons.



But why not ?



How many quarts of beer

a day do you sell ?



Go on, tell him.



Tell him what ?



Just tell him approximately.






That's a lot !



Have you worked here long ?



Around    years.



Why are you hiding...



l have my reasons.



your face ?



l have my reasons.



What reasons ?



Never mind.



Why not ?



Do you recognize this man ?



No ? Christian Wirth ?



Mr. Oberhauser !



Do you remember Belzec ?



No memories of Belzec ?



Of the overflowing graves ?



You don't remember ?







German state prosecutor



at the TREBLlNKA trial

(Frankfurt,     )



When the Action itself

first got under way,



it was almost totally




At Treblinka, for example,



the commandant, Eberl, let

more trains come in



than the camp

could handle.



lt was a disaster !



Mountains of corpses !



Word of this foul-up



reached the head

of the Reinhard Action,



Odilo Globocznik, in Lublin.



He went to Treblinka



to see what was




There's a very concrete

account of the trip



by his former driver,




Globocznik arrived

on a hot day in August.



The camp was permeated



with the stench

of rotting flesh.



Globocznik didn't even

bother to enter the camp.



He stopped here, before

the commandant's office,



sent for Eberl

and greeted him



with these words :



''How dare you accept

so many every day



''when you can only

process      ?''



Operations were suspended,



Eberl was transferred

and Wirth came,



followed immediately

by Stangl,



and the camp was completely




The Reinhard Action covered

  extermination camp :




Sobibor and Belsec.



There's also talk of   death

camps on the Bug River,



for they were all located

on or near the Bug.



The gas-chambers were

the heart of the camp.



They were built first,



in a wood, or in a field,

as at Treblinka.



The gas-chambers were

the only stone buildings.



All the others

were wooden sheds.



These camps weren't built

to last.



Himmler was in a hurry to

begin the ''final solution''.



The Germans had to capitaliz

on their eastward advance



and use this remote

back-country to carry out



their mass murder

as secretely as possible.



So at first

they couldn't manage



the perfection they

achieved   months later.



Near the end of March     



sizeable groups of Jews

were herded here,



groups of    to     people.



Several trains arrived



with sections of barracks

with posts, barbed wire, bricks...



and construction of the camp

as such began.



The Jews unloaded

these cars



and carted the sections

of barracks to the camp.



The Germans made them work

extremely fast.



When we saw the pace

they worked at...



lt was extremely brutal.



When we saw the complex

being built, and the fence,



which, after all,

enclosed a vast space,



we realized that what

the Germans were building



wasn't meant

to aid mankind.



Early in June,



the first convoy arrived.



l'd say there were

over    cars.



With the convoy were SS men

in black uniforms.



lt happened one afternoon.

He had just finished work.






But he got on his bicycle

and went home.



Why ?



l merely thought



these people had come

to build the camp,



as the others

has before them.



That convoy...



There was no way of knowing

that it was



the first earmarked

for extermination.






he couldn't have known

that Sobibor would be



a place for the mass

extermination of the Jewish.



The next morning, when

l came here to work,



the station was

absolutely silent,



and we realized,



after talking with the Poles

who worked at the station here



that something utterly

incomprehensible had happened.



First of all, when the camp

was being built,



there were orders shouted in

German, there were screams,



Jews were working at the run

there were shots,



and here there was

that silence,



no work crews,



a really total silence.



   cars had arrived,

and then... nothing.



lt was all very strange.



lt was the silence

that tipped them off ?



That's right.



Can he describe

that silence ?



lt was a silence...



Nothing was going on in the

camp. You heard nothing.



Nothing moved.



So then they began

to wonder,



''Where have

they put those Jews ?''



Cell    Block    

at Auschwitz   ,



is where the Special Work

Detail was held.



The cell was underground,




For we were...



''bearers of secrets'', we

were reprieved dead men.



We weren't allowed

to talk to anyone,



or contact any prisoner,



or even the SS.



Only those is charge

of the ''Action''.



There was a window.



We heard what happened

in the courtyard.



The executions,

the victims' cries,



the screams, but

he couldn't see anything.



This went on

for several days.



One night an SS man came



from the political section.



lt was around   A.M.



The whole camp

was still asleep.



There wasn't a sound

in the camp.



We were again

taken out of our cell,



and led to the crematorium.



Theren, for the first time,

l saw



the procedure used



with those

who came in alive.



We were lined up against

a wall,



and told : ''No one may talk

to those people''.



Suddenly, the wooden door

to the crematorium courtyard



opened, and     to    

people filed in.



old people, and women.



They carried bundles,

wore the Star of David.



Even from a distance,

l could tell



they were Polish Jews,



probably from Upper Silesia,



from the Sosnowitz ghetto,

some    miles from Auschwitz.






l caught some

of the things they said.



l heard ''fachowitz'',



meaning ''skilled worker''.



And ''Malach-ha-Mawis'',



which means ''the angel

of death'' in Yiddish.



Also, ''harginnen'' :

''they're going to kill us''.



From what l could hear,



l clearly understood the

struggle going on inside them.



Sometimes they spoke of work

probably hoping



that they'd be put to work.



Or they spoke of ''Malach-ha-

Mawis'', the angel of death.



The conflicting words echoed

the conflict in their feelings.



Then a sudden silence



fell over those gathered

in the crematorium courtyard.



All eyes converged



on the flat roof

of the crematorium.



Who was standing there ?



Aumeyer, of the SS,



Grabner, the head of

the political section,



And Hossler, the SS officer.



Aumeyer addressed the crowd:



''You're here to work,



''for our soldiers

fighting at the front.



''Those who can work

will be all right.''



lt was obvious



that hope flared

in those people.



You could feel it clearly.



The executioners had gotten

past the first obstacle.



He saw it was succeeding.



Then Grabner spoke up :



''We need masons,




''all the trades.''



Next, Hossler took over.



He pointed to a short man

in the crowd.



l can still see him.



''What's your trade ?''



The man said,



''Mr. Officer, l'm a tailor.''



''A tailor ? What kind of

a tailor ?''



''A man's... No, for both

men and women.''



''Wonderful ! We need people

like you in our workshops.''



Then he questioned a woman :



''What's your trade ?''



''Nurse'', she replied.



''Splendid ! We need nurses

in our hospitals



''for our soldiers.



''We need all of you !

But first, undress.



''You must be disinfected.



''We want you healthy.''



l could see the people

were calmer,



reassured by what

they'd heard,



and they began to undress.



Even if they still

had their doubts,



if you want to live,

you must hope.



Their clothing remained

in the courtyard,



scattered everywhere.



Aumeyer was beaming,

very proud of how



he'd handled things.



He turned to some of the

SS men and told them :



''You see ? That's the way

to do it !''



By this device,



a great leap forward

had been made :



Now the clothing

could be used.



RAUL HlLBERG, historian






First, explain to me...



How you came to Kulmhof

to Chelmno?



You were at Lodz, right ?



ln Lodz, yes.



ln Litzmannstadt.



We were on permanent

guard duty.



Protecting military

objectives : mills,



the roads, when Hitler

went to East Prussia.



lt was dreary,

and we were told :



''We're looking for men wanted

to break out of this routine.



So we volunteered.



We were issued

winter uniforms,



overcoats, fur hats,

fur-lined boots,



and   or   days later

we were told, ''We're off!''



We were put aboard

  or   trucks...



l don't know...

they had benches,



and we rode and rode.



Finally we arrived.



The place was crawling

with SS men and police.



Our first question was :

''What goes on here ?''



They said,

''You'll find out !''



You'll find out ?



You'll find out.



You weren't in the SS,

you were...






Which police ?



Security guards.



We were ordered to report to

the Deutsche Haus...



The only big stone

building in the village.



We were taken into it.



An SS man immediately

told us :



''This is

a top secret mission !''



Secret ?



''A top secret mission''.



''Sign this !''

We each had to sign.



There was a form ready

for each of us.



What did it say ?



lt was a pledge of secrecy.



We never even got to read

it through.



You had to take an oath ?



No, just sign,

promusing to...



...shut up about

whatever we'd see.



Shut up ?



Not say a word.



After we'd signed, we were

told : ''Final solution



''of the Jewish question.''



We didn't understand what

that meant.



So someone said...



He told us what was going

to happen there.



Someone said ''the final

solution of the Jewish question''.



You'd be assigned to

the ''final solution'' ?



Yes, but what did

that mean ?



We'd never heard

that before.



So it was explained to us.



Just when was this ?



Let's see... when was it...?



ln the winter of      -  .



Then we were assigned

to our stations.



Our guard post was at

the side of the road.



A sentry box

in front of the castle.



So you were

in the ''castle detail'' ?



That's right.



Can you describe

what you saw ?



We could see. We were

at the gatehouse.



When the Jews arrived,

the way they looked :



half-frozen, starved, dirty,



already half-dead.

Old people, children.



Think of it !

The long trip here



standing in a truck,

packed in !



Who knows if they knew

what was in store !



They didn't trust anyone,

that's for sure.



After months in the ghetto,

you can imagine !



l heard an SS man

shout at them :



''You're going

to be de-loused,



''and have a bath.



''You're going to work here.''



The Jews consented.



They said, ''Yes, that's what

we want to do.''



Was the castle big ?



Pretty big, with huge

front steps.



The SS man stood at the top

of the steps.



Then what happened ?



They were hustled into   or

  big rooms on the first floor.



They had to undress,

give up everything :



rings, gold, everything.



How long did the Jews

stay there ?



Long enough to undress.



Then, stark naked, they had

to run down more steps



to an underground




that led back up

to the ramp,



where the gas

van awaited them.



Did the Jews enter

the van willingly ?



No, they were beaten.



Blows fell everywhere,



and the Jews understood.

They screamed.



lt was frightful !

Frightful !



l know, because we went down

to the cellar



when they were

all in the van.



We opened the cells

of the work detail,



the Jewish workers,

who collected



the things thrown out of

the  st-floor window into there.



Describe the gas vans.



Like moving vans.



Very big ?



They stretched, say,



from here to the window.



Just big trucks,



like moving vans,

with   rear doors.



What system was used ?



How did they kill them ?



With exhaust fumes.



Exhaust fumes ?



lt went like this :

a Pole yelled, ''Gas !''



Then the driver got

under the van



to hook up the pipe



that fed the gas

into the van.



Yes, but how ?



From the motor.



Yes, but through what ?



A pipe... a tube.



He fiddled around

under the truck.



l'm not sure how.



lt was just exhaust gas ?



That's all.



Who were the drivers ?



SS men.



All those men were SS.



Were there many

of these drivers ?



l don't know.



Were there         O ?



Not that many.

  or   that's all.



l thinks there were   vans,



one big, one smaller.



Did the driver sit



in the cabin of the van ?



Mrs. Uwe ?






He climbed into the cabin

after the doors were closed



and started the motor.



Did he race the motor ?



l don't know.



Could you hear the sound

of the motor ?



Yes, from the gate we could

hear it turn over.



Was it a loud noise ?



The noise of a truck engine.



The van was stationary

while the motor ran ?



That's right.



Then it started moving.



We opened the gate and

it headed for the woods.



Were the people

already dead ?



l don't know.



lt was quiet.

No more screams.



No screams.



You couldn't hear anything

as they drove by.



He recalls : it was      ,

  days before the New Year.



They were routed out

at night,



and in the morning

they reached Chelmno.



There was a castle there.



When he entered

the castle courtyard,



he knew something awful

was going on.



He already understood.



The site of the castle



They saw clothes

and shoes




in the courtyard.



Yet they were alone there.



He knews his parents

has been through there,



and there wasn't

a Jew left.



They were taken down

into a cellar.



On a wall was written,

''No one leaves here alive.''



Graffiti in Yiddish.



There were lots of names.



He thinks it was the Jews

from villages around Chelmno



who had come before him,

who had written their names.



A few days after

New Year's,



they heard people arrive

in a truck one morning.



The people were taken

out of the truck



and up to the first floor

of the castle.



The Germans lied, saying

there were to be deloused.



They were chased down

the other side,



where a van was waiting.



The Germans pushed and beat

them with their weapons



to hustle them into

the trucks faster.



He heard people praying :

''Shma lsrael'',



and he heard the van'srear

doors being shut.



Their screams were heard,



becoming fainter

and fainter,



and when there was

total silence,



the van left.



He and the   others were

brought out of the cellar.



They went upstairs



and gathered up

the clothes remaining



outside the supposed baths.



Did he understand

then how they'd died ?






the survivor of the  st

period of extermination






(the castel period)



Yes, first because there

had been rumors of it.



And when he went out, he saw

the sealed vans, so he knew.



He understood that people

were gassed in the vans ?



Yes, because he'd heard

the screams,



and heard

how they weakened,



and later the vans were

taken into the woods.



What were the vans like ?



Like the one that deliver

cigarettes here.



They were enclosed, with

double-leaf rear doors.



What color ?



The color the Germans used,

green, ordinary.






How many German families were

there in Kulmhof (Chelmno)?



   or     , l'd say.



Germans from Wolhnia and

  families from the Reich,



the Bauers and us.



And you ?



Us, the Michelsohns.



How did you wind up

in Kulmhof ?



l was born in Laage,



and l was sent to Kulmhof.



They were looking

for volunteer settlers,



and l signed up.

That's how l got there.



First in Warthbrucken




then Chelmno... Kulmhof.



Directly from Laage ?



No, l left from Munster.



Did you opt to go

to Kulmhof ?



No, l asked for Wartheland.



Why ?



A pioneering spirit.



You were young !



Oh yes, l was young.



You wanted to be useful ?






What was your first

impression of Wartheland ?



lt was primitive.







Even worse,



worse than primitive.



Difficult to understand,

right ?



But why...?



The sanitary facilities

were disastrous.



The only toilet was in

Warthbrucken, in the town.



You had to go there.

The rest was a disaster.



Why a disaster ?



There were no toilets

at all !



There were privies.



l can't tell you



how primitive it was.



Astonishing !



Why did you choose such

a primitive place ?



l was young, you know.



You can't imagine

such places exist.



You don't believe it.

But that's how it was.



This was the whole village.



A very small village,



straggling along the road.

Just a few houses.



There was the church,

the castle,



a store, too,



the administrative

building and the school.



The castle was

next to the church,



with a high board

fence around both.



How far was your house

from the church ?



lt was just opposite...





was the Nazi teacher's wife



Did you see the gas vans ?



No... Yes, from the outside.

They shuttled back and forth



l never looke inside...

l didn't see Jews in them.



l only saw things

from outside,



the Jews' arrival,

their disposition,



how they were

loaded aboard.



Since World War l,

the castle



had been in ruins.



Only part of it

could still be used.



That's where the Jews

were taken.



This ruined castle

was used...



For housing and de-lousing

the Poles, and so on.



The Jews !



Yes, the Jews.



Why do you call them ''Poles''

and not ''Jews'' ?




l get them mixed up.



There's a difference

between Poles and Jews ?



Oh yes !



What difference ?



The Poles weren't




and the Jews were.

That's the difference.



An external difference,

right ?



And the inner difference ?



l can't assess that.

l don't know enough



about psychology

and anthropology.



The difference between

the Poles and the Jews ?



Anyway, they couldn't

stand each other.



On January        



the rabbi of Grabow,

Jacob Schulmann,



wrote the following letter

to his friends in Lodz :



''My very dear friends,



''/ didn't write sooner:

/ was sure of what /'d heard.



''A/as, to our great grief,

we now know a//.



''/'ve spoken to an eye-witness

who managed to escape.



''He to/d me everything.



''They're exterminated in

Che/mno, near Dombie,



''and they're a// buried in

the nearby Rzuszow forest.



''The Jews are ki//ed in  

ways by shooting or gas.



''/t's just happened to

thousand of Lodz Jews.



''Do not think that this is

being written by a madman.



''A/as, it is the tragic,

horrib/e truth.



''Horror, horror /

Man, shed thy c/othes,



''cover thy head with ashes,

run in the streets



''and dance

in thy madness.



''/ am so weary that my pen

can no /onger write.



''Creator of the universe,

he/p us /''



The creator did not help

the Jews of Grabow.



With their rabi, they all

died in the gas van at Chelmno



a few weeks later.



Chelmno is only    miles

from Grabow.



Were there a lot of Jews

here in Grabow ?



A lot, quite a few.



They were sent to Chelmno.



Has she always lived

near the synagogue ?



Yes. The Poles' word is

''Buzinica'', not synagogue.



She says it's now

a furniture warehouse



but they didn't harm it from

a religious point of view.



lt hasn't been... desecrated.



Does she remember the rabbi

at the synagogue ?



The synagogue in GRABOW



She says she's    now and

her memory isn't too good,



and the Jews have been gone

for    years.



Barbara, tell this couple

they live in a lovely house.



Do they agree ? Do they

think it's a lovely house ?



Tell me about the decoration

of this house, the doors,



what's it mean ?



People used to do carvings

like that.



Did they decorate it

that way ?



No, it was the Jews again.



The Jews did it !



The door's a good

century old.



Did Jews own this house ?



Yes, all these houses.



All these houses

on the square were Jewish ?



Jews lived in all the ones

in front, on the street.



Where did the Poles live ?



ln the courtyards,

where the privies were.



There used to be

a store here.



What kind ?



A food store.



Owned by Jews ?






So the Jews lived

in the front,



and the Poles in the coutyar

with the privies.



How long have these

two lived here ?






Where'd they live before ?



ln a courtyard

across the square.



They've gotten rich.



- Them ?

- Yes.






How did they get rich ?



They worked.



How old's the gentleman ?



He's   .



He looks young and hale.



Do they remember

the Jews of Grabow ?



Yes. And when

they were deported, too.



They recall the deportation

of the Grabow Jews ?



He says he speaks ''Jew'' well.



He speaks ''Jew'' ?



As a kid he played with Jews

so he speaks ''Jew''.



First, they grouped them there,

where that restaurant is,



or in this square,

and took their gold.



An older among the Jews

collected the gold



and turned it

over the police.



That done, the Jews were put

in the Catholic church.



A lot of gold ?



Yes, the Jews had gold



and some

handsome candelabras.



Did the Poles know the Jews

would been killed at Chelmno?



Yes, they knew.



The Jews knew it, too.



Did the Jews try to do

something about it,



to rebel, to escape ?



The young tried to run away.



But the Germans

caught them



and maybe killed them

even more savagely.



ln every town and village,

  or   streets were closed



and the Jews kept under guard.



They couldn't leave there.



Then they were locked in the

Polish church here in Grabow



and later taken to Chelmno.



Background, the synagogue



The Germans threw children

as small as these



into the trucks

by the legs.



She saw that ?



- Old folks too.

- Threw kids into the trucks.



The Poles knew the Jews

would be gassed in Chelmno ?



Did this gentleman know ?



Does he recall the Jews'

deportation from Grabow ?



At that time,

he worked in the mill.



There, opposite ?



Yes, and they saw it all.



What did he think of it?

Was it a sad cheery about?



Yes. How could you

see that without sadness?



What trades were

the Jews in ?



They were tanners,







They sold things... eggs,

chickens, butter.



There were a lot of tailors,



tradesmen, too.



But most were tanners.



They had beards

and sidelocks.






He says they weren't pretty.



They weren't pretty ?



They stank, too.



They stank ?



Why did they stink ?



Because they were tanners,

and the hides stink.



The Jewish women

were beautiful.



The Poles liked

to make love with them.



Are Polish women glad there

are no Jewesses left ?



What'd she say ?



That the women who are

her age now



also liked to make love.



So the Jewish women

were competitors ?



lt's crazy how the Poles

liked the little Jewesses !



Do the Poles miss

the little Jewesses ?



Naturally, such

beautiful women ?



Why ? What made them

so beautiful ?



lt was because they did

nothing. Polish women worked.



Jewish women only thought of

their beauty and clothes.



So Jewesses did no work !



None at all.



Why not ?



They were rich.



The Poles had to serve them

and work.



l heard her use

the word ''capital''.



The capital was

in the hands of the Jews.



Yes... You didn't

translate that.



Ask her again. So the capital

was in the Jews' hands ?



All Poland was

in the Jews' hands.



Are they glad there are

no more Jews here, or sad ?



lt doesn't bother them.

As you know,



Jews and Germans ran all

Polish industry before the war.



Did they like them

on the whole ?



Not much. Above all,

they were dishonest.



Was life in Grabow more fun

when the Jews were here ?



He'd rather not say.



Why does he call them

dishonest ?



They exploited the Poles.

That's what they lived off.



How did they exploit them ?



By imposing their prices.



Ask her if she likes

her house.






but her children live

in much better houses.



ln modern houses !



They've all gone to college.



Great ! That's progress !



Her children are the

best-educated in the village.



Very good, Madam !

Long alive education !



lsn't this

a very old house ?



Yes, Jews lived here before.



So Jews used to live here.

Did she know them ?






What was their name ?



She doesn't know.



What was their trade ?



Benkel, their name was.



And what was their trade ?



They had a butcher shop.



A butcher shop.

Why is she laughing ?



Because the gentleman

said it was



a butcher shop where you

could buy cheap meat. Beef !



What does he think about

their being gassed in trucks?



He says he doesn't like

that at all.



lf they'd gone to lsrael

of their own free will,



he might have been glad.



But killing them

was unpleasant.



Does he miss the Jews?



Yes, because there were

some beautiful Jewesses.



For the young,

it was... fine.



Are they sorry the Jews are

no longer here or pleased?



How can l tell?

l never went to school.



l can only think of how

l am now. Now l'm fine.



ls she better off?



Before the war,

she picked potatoes.



Now she sells eggs and

she's much better off.



Because the Jews are gone

or because of socialism?



She doesn't care, she's happy

because she's doing well now.



How did he feel about

losing his classmates?



lt still upsets him.



Does he miss the Jews?






They were goog Jews,

Madam says.



GRABOW in winter



The Jews came in trucks



and later there was

a narrow-gauge railway



that they arrived on.



They were packed tightly

in the trucks,



or in the cars



of the narrow-gauge




Lots of women and children.



Men too, but most

of them were old.



The strongest were

put in work details.



They walked with chains

on their legs.



ln the morning,

they fetched water,



looked for good,

and so on.



These weren't killed

right away.



That was done later.



l don't know

what became of them.



They didn't survive,




Two of them did.



Only two.



They were in chains ?



- On the legs.

- All of them ?



The workers, yes. The others

were killed at once.



The Jewish work squad went

through the village in chain






Could people speak to them ?



No, that was impossible.



Why ?



No one dared.



What ?



No one dared.



Understand ?



Yes... No one dared.

Why, was it dangerous ?



Yes, there were guards.



Anyway, people wanted nothing

to do with all that.



Do you see ?



Gets on your nerves,

seeing that every day.



You can't force a whole

village to watch such distress.



When the Jews arrived,



when they were pushed into

the church or the castle...



And the screams !

lt was frightful !






Day after day,

the same spectacle !



lt was terrible !

A sad spectacle !



They screamed. They knew

what was happening.



At first, the Jews thought

they were going to be de-loused.



But they soon understood.

Their screams



grew wilder and wilder.



Horrifying screams.

Screams of terror.



Because they know what

was happening to them.



Do you know how many Jews

were exterminated there ?



Four something

      ...      ...







l knew it had a   in it.



Sad, sad, sad !



''When the soldiers march,



''the girls open

their windows and doors...''



Do you remember a Jewish

child, a boy of    ?



He was in the work squad.



He sang on the river.



On the Narwa River ?






- ls he still alive ?

- Yes, he's alive.



He sang a German song



that the SS in Chelmno

taught him.



''When the soldiers march,



''the girls open

their windows and doors...''






the survivor of the  nd

period of extermination




(the church period)



So it's a holiday

in Chemno !



What holiday ?

What's being celebrated ?



The birth of the Virgin

Mary. lt's her birthday.



lt's a huge crowd,

isn't it ?



But the weather's bad...

lt's raining.



Ask them if they're glad

to see Srebnik again.



Very. lt's a great pleasure.



Why ?



They're glad

to see him again,



because they know all

he's lived through.



Seeing him as he is now,

they're very pleased.



They're pleased ?



Why does the whole village

remember him ?



They remember him well



because he walked with

chains on his ankles,



and he sang on the river.



He was young,



he was skinny,



he looked ready

for his coffin.



Ripe for a coffin !



Did he seem happy or sad ?



Even the lady,



when she saw that child,



she told the German,

''Let that child go !''



He asked her, ''Where to ?''

''To his father and mother.''



Looking at the sky, he said:

''He'll soon go to them.''



The German said that ?



They remember when the Jews

were locked in this church ?



Yes, they do.



They brought them

to the church in trucks.



At what time of day ?



All day long

and into the night.



What happened ? Can they

describe it in detail ?



At first, the Jews

were taken to the castle.



Only later were they put

into the church.



The second phase, right !



ln the morning, they were

taken into the woods.



How were they taken

into the woods ?



ln very big armored vans.



The gas came through

the bottom.



Then they were carried

in gas vans, right ?



Yes, in gas vans.



Where did

the vans pick them up ?



The Jews ?






Here, at the church door.



The trucks pulled up

where they are now ?



No, they went right

to the door.



The vans came

to the church door?



And they all knew

these were death vans?



Yes, they couldn't

help knowing.



They heard screams

at night ?



The Jews moaned,

they were hungry.



They were shut in

and starved.



Did they have any food ?



You couldn't look there.

You couldn't talk to a Jew.



Even going by on the road,

you couldn't look there.



Did they look anyway ?



Yes, vans came and the Jews

were moved farther off.



You could see them,

but on the sly.



ln sidelong glances.



That's right,

in sidelong glances.



What kinds of cries and

moans were heard at night ?



They called on Jesus

and Mary and God,



sometimes in German,

as she puts it.



The Jews called on Jesus,

Mary and God !



The presbytery

was full of suitcases.



The Jew's suitcases ?



Yes, and there was gold.



How does she know

there was gold ?



The procession !

We'll stop now.



Were there as many Jews

in the church



as there were

Christians today ?






How many gas vans were

needed to empty it out?



An average of   .



lt took    vans to empty it!

ln a steady stream?






The lady said before that



the Jews' suitcases were

dumped in the house opposite.



What was in this baggage?



Pots with false bottoms.



What was

in the false bottoms?




objects of value.



They also had gold

in their clothes.



When given food, the Jews

sometimes threw them valuables



or sometimes money.



They said before it was

forbidden to talk to Jews.



Absolutely forbidden.



Ask them if they miss the Jews.



Of course.



We wept too, Madam says.



And Mr. Kantarowski gave

them bread and cucumbers.



Why do they think all

this happened to the Jews ?



Because they were

the richest !



Many Poles were also

exterminated. Even priests.



Mr. Kantarowski



will tell us what

a friend told him.



lt happened in Myno

jewyce, near Warsaw.



Go on.



The Jews were

gathered in a square.



The rabbi



asked an SS man,

''Can l talk to them ?''



The guard said yes.



So the rabbi said that

around      years ago,



the Jews condemned the

innocent Christ to death.



And when they did that,

they cried out :



''Let his blood fall on our

heads and on our sons' heads



Then the rabbi told them :



''Perhaps the time has come

for that, so let us do nothing.''



''Let's us go, let us do

as we're asked.''



He thinks the Jews expiated

the death of Christ ?



He doesn't think so, or even

that Christ sought revenge.



He didn't say that.

The rabbi said it.



lt was God's will,

that's all !



What'd she say ?



So Pilate washed

his hands and said :



''Christ is innocent'',

he sent Barrabas.



But the Jews cried out :



''let his blood fall

on our heads''



That's all,

now you know !



Was the road between

Chelmno, the village



and the woods where the pits



were asphalted as it is now?



The road was narrower then,

but it was asphalted.



How many feet were

the pits from the road ?



They were around   ,    feet,



maybe   ,   

or      feet away.



So even from the road,

you couldn't see them.



How fast did the vans go?






At moderate speed,

kind of slow.



lt was a calculated speed

because they had to kill



the people inside

on the way.



When they went too fast, the

people weren't quite dead



on arrival in the woods.



By going slower, they had

time to kill the people inside.



Once a van skidded

on a curve.



Half an hour later,

l arrived



at the hut of a forest

warden named Sendjak.



He told me :

''Too bad you were late.



''You could have seen

a van that skidded.



''The rear of the van opened



''and the Jews fell

out on the road.



''They were still alive.



''Seeing those Jews crawling,

a Gestapo man



''took out his revolver

and shot them.



''He finished them all off.



''Then they brought Jews who

were working in the woods.



''They righted the van,



''and put the bodies

back inside.''



This was the road



the gas vans used.



There were    people

in each van.



When they arrived,

the SS said :



''Open the doors !''



We opened them. The bodies

tumbled right out.



An SS man said, ''  men

inside !'' These   men



worked at the ovens.

They were experienced.



Another SS man screamed :



''Hurry up !

The other van's coming !''



We worked until the whole

shipment was burned.



That's how it went,

all day long. So it went.



l remember that once

they were still alive.



The ovens were full,



and the people lay

on the ground.



They were all moving,

they were



coming back to life,



and when they were thrown

into the ovens,



they were all conscious.




They could feel

the fire burn them.



When we built the ovens, l

wondered what they were for.



An SS man told me :



''To make charcoal.

For laundry irons.''



That's what he told me.

l didn't know.



Whe the ovens

were completed,



the logs put in



and the gasoline

poured on and lighted,



and when the first gas

van arrived,



then we knew why

the ovens were built.



When l saw all that,

it didn't affect me.



Neither did the  nd

or  rd shipment.



l was only   



and all l'd ever seen

until then



were dead bodies.



Maybe l didn't understand.



Maybe if l'd been older

l'd have understood,



but the fact is, l didn't.



l'd never seen

anything else.



ln the ghetto, l saw...

in the ghetto in Lodz,



that as soon as anyone

took a step, he fell dead.



l thought that's the way

things had to be,



it was normal. l'd walk

the streets of Lodz,



maybe     yards,

and there'd be     bodies.



People were hungry.



They went into the street

and they fell, they fell...



Sons took their father's




fathers took their sons',



everyone wanted

to stay alive.



So when l came here,

to Chelmno, l was already



l didn't care

about anything.



l thought : if l survive,



l just want one thing :



  loaves of bread.

To eat. That's all.



That's what l thought.

But l dreamed, too, that



if l survive, l'll be the

only one left in the world,



not another soul

Just me. One.



Only me left in the world,

if l get out of here.






''Geheime Reichssache'',

secret Reich business.



''Berlin, June       .



''Changes to be made to special

vehicles now in service



''at Kulmhof (Chelmno)

and to those now being built.



''Since December      ,



''      have been processed

(verarbeite in German)



''by the   vehicles in

service, with no major incidence.



''ln the light of observation

made so far, however,



''the following technical

changes are needed :



''First, the van's

normal load



''is usually   to   

per square yard.



''ln Saucer vehicles,

which are very spacious,



''maximum use of space

is impossible,



''not because of

any possible overload,



''but because loading

to full capacity



''would affect

the vehicle's stability.



''So reduction of the load

space seems necessary.



''lt must absolutely

be reduced by a yard,



''instead of trying to solve

the problem, as hitherto,



''by reducing the number

of pieces loaded.



''Besides, this extends

the operating time,



''as the empty void must also

be filled with carbon monoxid.



''On the other hand,

if the load space is reduced



''and the vehicle

is packed solid,



''the operating time can be

considerably shortened.



''The manufactures told us

during a discussion,



''that reducing the size

of the van's rear



''would throw it badly

off balance.



''The front axle, they claim,

would be overloaded.



''ln fact, the balance

is automatically restored



''because the merchandise

aboard displays



''during the operation



''a natural tendency to

rush to the rear doors, and



''mainly found lying there

at the end of the operation.



''So the front axle

is not overloaded.



''Secondly :



''The lighting must be better

protected than now.



''The lamps must be enclosed

in a steel grid



''to prevent

their being damaged.



''Lights could be




''since they apparently

are never used.




it has been observed



''that when the doors

are shut,



''the load always presses

hard against them



(against the doors )



''as soon as darkness sets in.



''This is because the load

naturally rushes



''toward the light

when darkness sets in,



''which makes closing

the doors difficult.



''Also, because of the

alarming nature of darkness,



''screaming always occurs

when the doors are closed.



''lt would therefore be

useful to light the lamp



''before and during the

first moments of the operation.



''Third :



''For easy cleaning

of the vehicle,



''there must be a sealed drain

in the middle of the floor.



''The drainage hole's cover,

  to    inches in diameter,



''would be equipped

with a slanting trap,



''so that fluid liquids



''can drain off during

the operation.



''During cleaning,

the drain can be used



''to evacuate

large pieces of dirt



''The aforementioned

technical changes



''are to be made

to vehicles in service



''only when they come

in for repairs.



''As for the    vehicles

ordered from Saurer,



''they must be equipped with

all innovations and changes.



''shown by use and

experience to be necessary.



''Submitted for decision

to Gruppenleiter ll D,




Walter Rauff.



''Signed Just.''




SS Unterscharführer



''Looking squarely ahead,

brave and joyous,



''at the world.



''The squads march to work.



''All that matters

to us now is Treblinka.



''lt is our destiny.



''That's why we've become

one with Treblinka



''in no time at all.



''We know only the word

of our Commander.



''We know only obedience

and duty.



''We want to serve,

to go on serving



''until little luck

ends it all. Hurray!''



Once more, but louder!



We're laughing about it

but it's so sad!



No one's laughing.



Don't be sore at me.



You want History.

l'm giving you History.



Franz wrote the words.



The melody came

from Buchenwald.



Camp Buchenwald,

where Franz was a guard.



New Jews who arrived

in the morning



New ''worker Jews''?



They were taught the song



and by evening

all of them had to sing it.



Sing it again.



All right.



lt's very important.

But loud!



''Looking squarely ahead,

brave and joyous,



''at the world.



''The squads march to work.



''All that matters to us

now is Treblinka.



''lt is our destiny.



''That's why we've become

one with Treblinka



''in no time at all.



''We know only the word

of our Commander.



''We know only obedience

and duty.



''We want to serve,

to go on serving



''until little luck

ends it all. Hurray!''






That's unique.

No Jews knows that today!



How was it possible

in Treblinka



in peak days



to ''process''




      is too high.



But l read that figure

in court reports.






To ''process''




To liquidate them.



Mr Lanzmann,

that's an exaggeration.



Believe me.



How many?



      to      .



But we had to spend half

the night at it.



ln January, the trains

started arriving at   a.m.



Always at   a.m.?



Not always. Often.






The schedules were erratic.






Sometimes one came at   a.m.

then another at noon,



maybe another late

in the evening. You see?



So a train arrived.



l'd like you

to describe in detail



the whole process.



During the peak period.



The trains left

Malkinia station,



for Treblinka station.



How many miles from

Malkinia to Treblinka?



About six miles.



Treblinka was a village.



A small village.



As a station, it gained



in importance because

of the transports of Jews.



They were divided into

sections of    or   



or    cars.



Or    cars?



And shunted

into Treblinka Camp,



and brought to the ramp.



The other cars waited,

loaded with people,



in Treblinka station.



The windows were closed

off with barbed wire,



so no one could get out.



On the roofs

were the ''hellhounds'',



the Ukrainians or Latvians.



The Latvians were the worst.



On the ramp, for each car,

there stood



two Jews

from Blue Squad



to speed things up.



They said : ''Get out,

get out. Hurry, hurry!''



There were also

Ukrainians and Germans.



How many Germans?



  to  .



No more?



No more. l can assure you.



How many Ukrainians?






   Ukrainians,   Germans.



 ...    people

from the Blue Squad.



Men from the Blue Squad

were here



and here. They sent

the people inside.



The Red Squad was here.



So the Red Squad was here.



What was

the Red Squad's Job?



The clothes...

to carry the clothes



taken off by the men



and by the women



up here immediately.



How much time elapsed between

unloading at the ramp



and the undressing,

how many minutes?



For the women,



let's say an hour in all.



An hour, an hour

and a half.



A whole train took   hours.






ln   hours, it was all over.



Between the time

of arrival



and death.



lt was all over in   hours?



  hours,    /  hours,




A whole train?



Yes, a whole train.



And for only one section,

for    cars, how long?



l can't calculate that



because the sections

came one after another



and people flooded

in constantly, understand?



Usually, the men waiting

who sat there, or there,



were sent straight up

via the ''funnel''.



The women were sent last.



At the end.



They had to go up there too,

and often waited here.



 ... at a time.



   people.    women

with children.



They had to wait here until

there was room here.






Naked. ln summer and winter.



Winter in Treblinka

can be very cold.



Well, in winter, in December

anyway after Christmas.



But even before Christmas

it was cold as hell.



Between    and minus  .



l know : at first it was

cold as hell for us, too.



We didn't have

suitable uniforms.



lt was cold for us too.



But it was colder for.



For those poor people.



ln the ''funnel''.



ln the ''funnel'',

it was very, very cold.



Can you...



describe this ''funnel''

precisely? What was it like?



How wide? How was it for

the people in this ''funnel''?



lt was about    feet wide.



As wide as this room.



On each side were walls

this high or this high.






No, barbed wire.



Woven into the barbed wire



were branches

of pine trees.



You understand?



lt was know

as ''camouflage''.



There was a ''Camouflage

Squad'' of    Jews.



They brought in

new branches every day.



From the woods?



That's right.



So everything was screened.



People couldn't see anything

to the left or right.






You couldn't see

through it.






Here and here too.



Here, too.



lmpossible to see through.



Treblinka, where so many

people were exterminated



wasn't big, right?



lt wasn't big.




at the widest point.



lt wasn't a rectangle,

more like a rhomboid.



You must realize that here

the ground was flat,



and here it began to rise.



And at the top of the slope

was the gas-chamber.



You had to climb up to it.



The ''funnel'' was called the

''Road to Heaven'', right?



The Jews called it

the ''Ascension''.



Also ''The Last Road''.



l only heard those

two names for it.



l need to see it.



The people go into

the ''funnel''.



Then what happens?

They're totally naked?



Totally naked. Here



stood two Ukrainians







Mainly for the men.



lf the men wouldn't go in,



they were beaten



with whips.

Here too. Even here.



Ah, yes.



The men were ''driven'' along.

Not the women.



Not the women.



No, they weren't beaten.



Why such humanity?



l didn't see it.



l didn't see it. Maybe

they were beaten too.



Why not?



They were about

to die anyway.



Why not?



At the entrance to the

gas-chambers, undoubtedly.




- lSRAEL -



ln the ''funnel'',

the women had to wait.



They heard the motors

of the gas-chamber.



Maybe they also heard people

screaming and imploring.



As they waited, ''death-panic''

overwhelmed them.




makes people let go.



They empty themselves, from

the front of the rear.



So often, where



the women stood,

there were   or   rows



of excrement.



They stood?



They could squat

or do it standing.



l didn't see them do it.

l only saw the feces.



Only women?



Not the men, only the women.



The men were chased through

the ''funnel''. The women



had to wait until



a gas-chamber was empty.



And the men?



No, they were whipped

in first.



You understand?



The men were always first?



Yes, they always

went first.



They didn't have to wait.



They weren't given time

to wait, no.



And this ''death-panic''...



When this ''death-panic''

sets in,



one lets go.



lt's well-known

when someone's terrified,



and knows he's about to

die. lt can happen in bed.



My mother was kneeling

by her bed.



Your mother?



Yes. Then there was

a big pile.



That's a fact.

lt's been medically






Since you wanted to know :



as soon as they were




if they'd been loaded

in Warsaw, or elsewhere,



they'd already been beaten.



Beaten hard, worse

than in Treblinka,



l can assure you.



Then during the train

journey, standing in cars,



no toilets, nothing,

hardly any water.






Then the doors opened

and it started again,



''Bremze, bremze!''



''Czipsze, czipsze!''



l can't pronounce it :

l have



false teeth. lt's Polish.



''Bremze'' or ''czipsze''.



What does ''bremze'' mean?



lt's a Ukrainian word.

lt means ''faster''.



Again the chase...

a hail of whiplashes.



The SS man Kuttner's

whip was this long.



Women to the left,

men to the right.



And always more blows.



No respite?






Go in there, strip.

Hurry, hurry!



Always running.



Always running.



Running and screaming.



That's how they were

finished off.



That was the technique.



Yes, the technique.



You must remember :

it had to go fast.



And the Blue Squad

also had the task



of leading the sick

and the aged...



To the ''infirmary'',



so as not to delay the flow

of the people to the gas-chambers.



Old people would have

slowed it down.




to the ''infirmary''



was decided by Germans.



The Jews of the Blue Squad



only implemented

the decision :



leading the people there,



or carrying them

on stretchers.



Old women, sick children,



children whose mother

was sick,



or whose grandmother

was very old,



were sent along

with the grandma



because she didn't know

about the ''infirmary''.



lt had a white flag

with a red cross.



A passage led to it.



Until they reached the end,

they saw nothing.



Then they'd see

the dead in the pit.



They were forced to strip,



to sit on a sandbank,



and were killed

with a shot in the neck.



They fell into the pit.



There was always

a fire in the pit.



With rubbish,

paper and gasoline,



people burn very well.







The ''infirmary''

was a narrow site



very close to the ramp



to which the aged

were led.



l had to do this too.



This execution site

wasn't covered,



just an open place

with the roof,



but screened by a fence,



so no one could see in.



The way in was

a narrow passage,



very short,

but somewhat similar



to the ''funnel''.



A sort of tiny labyrinth.



ln the middle of it, there

was a pit.



And to the left

as one came in,



there was a little booth,



with a kind of wooden plank

in it,



like a springboard.



lf people were too weak

to stand on it,



they'd have to sit on it,



and then,

as the saying went



in Treblinka jargon,



SS man Miete would

''cure each one



''with a single pill'' :



a shot in the neck.



ln the peak periods,



that happened daily.



ln those days, the pit...



and it was at least



   to    feet deep...



was full of corpses.



There were also cases



of children who for

some reason arrived alone



or got separated

from their parents.



These children were led

to the ''infirmary''



and shot there.



The ''infirmary''

was also for us,



the Treblinka slaves,



the last stop.



Not the gas-chamber.



We always ended up

in the ''infirmary''.




The sorting station.




Su rv ivor of AU SC HWlTZ



Before each gassing




the SS took sterned




The crematorium was ringed

with the SS men.



Many SS men patrolled

the court



with dogs

and machine-guns.



To the right

were the steps



that led underground

to the ''undressing room''.



ln Birkenau, there were




crematorium ll,

lll and lV, V.



Crematorium ll

was similar to lll.



ln ll and lll,

the ''undressing room'' and



the gas-chambers

were underground.



A large ''undressing room''



of about      square feet



and a large gas-chamber



where one could



gas up to      people

at a time.



Crematorium lV and V

were of a different type



in that they weren't

located underground.




was at ground level.



ln lV and V,

there were   gas-chambers



with a total capacity



of at most      to     

people at a time.



AU SC HWlTZ Museum

Model of crematoriums ll and lll



E lev ators hoisted bod ies

to the ovens



Crematorium ll and lll

had    ovens each.



Crematorium lV and V

had   ovens each.



As people reached

the crematorium,



they saw everything



this horribly

violent scene.



The whole area

was ringed with SS men.



Dogs barked.






They all, mainly the Polish

Jews, had misgivings.



They knew something

was seriously amiss.



But one of them

had the faintest



of notions



that in   or   hours

they'd be reduced to ashes.



When they reached the

''undressing room'', they saw



that it looked like



an lnternational

lnformation Center!



On the walls were






and each hook

had a number.



Beneath the hooks were



wooden benches.



So people could undress



''more comfortably'',

it was said.



And on the numerous




that held up this

underground ''undressing room'',



there were signs with slogan



in several languages :



''Clean is good!''



''Lice can kill!''



''Wash yourself!''



''To the disinfection area.''



All those signs



were only there



to lure people into the

gas-chambers already undress.



And to the left,

at a right-angle,



was the gas-chamber



with its massive door.



C rematorium lll :

the und ressing room



The gas chamber



ln Crematoria ll and lll,

Zyklon gas cystals were



poured in by a so-called

''SS-disinfection squad'',



through the ceiling,



and in Crematoria lV and V

through side openings.



With   or   cannisters

of gas,



they could kill

around      people.



This so-called

''disinfection squad''



arrived in a truck

marked with a red-cross



and escorted

people along



to make them believe



they were being

led to take a bath.



But the red-cross was only

a mark to hide



the cannisters of Zyklon gas

and the hammers to open them.



The gas took about



   to    minutes to kill.



The most horrible thing was,



once the doors of the gas-

chambers were opened...



the unbearable sight.



People were packed

together like basalt,



like block of stone.



How they tumbled out of

the gas-chamber?



l saw that several times.



That was the toughest

thing to take.



You could never get

used to that.



lt was impossible.



C rematorium lV.






Yes. You see, once

the gas was poured in,



it worked like this :



it rose from

the ground upwards.



And in the terrible

struggle that followed,



because it was struggle.



The lights were switched off

in the gas-chambers.



lt was dark,

no one could see.



So the strongest people

tried to climb higher.



Because they probably




that the higher they got,

the more



air there was.



They could breathe better.



That caused the struggle.



Secondly, most people tried

to push their way to the door.



lt was psychological :

they knew where



the door was, so maybe

they could force their way.



lt was instinctive



a death struggle.



Which is my children...

and weaker people,



and the aged, always

wound up at the bottom.



The strongest were on top.



Because in the



death struggle...



a father didn't realize

his son lay



beneath him.



And when the doors

were opened?



They fell out.



People fell out like

blocks of stone,



like rocks falling

out of a truck.



But near the Zyklon gas,

there was a void.



There was no one where

the gas crystals went in.



An empty space.



Probably the victims

realized that



the gas worked

strongest there.



And the people were...?



The people were battered.



They struggled and fought



in the darkness.



They were covered

in excrement,



in blood,



from ears and noses.



One also sometimes saw



that the people lying

on the ground,



because of the pressure

of the others,



were unrecognizable.



Children had their

skulls crushed.









lt was awful.






Blood from the ears

and noses.



Probably even menstrual

fluid... sure of it.



There was everything

in that struggle for life



that death struggle.

lt was terrible to see.



That was

the toughest part.



FlLlP MU LLER, C zech Jew,

su rv ivor of the   liqu idations



of the AU SC HWlTZ

''special detail''



lt was pointless



to tell the truth

to anyone



who crossed the threshold

of the crematorium.



You couldn't save

anyone there.



lt was impossible

to save people.



One day, in     



when l was already

in Crematorium V,



when l was already

in Crematorium V,



a train

from Byalistock arrived.



A prisoner

on the ''special detail''



saw a woman

in the ''undressing room'',



who was the wife

of a friend of his.



He came right out

and told her :



''You are going

to be exterminated.



''ln   hours

you'll be ashes''.



The woman believed him

because she knew him.



She ran all over and



warned to the other women.



''We're going to be killed.



''We're going to be gassed''.



Mothers carrying

their children



on their shoulders,

didn't want to hear that.



They decided

the woman was crazy.



They chased her away.



So she went to the men.



To no avail.



Not that they didn't

believe her.



They'd heard rumors

in the Byalistock ghetto,



or in Grodno, and elsewhere.



But who wanted

to hear that!



When she saw that no one

would listen,



she scratched her

whole face.



Out of despair. ln shock.



Ans she started to scream.



So what happened?



Everyone was gassed. The

woman was held back.



We had to line up

in front of the oven.



First they tortured her




because she wouldn't

betray him.



ln the end,

she pointed to him.



He was taken out of the line

and thrown alive into the oven.



We were told : ''Whoever tell

anything will end like that!''



We, in the ''special detail'',

kept trying to figure out



if there was a way



we could tell people



to inform them.






our experience,

in several instances,



where we were

able to tell people,



showed that it was

of no use.



That it made

their last moments



even harder to bear.



At most, we thought it

might help...



Jews from Poland,



or Jews from Theresienstdat

(the Czech family camp),



who'd already spent

  months in Birkenau,



we thought it might have

been of use in such cases



to tell people.



But imagine what

it was like in other cases :



Jews from Greece, from

from Hungary, from Corfu



who'd been traveling

for    or    days,






without water for days

dying of thirst,



they were half-crazed

when they arrived.



They were dealt

with differently.



They were only told :



''Get undressed, you'll soon

get a mug of tea.''



These people were

in such a state



because they'd been

traveling so long,



that their only thought



was to quench

their thirst.



And the SS executioners

knew that very well.



lt was all preprogrammed



a calculated part of

the extermination process



that if people

were so weak,



and weren't given

something to drink,



they'd rush into

the gas-chamber.



But in fact,



all these people

were already



being exterminated before

reaching the gas-chambers.



Think of the children.



They begged their mothers,

screaming :



''Mother, please,

water, water!''



The adults, too, who'd spent

days without water,



had the same obsession.



lnforming those people

was quite pointless.









These are my nephews. They

burned them in Birkenau.



Two of my brother's kids.



They took them to the

crematorium with their Mom.



They were all burned

in Birkenau.



My brother.



He was sick, and they put him

in the oven,



in the crematorium,

and burned him.



That was at Birkenau.



The oldest boy was    



the second was   .



Two more kids ''kaput''

with their Mom.



Yes,   children l lost.



Your father too?



My Dad, him too.



How old was your father?



Dad was    years old.



He was



   years old and he died

in Auschwitz.



Auschwitz, that's right.



   and he died at Birkenau.



My father.



Your father made

the whole trip.



The whole family died.



First the gas-chamber,

then the crematorium.



On Friday morning,




members of the Corfu Jewish

community came,



very frightened,



and reported

to the Germans.



This square was full

of Gestapo men and police,



and we went forward.



There were even traitors, the

Recanati brothers, Athens Jews.



After the war

they were sentenced



to life imprisonment.



But they're already free.



We were ordered

to go forward.



By the street?



Yes, by this street.



How many of you were there?



Exactly   ,   .



Quite a crowd?



A lot of people.

Christians stopped there.



Christians, that's right.

And they saw.



Where were the Christians?



At the street corner?



Yes. And on the balconies.



After we gathered here,



Gestapo men with machine-guns

came up behind us.



What time was it?



lt was   a.m.



ln the morning.



A fine day?



Yes, the day was fine.



  o'clock in the morning.



  ,   . That's a lot

of people in the street.



People gathered.



The Christians heard the Jews

were being rounded up.



Why'd they come?



To see the show.



Let's hope it

never happens again.



Were you scared?



Very scared.

There were young people,



sick people,

little children,



the old, the crazy,

and so on.



When we saw they'd

even brought the insane,



even the sick

from the survival



we were frightened

for the survival



of the whole community.



What were you told?



That we were to appear here

at the fort



to be taken

to work in Germany.






Poland, that's right.



The Germans had put up



a proclamation on all

the walls in Corfu.



lt said all Jews

had to report.



And now that we were all

rounded up, life would be



without us in Greece.



lt was signed by the police

chiefs, by officials.



and by the mayors.



That it's better

without Jews?



Yes. We found out

after we came back,






Was Corfu antisemitic?



Corfu's always

had antisemitism?



lt existed, sure,

but it wasn't



so strong in the years

just before that.



Why not?



Because they didn't



think like that

against the Jews.




P resident of the Corfu

Jewish commun ity



And now?



Now we're free.



How do you get on

with the Christians now?



Very well.



What'd he say?



He asked me what you said.



He agrees our relations with

the Christians are very good.



Did all the Jews

live in the ghetto?



Most of them.



What happened

after the Jews left?



They took all our possession

all the gold we had with us.



They took the keys to our

houses and stole everything.



To whom was all this given?

Who stole it all?



By law, it was to go

to the Greek government.



But the state got only

a small part of it.



The rest was stolen,




By whom?



By everybody,

and by the Germans.



Of the   ,    people




around     were saved.



  % of them died.



Was it a long trip from

Corfu to Auschwitz?



We were arrested

here on June  



and finally arrived June   .



Most were burned

on the night of the   th.



lt lasted from

June   to   ?



We stayed here

for around   days.



Here in the fort.



No one dared escape and leaved

his father, mother, brothers.



Our solidarity was



on religious

and family grounds.



The first group

left on June     .



l went with the  nd convoy

on June   .



What kind of a boat

were you on?



A zattera. That's a boat



made of barrels

and planks.



lt was towed by a small boat

with Germans in it.



On our boat there were   ,

  or   guards,



not many Germans,

but we were terrified.



You can understand, terror

is the best of guards.



What the journey like?



Terrible! Terrible!



No water, nothing to eat.



   cars that were good

for only    animals,



all of us standing up.



A lot of us died.



Later they put the dead

in another car in quicklime.



They burned them

in Auschwitz, too.



Next figu re :


Ex-member of the Nazi party



Former head, Reich Railway s,

Bu reau   

(''Railroads of the Reich'')



You never saw a train?



No, never.



We had so much work,

l never left my desk.



We worked day and night.






''GEDOB'' means



''Head office

of Eastbound Traffic''.



ln Jan.      l was assigned

to GEDOB Krakow.



ln mid-    

l was moved to Warsaw.



l was made chief

traffic planner.



Chief of the Traffic

planning office.



But your duties were the same

before and after     ?



The only change :



l was promoted head

of the department.



What were your specific




at GEDOB in Poland

during the war?



The work was

barely different



from the work

in Germany :



preparing timetables,

coordinating the movement of



special trains

with regular trains.



There were

several departments?






Department    was in charge

of special trains



and regular trains.



The special trains

were handled by Dept.   .



You were always in the Dept.

of special trains?






What's the difference between

a special and a regular train?



A regular train

maybe used by anyone



who purchases a ticket.



Say from Krakow to Warsaw.



Or from Krakow to Lemberg.



A special train

has to be ordered.



The train is specially

put together



and people

pay group fares.



Are there still special

trains now?



Of course.



Just as there were then.



For group vacations you can

organize a special train?



Yes, for instance,

for immigrant workers



returning home

for the holidays



special trains

are scheduled.



Or else one

couldn't handle



the traffic.



You said after the war

you handled



trains for

visiting dignitaries.



After the war, yes.



lf a king visits Germany

by train



that's a special train?



That's a special train.



But the procedure

isn't the same



as for special trains



for group tours,

and so on.



State visits are handled

by the Foreign Service.



Right. May l ask you

another question?



Why were there

more special trains



during the war,

than before or after?



l see what you're

getting at.



You're referring to



the so-called

''Resettlement trains''.



''Resettlement''. That's it.



That's what they were called.

Those trains



were ordered by



the Ministry of Transport

of the Reich.



You needed an order

from the Ministry



of Transport

of the Reich



- ln Berlin?

- Correct.



And as for



the implementation

of those orders,



the Head Office

of Eastbound Traffic



in Berlin dealt with it.



Yes, l understand.



- ls that clear?

- Perfectly.



But mostly, at that time,

who was being ''resettled''?



No! We didn't know that.



Only when we were fleeing

from Warsaw ourselves,



did we learn that they

could have been Jews



or criminals

or similar people?



Jews, criminals?



Criminals. All kinds.



Special trains

for criminals?



No, that was just

an expression.



You couldn't talk about that.



Unless you were tired

of life,



it was best not

to mention that.



But you knew

that the trains



to Treblinka

or Auschwitz were...



Of course we knew.



l was the last district :

without me, these trains



couldn't reach

their destination.



For instance a train

that started in Essen,



had to go through

the district of Wuppertal,



Hannover, Magdeburg, Berlin,




Posen, Warsaw, etc.



So l had to.



Did you know that Treblinka

meant extermination?



Of course not!



You didn't know?



Good God, no!

How could we know?



l never went to Treblinka.

l stayed in



Krakow, in Warsaw,

glued to my desk.



You were a...



l was strictly

a bureaucrat!



l see.



But it's astonishing

that people



in the department

of special trains



never knew

about the ''final solution''.



We were at war.



Because there were others



who worked for

the railroads who knew.



Like the train conductors.



Yes, they saw it. They did.



But as to what happened,

l didn't.



What was Treblinka for you?

Treblinka or Auschwitz?



Yes, for us Treblinka,

Belzec, and all that,



were concentration camps.



A destination.



Yes, that's all.



But not death.



No, no. People

were put up there.



For instance, for a train

coming Essen



or Cologne, or elsewhere,

room had to be



made for them there.



Whith the war and the allies

advancing everywhere,



those people had to be

concentrated in camps.



When exactly

did you find out?



Well, when



the word got around,

when it was whispered.



lt was never said outright.

Good God, no!



They'd have hauled you off

at once! We heard things...






That's it, rumors.



During the war?



Towards the end of the war.



Not in     ?



No! Good God, no!

Not a word!



Towards the end

of      maybe.



End of     ?



Not before?



What did you...?



lt was said that



people were being sent to

camps, and those



who weren't in good healt

probably wouldn't survive.



Extermination came to you

as a big surprise?



Completely. Yes.



You had no idea.



Not the slightest. Like that

camp, what was its name...?



lt was in the Oppeln district.

l've got it : Auschwitz!






Auschwitz was

in the Oppeln district.



Right. Auschwitz wasn't far

from Krakow.



That's true.



We never heard

a word about that.



Auschwitz to Krakow

is    miles.



That's noy very far.



And we knew nothing.

Not a clue.



But you knew

that the Nazis...



That Hitler didn't like

the Jews.



That we did.

lt was well-known,



it apparead in print.

lt was no secret.



But as to

their extermination,



that was news to us.



l mean, even today



people deny it.

They say there couldn't



have been so many Jews.

ls it true? l don't know.



That's what they say.



Anyway what was done was

an outrage.






The extermination.



Everyone condemns it.

Every decent person.



But as for knowing

about it, we didn't.



The Poles, for instance.



The Polish people

knew everything.



That not surprising,

Dr. Sorel.



They lived nearby,

they heard,



they talked.



And they didn't have

to keep quiet.



TREBLlNKA - the station



The ''special detail'''s

life depended



on the trainloads due

for extermination.



When a lot of them came in,



the ''special detail''

was enlarged.



They couldn't do

without the detail,



so there was

no weeding-out.




the station today.



But when there were

fewer trainloads,



it meant immediate

extermination for us.



We, in the ''special detail'',




that a lack of trains



would lead

to our liquidation.




The ''special detail''

lived in a crisis situation .



Every day,

we saw thousands



and thousands

of innocent people



disappear up the chimney.



With our own eyes,

we could truly fathom



what it means

to be a human being.



There they came,



men, women, children,

all innocent.



They suddenly vanished,



and the world

said nothing!



We felt abandoned.

By the world, by humanity.



But the situation

taught us fully



what the possibility

of survival meant.



For we could gauge



the infinite value

of human life.



And we were convinced



that hope lingers in man

as long as he lives.



Where there's life, hope

must never be relinquished.



That's why we struggled

through our lives of hardship,



day after day, week after

week, month after month,



year after year,



hoping against hope

to survive,



to escape that hell.



At that time,



in January, February,






hardly any trains arrived.



Was Treblinka glum

without the trains?



l wouldn't say

the Jews were glum.



They became so

when they realized...



l'll come to that later,

it's a story in itself.



Yes, l know.



The Jews,



those in the work squads,

thought at first



that they'd survive.



But in January,

when they stopped



receiving food,

for Wirth had decreed



that there were

too many of them,



there were a good     to    

of them in Camp l.



Up there?






To keep them from rebelling,



they weren't shot or gassed,



but starved.

Then an epidemic broke out,



a kind of typhus.



The Jews stopped believing

they'd make it.



They were left to die.

They dropped like flies.



lt was all over.






They'd stopped believing.



lt was all very well to say...

We kept on insisting :



''You're going to live!'' We

almost believed it ourselves.



lf you lie enough,

you believe your own lies.






But they replied to me :



''No, chief, we're just

reprieved corpses''.



The ''dead season'',

as it was called



began in February     



after the big trainloads came in

from Grodno and Bialystok.



Absolute quiet.



lt quieted in late January,

February and into March.



Nothing. Not one trainload.



The whole camp was empty,



and suddenly, everywhere,

there was hunger.



lt kept increasing.



And one day when the famine

was at its peak,



Oberscharfuhrer Kurt Franz



appeared before us



and told us :



''The trains will be coming

in again, starting tomorrow.''



We didn't say anything.



We just looked

at each other,



and each of us thought,






''the hunger will end.''



At that period,



we were actively

planning the rebellion.



We all wanted to survive

until the rebellion.



The trainloads came from

an assembly camp in Salonika.



They'd brought in Jews

from Bulgaria, Macedonia.



These were rich people : the

passenger cars bulged with



possessions. Then an

awful feeling gripped us,



all of us, my companions

as well as myself,



a feeling of helplessness,

of shame.



For the threw ourselves

on their food.



A detail brought

a crate full



of crackers,



another full of jam.



They deliberately

dropped the crates,



falling over each other,




their mouths with crackers



and jam.



The trainloads from

the Balkans brought us



to a terrible realization :






we were the workers

in the Treblinka factory,



and our lives depended



on the whole

manufacturing process,



that is, the slaughtering

process at Treblinka.



This realization

came suddenly



with the fresh




Maybe it wasn't so sudden,



but it was only with

the Balkans trainloads



that it became

so stark to us,












probably with not a sick

person among them,



not an invalid, all healthy

and robust! l recall



our watching them

from our barracks.



They were already naked,

milling among their baggage.



And David. David Bratt.

said to me :






''The Maccabees have

arrived in Treblinka!''



Sturdy, physically

strong people,



unlike the others.






Yes, they could

have been fighters.



lt was staggering for us,



for these men and women,

all splendid, were



wholly unaware of what

was in store for them.



Wholly unaware.



Never before

had things gone



so smoothly

and quickly. Never.



We felt ashamed, and also

that this couldn't



go on, that something

had to happen.



Not just a few people acting



but all of us.



The idea was almost ripe

back in November     .



Beginning in November '  



we'd noticed



that we were

being ''spared'',



in quotes.



We noticed it

and we also learned



that Stangl,

the commandant, wanted,



for efficiency's sake,

to hang on to men



who were already trained

specialists in the various



sorters, corpse-haulers,



barbers who cut

the women's hair, and so on.



This in fact is what later

gave us the chance



to prepare



to organize the uprising.



We had a plan



worked out

in January     



code-named ''The Time''.



At a set time, we were



to attack

the SS everywhere,



seize their weapons and

attack the Kommandantur.



But we couldn't do it



because things were at

a standstill in the camp,



and because typhus

had already broken out.



ln the fall of     



when it was clear

to all of us



that no one

would help us



unless we helped




a key question

faced us all :



for us in the ''special

detail'', was there



any chance to halt

this wave



of extermination

and still save our lives?



We could see only one :



armed rebellion.



We thought



that if we could get

hold of a few weapons



and secure

the participation



of all the inmates



throughout the camp, there

was a chance of success.



That was the essential thing



That's why

our liaison men



contacted the leaders

of the Resistance movement,



first in Birkenau,



then in Auschwitz l,



so the revolt could be

coordinated everywhere.






The answer came that

the Resistance command



in Auschwitz l agreed



with our plan

and would join with us.



Unfortunately, among

the Resistance leaders



there were

very few Jews.



Most were political




whose lives

weren't at stake,



and for whom each day

of life lived through



increased their chances



of survival.



For us in the ''special

detail'', it was the opposite.












C rematorium V



At the end of February,



l was in a night squad

at Crematorium V.



Around midnight,

there appeared



a man from

the political section :



Oberscharfuhrer Hustek.



He handed Oberscharfuhrer

Voss a note.



Voss was then in charge



of the   crematoria.



l saw



Voss unfold the note



and talk to himself,

saying, ''Sure, always Voss.



''What'd they do without Voss?

How can we do it?''



That's how he talked

to himself.



Suddenly he told me,

''Go get the kapos''.



l fetched the kapos,

kapo Schloime,



and kapo Wacek.



They came in,

and he asked them :



''How many pieces

are left?''



By ''pieces'' he meant bodies.



They told him :

''Around     pieces.''



He said : ''By morning,

those     pieces must be



''reduced to ashes.



''You're sure it's    ?''



''Just about'', they said.



''Assholes! What do you mean

''just about''?''



Then he left



for the ''undressing room''

to see for himself.



Where the bodies were.



They were piled there :



at Crematorium V, the

''Undressing room'' also serve



as a warehouse for bodies



After the gassing?



After the gassing the bodies

were dragged there.



Voss went there to check.



He forgot the note



leaving it on the table.



l quickly scanned it



and was shocked

by what l read.




The lake of ashes



The crematorium was

to be gotten ready



for ''special treatment''

of the Czech family camp.



ln the morning, when

the day squad came on,



l ran into kapo Kaminski,



one of the Resistance

leaders in the ''special detail''



and told him the news.



He informed me



that Crematorium ll



was also being prepared.



That the ovens were

ready there, too.



And he exhorted me :



''You have friends

and fellow-countrymen.



''Go see them. They're

locksmiths and can move around



''so they can go

to Camp B ll B.



''Tell them to warn

these people



''of what's

in store for them



''and say that if they defend

themselves, we'll reduce



''the crematoria to ashes.



''And at camp B ll B,

they can immediately



''burn down

their barracks.''



We were certain

that the next night,



these people

would be gassed.



But when no night squad

went out, we were relieved.



The deadline had been



postponed for a few days.



But many prisoners,

including the Czechs



in the family camp,

accused us of spreading panic



of having






false reports.



That night l was

at Crematorium ll.



As soon as the people

got out of the vans,



they were blinded

by floodlights



and forced through

a corridor



to the stairs leading to

the ''undressing room''.



They were blinded,

made to run.



Blows were rained on them.



Those who didn't run fast

enough were beaten to death.



by the SS.



The violence used against

them was extraordinary.



And suddenly...



Without explanation?



Not a word. As soon as

they left the vans,



the beatings began.



When they entered

the ''undressing room'',



l was standing near

the rear door,



and from there



l witnessed

the frightful scene.



The people were bloodied.



They knew

then where they were.



They stared at the pillars

of the so-called



''lnternational lnformation

Center'' l've mentioned,



and that terrified them.



What they read

didn't reassure them.



On the contrary,

it panicked them.



They knew the score.

They'd learned



at Camp B ll B

what went on there.



They were in despair.

Children clung to each other.



Their mothers,



their parents,

the old people all cried,



overcome with misery.






some SS officers appeared

on the steps,



including the camp

commandant, Schwarzhuber.



He'd given them his word

as an SS officer



that they'd be




to Heidebreck.



So they all began



to cry out,

to beg, shouting :



''Heidebreck was a trick!



''We were lied to! We want

to live! We want to work!''



They looked their SS

executioners in the eye,



but the SS men



remained impassive,



just staring at them. There

was a movement in the crowd.



They probably wanted

to rush to the SS men



and tell them how

they'd been lied to,



then some guards

surged forward,



wielding clubs,



and more people

were injured.



ln the ''undressing room''?






The violence climaxed



when they tried to force

the people to undress.



A few obeyed,



only a handful.



Most of them refused

to follow the order.



Suddenly, as though

in chorus



like a chorus....

they all began to sing.



The whole ''undressing room''




with the Czech

national anthem,



and the ''Hatikva''.



That moved me terribly,




Please stop!



That was happening

to my countrymen,



and l realized



that my life

had become meaningless.



Why go on living?

For what?



So l went into

the gas-chamber with them,



resolved to die.



With them.



Suddenly, some who recognize

me came up to me. For



my locksmith friends

and l had sometimes



gone into

the family camp.



A small group

of women approached.



They looked at me and said

right there in the gas-chamber.



You were inside

the gas-chamber?



One of them said :



''So you want to die.

But that's senseless.



''Your death won't give us

back our lives.



''That's no way.



''You must get out of

here alive,



''you must bear witness

to our suffering,



''and to the injustice

done to us.''




and h is friend WETZLER



escaped on april        .



Several prisonners had prev iously

tried to flee, but all were caugh t.




University Professor (USA)



Former courier of the Polish

Government in exile





















Next figure :


deputy to AUERSWALD,



the Nazi Commissioner

of the WARSAW ghetto.



You don't remember

those days?



Not much.



l recall more clearly

my pre-war



mountaineering trips than

the entire war period



and those days in Warsaw.



All in all,

those were bad times.



lt's a fact : we tend

to forget, thank God,



the bad times more easily

than the good.



The bad times

are repressed.



l'll help you remember...



ln Warsaw you were

Dr. Auerswald's deputy.






Dr. Auerswald was...



Commissioner of the

''Jewish district'' of Warsaw.



Dr. Grassler, this is

Czerniakow's diary.



You're mentioned in it.



lt's been printed,

it exists?



He kept a diary



that was recently




He wrote on July        :



July        ? That's the

first time l've re-learned a date.



May l take notes?



After all...

it interests me too.



So in July l was

already there!



He wrote on July        :



''Morning in the Community''

-- the Jewish Council HQ --



''and later with

Auerswald, Schlosser...''



Schlosser was...



''And Grassler,



''on routine matters.''



That's the first time...



That my name is mentioned...



Yes, but there were   of us.



Schlosser... was in...

the ''economic department''.



l think he had to do

with economics.



And the second time



was on July   .



C ZERN lAKOW was president

of the Warsaw Jewish Council



He wrote every day?






Yes, every day.



lt's quite amazing



that the diary was saved.



lt's amazing

that it was saved.










Did you go

into the ghetto?



Seldom. When l had

to visit Czerniakow.



What were

the conditions like?



Awful. Yes, appalling.






l never went back when

l saw what it was like.



Unless l had to :

in the whole period



l think l only went

once or twice.



We, at the Commission,




to maintain the ghetto

for its labor force,



and especially to prevent

epidemic, like typhus.



That was the big danger.









Can you tell us

about typhus?



l'm not a doctor.

l only know that typhus



is a very dangerous




that wipes people out

like the plague,



and that it can't be

confined to a ghetto.



lf typhus had broken out --

l don't think it did,



but there was fear

that if might --



it would have it the Poles

and the Germans.



Why was there typhus

in the ghetto?



l don't know if there was,



but there was a danger,

because of the famine.



People didn't get

enough to eat.



That's what was so awful.



We at the Commission,



did our best to feed

the ghetto,



so it wouldn't become

an incubator of epidemics.



Aside from humanitarian

factors, that's what mattered.



lf typhus had broken out --

and it didn't --



it wouldn't have stopped

at the ghetto.



Czerniakow also wrote :



that one of the reasons

the ghetto was walled in



was because

of this German fear.



Yes, absolutely!

Fear of typhus.



He says Germans always

associated Jews with typhus.



Maybe. l'm not sure if there

were grounds for it.



But imagine that mass

of people



packed in the ghetto...

There weren't only



the Warsaw Jews,

but others who came later.



The danger kept

on growing.



The Germans had a policy

on the Warsaw ghetto.



What was that policy?



You're asking

more than l know.



The policy that wound up

with extermination,



the Final Solution...

we knew nothing about it.



Our job was

to maintain the ghetto,



and try to preserve

the Jews as a work force.



The Commission's goal,



in fact, was

very different from



the one that later

led to extermination.



Yes, but do you know

how many people died



in the ghetto

each month in      ?



l don't know now...

if l ever knew it.



But you did know.

There are exact figures.



l probably knew...



Yes :      a month.



     a month? Yes, well...



That's a lot.



That's a lot, of course.

But there were



far too many people in

the ghetto. That was it.



Far too many.



Far too many.



My question is philosophical.



What does a ghetto mean,

in your opinion?



History's full of ghettos,



going back centuries,

for all l know.



Persecution of the Jews

wasn't a German invention,



and it didn't start

with World War ll.



The Poles persecuted

them too.



But a ghetto like Warsaw's,

in a great capital,



in the heart of the city



that was unusual.



You say you wanted

to maintain the ghetto.



Our mission wasn't

to annihilate the ghetto,



but to keep it alive,

to maintain it.



What does ''alive''

mean in such



That was the problem.



That was the whole problem...



But people were dying

in the streets.



There were bodies everywhere.






That was the paradox.



You see it as a paradox?



l'm sure of it.



Why? Can you explain?






Why not?



Explain what?



But the fact is...



Jews were being exterminated

daily in the ghetto.



Czerniakow wrote...



To maintain it properly

we'd have needed



more substantial rations,



and less crowding.



Why weren't the rations

more humane?



Why weren't they?



That was a German

decision, no?



There was no real decision



to starve the ghetto.



The big decision to

exterminate came much later.



That's right, later.

ln     .






  years later.



Just so. Our mission,

as l recall it,



was to manage the ghetto,



and, naturally, with those

inadequate rations,



and the overcrowding,



a high, even excessive,

death rate was inevitable.






What does ''maintain'' the

ghetto mean in such condition...



the food, sanitation, etc.?



What would the Jews do

against such measures?



They couldn't do anything.



The Final Solution Conference

was held here



BELZEC - S ite

of the exterm ination camp



Why did Czerniakow

commit suicide?



Because he realized



there was no future

for the ghetto.



He probably saw before l did

that the Jews would be killed.



l suppose the Jews

already had



their excellent

secret services.



They were too well informed,

better than we were.



Think so?



Yes, l do.



The Jews knew more than you?



l'm convinced of it!



lt's hard to believe.



The German administration

was never informed



of what would happened

to the Jews.



When was the first

deportation to Treblinka?



Before Auerswald's suicide,

l think.






l mean Czerniakow's. Sorry.



July   .



Those are dates...



So the deportations began

July        .






To... Treblinka.



And Czerniakow killed

himself July   .



Yes, that is...



The next day.



The next day. So that was it,

he'd realized



that his idea...

lt was his idea, l think



of working in good faith

with the Germans,



in the Jews' best interests.



He'd realized this idea,

this dream, was destroyed.



That the idea was a dream.



Yes. And when

the dream faded,



he took the logical way out.



Did you think this idea

of a ghetto was a good one?



A sort of self-management,




That's right.



A mini-State?



lt worked well.



But it was self-management

for death, no?



We know that now.

But at the time...



Even then!






Czerniakow wrote :



''We're puppets,

we have no power''.






No power.



Sure... that was...



You Germans

were the overlords.






The overlords. The masters.






Czerniakow was merely a tool.



Yes, but a good tool.



Jewish self-management

worked well, l can tell you.



lt worked well for   years,



     ,          ...    / 

years... and in the end...



ln the end...



''Worked well'' for what?

To what end?



For self-preservation.



No! For death!



Yes, but...







That's easy to say now.



You admitted the conditions

were inhuman.



Atrocious... horrible!






So it was clear even then...



No! Extermination

wasn't clear.



Now we see the result.



Extermination isn't so

simple. One step was taken,



then another, and another,

and another...






But to understand

the process, one must...



l repeat : extermination

did not take place in



the ghetto, not at first.

Only with the evacuations.






The evacuations

to Treblinka.



The ghetto could have been

wiped out with weapons,



as was finally done,

after the rebellion.



After l'd left.

But at the start...



Mr. Lanzmann, this is

getting us nowhere.



We're reaching no

new conclusions.



l don't think we can.



l didn't know

then what l know now.



You weren't a nonentity.



But l was!



You were important.



You overestimate my role.






You were  nd

to the Commissioner



of the Warsaw

''Jewish district''.



But l had no power.



lt was something.



You were part of the vast

German power structure.



Correct. But a small part.



You overestimate the authority

of a deputy of    then.



- You were   .

-   .



At    you were...



you were mature.



Yes, but for a lawyer



who got his degree at   

it's just a beginning.



You had a doctorate.



The title proves nothing.



Did Auerswald have one too?



No. But the title's




Doctor of Law...



What did you do

after the war?



l was with a moutaineering

publishing house.



That so?



l wrote and published

mountain guide books.



l published a climbers'




ls climbing

your main interest?






The mountains, the air...






The sun, the pure air...



Not like the ghetto air.





and her mother.







Ghetto fighters' Kibbutz

-- lSRAEL.



The Jewish Combat Organization

J.C.O. in the Warsaw ghetto



was officially formed

on July        .



After the first mass

deportation to Treblinka,



wich was interrupted

on Sept.   



some       Jews

remained in the ghetto.



On January         the

deportations were resumed.



Despite a severe lack

of weapons,



the members of the J.C.O.

called for resistance,



and started fighting, to the

Germans' total surprise.



lt lasted   days.



The Nazis withdrew

with losses,



abandoning weapons

the Jews grabbed.



The deportations

were stopped.



The Germans now knew



they had to fight

to conquer the ghetto.



The battle began on the

evening of April        



the eve of Pessach




lt had to be a fight

to as the death.




know as ''Kajik''.




know as ''Antek'',



 nd in command of the J.C.O.



l began drinking

after the war.



lt was very difficult.



Claude, you asked

for my impression.



lf you could lick my heart,



it would poison you.



At the request

of Mordechai Anielewicz,




of the J.C.O.,



Antek had left the ghetto  

days before the German attack.



His mission :



to ask Polish Resistance

leaders to arm the Jews.



They refused.



l don't think the human

tongue can describe



the horror we went

through in the ghetto.



ln the streets, if you

can call them that,



for nothing was left

of the streets,



we had to step

over heaps of corpses.



There was no room

to pass beside them.



Besides fighting the Germans

we fought hunger



and thirst.



We had no contact

with the outside world,



we were completely isolated,

cut off from the world.



We were in such a state



that we could

no longer understand



the very meaning of

why we went on fighting.



We thought of attempting

a break-out



to the Aryan part of

Warsaw, outside the ghetto.



Just before May l,



Sigmund and l were sent



to try to contact

Antek in Aryan Warsaw.



We found a tunnel

under Bonifratrska Street



that led out

into Aryan Warsaw.



Early in the morning,



we suddenly emerged into

a street in broad daylight.



lmagine us

on that sunny May   ,



stunned to find ourselves in

the street, among normal people.



We'd come from

another planet.



People immediately

jumped on us



because we certainly

looked exhausted,



skinny, in rags.



Around the ghetto,

there were always



suspicious Poles

who grabbed Jews.



By a miracle,

we escaped them.



ln Aryan Warsaw,



life went on as naturally



and normally as before.



The cafés operated normally,

the restaurants,



buses, streetcars...



The movies were open.



The ghetto was an isolated

island amid normal life.



Our job was to contact

ltzhak Zuckermann



to try to mount

a rescue operation,



to try to save



the few fighters who might

still be alive in the ghetto.



We managed

to contact Zuckermann.



We found two sewer workers.



On the night of May  - 



we decided to return

to the ghetto



with another buddy,

Riszek, and the   sewers.



After the curfew,

we entered the sewers.



We were entirely at the

mercy of the two workmen,



since only they knew the

ghetto's underground layout.



Halfway there,

they decided to turn back,



they tried to drop us,



and we had to threaten

them with our guns.



We went on through

the sewers,



until one of the workmen

told us



we were under the ghetto.



Riszek guarded them

so they couldn't escape.



MlLA    . J.C.O

bun ker headquarters



l raised the manhole cover



to go up into the ghetto.



At bunker Mila   

l missed them by a day.



l had returned

the night of May  - .



The Germans found the bunker

on the morning of the  th.



WARS AW the monument

to the ghetto figh ters



Most of its survivors

committed suicide,



or succumbed to gas

in the bunkers.



The replica of the monument

to the ghetto figh ters



l went to bunker

Francziskanska   .



There was no answer when

l yelled the password,



so l had to go

on through the ghetto.



l suddenly heard a woman

calling from the ruins.



lt was darkest night,

no lights, you saw nothing.



All the houses were in ruins



and l heard only one voice.

l thought



some evil spell

had been cast on me,



a woman's voice talking

from the rubble.



l circled the ruins.

l didn't look at my watch,



but l must have spent

a half-hour exploring,



trying to find the woman

whose voice guided me,



but, unfortunately,

l didn't find her.



Were there fires?



Strictly speaking, no, for

the flames had died down,



but there was still smoke,



and that awful smell

of charred flesh



of people who had surely

been burned alive.



l continued on my way,



going to other bunkers

in search of fighting units,



but it was

the same everywhere.



l'd give the password :




That's a Polish first name,




Right. And l got no answer.



l went from bunker

to bunker



and after walking

for hours in the ghetto,



l went back

toward the sewers.



Was he alone then?



Yes, l was alone

all the time.



Except for

that woman's voice,



and a man l met as

l came out of the sewers,



l was alone throughout

my tour of the ghetto.



l didn't meet a living soul.



At one point, l recall



feeling a kind of peace,

of serenity,



when l said to myself,

''l'm the last Jew.



''l'll wait for morning

and for the Germans.''


Special help by SergeiK