Yankel Wiernik while building a model of Treblinka for the Ghetto Fighters' House Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Heritage Museum, Israel.
Another must read, and one for the Holohoax Tales Hall of Fame.
Yankel Wiernik was a polish jew and alleged former inmate at Treblinka. Wiernik wrote a book called "A Year in Treblinka", which is described as "the first eyewitness report" of life in the camp, and is one of the key "eyewitness testimonies" used as "evidence" of the alleged atrocities committed in the camp.
From reading this tale, it is obvious that Vasily Grossman relied heavily on Wiernik's "eyewintess" account for his own article on Treblinka, "The Hell of Treblinka" . Perhaps Vasily and Wiernik even got together and cooked up these tales in Warsaw after the war.
Wiernik says he was a carpenter and helped build the gas chambers and other buildings at the camp, that he lead Jews to the execution chambers, and that he dragged corpses from the gas chambers to the mass graves.
Like Vasily's story, Wiernik's fable is sophomoric and deamonizes the Germans as subhuman "barabarians", "beasts", "fiends", and even "hyenas."
Wiernik claims that a motor taken from a dismantled Soviet tank was used for gassings, 1200 people fit into a 7 meter X 7 meter gas chamber, and the corpses of men would not burn but the corpses of women burned easily and were "used for kindling."
Wiernik says that he saw a naked Jewish girl leap over a three-meter (10 ft.) high barbed wire fence, wrench the rifle out of the hands of a pursuing guard, and shoot two guards before she was overpowered.
He claims one German guard named Sepp would "frequently snatch children from their mother's arms and tear the child in half", and that the infamous Ukranian guard "Ivan the terrible" would nail the ears of inmates to the walls.
Wiernik describes a giant machine that could excavate 3,000 corpses at one time, and huge open-air pyres used to burn 10,000 to 12,000 corpses at one time.
Excerpts from the book:
On why he tells wrote this fable...to cause people to hate the Germans for "centuries and generations to come":
The world must be told of the infamy of those barbarians, so that centuries and generations to come can execrate them. And, it is I who shall cause it to happen. No imagination, no matter how daring, could possibly conceive of anything like that which I have seen and lived through.Yes, of course...no one, especially a jew, could fabricate a story such as this, or even exaggerate what really occured.
A Ukranian guard named Ivan would nail the inmates' ears to walls...
The machinery of the gas chambers was operated by two Ukrainians. One of them, Ivan, was tall, and though his eyes seemed kind and gentle, he was a sadist. He enjoyed torturing his victims. He would often pounce upon us while we were working; he would nail our ears to the walls or make us lie down on the floor and whip us brutally. While he did this, his face showed sadistic satisfaction and he laughed and joked. He finished off the victims according to his mood at the moment. The other Ukrainian was called Nicholas. He had a pale face and the same mentality as Ivan.John Demjanuk, a Ukranian born US citizen, was extradited to Israel and tried as this "Ivan" (the terrible). He was identified by five 'eyewitnesses' and sentenced to death. As it turned out, forged documents were used to extradite Demjanuk, and, he actually never set foot in Treblinka. His conviction was overturned, and he was eventually freed. The 'eyewitnesses' at the trail were also pathological liars.
On the "gas chambers":
A motor taken from a dismantled Soviet tank stood in the power plant. This motor was used to pump the gas, which was let into the chambers by connecting the motor with the inflow pipes.
The new construction job between Camp No. 1 and Camp No. 2, on which I had been working, was completed in a very short time. It turned out that we were building ten additional gas chambers, more spacious than the old ones, 7 by 7 meters or about 50 square meters. As many as 1,000 to 1,200 persons could be crowded into one gas chamber.
German guard who would tear babies in half:
One of the Germans, a man named Sepp, was a vile and savage beast, who took special delight in torturing children. When he pushed women around and they begged him to stop because they had children with them, he would frequently snatch a child from the woman's arms and either tear the child in half or grab it by the legs, smash its head against a wall and throw the body away. Such incidents were by no means isolated. Tragic scenes of this kind occurred all the time.
Wiernik says the new gas chambers, which he helped build, had a defective motor used to supply the gas, so it took "hours" for the victims to die. Sounds like German engineering and efficiency to me.
As I have already indicated, there was not much space in the gas chambers. People were smothered simply by overcrowding. The motor which generated the gas in the new chambers was defective, and so the helpless victims had to suffer for hours on end before they died. Satan himself could not have devised a more fiendish torture. When the chambers were opened again, many of the victims were only half dead and had to be finished off with rifle butts, bullets or powerful kicks.
Wiernik says "often the jews were left in the gas chambers overnight without the gassed turned on":
Often people were kept in the gas chambers overnight with the motor not turned on at all. Overcrowding and lack of air killed many of them in a very painful way. However, many survived the ordeal of such nights; particularly the children showed a remarkable degree of resistance. They were still alive when they were dragged out of the chambers in the morning, but revolvers used by the Germans made short work of them....
The woman who jumped over a 10 foot fence:
On one occasion a girl fell out of line. Nude as she was, she leaped over a barbed wire fence three meters high, and tried to escape in our direction. The Ukrainians noticed this and started to pursue her. One of them almost reached her but he was too close to her to shoot, and she wrenched the rifle from his hands. It wasn't easy to open fire since there were guards all around and there was the danger that one of the guards might be hit. But as the girl held the gun, it went off and killed one of the Ukrainians. The Ukrainians were furious. In her fury, the girl struggled with his comrades. She managed to fire another shot, which hit another Ukrainian, whose arm subsequently had to be amputated. At last they seized her. She paid dearly for her courage. She was beaten, bruised, spat upon, kicked and finally killed. She was our nameless heroine.
On Himmler's order to dig up and cremate the corpses...women corposes burned easily and were "used for kindling", male corpses would not burn, even after soaked in gasoline....whenever an airplane was sighted overhead, all work was stopped, the corpses were covered with foliage as camouflage against aerial observation.
But there were new events to upset our emotional balance. This was the period when the Germans talked a lot about Katyn1) , which they used for anti-Soviet propaganda purposes. One day, by accident, we got hold of a newspaper from which we learned about that mass killing. It was probably these reports that made Himmler decide to visit Treblinka personally and to give orders that henceforth all the corpses of inmates should be cremated. There were plenty of corpses to cremate-there was no one who could have been blamed for the Treblinka killings except the Germans who, for the time being, were the masters of the land which they had wrested from us [Poles] by brute force. They did not want any evidence of the mass murders left.
At any rate, the cremations were promptly begun. The corpses of men, women, children and old people were exhumed from the mass graves. Whenever such a grave was opened, a terrible stench rose from them, because the bodies were already in an advanced stage of decomposition.
Work was begun to cremate the dead. It turned out that bodies of women burned more easily than those of men. Accordingly, the bodies of women were used for kindling the fires. Since cremation was hard work, rivalry set in between the labor details as to which of them would be able to cremate the largest number of bodies. Bulletin boards were rigged up and daily scores were recorded. Nevertheless, the results were very poor. The corpses were soaked in gasoline. This entailed considerable expense and the results were inadequate; the male corpses simply would not burn . Whenever an airplane was sighted overhead, all work was stopped, the corpses were covered with foliage as camouflage against aerial observation.
It was a terrifying sight, the most gruesome ever beheld by human eyes. When corpses of pregnant women were cremated, their bellies would burst open. The fetus would be exposed and could be seen burning inside the mother's womb.
Burning the corpses in pits was not going fast enough, so they used a huge excavation machine that could dig up 3,000 bodies at once, and the giant outdoor hibachis:
Then, one day, an Oberscharfuhrer wearing an SS badge arrived at the camp and introduced a veritable inferno. He was about 45 years old, of medium height, with a perpetual smile on his face. His favorite word was "tadellos [perfect]" and that is how he got the by-name Tadellos. His face looked kind and did not show the depraved soul behind it. He got pure pleasure watching the corpses burn; the sight of the flames licking at the bodies was precious to him, and he would literally caress the scene with his eyes.
This is the way in which he got the inferno started. He put a machine for exhuming the corpses into operation, an excavator which could dig up 3,000 corpses at one time. A fire grate made of railroad tracks was placed on concrete foundations 100 to 150 meters in length. The workers piled the corpses on the grate and set them on fire.
I am no longer a young man and have seen a great deal in my lifetime, but not even Lucifer could possibly have created a hell worse than this. Can you picture a grate of this length piled high with 3,000 corpses of people who had been alive only a short time before? As you look at their faces it seems as if at any moment these bodies might awaken from their deep sleep. But at a given signal a giant torch is lit and it burns with a huge flame. If you stood close enough, you could well imagine hearing moans from the lips of the sleeping bodies, children sitting up and crying for their mothers. You are overwhelmed by horror and pain, but you stand there just the same without saying anything. The gangsters are standing near the ashes, shaking with satanic laughter. Their faces radiate a truly satanic satisfaction. They toasted the scene with brandy and with the choicest liqueurs, ate, caroused and had a great time warming themselves by the fire.
Thus the Jews were of some use to them even after they had died. Though the winter weather was bitter cold, the pyres gave off heat like an oven. This heat came from the burning bodies of Jews. The hangmen stood warming themselves by the fire, drinking, eating and singing. Gradually, the fire began to die down, leaving only ashes which went to fertilize the silent soil. Human blood and human ashes - what food for the soil! There will be a rich harvest. If only the soil could talk! It knows a lot but it keeps quiet.
Day in and day out the workers handled the corpses and collapsed from physical exhaustion and mental anguish. And while they suffered, the hearts of the fiends were filled with pride and pleasure in the hell they had created. It gave light and warmth, and at the same time it obliterated every trace of the victims, while our own hearts bled. The Oberscharfuhrer who had created this inferno sat by the fire, laughing, caressing it with his eyes and saying, "tadellos [perfect]!" To him, these flames represented the fulfillment of his perverted dreams and wishes.
The cremation of the corpses proved an unqualified success. Because they were in a hurry, the Germans built additional fire grates and augmented the crews serving them, so that from 10,000 to 12,000 corpses were cremated at one time. The result was one huge inferno, which from the distance looked like a volcano breaking through the earth's crust to belch forth fire and lava. The pyres sizzled and crackled. The smoke and heat made it impossible to remain close by. It lasted a long time because there were more than half a million dead to dispose of.
Sometimes they just bypassed the gas chambers, and killed the jews right beside the giant hibachi pyres. Children were wrenched from mothers and thrown into the flames alive...
In April, 1943, transports began to come in from Warsaw. We were told that 600 men in Warsaw were working in Camp No. 1; this report turned out to be based on fact. At the time a typhus epidemic was raging in Camp No. 1. Those who got sick were killed. Three women and one man from the Warsaw transport came to us. The man was the husband of one of the three women. The Warsaw people were treated with exceptional brutality, the women even more harshly than the men. Women with children were separated from the others, led up to the fires and, after the murderers had had their fill of watching the terror-stricken women and children, they killed them right by the pyre and threw them into the flames. This happened quite frequently. The women fainted from fear and the brutes dragged them to the fire half dead. Panic-stricken, the children clung to their mothers. The women begged for mercy, with eyes closed so as to shut out the grisly scene, but their tormentors only leered at them and kept their victims in agonizing suspense for minutes on end. While one batch of women and children were being killed, others were left standing around, waiting their turn. Time and time again children were snatched from their mothers' arms and tossed into the flames alive, while their tormentors laughed, urging the mothers to be brave and jump into the fire after their children and mocking the women for being cowards.