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Account of the Treblinka Death Camp to the American House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 1945

Samuel Rajzman

 Treblinka Death Camp

 An Account Before the American House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 1945

 [Photos added to enhance the text]




Cover to the hearing  report  entitled "Punishment of war criminals"

In June 1942 placards bearing the following notice were posted on the walls of Warsaw, “Persons not employed in a German firm or the Jewish Community Administration are subject to immediate deportation from the ghetto, the able-bodied will be given employment.”


About the place of deportation nothing was known except that it was in the East.  Next to the new posters there immediately appeared “Help Wanted” advertisements of German firms


The factories, stores, and workshops owned by the Jews had been turned over to German administrators, thus a great number of new German firms had been created. People paid fantastic sums (from five to twenty thousand zlotys, $1,000 to $4,000 per person) to find employment in a German firm and thus escape deportation. Those who still had anything to sell converted it into cash, but those that had no funds were doomed.


The day after this announcement it became known that Engineer Czerniakow, President of the Jewish Community had committed suicide. This report spread panic among the inhabitants of the ghetto. They knew that the German order concerning deportation had caused his suicide, but it was not clear why, all kinds of conjecture were advanced in explanation, but although the event boded no good, not even the worst pessimists had any idea what was really in store for the Polish Jews.


Next day the ghetto was surrounded by patrols posted at short intervals, these prevented anyone from leaving or entering the ghetto, even Gentiles who possessed special passes entitling them to circulate freely in the Jewish Quarter.


The ghetto now became a real inferno, processions of carts loaded with little children from orphanages and charity homes passed along the streets. These frightening and trembling mites were being deported, they did not know that never again would they see the city where they had been born and brought up.


Behind the children’s carts walked inmates from old people’s homes, aged men and women tottering on their feet, who were forbidden to end their lives in their own city. The Elite Guards escorted the processions. Then the Germans began to check the documents of the remaining inhabitants.


Soldiers swarmed everywhere in the streets and houses, they searched cellars and attics and asked everyone to show his identification papers. Those who could not prove that they were employed in a German firm were taken to the square where the deportees were rounded up.


These manhunts resulted in many victims, the slightest gesture of disobedience, the slightest hesitation before showing one’s paper’s, a smile the Germans did not find sufficiently pleasant, meant death on the spot. People were killed in their homes, in their courtyards, in the streets. In the end many preferred being deported to having their papers checked.         


The deportees were crowded into trains, at first at the rate of six to eight thousand a day - subsequently the average daily contingent was 20,000. Several weeks later it became known that the Germans had murdered all the old people and children and that the able-bodied had allegedly been taken deep into Russia.


The news of the murder of the old folks and children aroused those who remained to desperate thoughts about counter-measures. When the Germans realised this, they forced the deportees to send letters to their families informing them that they were alive and that all was well with them.

1947 committee examines the Treblinka camp,  Rajzman in the hat (third from left)

 The purpose of these letters which the Nazis frightened the deportees into writing before killing them, was to prevent further rumours, under the threat of death people wrote to relatives whom they were never to see again. This even took place on the square where the victims were gathered.     

In the terrible ordeal of the ghetto, children were taken from their mothers, people were beaten and murdered for no reason at all, those who ventured into the streets did not return.


By September, only 150,000 Jews of the original 600,000 remained in the Jewish community. However, it was impossible to obtain exact information on their condition because the ghetto was deserted; the employees of the German firms were now its only inhabitants


 After a short respite, on September 7 1942, if I remember correctly new placards announced that all the remaining inhabitants of the ghetto must report to the assembly place of Mila, Nizka and Dzika Streets at 8am to have their identification papers checked


The horrible scene presented by this migration of 150,000 people with bundles on their backs can be imagined. Crowds of Jews filled the narrow streets within a few hours.


At exactly 8am cordons of troops barred all the exits to the above-named streets, those who were found in the ghetto beyond these streets were shot on the spot.



Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/trials/rajzmantestimony.html

The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team



Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2010

Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2010

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