Shoah (1985) Movie Script

[Srebnik Singing In Polish]
A little white house
Lingers in my memory;
Of that little white house
I dream each night;
The windows of that little house
Beautifully shine in the sun
As if someone's eyes
Were filling with tears
There was so much happiness
in that little house
And so many joyous days
When I remember
those blissful moments
My heart trembles
A little white house
Lingers in my memory;
Of that little white house
I dream each night;
[ Man #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Man #2 Speaking Polish]
- [ Man #1 Continues ]
[ Female Interpreter, In French]
He was 13 1/2 years old.
He had a lovely singing voice
and we heard him.
A little white house
Lingers in my memory;
Of that little white house
I dream each night;
The windows of that little house
Beautifully shine in the sun
As if someone's eyes
Were filling with tears
[ Man #3 Speaking Polish]
[ Interpreter, In French]
When I heard him again, my heart beat faster,
because what happened
here... was a murder.
I really relived what happened.
[ Sighs, Coughs ]
[ In German]
it's hard to recognize, but it was here.
They burned people here.
A lot of people were burned here.
Yes, this is the place.
[ Crow Caws ]
No one ever left here again.
The gas vans came in here...
There were two huge ovens,
[ Sighs ]
And afterward,
the bodies were thrown
into these ovens,
and the flames reached to the sky.
- [ Lanzmann, In German ] To the sky?
- Ja.
It was terrible.
No one can describe it.
No one can...
recreate what happened here.
And no one can understand it.
Even I, here, now.
I can't believe I'm here.
No, I just can't believe it.
It was always this peaceful here.
When they burned 2,000 people...
Jews... every day,
it was just as peaceful.
No one shouted.
Everyone went about his work.
It was silent. Peaceful.
Just as it is now.
[ Srebnik Singing In German]
[Cattle Lowing ]
You, girl, don't you cry;
Don't be so sad
For the dear summer is nearing
And I'll return with it
A mug of red wine, a slice of roast
That's what the girls
give their soldiers
[ Continues ]
When the soldiers march along
The girls open their doors and windows
[ Continues ]
[ Man #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Interpreter, In French] They thought
the Germans made him sing on the river.
- [ Man #2 Speaking Polish]
- [ Man #3 Speaking Polish]
He was a toy to amuse them.
- [ Man #2 Continues]
- He had to do it.
He sang, but his heart wept.
[ Lanzmann, In French]
Do their hearts weep thinking about that now?
- [ Men Reply]
- [ Interpreter] Certainly, very much so.
[ Man #2 Continues]
They still talk about it
around the family table.
[ Man #2 Continues]
It was public, so everyone knew of it.
I Polish 1
[ Interpreter]
He said that was true German irony,
people were being killed,
and he had to sing.
That's what I thought.
[ Lanzmann ]
What died in him in Chelmno?
[Speaking Yiddish ]
[ Female Interpreter #2, In French]
Everything died.
But he's only human,
and he wants to live.
So he must forget.
The other survivor:
[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish ]
He thanks God for what remains
and that he can forget.
And let's not talk about that.
[ Lanzmann ]
Does he think it's good to talk about it?
[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish ]
For me it's not good.
[ Lanzmann]
Then why is he talking about it?
[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish ]
Because you're insisting on it.
He was sent books on the Eichmann trial,
where he was a witness,
and he didn't even read them.
[ Lanzmann]
He survived, but is he really alive, or...?
[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish ]
At the time, he felt as if he were dead,
because he never thought he'd survive,
but... he's alive.
[ Lanzmann ]
Why does he smile all the time?
[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish ]
What do you want him to do... cry?
Sometimes you smile, sometimes you cry.
And if you're alive, it's better to smile.
[ Lanzmann, In French]
Why was she so curious about this story?
[ Female Interpreter #3, In Hebrew]
[Speaking Hebrew]
Daughter of Motke Zaidl,
survivor of Vilna (Lithuania)
[ Interpreter #3, In French]
it's a long story.
As a child,
I had little contact with my father.
He went out to work,
and I didn't see much of him.
Besides, he was a silent man,
he didn't talk to me.
And when I grew up
and was strong enough to face him,
I questioned him.
I never stopped questioning him
until I got at the scraps of truth
he couldn't tell me.
It came out haltingly.
I had to tear the details out of him,
and finally, when Mr. Lanzmann came,
I heard the whole story
for the second time.
[ Motke Speaking Hebrew]
[ Interpreter #3, In French]
The place resembles Ponary: the forest, the ditches.
It's as if the bodies were burned here.
Except there were no stones in Ponary.
Ponary: forest where most
of the Vilna Jews were massacred
[ Lanzmann, In French]
But the Lithuanian forests
are denser than the Israeli forest, no?
[ Interpreter #3 Speaking Hebrew]
- [ Motke Replies]
- Of course.
[ Motke Continues]
The trees are similar,
but taller and fuller in Lithuania.
[ Lanzmann, In French]
ls there still hunting here in Sobibor forest?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Man Speaking Polish]
[ Interpreter #1, In French]
Yes, there are lots of animals of all kinds.
[ Lanzmann ]
Was there hunting then?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Man Replies]
Only man hunting.
Some 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.
[ Piwonski Continues ]
That's the charm of our forests:
silence and beauty.
[ Piwonski Continues]
But it wasn't always so silent here.
There was a time
when it was full of screams
and gunshots,
of dogs' barking.
[ Piwonski Continues]
And that period especially
is engraved on the minds of the people
who lived here then.
[ Piwonski Continues]
After the revolt, the Germans
decided to liquidate the camp,
and early in the winter of 1943,
they planted pines
that were three or four years old
to camouflage all the traces.
That screen of trees?
- Tak.
- Yes.
[ Lanzmann ]
That's where the mass graves were?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- Tak.
- Oui.
[ Piwonski Continues]
When he first came here in 1944,
you couldn't guess
what had happened here,
that these trees were hiding
the secret of a death camp.
[ Lanzmann ] How did he react,
the first time he unloaded corpses,
when the gas van doors were opened?
[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish ]
What could he do? He cried.
The 3rd day,
he saw his wife and children.
He placed his wife
in the grave and asked to be killed.
The Germans said
he was strong enough to work,
that he wouldn't be killed yet.
[ Lanzmann ]
Was the weather very cold?
[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish]
[ Podchlebnik Replies ]
It was in the winter of 1942,
in early January.
[ Lanzmann ] At that time,
the bodies weren't burned, just buried?
[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish]
[ Podchlebnik Replies ]
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 funnel-shaped.
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
They dumped the bodies
in these ditches,
and they had to lay them out
like herrings, head to foot.
[ Lanzmann ] So it was they who dug up
and burned all the Jews of Vilna?
- [ Podchlebnik Replies]
- Yes.
[ Man Speaking Hebrew]
[ Interpreter #3, In French]
In early January 1944,
we began digging up the bodies.
[ Man Continues]
When the last mass grave was opened,
I recognized my whole family.
[ Lanzmann, In French]
Whom in his family did he recognize?
[ Interpreter #3 Speaking Hebrew]
Morn and my sisters.
3 sisters with their kids.
They were all in there.
[ Lanzmann]
How could he recognize them?
[ Interpreter #3 Speaking Hebrew]
Survivor of Vilna
They'd been in the earth 4 months,
and it was winter.
They were very well preserved.
I recognized their faces,
their clothes too.
[ Lanzmann]
They'd been killed relatively recently?
[ Interpreter #3 Speaking Hebrew]
[ Lanzmann ]
And it was the last grave?
[ Interpreter #3 Speaking Hebrew]
- [ Dugin Replies]
- Oui.
[ Lanzmann ]
The Nazi plan was for them to open the graves
starting with the oldest?
[ Interpreter #3 Speaking Hebrew]
The last graves were the newest,
and we started with the oldest,
those of the first ghetto.
In the first grave,
there were 24,000 bodies.
[ Motke Speaking Hebrew]
[ Interpreter #3, In French]
The deeper you dug, the flatter the bodies were.
Each was almost a flat slab.
[ Motke Continues]
When you tried to grasp a body,
it crumbled,
it was impossible to pick them up.
We had to open the graves,
but without tools.
They said, Get used to working
with your hands.
[ Lanzmann, In French]
With just their hands?
[ Interpreter #3 Speaking Hebrew]
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.
[ Lanzmann ]
They all burst out sobbing?
[ Interpreter #3 Speaking Hebrew]
[ Motke Continues]
The Germans even forbade us
to use the words corpse or victim.
The dead were blocks of wood, shit,
with absolutely no importance...
[ Dugin Speaking Hebrew]
Anyone who said corpse
or victim was beaten.
[ Dugin Continues]
The Germans made us
refer to the bodies as Figuren,
that is, as puppets, as dolls...
- Schmattes.
- or as Schmattes, which means rags.
[ Lanzmann ]
Were they told at the start!
how many Figuren
there were in all the graves?
[ Interpreter #3 Speaking Hebrew]
[ Motke Replies ]
The head of the Vilna Gestapo told us,
There are 90,000 people lying there,
and absolutely no trace
must be left of them.
[ In German]
It was at the end of November 1942.
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.
In a flash, the whole countryside,
the whole camp seemed ablaze.
It 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...
- [ Lanzmann, In German] Salve?
- Salve.
Facing that curtain of fire,
he began chanting a song
I 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 1942,
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 7 or 8 days.
[ Srebnik, In German]
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.
It 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.
It drifted downstream.
[ Srebnik Singing In Polish: Little White House]
[ Lanzmann, In English]
You never returned to Poland since?
[ Woman, In English]
I wanted many times.
But, what will I see?
How can I face it?
My grandparents are buried in Lodz.
And, at one point, I heard
from somebody that visited Poland
that they want to level off the cemetery,
do away with the cemetery.
Now how can I return to that, to visit?
[ Lanzmann ]
When did they die, your grandparents?
- My grandparents?
- Mm-hmm.
My grandparents died in the ghetto, quickly.
They were elderly,
and within a couple years...
Within a year, my grandfather died.
- And my grandmother the next year.
- In the ghetto?
In the ghetto, yes.
survivor of Auschwitz
[Crows Cawing ]
[Church Bells Ringing ]
[ Lanzmann, In French]
Mrs. Pietryra, you live in Auschwitz?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Pietryra Replies In Polish]
[ Interpreter #1, In French]
Yes, I was born here.
[ Lanzmann ]
And you've never left Auschwitz?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Pietryra Replies ]
No, never.
[ Lanzmann ]
Were there Jews in Auschwitz before the war?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Pietryra Replies ]
They made up 80% of the population.
[Speaking Polish]
They even had a synagogue here.
- [ Lanzmann ] Just one?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- Just one, I think.
- [ Lanzmann ] Does it still exist?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
No, it was wrecked.
There's something else there now.
[ Lanzmann ]
Was there a Jewish cemetery in Auschwitz?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
It still exists. it's closed now.
- It still exists?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Lanzmann ]
Closed? What does that mean?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Pietryra Replies ]
They don't bury there now.
[ Congregation Singing Polish Hymn]
[ Lanzmann, In French]
Was there a synagogue in Wlodawa?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [Speaking Polish]
[ Interpreter #1, In French]
Yes, and it's very beautiful.
I Polish 1
When Poland was ruled by the czars,
that synagogue already existed.
It's even older than the Catholic church.
[ Continues, Faint]
- [ Man Speaking Polish]
- It's no longer used.
[ Man Continues]
There's no one to go to it.
[ Lanzmann, In French]
These buildings haven't changed?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Man Speaking Polish]
[ Interpreter #1, In French ] Not at all.
There were barrels of herrings here,
and the Jews sold fish.
[ Man Continues]
There were stalls, small shops,
Jewish business, as the gentleman says.
- [ Man Continues]
- That's Barenholz's house.
- [ Man Continues]
- He sold wood.
[ Man Continues]
Lipschitz's store was there.
He sold cloth.
- [ Man Continues]
- [ Lanzmann ] This was Lichtenstein's.
- Lichtenstein, tak.
- [ Interpreter #1 ] Lichtenstein, oui.
- [ Lanzmann ] What was there, opposite?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
A food store.
- [ Lanzmann ] A Jewish store?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Interpreter #1 ]
There was a notions shop here,
it sold thread, needles, odds and ends,
and there were also three barbers.
- [ Lanzmann ] Was that fine house Jewish?
- [ Interpreter #1 ] it's Jewish.
[ Filipowicz Replies]
- And this small one?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Filipowicz Replies ]
- Also.
- And the one behind it?
- [ Filipowicz Replies]
These were all Jewish.
- This one on the left, too?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Filipowicz Replies]
- That one too.
- [ Filipowicz Continues]
- [ Lanzmann ] Who lived in it? Borenstein?
[ Filipowicz]
- [ Filipowicz Continues]
- He was in the cement business.
He was very handsome, and cultivated.
[ Filipowicz Continues ]
Here there was a blacksmith
named Tepper.
- [ Lanzmann] Oui.
- [ Interpreter #1 ] It was a Jewish house.
A shoemaker lived here.
- [ Lanzmann ] What was his name?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Filipowicz Replies]
- [ Lanzmann ] Yankel?
- [ Filipowicz Replies]
- [ Interpreter #1 ] Yes.
[ Lanzmann ]
You get the feeling Wlodawa was a Jewish city.
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Filipowicz Replies]
- Yes, because it's true.
[ Filipowicz Continues ]
The Poles lived farther out,
the center was wholly Jewish.
[ Lanzmann, In French]
What happened to the Jews of Auschwitz?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Pietryra Replies ]
They were expelled and resettled,
but I don't know where.
- [ Lanzmann ] What year was that?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Pietryra Replies ]
It began in 1940,
which was when I moved here.
This apartment also belonged to Jews.
[ Lanzmann ]
According to our information,
the Auschwitz Jews
were resettled, as they say,
nearby, in Benzin
and Sosnowiec, in Upper Silesia.
[ Interpreter #1 ]
Yes, because those were Jewish towns.
[ Lanzmann ] Does she know what happened
to the Jews of Auschwitz?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
I think they all ended up in the camp.
- [ Lanzmann ] That is, they returned to Auschwitz?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Pietryra Continues]
All kinds of people from everywhere
were sent here.
- [ Pietryra Continues]
- All the Jews came here... to die.
[ Lanzmann ] What did they think when
Wlodawa's Jews were all deported to Sobibor?
[Speaking Polish]
Wlodawa - Sobibor: 10 miles
[ In French]
What could we think?
That it was the end of them,
but they had foreseen that.
[ Lanzmann ]
How so?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
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.
[ Lanzmann ]
How were they taken to Sobibor? On foot?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ F ilipowicz Replies ]
It was frightful.
He watched it himself.
[ Filipowicz Continues]
They were herded on foot
to a station called Orkrobek.
[Train Clacking ]
[ Filipowicz Continues]
There, they put the old people first
into waiting cattle cars...
[ Filipowicz Continues]
then the younger Jews...
[ Filipowicz Continues]
and finally the kids.
That was the worst:
They threw them on top of the others.
[ Lanzmann ]
Were there a lot of Jews in Kolo?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Man Speaking Polish]
- [ Interpreter #1, In French ] A great many.
- [ Man Continues]
- More Jews than Poles.
[ Lanzmann ]
And what happened to the Kolo Jews?
Was he an eyewitness?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [Speaking Polish]
- Yes. It was frightful.
Frightful to see.
Even the Germans hid,
they couldn't see that.
When the Jews were herded
to the station, they were beaten,
some were even killed.
A cart followed the convoy
to pick up the corpses.
- [ Lanzmann ] Those who couldn't walk, the slain?
- Yes, those who'd fallen.
- Where did this happen?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
The Jews were collected
in the Kolo synagogue.
Then they were herded to the station,
where the narrow-gauge railroad
went to Chelmno.
[ Lanzmann ] It happened to
all the Jews in the area, not just in Kolo?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Falborski Replies ]
- Everywhere.
- [ F e/borsk/ Continues j
Jews were also murdered
in the forests
near Kalisz, not far from here.
[ Locomotive Chugging ]
[Train Whistle Blows]
[ Man, In English]
There was a sign.
There was a small sign
on the station of Treblinka.
I don't know if we were at the station
or if we did not go up to the station.
survivor of Treblinka
On the line over there where we stayed,
there was a small sign, very small sign,
which say Treblinka.
That was the first time in my life
I heard about that name Treblinka,
because nobody know.
It is not a place.
There is not a city.
Or it is not even a small village.
Jewish people always dreamed,
and that was part of their life.
It was part of their messiah...
to dream that someday
they're going to be free.
That dream was mostly true in the ghetto.
Every day, every single night,
I dreamed about a thing
that's going to be good.
Not only the dream,
but the hope conserved in a dream.
The first transport from Czestochowa
was sent away at the day
of the Yam lfijopur.
The day before Sukkoth,
there was the second transport.
I was together with them.
I know, only in my heart I know,
that there's something that is not good,
because, if they take children,
if they take old people
and they send them away,
that means it is not good.
What they said is the y'd take them away
to a place where they would be working.
But, on the other hand,
an old woman or a little child
from a week or four weeks or five years,
what is he going to work?
That was a foolish thing,
but, still, we had no choice.
We believed in that.
[ Parking Brake Latches]
[ Door Closes ]
- [ Man Speaking Polish]
- [ Interpreter #1, In French ] He was born here...
- [Man Continues]
- in 1923...
- [ Man Continues]
- and has been here even since.
[ Lanzmann, In French]
He lived at this very spot?
- Tak. Oui.
- [ Interpreter #1 ] R/jght here.
[ Lanzmann] Then he had
a front-row seat for what happened.
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Man Replies]
- Naturally.
[ Man Continues]
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.
[ Lanzmann ] Does he remember
the first convoy of Jews from Warsaw
on July 22, 1942?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Borowi Replies ]
- Yes.
[ Borowi Continues ]
He recalls the first convoy very well...
[ Borowi Continues ]
and when all those Jews
were brought here...
[ Borowi Continues ]
people wondered,
What's to be done with them?
[ Borowi Continues ]
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.
[ Lanzmann ]
While all this was happening before their eyes,
normal life went on?
- They worked their fields?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Borowi Replies ]
Certainly they worked,
but not as willingly as usual.
They had to work,
but when they saw all this,
they thought,
What if our house is surrounded
and we're arrested?
[ Lanzmann ]
Were they afraid for the Jews, too?
Well, he says it's this way:
If I cut my finger, it doesn't hurt him.
They saw what happened to the Jews:
The convoy came in
and then went to the camp,
and the people vanished.
I Polish 1
[ Interpreter #1 ]
He had a field less than 100 yards from the camp.
[ Lanzmann Repeats Phrase]
[ Interpreter #1 ] He also worked
during the German occupation.
- [ Lanzmann ] He worked his field?
- [ Interpreter #1 ]Yes.
He saw how they were asphyxiated,
he heard them scream, he saw that.
There's a small hill:
He could see quite a bit.
- [ Polish Men All Laughing ]
- [ Lanzmann ] What did he say?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
They couldn't stop and watch.
It was forbidden.
The Ukrainians shot at them.
[ Lanzmann ] But they could work a field
100 yards from the camp?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
They could.
- So occasionally he could steal a glance...
- [ Lanzmann] Oui.
If the Ukrainians weren't looking.
- [ Lanzmann ] He worked with his eyes lowered?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
I Polish 1
He worked by the barbed wire
and heard awful screams.
- [ Lanzmann ] His field was there?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
Yes, right up close.
It wasn't forbidden to work there.
- [ Lanzmann ] So he worked, he farmed there?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
Where the camp is now
was partly his field.
[ Lanzmann Repeats Phrase]
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
It was off limits,
but they heard everything.
[ Lanzmann ] It didn't bother him to work
so near those screams?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
At first it was unbearable.
Then you got used to it.
- [ Lanzmann ] You get used to anything?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
Now he thinks... it's impossible.
Yet it was true.
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
So he saw the convoys arriving.
There were 60 to 80 cars
in each convoy,
and there were two locomotives
that took the convoys into the camp,
taking 20 cars at a time.
And the cars came back empty?
[Speaking Polish]
- Yes.
- Does he remember...?
Here's how it happened:
The locomotive picked up 20 cars
and took them to the camp.
That took maybe an hour,
and the empty cars came back here.
Then the next 20 cars were taken,
and meanwhile, the people
in the first 20 were already dead.
[ Man Speaking Polish]
[ Interpreter #1 ]
They waited, they wept...
- [ Man Continues]
- they asked for water, they died.
[ Man Continues]
Sometimes they were naked
in the cars, up to 170 people.
[ Man #2 Speaking Polish]
This is where they gave
the Jews water, he says.
[ Lanzmann ]
Where was that?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Polish ]
- Here.
When the convoys arrived,
they gave water to the Jews.
- [ Lanzmann ] Who gave the Jews water?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
We did, the Poles.
There was a tiny well,
we took a bottle and...
- [ Lanzmann] Wasn't it dangerous to give them
water? - [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
Very dangerous.
You could be killed
for giving a glass of water.
But we gave them water anyway.
[ Lanzmann ]
Is it very cold here in winter?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Man Replies In Polish]
- It depends.
- [ Man Continues]
It can get to minus 15, minus 20.
[ Lanzmann ] Which was harder on the Jews,
summer or winter?
- Waiting here, I mean.
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Man Replies ]
He thinks winter,
because they were very cold.
[ Man Continues]
They were so packed in the cars,
maybe they weren't cold.
- [ Man Continues]
- In summer they stifled: It was very hot.
The Jews were very thirsty.
They tried to get out.
[ Lanzmann ] Were there corpses
in the cars on arrival?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
They were so packed in
that even those still alive
sat on corpses for lack of space.
[ Lanzmann ] Didn't people here
who went by the trains
look through the cracks in the cars?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
Yes, they could look in sometimes
as they went by.
When they were allowed,
they gave them water, too.
[ Lanzmann] Oui.
How did the Jews try to get out?
The doors weren't opened.
How'd they get out?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- Through the windows.
- [ Lanzmann Repeats Phrase]
- They removed the barbed wire...
- [ Repeats Phrase]
- Oui.
- Oui?
- and came out of the windows.
- [ Repeats Phrase]
They jumped, of course.
Sometimes they just deliberately
sat down on the ground,
and the guards came
and shot them in the head.
I Polish 1
They jumped from the cars...
What a sight!
Jumping from the windows.
There was a mother and child.
- [ Lanzmann ] 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.
It's inconceivable,
beyond understanding.
Once when the Jews asked for water,
a Ukrainian went by
and forbade giving any.
The Jewish woman
that had asked for water...
threw her pot at his head.
- Oui.
- Alors...
The Ukrainian moved back,
maybe ten yards,
and opened fire on the car.
Blood and brains
were all over the place.
[ Borowi Speaking Polish]
[ Interpreter #1 ]
Lots of people opened the doors...
[ Borowi Continues ]
or escaped through the windows.
[ Borowi Continues ]
Sometimes the Ukrainians
fired through the car walls.
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
It 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.
- [ Repeats Phrase]
- Does Mr. Borowi understand Jew?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[Train Clacking ]
[ Bomba, In English]
We were in that wagon.
The wagon was rolling, rolling
in the direction east.
A funny thing happened right there.
Maybe it's not nice to say,
but I will say it.
Most of the people, not only most,
but 99% of the Polish people,
when they saw the train going through...
We looked really like animals in that wagon,
just our eyes looked outside.
And they were laughing,
and they were all...
They had a joy,
because they took the Jewish people away.
What was going on in the wagon
between the people,
and the pushing and the screaming...
Where is my child?
and, Where is my this?
and A little bit Of water!
And people were not only starving,
but they were choking.
It was hot.
It happened... Just it happened...
The Jewish luck...
in September, at that time,
usually when it is rainy, when it is cool,
that it was hot like hell.
We had nothing inside.
For a child, you know, like my own child
about the age of three weeks,
there was not a drop of water.
There wasn't a drop of water for the mother,
but there wasn't a drop of water for anybody else.
[Whistle Blows]
[ Lanzmann, In French]
Did he hear screams behind his locomotive?
[Whistle Blows]
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Man Replies In Polish ]
Obviously, since the locomotive
was next to the camp.
They screamed, asked for water.
[ Man Continues]
The screams from the cars
closest to the locomotive
could be heard very well.
[ Lanzmann ]
Can one get used to that?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Man Replies ]
[ Man Continues]
It was extremely distressing to him.
He knew that the people behind him
were human, like him.
- [Whistle Blows]
- [Man Continues]
The Germans gave him
and the other workers vodka to drink.
Without drinking,
they couldn't have done it.
[ Man Continues]
There was a bonus...
[ Man Continues]
that they were paid
not in money, but in liquor.
[ Man Continues]
Those who worked on other trains
didn't get this bonus.
[Whistle Blows]
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.
[ Bomba ]
We arrived in the morning.
We arrived, I would say,
about 6:00, maybe 6:30.
On the other side of the tracks,
I saw more trains standing there,
and I was watching through...
I saw about 18, 20, maybe more,
wagons going away.
And after about an hour or so,
I saw the wagons coming back,
but without the people.
My train stayed there until about 12:00.
[ Lanzmann ] From the station
to the unloading ramp in the camp,
how many miles?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Bomba ] While we stayed there,
at that station over there,
waiting to go in Treblinka camp,
some of those German SS,
they came around,
and they were asking us what we have.
So we said, We got...
Some of the people, they have, uh, gold.
They have diamonds.
But we want water.
So they said, Good.
Give us the diamonds,
we bring you water.
Yeah, they took away.
They didn't bring any water at all.
[ Lanzmann, In English]
How long did last the trip?
The trip lasted
from Czestochowa to Treblinka
about 24 hours,
with interruption waiting in Warsaw
and also waiting at Treblinka
to go into Treblinka.
At the last train, we went in over there.
But, like I mentioned before,
I saw many trains coming back,
but the trains were without the people.
So I said to myself,
What happened to the people?
We don't see any people,
just trains coming back.
[Train Clacking ]
[ Glazar, In German]
We traveled for two days.
On the morning of the second day
we saw that
we had left Czechoslovakia
and were heading east.
[Train Whistle Blows]
It 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 c0uldn't choose.
They were all numbered and assigned.
In my compartment
there was an elderly couple.
I still remember:
The good man was always hungry
and his wife scolded him,
saying the y'd have no food lefi
for the future.
[Whistle Blows]
Then, on the second day,
I saw a sign for Malkinia.
We went on a little farther.
Then, very slowly,
the train turned off 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.
- [ Lanzmann, In German ] A Pole?
- A Pole.
Where was this? At the station?
It 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.
[ Dog Barking ]
[ Man Speaking Polish]
[ Interpreter #1, In French]
Once there were foreign Jews...
They were this fat...
[ Lanzmann, In French]
This fat?
[ Interpreter #1 ]
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
what kind of a factory it was.
[ Men Speaking Polish]
We'd gesture...
- [ Lanzmann ] Gesture how?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
That they'd be killed.
[ Lanzmann ]
These people made that sign?
He says the Jews didn't believe it.
[ Lanzmann ]
But what does that gesture mean?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
That death awaited them.
The people who had a chance
to get near the Jews
did that to warn them...
- [ Lanzmann ] He did it too?
- That they'd be hanged, killed, slain.
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
Even foreign Jews
from Belgium, Czechoslovakia,
from France too, surely.
And from Holland...
These didn't know,
but the Polish Jews knew.
In 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.
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
He says the foreign Jews
arrived here in passenger cars,
they were well dressed, in white shirts,
there were flowers in the cars,
and they played cards.
[ Lanzmann, In French]
From what I know, that was very rare,
Jews shipped in passenger cars.
Most arrived in cattle cars.
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
It's not true.
- [ Interpreter #1 Repeats Phrase]
- [ Lanzmann ] it's not true?
[Woman Speaking Polish]
[ Lanzmann ]
What did Mrs. Gawkowska say?
[ Interpreter #1 ]
She said he may not have seen everything.
[ Lanzmann ]
[ Interpreter #1 ]
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...
[ Lanzmann ]
To catch up to it.
[ Interpreter #1 ]
So he went past these Pullmans,
as he calls them,
those Jews who were calm, unsuspecting,
and he made that gesture to them.
[Speaking Polish]
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.
[ Lanzmann ]
Ask Mr. Gawkowski why he looks so sad.
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
Because I saw men
marching to their death.
[ Lanzmann ]
Precisely where are we now?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
It's not far...
a mile and a half from here.
- [ Lanzmann ] What, the camp?
- Oui.
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Lanzmann ]
What's that dirt road he's indicating?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
That's where the rail line
into the camp was.
[ Lanzmann ] Did Mr. Gawkowski,
aside from the trains of deponees
he drove from Warsaw or Bialystok
to the Treblinka station...
Did he ever drive the deportee cars
into the camp
from the Treblinka station?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Gawkowski] 'Yak.
- Oui.
[ Lanzmann ]
Did he do it often?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Gawkowski Replies ]
Two or three times a week.
- [ Lanzmann ] Over how long a period?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Gawkowski Replies ]
Around a year and a half.
[ Lanzmann] That is,
throughout the camp's existence?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Gawkowski] 'Yak.
- Oui.
- [ Lanzmann] This is the ramp.
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
Here he is, he goes
to the end with his locomotive,
and he has the 20 cars behind him.
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
No, they're in front of him.
- He pushed them?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- That's right, he pushed them.
- [ Lanzmann Repeats Phrase]
[ Interpreter #1 ]
[ Piwonski Speaking Polish]
[ Interpreter #1 ]
In February 1942,
I began working here
as an assistant switchman.
[ Lanzmann]
The station building, the rails, the platforms
are just as they were in 1942?
- Nothing's changed?
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Piwonski Replies]
- Nothing.
Exactly where did the camp begin?
I'll show you exactly.
there was a fence that ran
to those trees you see there.
[ Lanzmann ]
And another fence
that ran to those trees over there.
So I'm standing
inside the camp perimeter, right?
[ Interpreter #1 ]
That's right.
Where I am now
is 50 feet from the station,
and I'm already outside the camp.
- [ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Piwonski] Tak. Tak.
So this is the Polish part,
and over there was death.
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Piwonski Continues ]
On German orders,
Polish railmen split up the trains.
[ Piwonski Continues ]
So the locomotive took 20 cars
and headed toward Chelm.
[ Piwonski Continues ]
When it reached a switch...
[ Piwonski Continues ]
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 station here is part of the camp.
- [Speaking Polish]
- Tak. Tak.
And at this point,
we are inside the camp.
[ Piwonski Speaking Polish]
[ Interpreter #1 ]
This track was inside the camp.
And it's exactly as it was? Hmm?
Yes, the same track.
It hasn't changed since then.
Where we are now
is what was called the ramp, right?
Yes, those to be exterminated
were unloaded here.
So where we're standing
is where 250,000 Jews
were unloaded before being gassed.
[ Lanzmann ] Did foreign Jews
arrive here in passenger cars, too?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Piwonski Replies ]
- Not always.
[ Piwonski Continues ]
Often the richest Jews...
[ Piwonski Continues ]
from Belgium, Holland, France...
[ Piwonski Continues ]
arrived in passenger cars...
- [ Piwonski Continues ]
- sometimes even in 1st class.
[ Piwonski Continues ]
They were usually better treated
by the guards.
[ Piwonski Continues ]
Especially the convoys
of Western European Jews
waiting their turn here,
Polish railmen saw the women
putting on make-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.
[ Lanzmann ]
I suppose there were fine days like today.
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Piwonski Replies ]
Unfortunately, some were even finer.
survivor of Auschwitz
[ Vrba, In English]
There was a place called the ramp,
where the trains with the Jews
were coming in, in Auschwitz.
They were coming in day or night,
and sometimes one per day,
and sometimes five per day,
from all sorts of places in the world.
I worked there from August 18, 1942
until June 7, 1943.
I saw those transports rolling
one after the other,
and I am sure that I have seen at least
two hundred of them, in this position.
I have seen it so many times
that it became a routine.
Constantly, people from the heart
of Europe were disappearing,
and they were arriving to the same place
with the same ignorance of the fate
of the previous transports.
And that people in this mass...
And I knew, of course, that within
a couple of hours after they arrived there,
90% of them will be gassed,
or something like that. I knew that.
And somehow, in my thinking,
it... I could...
It was difficult for me to comprehend
that people can disappear in this way,
and nothing is going to happen,
and then there comes the next transport,
and they don't know anything about
what happened to the previous transport,
and this is going on
for months and months, on and on.
So what happened was the following:
Say, a transpon of Jews
was announced to come at 2:00.
So when the transport arrived
to close stations from Auschwitz,
the announcement came to the SS.
Now, one SS man came and woke us up.
We had to get up
and, uh, move to the ramp.
We immediately got an escort in the night,
and we were escorted to the ramp.
Say, we were about 200 men.
And lights went on.
There was a ramp.
Around the ramp were lights,
and under those lights
were the cordon of the SS.
There was one e very 10 yards,
with a gun in the hand.
So, we were in the middle,
the prisoners,
and we were waiting,
waiting for the train,
waiting for the next order.
Now, when all this was done,
everybody was there,
the transport was rolled in.
This means in a very slow fashion.
The locomotive,
which was always at the front,
was coming to the ramp,
and that was the end of the railway line.
That was the end of the line
for everybody who was on the train.
And, now, the train stopped,
the gangster elite marched on the ramp.
And in front of every second
or every third wagon,
and sometimes in front of every wagon,
one of those UnterscharfiJhrers
was standing with a key
and opened the locks,
because the wagons were locked.
Now, inside,
there were people, of course,
and you could see the people
looking through the windows,
because they didn't know what's happening.
They had many stops on their journey.
Some of them were 10 days on the journey.
Some were two days on the journey.
And they didn't know
what this particular stop means.
Now, the door was opened.
And the first order they were given was,
AIIe heraus!
Everybody out!
In order to make it quite clear,
they usually started with those walking sticks
to hit the first, the second,
the third, who were...
They were... They were...
They were like sardines in those cars.
If they expected on that day
four, five, six transports,
the pressure of getting out
from the wagons was high.
Then the y used sticks, clubs, cursing,
e! cetera, e2' cetera.
But, sometimes, the SS, if it was good weather,
they used to deal with it differently.
I mean, I was not surprised
if they were in a different mood and...
and, uh, exhibited a lot of humor,
like saying, Good morning, Madam,
and, Will you please walk out?
- [ Lanzmann, In English] It happened?
- Oh, yes! Oh, yes.
And, How nice that you arrived.
We are so sorry that it wasn't too convenient,
but now things will become different.
[ Bomba ]
When we came into Treblinka,
we didn't know who the people were.
Some of them, they had armbands,
some of them red.
Some of them, they had blue,
Jewish kommando.
Falling out from the train
and pushing out each other
and, over there, losing each other,
and the... and the...
and the crying and the hollering.
And, coming out,
we started on one way
to the right, one to the left,
the women to the left
and the men on the right.
we had no time to even look at each other,
because they start hitting over the head
with all kinds of things.
it is very, very...
Painful, it was.
You didn't know what had happened.
You had no time to think.
All you heard is crying.
And all you heard, all the time,
was the hollering of the people.
[ In German]
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.
It was irresistible.
It had to move to another place.
I saw the others undressing.
And I heard, Get undressed!
You're to be disinfected!
As I waited, already naked,
I 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.
[ Bomba ]
At my transport, I was waiting, already naked.
A man came over and asked,
You, you, you, step out.
We stepped out,
and they took us a little bit on the side.
Some of the people from the transport,
they had an idea what is going on,
and they know already
that they will not stay alive.
Pushing the people, they didn't want to go,
or they knew already where they go,
to that big door.
The hollering and the crying
and the shouting
what was going over there on,
it was impossible.
The cries and the hollers
was in your ears and in your mind
for days and days,
and, at night, the same thing.
From that hollering, you could not
even sleep a couple night of that.
All of a sudden,
at one time, everything stopped,
like by a command.
It was all quiet,
the place where the people went in.
Just like on a command.
Like everything was dead.
Then, they told us
to make clean the whole place.
It was about 2,000 people
which they undressed on the outside.
To take the whole thing away
and to clear up the place,
and that has to be done in minutes.
Some of the Germans,
some of the other people that were there,
the Ukrainians or the other ones,
they start shouting and hitting us
that we should do it faster,
to carry the bundles on our backs
faster to the main place,
where it was big places of clothes,
of shoes, of other things.
In no time, this was clean,
just like it never happened,
that never was people on that place again.
There was no trace, not at all.
Like a magic thing, everything disappeared.
[ Vrba ]
Whenever a new transport came,
the ramp was cleaned
absolutely to zero point.
No trace from the previous transport
was allowed to remain.
Not one trace.
[ Glazar, In German]
We were taken to the barracks.
The whole place stank.
Piled about five feet high
in a jumbled mass,
were all the things people
could conceivably have brought.
Clothes, suitcases,
everything stacked in a solid mass.
On top of it,
jumping around like demons,
people were making bundles
and carrying them outside.
I was turned over to one of these men.
His armband said, Squad Leader.
He shouted,
and I understood that I was also
to pick up clothing, bundle it,
and take it somewhere.
As I worked, I asked him,
"What is going on?
The undressed ones... Where are they?
And he replied, Dead! AH dead!
But it still hadn't sunk in,
I didn't believe it.
He'd used the Yiddish word.
It was the first time
I'd heard Yiddish spoken.
He didn't say it very loud,
and I saw he had tears in his eyes.
Suddenly he started shouting
and raised his whip.
Out of the corner of my eyes,
I saw an SS man coming.
And I understood
that I was to ask no more questions,
but just to rush outside
with the package.
[ Bomba ]
At that time, we start working
in that place which they call Treblinka.
And still, I couldn't believe
what had happened
over there on the other side of the gate,
where the people went in, disappeared,
or everything got quiet.
But in a minute, we find out,
when we start to ask the people
which they worked before us
what had happened with them.
They said, What do you mean, what happened?
Don't you know that?
They're all gassed. They're all killed.
It was impossible to say something
because we were just like stones.
We couldn't mention
what had happened to the wife,
what had happened to the kid.
What do you mean, wife?
What do you mean, kid?
Nobody is anymore alive!
What do you mean, they're not alive?
How could they...
How could they kill, how could
they gas so many people at once?
But they had their way how to do it.
[ Glazar] All I could think of
then was my friend Care! Unger.
He'd been at the rear of the train,
in a section that had been uncoupled
and left outside.
I needed someone.
Near me. With me.
Then I saw him.
He was in the 2nd 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.
[ Lanzmann, In German]
Your meeting with Carel:
how long after your arrival
did it happen?
It was... around 20 minutes
after we reached Treblinka.
Then I left the barracks
and had my first look at the vast space
that I soon learned
was called the sorting place.
It was buried under mountains
of objects of all kinds.
Mountains of shoes,
of clothes, 30 feet high.
I though! about' it and said to Carrel,
I! is" 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.
That's how the day went through,
without anything.
No drinking.
We were 24 hours without water,
without anything.
We couldn't drink.
We couldn't have anything
taken into our mouths,
because it was impossible.
Just the meaning that before...
a minute, an hour before,
you were part of a family,
you were part of a wife or a husband,
and now, all of a sudden,
everything is dead.
We went into a special barrack,
where I was sleeping
right next to the wall.
And over there, that night,
it was the most horrible night
for all the people,
because the memory of all those things,
what people went through with each other,
all the joys and the happiness,
and the births and the weddings
and other things,
and all of a sudden, in one second,
to cut that through without anything,
and without any guilt of the people,
because the people were not guilty at all.
The only guilt from them was
because they were Jewish people.
Most of us, we were all up at night,
trying to talk to each other,
which was not allowed.
The commandant was sleeping
in the same barrack.
We were not allowed to talk to each other
or to express our view
or our minds to each other
until the morning, at 5:00,
we start going out from the barracks.
In the morning,
when they had an Appell
to go out from the barracks,
from our group,
I would say at least
four or five were dead.
I don't know how
the thing happened that, what?
They must have with them
some kind of Zyanka/I or some kind of poison
in which they poisoned themselves.
Some of them there,
I would say at least of them
were me/ne friends...
two of my close friends.
They didn't say anything.
We didn't even know
that they have with them poison.
[ Glazar, In German]
Greenery, sand everywhere else.
At night, we were put into barracks.
It just had a sand floor.
Nothing else.
Each of us simply dropped
where he stood.
Half asleep,
I heard some men hang themselves.
We didn't react then.
It was almost normal.
Just as it was 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.
I already knew that,
three hours after arriving at Treblinka.
[ Schlager ]
[ Man Singing In German:
Mandolinen um MitternachF]
[ Continues ]
[ Continues ]
[ Fades ]
[ Woman, In English]
This is no longer home, you see?
And, uh, especially, it's no longer home
when they start telling me that
they didn't know, they didn't know.
They say they didn't see.
Yes, there were Jews living in our house.
One day, they were no longer there.
We didn't know what happened.
They couldn't help seeing it.
It was not a matter of one action.
These were actions that were
taking place over almost two years.
There was always... Every fortnight
people were torn out of the houses.
How could they escape it?
How could they not see it?
I remember that day on which
they made Berlin JudenreKn.
The people hastened in the streets.
They... They didn't want to be in the street.
You could see the streets
were absolutely empty.
They didn't want to look, you know?
They thought of hastening to buy
what they had to buy.
It was Saturday, and they had to buy
something for the Sunday, you see?
So they went shopping
and hastened back into their houses.
And I remember this day very vividly,
because we saw police cars, uh,
rushing through the streets of Berlin,
taking people out of the houses.
They had herded together
from factories, from the houses,
wherever they could find the Jews,
and had put them into something
that was called Klu.
KIu was a dance, um, restaurant,
a very big one.
From there, they were deported
in various transports.
They were going off not far from here,
on one of the tracks of the Bahnhof Grunewald.
And this was a day when I felt so...
suddenly so utterly alone,
so utterly left alone,
because now I knew we would be
one of the very few people left.
I didn't know how many more
would be underground.
And this was a day when I felt very guilty
that I didn't go myself,
that I tried to escape a fate
that the others could not escape.
There was no more warmth around,
no more soul akin to us, you understand?
And we talked about this.
What happened to Elsa,
and what happened to Hans?
Where is he, and where is she?
Do you know this?
My God, what happened to the child?
You know, these... these were
our talks on that horrible day.
And this feeling of being terribly alone
and terribly guilty that we did not go...
- [ Lanzmann ] Guilty?
That we did not go with them.
[ Man Shouting In German]
Why did we try? Why? Why?
What made us do this,
to escape a fate that was really our destiny
or the destiny of our people?
Born in Berlin
Lived there through the war
(In hiding beginning in February 1943)
Now lives in Israel
SS UnterscharfiJhrer
- [ Lanzmann, In German ] Are you ready?
- [ Suchomel, In German] Yes.
- Then we can...
- We can begin.
[ Lanzmann Repeats Phrase ]
[ Lanzmann ]
How's your heart? Is everything in order?
[ Suchomel] Oh, my heart...
For the moment, ifs all right.
If I have any pain, I'll tell you.
We'll have to break off.
[ Lanzmann ]
Of course.
But your health, in general, is...
- [ Suchome/ j The weather tode y suits me fine.
- J a.
The barometric pressure is high:
That's good for me.
[ Lanzmann ]
You look to be in good shape, anyway.
Let's begin with Treblinka.
- Certainly.
[ Lanzmann ]
I think that's best.
If you could give us
a description of Treblinka.
How did it look when you arrived?
- I believe you got there in August?
- Mme August.
- Was it August 20 or 24?
- [ Suchome! Replies ]
- The 18th?
- I don't know exactly.
Around August 20.
[ I anzmann j
J a .
I 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.
- Kielce?
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 5,000 Jews
arrived in Treblinka,
3,000 were dead.
- In the...
- In the cars.
They had slashed their wrists,
or just died.
The ones we unloaded
were half-dead
and half-mad.
In 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.
In 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. it'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.
They hadn't told us.
- You didn't know?
- No!
But true. I didn't want to go.
- That was proved at my trial.
- Ja.
I was told,
Mr. Suchomel,
there are big workshops there
for tailors and shoemakers,
and you'll be guarding them.
- Ja.
- Nothing more.
But you knew it was a camp?
Yes. We were told,
The Fuhrer ordered a resettlement program.
- Ja.
- It's an order from the Fuhrer.
- Jaja.
- Understand?
- Resettlement program...
- [ Repeats Phrase]
- Ja.
No one ever spoke of killing.
[ Lanzmann ]
I understand.
Mr. Suchomel, we're not discussing you,
only Treblinka.
You are a very important eyewitness,
and you can explain what Treblinka was.
[ Suchomel]
But don't use my name.
No, I promise.
[ Suchomel]
Und Dortmund...
[ Lanzmann ]
All right, you've arrived at Treblinka.
[ Suchomel]
So Sta-die, the sarge,
showed us the camp
from end to end.
Just as we went by,
they were opening 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, 100 Jews were chosen
to drag the corpses to the mass graves.
In the evening, the Ukrainians drove
those Jews into the gas chambers
or shot them.
Every day!
It was in the hottest days of August.
The ground undulated like waves
because of the gas.
From the bodies?
: 3%:
Bear in mind, the graves
were maybe 18, 20 feet deep...
all crammed with bodies!
A thin layer of sand
and the heat. You see?
It was hell up there.
You saw that?
Yes, just once, the first day.
We puked and wept.
- You wept?
- We wept too, yes.
[ Lanzmann ]
- The smell was infernal.
- [ Repeats Phrase]
Yes, because gas
was constantly escaping.
It stank horribly, for miles around.
- Miles?
- Miles!
- You could smell it all around...
- [ Repeats Phrase]
Not just in the camp?
Everywhere. It depended on the wind.
The stink was carried on the wind.
[ Suchomel]
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, 2 days, 3 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? go on this way.
I can? do it any longer.
We have to break off.
Overnight, Wirth arrived.
He inspected everything and then left.
He returned with people from Belzec,
Widh 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 of,
for days and days,
the bodies piled up
around the gas chambers.
Under this pile of bodies
was a cesspool:
3 inches deep, full of blood, worms...
and shit.
- Where?
- In front of the gas chamber.
- Ja.
- Nicht wahr?
No one wanted to clean it out.
The Jews preferred to be shot
rather than work there.
- Preferred to be shot?
- [ Repeats Phrase]
It was awful. Burying
their own people, seeing it all...
The dead flesh came off in their hands.
So Wirlh went there himself
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!
- [ Repeats Phrase]
- Jews too?
- Jews too!
What did the Germans do?
They forced the Jews to...
They beat them?
Or they themselves helped
with the cleanup.
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.
[ Lanzmann ]
I think the Jews did it.
In that case,
the Germans had to lend a hand.
[ Lanzmann, In German]
Filip, on that Sunday in May 1942,
when you first entered
the Auschwitz crematorium,
how old were you?
[ Man, In German]
It was a Sunday in May.
We were locked
in an underground cell in Block 11.
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 300 feet away,
300 feet from the gate,
I suddenly saw a building.
It had a flat roof, and a smokestack.
I saw a door in the rear.
I thought they were taking us
to be shot.
Survivor of the 5 liquidations
of the Auschwitz special detail
Suddenly, before a door
under a lamp
in the middle of this building,
a young SS man told us,
Inside, 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 I 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 I at Auschwitz.
From there,
they herded us to another big room,
and told us to undress the corpses.
I looked around me.
There were hundreds of bodies,
all dressed.
Piled with the corpses
were suitcases, bundles
and, scattered everywhere,
strange, bluish-purple crystals.
I couldn't understand any of it.
It was like a blow to the head...
as if you'd been stunned.
I didn't even know where I was.
Above all, I 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?
I entered the cremation chamber.
There was a Jewish prisoner,
Fischel, who later became
a squad leader.
He looked at me,
and I watched him
poke the fire with a long rod.
He told me, Do as I'm doing
or the SS will kill you.
I picked up a poker
and did as he was doing.
[ Lanzmann ]
A poker?
A steel poker.
I obeyed Fischel's order.
At that point I was in shock
as if I'd been hypnotized,
ready to do
whatever I was told.
I was so mindless, so horrified
that I did everything Fischel told me.
So the ovens were fed,
but we were so inexperienced
that we left the fans on too long.
- The fans?
- Yes.
There were fans to make the fire hotter.
- Mm-hmm.
They worked too long...
The firebrick suddenly exploded,
blocking the pipes
linking the Auschwitz crematorium
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 300 bodies,
into the trucks.
Then we were taken...
I 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 fire truck
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, I grasped a woman,
but her hands...
Her hand was slippery, slimy.
I tried to pull her,
but I fell over backward,
into the water, the mud.
It was the same for all of us.
Up above, at the edge of the pit,
Aumeyer and Grabner yelled,
Get cracking, you filth, you bastards!
We'll show you, you bunch of shits!
These were the names they were calling us.
And in these...
[ Repeats Phrase]
How shall I say?
2 of my friends
couldn't take any more.
One was a French student.
- Ja?
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.
[ Lanzmann ]
There was no crematorium at Birkenau then?
[ MUIIer]
No, there weren't any there yet.
Birkenau still wasn't completely set up.
Only Camp BI, which was
the late women's camp, existed.
It wasn't until the spring of 1943
that skilled workmen
and unskilled laborers, all Jews,
must have gone to work here
and built the 4 crematorium.
Each crematorium had 15 ovens,
a big undressing room,
around 3,000 square feet,
and a big gas chamber
where up to 3,000 people at once
could be gassed.
[ Suchomel, In German] The new gas chambers
were built in September 1942.
[ Lanzmann, In German]
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 themselves
were armored bunker doors.
I think they were brought
from Bialystok,
from some Russian bunkers.
What was the capacity
of the new gas chambers?
There were 2 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 5 on each side.
I say there were 4,
but I'm not sure.
In any case, only the upper row,
on this side,
was in action.
[ Lanzmann ]
Why not the other side?
[Suchomel ] Disposing of the bodies
would have been too complicated.
- Too far?
- Yes.
Up there,
Wirth had built the death camp...
[ Lanzmann ]
[Suchomel ]
assigning a detail of Jewish workers to it.
The detail had a fixed number in it,
around 200 people...
[ Lanzmann ]
Die im Toten/ager...
[Suchomel Repeats Phrase]
who worked only in the death camp.
[ Lanzmann ] But what was
the capacity of the new gas chambers?
The new gas chambers... Let's see...
They could finish off 3,000 people
in two hours.
[ Lanzmann ] How many people at once
in a single gas chamber?
I can't say exactly.
The Jews say 200.
- 200?
- That's right, 200.
Imagine a room this size.
[ Lanzmann ]
They put more in at Auschwitz.
Auschwitz was a factory!
[ Lanzmann ]
And Treblinka?
I'll give you my definition.
Keep this in mind:
Treblinka was a primitive,
but efficient production line of death.
- A production line?
- Of death.
- Yes.
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.
It stank...
in front of the mess-hall,
in front of their barracks.
- Were you at Belzec?
- No.
Wirlh with his own men.
With Franz, with Oberhauser
and Hackenhold...
he tried everything there.
Those 3 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...
Wirlh 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 him,
he came to Treblinka.
[ People Chattering In German]
[Glasses Clanking ]
[Woman Speaking German]
[ Lanzmann, In German ] Excuse me.
How many quarts of beer a day do you sell?
You can't tell me?
[ In German]
I'd rather not. I have my reasons.
- But why not?
- Ja.
[ Man ]
Two Pilsners.
[ Lanzmann ]
How many quarts of beer a day do you sell?
- Go on, tell him.
- Tell him what?
Just tell him approximately.
How many quarts of beer a day
do you sell?
400, 500 quarts.
- What?
- 400, 500 quarts.
- [ Repeats Phrase]
- Hier.
That's a lot!
[ German ]
Have you worked here long?
- Around 20 years.
- [ Repeats Phrase]
: 3%:
Why are you hiding...
- I have my reasons.
- Your face?
- I have my reasons.
What reasons?
- Never mind.
- Why not?
[ Lanzmann]
Do you recognize this man?
Christian Wirlh?
Mr. Oberhauser!
Do you remember Belzec?
No memories of Belzec?
Of the overflowing graves?
You don't remember?
German state prosecutor
at the Treblinka trial (Frankfurt, 1960)
[ In German]
When the Action itself first got under way,
it was almost totally improvised.
At Treblinka, for example,
the commandant, Dr. Eberl,
let more trains come in
than the camp could handle.
It 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 happening.
There's a very concrete
account of the trip
by his former driver, Oberhauser.
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 Dr. Eberl
and greeted him with these words,
How dare you accept
so many every day
when you can only process 3,000?
Operations were suspended,
Eberl was transferred and Wirth came,
followed immediately by Stangl,
and the camp was completely reorganized.
The Reinhard Action
covered 3 extermination camps:
Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec.
There's also talk of 3 death camps
on the Bug River,
for they were all located
on or near the Bug.
The gas chambers
were the head of the camp.
They were built first,
in the woods, 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 huny
to begin the 'final solution.
The Germans had to capitalize
on their eastward advance
and use this remote back-country
to carry out their mass murder
as secretly as possible.
So at first they couldn't
manage the perfection
they achieved 3 months later.
[ Piwonski Speaking Polish]
[ Interpreter #1, In French]
Near the end of March 1942...
[ Piwonski Continues ]
sizeable groups of Jews
were herded here,
groups of 50 to 100 people.
[ Piwonski Continues ]
Several trains arrived...
[ Piwonski Continues ]
with sections of barracks,
with posts, barbed wire, bricks...
[ Piwonski Continues ]
and construction
of the camp as such began.
[Train Whistle Blows]
[ Piwonski Continues ]
The Jews unloaded these cars...
[ Piwonski Continues ]
and carted the sections
of barracks to the camp.
[ Piwonski Continues ]
The Germans made them
work extremely fast.
[ Piwonski Continues ]
When we saw the pace they worked at...
[ Piwonski Continues ]
It was extremely brutal.
[ Piwonski Continues ]
When we saw the complex being built,
and the fence,
which, after all, enclosed a vast space...
[ Piwonski Continues ]
we realized that
what the Germans were building
wasn't meant to aid mankind.
[ Wind Whistling ]
[ Birds Chirping ]
[ Piwonski Continues ]
Early in June...
[ Piwonski Continues ]
the first convoy arrived.
[ Piwonski Continues ]
I'd say there were over 40 cars.
[ Piwonski Continues ]
With the convoy
were SS men in black uniforms.
[ Piwonski Continues ]
It happened one afternoon.
He had just finished work.
But he got on his bicycle and went home.
[ In French]
[ Interpreter #1 Murmurs In French]
I merely thought
these people had come to build the camp,
as the others had before them.
That convoy...
There was no way
of knowing that it was...
the first earmarked for extermination.
- Besides...
- [ Piwonski Continues]
He couldn't have known that Sobibor...
[ Piwonski Continues]
Would be a place for the mass
extermination of the Jews.
The next morning,
when I 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...
[ Interpreter #1 ]
No work crews,
a really total silence.
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
40 cars had arrived,
and then... nothing.
It was all very strange.
[ Lanzmann ]
It was the silence that tipped them off?
That's right.
- Can he describe that silence?
- [ interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Piwonski Replies ]
- It was a silence...
- [ Piwonski Continues ]
Nothing was going on in the camp.
You heard nothing.
Nothing moved.
[ Piwonski Continues ]
So then they began to wonder...
[ Piwonski Continues ]
Where have they put those Jews?
[ MUIIer, In German]
Cell 13, Block 11 at Auschwitz 1,
is where
the Special Work Detail was held.
The cell was underground, isolated.
For we were...
bearers of secrets,
we were reprieved dead men.
We weren't allowed to talk to anyone,
or contact any prisoner,
even the SS.
Only those in charge of the Action.
There was a window.
We heard what happened in the courtyard.
The executions,
the victims' cries, the screams,
but we couldn't see anything.
This went on for several days.
One night an SS man came
from the political section.
It was around 4 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.
There, for the first time,
I 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 250 to 300 people filed in:
old people, and women.
They carried bundles,
wore the Star of David.
Even from a distance, I could tell
they were Polish Jews,
probably from Upper Silesia,
from the Sosnowiec ghetto,
some 20 miles from Auschwitz.
I caught some of the things they said.
I heard fachowitz,
meaning skilled worker.
And Malach-ha-Mavis,
which means
the angel of death in Yiddish.
Also, harginnen:
They're going to kill us.
From what I could hear,
I 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-Mavis,
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,
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.
It was obvious
that hope flared in those people.
You could feel it clearly.
The executioners had gotten
past the first obstacle.
They saw it was succeeding.
Then Grabner spoke up,
We need masons, electricians,
all the trades.
Next, Hossler took over.
He pointed to a short man in the crowd.
I can still see him.
What's your trade?
The man said,
Mr. Officer, I'm a tailor.
A tailor? What kind of tailor?
A man's... No, for both men and women.
Wonderful! We need people
like you in our workshops.
Then he questioned a woman,
Whafs 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.
I 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 H I LBERG, historian
[ In English] In all of my work, I have never begun
by asking the big questions,
because I was always afraid
that I would come up with small answers,
and I have preferred, therefore,
to address these things,
which are minutiae or detail,
in order that I might then
be able to put together
in a gestalt,
a picture, which, urn,
if not an explanation,
is at least a description,
a more full description,
of what transpired.
And, in that sense, I look also upon
the bureaucratic destruction process,
for this is what it was,
as a series of minute steps
taken in logical order
and relying above all,
as much as possible,
on experience, past experience.
And this goes not only, incidentally,
for the administrative steps that were taken,
but also the psychological arguments,
even the propaganda.
Amazingly little was newly invented
until, of course, the moment came
when one had to go beyond that which
had already been established by precedent,
and one had to gas these people,
or, in some sense,
annihilate them on a large scale.
Then, these bureaucrats became inventors.
But like all, all inventors of institutions,
they did not copyright
or patent their achievements,
and they preferred obscurity.
[ Lanzmann, In English]
What did they get from the past, the Nazis?
They got the actual content
of measures which they took.
For example, the barring of Jews from office,
the prohibition of intermarriages,
the employment in Jewish homes
of female persons under the age of 45,
the various marking decrees,
especially the Jewish star,
the compulsory ghetto,
the voidance of any will executed by a Jew
that might work in such a way
as to prevent inheritance of his property
by someone who was a Christian.
Many such measures had been worked out
over the course of
more than a thousand years
by authorities of the Church
and by secular governments
that followed in those footsteps.
And the experience gathered over that time
became a reservoir that could be used
and which indeed was used
to an amazing extent.
You mean that one can compare...
- One can actually compare...
- each measure?
One can compare a rather large number
of German laws and decrees
with their counterparts in the past
and find complete parallels,
even in detail,
as if they were a memory
which automatically extended
to the period of 1933
and 1935 and 1939 and beyond.
In such respect,
they didn't invent anything?
They invented very little,
and they did not invent
the portrait of the Jew,
which also was taken over,
lock, stock and barrel,
from writings going back
to the 16th century.
So, even the propaganda,
the realm of the imagination
even there, they were remarkably
in the footsteps of those who preceded them,
from Martin Luther to the 19th century.
And, here again, they were not inventive.
They had to become inventive
with the final solution.
That was their great invention,
and that is what made
this entire process different
from all others
that had preceded that event.
And, in this respect,
what transpired
when the final solution was... adopted,
or, to be more precise,
when the bureaucracy moved into it,
was a turning point in history.
Even here, I would suggest
a logical progression,
one which came to fruition
in what might be called closure,
because, from the earliest days,
from the fourth century,
fifth century, sixth century,
the missionaries of Christianity
had said, in effect, to the Jews,
You may not live among us as Jews.
The secular rulers who followed them,
from the late Middle Ages,
had then decided,
You may not live among us,
and the Nazis finally decreed,
You may not live.
This means that the three steps were...
The first one was conversion.
- Conversion, followed by...
- The second one, ghettoization.
- Expulsion.
- Or expulsion.
And the third was the territorial solution,
which was, of course, the solution carried out
within the territories under German command,
excluding emigration:
final solution.
And the final solution, you see,
is really final,
because people who are converted
can yet be, in secret, Jews,
people who are expelled can yet return,
but people who are dead will not reappear.
In such a respect, in the last stage,
they were really pioneers and inventors?
This was something unprecedented,
and this was something new.
How can one figure...
give some ideas
about the complete newness of this,
because I think that it was new
for themselves too?
Yes, it was new,
and this... I think, for this reason
that one cannot find a specific document,
a specific plan, outline or blueprint
which states,
Now, the Jews will be killed.
Everything is left to inference
from general words.
Inference from...
- General wording.
- Mm-hmm.
The very wording final solution
or total solution
or territorial solution
leaves something to the bureaucrat
that he must infer.
He cannot read that document.
One cannot even read
G6ring's famous letter to Heydrich,
at the end of July 1941,
charging him in two paragraphs
to proceed with the final solution.
And taking that document aside,
everything is clarified?
Far from it.
- Far from it?
- Far from it.
It was an authorization to invent.
It was an authorization to begin something
that was not as yet
capable of being put into words.
I think it...
I think of it that way.
It was a case for every agency,
as a matter of fact.
Absolutely, for every agency.
In every aspect of this operation,
invention was necessary.
Certainly at this point,
because every problem was unprecedented:
not just how to kill the Jews,
but what to do with their property thereafter,
and, not only that,
but how to deal with the problem
of not letting the world know what had happened.
All of these multitudes of problems were new.
[Children Shouting, Distant]
[Van Door Opens]
[Van Door Closes]
[ Lanzmann, In German]
First, explain to me...
how you came to Kulmhof, to Chelmno.
You were at Lodz, right?
- [ Schalling, In German] In Lodz, yes.
- Litzmannstadt?
[ Saba/ling j
In L iizmannstadt'. J a .
We were on permanent guard duty.
Protecting military objectives: mills,
the roads,
when Hitler went to East Prussia.
It was dreary, and we were told,
We're looking for men who want
to break out of this routine.
So we volunteered.
We were issued winter uniforms,
overcoats, fur hats, fur-lined boots,
and 2 or 3 days later
we were told, We're off!
We were put aboard 2 or 3 trucks...
I 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?
- [ Lanzmann] Ja.
[ Schalling ]
They said, You?! find out!
- You?! find out?
- You'll find out.
- [ Lanzmann ] Ja.
- Nicht?
- You weren't in the SS, you were...
- Police.
- 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.
- Ja.
- Sign this!
We each had to sign.
There was a form ready for each of us.
What did it say?
It was a pledge of secrecy.
We never even got to read it through.
You had to take an oath?
- No, just sign...
- Ja.
Promising 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...?
In the winter of 1941-42.
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.
[ Lanzmann ]
So you were in the castle detail?
[ Schalling ]
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!
I heard an SS man shout at them,
You're going to be deloused
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
2 or 3 big rooms on the first floor.
They had to undress, give up everything:
rings, gold, everything.
How long did the Jews stay there?
- I ong enough to undress.
- J a.
Then, stark naked,
they had to run down more steps
to an underground corridor
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.
It was frightful!
I 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 1st-floor window into there.
[ Lanzmann ]
Describe the gas vans.
[ Schalling ]
Like moving vans.
Very big?
They stretched, say,
from here to the window.
Just big trucks,
like moving vans, with 2 rear doors.
What system was used?
How did they kill them?
- With exhaust fumes.
- Exhaust fumes?
It 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.
I'm not sure how.
It was just exhaust gas?
That's all.
[ Lanzmann ]
Who were the drivers?
- SS men.
- [ Repeats Phrase]
All those men were SS.
Were there many of these drivers?
I don't know.
Were there 2, 3, 5, 10?
Not that many.
2 or 3, that's all.
I think there were 2 vans,
one big, one smaller.
Did the driver sit
in the cabin of the van?
- Mrs. Uwe?
- [Woman ] No.
He climbed into the cabin
after the doors were closed
and started the motor.
Did he race the motor?
I 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?
I don't know.
It was quiet. No more screams.
[ Lanzmann ]
No screams.
You couldn't hear anything
as they drove by.
[ Podchlebnik Speaking Yiddish]
[ Interpreter #2, In French]
He recalls: It was 1941,
2 days before the new year.
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
They were routed out at night...
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
and in the morning they reached Chelmno.
- [ Podchlebnik Continues]
- There was a castle there.
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
When he entered the castle courtyard...
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
he knew something awful was going on.
- [ Podchlebnik Continues]
- He already understood.
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
They saw clothes and shoes...
- [ Podchlebnik Continues]
- scattered in the courtyard.
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
Yet they were alone there.
He knew his parents
had been through there...
- [ Podchlebnik Continues]
- and there wasn't a Jew left.
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
They were taken down into a cellar.
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
On a wall was written,
No one leaves here alive.
- [ Podchlebnik Continues]
- Graffiti in Yiddish.
- [ Podchlebnik Continues]
- There were lots of names.
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
He thinks it was the Jews
from villages around Chelmno
who had come before him,
who had written their names.
- [ Podchlebnik Continues]
- A few days after New Year's...
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
they heard people arrive
in a truck one morning.
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
The people were taken
out of the truck...
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
- and up to the first floor of the castle.
- [ Podchlebnik Continues]
The Germans lied,
saying they were to be deloused.
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
They were chased down the other side...
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
where a van was waiting.
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
The Germans pushed
and beat them with their weapons
to hustle them into the trucks faster.
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
He heard people praying, Shma Israel...
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
and he heard
the van's rear doors being shut.
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
Their screams were heard,
becoming fainter and fainter...
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
and when there was total silence,
the van left.
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
He and the 4 others
were brought out of the cellar.
They went upstairs...
[ Podchlebnik Continues]
and gathered up
the clothes remaining
outside the supposed baths.
[ Lanzmann, In French]
Did he understand then how they'd died?
[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish ]
the survivor of the 1st period
of extermination at Chelmno
(the castle period)
Yes, first because
there had been rumors of it.
And when he went out,
he saw the sealed vans,
so he knew.
[ Lanzmann ] He understood that people
were gassed in the vans?
[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish ]
Yes, because he'd heard the screams
and heard how they weakened,
and later the vans
were taken into the woods.
[ Lanzmann ]
What were the vans like?
[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish ]
[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish ]
[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish ]
Like the ones
that deliver cigarettes here.
They were enclosed,
with double-leaf rear doors.
[ Lanzmann ]
What color?
[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish ]
The color the Germans used,
green, ordinary.
[ Lanzmann, In German ] How many German
families were there in Kulmhof (Chelmno)?
[ In German]
10 or 11, I'd say.
Germans from Volhynia
and 2 families from the Reich,
the Bauers and us.
- And you?
- Us, the Michelsohns.
How did you wind up in Kulmhof?
I was born in Laage,
and I was sent to Kulmhof.
They were looking for volunteer settlers,
and I signed up.
That's how I got there.
First in WarthbriJcken (Kolo),
then Chelmno... Kulmhof.
Directly from Laage?
- No, I left from Munster.
- Ja?
- Did you opt to go to Kulmhof?
- Ja.
No, I asked for Wartheland.
[ Murmurs In German]
A pioneering spirit.
- You were young!
- Oh, yes, I was young.
- You wanted to be useful?
- Yes.
What was your first impression
of Wartheland?
It was primitive. Super-primitive.
- Even worse...
- [ Repeats Phrase]
Worse than primitive.
Difficult to understand, right?
But why.,,?
The sanitary facilities were disastrous.
The only toilet was
in WarthbriJcken, 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.
I can't tell you
how primitive it was.
Why did you choose
such a primitive place?
I was young, you know.
You can't imagine such places exist.
You don't believe it.
But that's how it was.
[ Michelsohn ]
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, I00,
the administrative building
and the school.
The castle was next to the church,
with a high board fence around both.
[ I anzmann j
J a .
How far was your house from the church?
It was just opposite... 150 feet.
Mrs. Michelsohn
was the Nazi teacher's wife
Did you see the gas vans?
Yes, from the outside.
They shuttled back and forth.
I never looked inside...
I didn't see Jews in them.
I only saw things from outside,
the Jews' arrival, their disposition,
how they were loaded aboard.
Since World War I,
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 delousing
the Poles, and so on.
- The Jews!
- Yes, the Jews.
- Ja.
- [German ]
Why do you call them Poles
and not Jews?
- Sometimes, I get them mixed up.
- Ja.
There's a difference
between Poles and Jews?
Q, yes!
What difference?
The Poles weren't exterminated,
and the Jews were.
That's the difference.
An external difference, right?
And the inner difference?
I can't assess that.
I don't know enough
about psychology and anthropology.
The difference between
the Poles and the Jews?
Anyway, they couldn't stand each other.
[ In French]
On January 19, 1942,
the rabbi of Grabow, Jacob Schulmann,
wrote the following letter
to his friends in Lodz:
My very dear friends,
I didn't write sooner:
I wasn't sure of what I'd heard.
Alas, to our great grief,
we now know all.
I've spoken to an eyewitness
who managed to escape.
He told me everything.
They're exterminated
in Chelmno, near Dombie,
and they're all buried
in the nearby Rzeszow forest.
The Jews are killed in 2 ways:
by shooting or gas.
It's just happened
to thousands of Lodz Jews.
Do not think that
this is being written by a madman.
Alas, it is the tragic, horrible truth.
Horror, horror.
Man, shed thy clothes,
cover thy head with ashes,
run in the streets
and dance in thy madness.
I am so weary that my pen
can no longer write.
Creator of the universe, help us!
The creator did not help
the Jews of Grabow.
With their rabbi,
they all died in the gas van at Chelmno
a few weeks later.
Chelmno is only 12 miles from Grabow.
[ Rooster Crowing ]
[ Lanzmann, In French]
Were there a lot of Jews here in Grabow?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
- [ Woman Replies In Polish]
- A lot, quite a few.
[ Woman Continues]
They were sent to Chelmno.
[ Lanzmann ]
Has she always lived near the synagogue?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[Women Chattering In Polish]
- [ Lanzmann ] Yes.
- The Polish word is Buzinica, not synagogue.
[Chattering Continues]
She says it's now
a furniture warehouse
but they didn't harm it
from a religious point of view.
It hasn't been... desecrated.
Does she remember the rabbi
at the synagogue?
[ Interpreter #1 Speaking Polish]
[ Woman Replies ]
She says she's 80 now,
and her memory isn't too good,
and the Jews have been gone
for 40 years.
[ In French] Barbara, tell this couple
they live in a lovely house.
[Speaking Polish]
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.
- [ Repeats Phrase]
- Oui.
- 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?
In the courtyards,
where the privies were.
[ Repeats Phrase]
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 courtyard
with the privies.
How long have these two lived here?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
[Wife Replies]
15 years.
- Where'd they live before?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
[Wife Replies]
In a courtyard across the square.
[ Lanzmann ]
They've gotten rich.
- Them?
- Yes.
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
- [Wife Replies]
- Yes.
- [ Laughing Together]
[ Lanzmann ]
How did they get rich?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
They worked.
- How old is the gentleman?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
- [ Husband Replies]
- He's 70.
- He looks young and healthy.
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
[ Barbara Laughs]
Do they remember the Jews of Grabow?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
- [ Husband Replies]
And when they were deported, too.
- They recall the deportation of the Grabow Jews?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
He says he speaks Jew well.
- He speaks Jew?
- Oui.
As a kid he played with Jews
so he speaks Jew.
[ Husband Continues]
[ Barbara ]
First, they grouped them there,
where that restaurant is,
or in this square,
and took their gold.
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
[ Barbara ]
Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
[ Barbara ]
An elder among the Jews
collected the gold
and turned it over to the police.
That done, the Jews were put
in the Catholic church.
- A lot of gold?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
Yes, the Jews had gold...
[Wife Replies]
And some handsome candelabras.
[ Lanzmann, In French] Did the Poles know
the Jews would be killed at Chelmno?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
Yes, they knew.
- The Jews knew it, too.
- [ Lanzmann Repeats Phrase]
[ Lanzmann ] Did the Jews try to do
something about it,
to rebel, to escape?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
- [ Motorcycle Motor Gunning ]
[ Barbara ]
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
The young tried to run away.
But the Germans caught them
and maybe killed them
even more savagely.
[ Man Continues]
In every town and village,
2 or 3 streets were closed,
and the Jews were kept under guard.
They couldn't leave there.
[ Man Continues]
Then they were locked
in the Polish church here in Grabow
and later taken to Chelmno.
[ People Chattering In Polish]
[Wife Speaking Polish]
The Germans threw children
as small as these...
- Oui?
- 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?
- [ L anzmann j Ou/ f?
- Oui.
[ Lanzmann ]
Does he recall the Jews' deportation from Grabow?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
- [ Man Replies In Polish]
[ Man Continues]
At that time, he worked in the mill.
- [ Lanzmann] There, opposite?
- Yes, and they saw it all.
What did he think of it?
Was it a sad sight?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
Yes, it was...
Yes. How could you see that
without sadness?
[ Hoof beats]
- What trades were the Jews in?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
They were tanners, tradesmen,
They sold things...
eggs, chickens, butter.
[ Man Speaking Polish]
[ Barbara, In French]
There were a lot of tailors...
- [ Man Continues ]
- tradesmen, too.
[ Man Continues]
But most were tanners.
- They had beards and side locks.
- [ Lanzmann ] Yes.
He says they weren't pretty.
[ Lanzmann ]
They weren't pretty?
- They stank, too.
- They stank?
- Oui.
- Oui?
Why did they stink?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
Because they were tanners,
and the hides stink.
[Chattering In Polish]
[ In French]
The Jewish women were beautiful.
- [Woman Speaking Polish ]
- [Women Laughing Together]
The Poles liked to make love with them.
Are Polish women glad
there are no Jewesses left?
[Woman Continues]
- [Women Laughing ]
- What'd she say?
- That the women who are her age now...
- Oui?
Also liked to make love.
So the Jewish women were competitors?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
It's crazy how the Poles
liked the little Jewesses!
Do the Poles miss the little Jewesses?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
Naturally, such beautiful women!
- Why? What made them so beautiful?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
[Women Talking At Once]
Because they did nothing.
Polish women worked.
Jewish women only thought
of their beauty and clothes.
- [ Lanzmann ] So Jewesses did no work!
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
- None at all.
- Why not?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
- They were rich.
- [Women Continue Chattering ]
The Poles had to serve them and work.
[ Lanzmann ]
I heard her use the word capital.
[ Barbara ]
The capital was in the hands of the Jews.
[ Lanzmann ]
Yes... You didn't translate that.
Ask her again. So the capital
was in the Jews' hands?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
All Poland was in the Jews' hands.
Are they glad there are
no more Jews here, or sad?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
It doesn't bother them.
As you know, Jews and Germans
ran all Polish industry before the war.
Did they like them on the whole?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
[ Man Replies ]
Not much.
Above all, they were dishonest.
- [ L enzmenn Repeats Phrase j
- O ui .
Was life in Grabow more fun
when the Jews were here?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
He'd rather not say.
Why does he call them dishonest?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
They exploited the Poles.
That's what they lived off.
- How did they exploit them?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
By imposing their prices.
[ Chuckles ]
- Ask her if she likes her house.
- [Speaking Polish]
but her children live
in much better houses.
In 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 live education!
Isn'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?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
- She doesn't know.
- What was their trade?
- Benkel, their name was.
- Ah, Benkel.
And what was their trade?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
[ Man Speaking Polish]
They had a butcher shop.
[ Lanzmann ]
A butcher shop. Why is she laughing?
Because the gentleman said it was...
a butcher shop where
you could buy cheap meat.
- [ Lanzmann Repeats Phrase]
What does he think about
them being gassed in trucks?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
[ Man Replies]
He says he doesn't like that at all.
[ Man Continues]
If they'd gone to Israel
of their own free will,
he might have been glad.
But killing them was unpleasant.
[ Lanzmann]
Does he miss the Jews?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
Yes, because there were
some beautiful Jewesses.
For the young, it was... fine.
Are they sorry the Jews
are no longer here or pleased?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
How can I tell?
I never went to school.
I can only think of how I am now.
Now I'm fine.
- Is she better off?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
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?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
She doesn't care, she's happy
because she's doing well now.
How did he feel
about losing his classmates?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
- [Wife Replies]
- It still upsets him.
- [Wife Continues]
- Does he miss the Jews?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
They were good Jews, Madam says.
- [ Lanzmann] Oui?
[ Michelsohn, In German]
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 railway.
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.
In the morning, they fetched water,
looked for food, and so on.
- [ Lanzmann ] D/ese Arbe/tsjuden...
- [ Repeats Phrase]
These weren't killed right away.
That was done later.
I don't know what became of them.
They didn't survive, anyway.
[ Lanzmann ]
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 chains.
- Yes.
- Mm-hmm.
Could people speak to them?
No, that was impossible.
No one dared.
- What?
- No one dared.
- Ja.
- Understand?
Yes... No one dared.
Why, was it dangerous?
- Yes, there were guards.
- Ja.
Anyway, people wanted
nothing to do with all that.
Do you see?
- Ja.
Gets on your nerves,
seeing that every day.
You can? 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!
It was frightful!
Day after day, the same spectacle!
It was terrible!
A sad spectacle!
They screamed.
They knew what was happening.
At first, the Jews thought
they were going to be deloused.
But they soon understood.
Their screams grew wilder and wilder.
Horrifying screams. Screams of terror.
Because they knew
what was happening to them.
Do you know how many Jews
were exterminated there?
Four something,
400,000... 40.000...
[ Lanzmann ]
400, 000.
[ Michelsohn ] 400,000, yes.
I knew it had a 4 in it.
Sad, sad, sad!
[Srebnik, In German]
g When the soldiers march g
g The girls open their windows and doors g
J"; [ Continues ]
[ I enzmenn j
Do you remember a Je wish child, e b0 y of 13 f?
He was in the work squad.
He sang on the river.
- [ Michelsohn ] On the Narew River?
- Yes.
- Is he still alive?
- Yes, he's alive.
[ Lanzmann ]
He sang a German song
that the SS in Chelmno taught him.
When the soldiers march,
[ Michelsohn ]
the girls open their windows and doors...
J"; [ Continues ]
the survivor of the 2nd period
of extermination at Chelmno
(the church period)
N' I Qrgan ]
JU' [ Polish]
J; [Congregation Joins In ]
J"; [ Continues ]
Gr [ Continues ]
[ Lanzmann, In French]
So it's a holiday in Chelmno!
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
- [ Together] Tak.
- Oui.
[ Lanzmann ] What holiday?
What's being celebrated?
[ Barbara ] The birth of the Virgin Mary.
it's her birthday.
- [ Lanzmann Repeats Phrase]
- Oui.
[ Lanzmann ]
it's a huge crowd, isn't it?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
But the weather's bad...
it's raining.
[ Lanzmann ] Ask them if they're glad
to see Srebnik again.
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
Very. it's a great pleasure.
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
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?
- Oui.
Why does the whole village
remember him?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
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.
[ Lanzmann ]
Ripe for a coffin!
Did he seem happy or sad?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
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?
- Oui.
They remember when the Jews
were locked in this church?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
Yes, they do.
They brought them
to the church in trucks.
- At what time of day?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
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.
[ Lanzmann ]
The second phase, right!
[ Barbara] In the morning,
they were taken into the woods.
[ Lanzmann ]
How were they taken into the woods?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
In very big armored vans.
The gas came through the bottom.
Then they were carried in gas vans, right?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
Yes, in gas vans.
Where did the vans pick them up?
- The Jews?
- Yes.
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
Here, at the church door.
- The trucks pulled up where they are now?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
No, they went right to the door.
The vans came to the church door?
And they all knew these were death vans?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
Yes, they couldn't help knowing.
They heard screams at night?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
The Jews moaned, they were hungry.
[ Lanzmann Repeats Phrase]
They were shut in and starved.
- Did they have any food?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
You couldn't look there.
You couldn't talk to a Jew.
[Chattering In Polish]
Even going by on the road,
you couldn't look there.
- Did they look anyway?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
Yes, vans came,
and the Jews were moved farther off.
You could see them, but on the sly.
- [ Lanzmann ] In sidelong glances.
- That's right.
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
That's right, in sidelong glances.
What kind of cries and moans
were heard at night?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
They called on Jesus and Mary and God,
sometimes in German, as she puts it.
[ Lanzmann ]
The Jews called on Jesus, Mary and God!
[Chattering In Polish Continues]
[ Barbara ]
The presbytery was full of suitcases.
- The Jews' suitcases?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
Yes, and there was gold.
- [Church Bells Ringing ]
- [ Lanzmann Repeats Phrase]
How does she know there was gold?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
[ Lanzmann ]
The procession! We'll stop now.
[ Bells Continue]
[ Bells Continue]
[ Bells Continue]
[Whinnies ]
[ Bells Continue]
[ Bells Stop]
[ Lanzmann ]
Were there as many Jews in the church
as there were Christians today?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
How many gas vans
were needed to empty it out?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
An average of 50.
[ Lanzmann ]
It took 50 vans to empty it!
In a steady stream?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
- [ Together] Tak.
- Yes.
[ Lanzmann ]
The lady said before
that the Jews' suitcases
were dumped in the house opposite.
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
- What was in this baggage?
- [ Barbara Speaking Polish]
Pots with false bottoms.
What was in the false bottoms?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
- Valuables... objects of value.
- Ah, oui?
[Woman Continues In Polish]
They also had gold in their clothes.
[Woman Continues]
When given food, the Jews
sometimes threw them valuables
or sometimes money.
[ Lanzmann ] They said before
it was forbidden to talk to Jews.
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
Absolutely forbidden.
[ Lanzmann ]
Ask them if they miss the Jews.
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
- [Woman Replies]
- Of course.
[Woman Continues]
We wept too, Madam says.
[ Lanzmann ]
Oui. Bien sfir.
And Mr. Kantarowski
gave them bread and cucumbers.
Why do they think
all this happened to the Jews?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
Because they were the richest!
[ Lanzmann Repeats Phrase]
Many Poles were also exterminated.
Even priests.
Mr. Kantarowski...
will tell us what a friend told him.
It happened in Myndjewyce, near Warsaw.
[ Lanzmann ]
Go on.
[ Barbara ]
The Jews were gathered in a square.
The rabbi asked an SS man,
Can I talk to them?
The guard said yes.
So the rabbi said
that around 2,000 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.
[ Lanzmann ]
Ou/I oui.
[ Barbara ]
Then the rabbi told them,
Perhaps the time has come for that,
so let us do nothing.
Let us go,
let us do as we're asked.
[ Lanzmann ] He thinks the Jews expiated
the death of Christ?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
He doesn't think so,
or even that Christ sought revenge.
He didn't say that.
The rabbi said it.
[ Lanzmann Repeats Phrase]
[ Barbara ]
It was God's will, that's all!
- [ Lanzmann ] What'd she say?
- So Pilate washed his hands
and said, Christ is innocent,
he sent Barabbas.
But the Jews cried out,
Let his blood fall on our heads.
That's all. Now you know!
[Chattering Fades]
[ Lanzmann, In French]
Was the road between Chelmno, the village
and the woods where the pits were,
was it asphalted as it is now?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
[ Falborski Speaking Polish]
The road was narrower then,
but it was asphalted.
How many feet
were the pits from the road?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
[ Falborski Speaking Polish]
They were around 1,600 feet,
maybe 1,900 or 2,200 feet away.
So even from the road,
you couldn't see them.
How fast did the vans go?
[ Barbara Speaking Polish]
At moderate speed, kind of slow.
It 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.
[ Falborski Continues ]
Half an hour later, I arrived
at the hut of a forest warden
named Senajak.
[ Falborski Continues ]
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.
[ Falborski Continues ]
They were still alive.
[ Falborski Continues ]
Seeing those Jews crawling,
a Gestapo man
took out his revolver and shot them.
[ Falborski Continues ]
He finished them all off.
[ Falborski Continues ]
Then they brought Jews
who were working in the woods.
[ Falborski Continues ]
They righted the van
and put the bodies back inside.
[ Srebnik, In German]
This was the road
the gas vans used.
There were 80 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, 2 men inside!
These 2 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 daylong.
So it went.
I 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. Alive.
They could feel the fire burn them.
When we built the ovens,
I wondered what they were for.
An SS man told me,
To make charcoal.
For laundry irons.
That's what he told me.
I didn't know.
When 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 I saw all that, it didn't affect me.
Neither did the 2nd or 3rd shipment.
I was only 13,
and all I'd ever seen until then
were dead bodies.
Maybe I didn't understand.
Maybe if I'd been older
I'd have understood,
but the fact is, I didn't.
I'd never seen anything else.
In the ghetto, I saw...
in the ghetto in Lodz,
that as soon as anyone took a step,
he fell dead.
I thought that was
the way things had to be.
It was normal.
I'd walk the streets of Lodz,
maybe 100 yards,
and there'd be 200 bodies.
People were hungry.
They went into the street
and they fell, they fell...
Sons took their fathers' bread,
fathers took their sons'.
Everyone wanted to stay alive.
So when I came here, to Chelmno,
I was already...
I didn't care about anything.
I thought, if I survive,
I just want one thing:
5 loaves of bread to eat.
That's all.
That's what I thought.
But I dreamed, too,
that if I survived,
I'd be the only one left in the world,
not another soul. Just me. One.
Only me left in the world,
if! get out of here.
[ Lanzmann, In French]
Gehame Rekzhssache secret Reich business.
Berlin, June 5, 1942.
Changes to be made
to special vehicles now in service
at Kulmhof (Chelmno)
and to those now being built.
Since December 1941,
97,000 have been processed
(verarbeitet in German)
by the 3 vehicles in service,
with no major incident.
In light of observations
made so far, however,
the following technical changes
are needed:
the van is" normal load
is usually .9 to 70 per square yard.
In Saurer 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.
It 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 monoxide.
On the other hand,
if the load space is reduced
and the vehicle is packed solid,
the operating time can be
considerably shortened.
The manufacturers 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.
In fact, the balance
is automatically restored
because the merchandise aboard
displays, during the operation,
a natural tendency
to rush to the rear doors,
and are mainly found lying there
at the end of the operation.
So the front axle is not overloaded.
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 eliminated,
since they apparently are never used.
However, 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.
It would therefore be useful
to light the lamp
before and during
the first moments of the operation.
For easy cleaning of the vehicle,
there must be a sealed drain
in the middle of the floor.
The drainage hole's cover,
8 to 12 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 10 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 H D,
SS-Obersturmbannfiihrer Walter Rauff.
Signed Just.
SS UnterscharfiJhrer
[ Suchomel Singing In German]
Looking squarely ahead, brave and joyous
At the world
The squads march to work
All that matters to us now is Treblinka
It 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 a little luck ends it all
[ Lanzmann, In German]
Once more, but louder.
[ Suchomel]
We're laughing about it but ifs so sad.
- [ L anzmann j No one is" laughing.
- [ Suchome/ j Don 7' be sore at' me.
You want History.
I'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?
- Ja.
They were taught the song,
and by evening all of them had to sing it.
- [ Lanzmann ] Sing it again.
- All right.
[ Lanzmann ]
It'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
It 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 a little luck ends it all
Hurray N'
That's unique.
No Jews know that today!
[Train Approaching ]
[ Lanzmann ]
How was it possible in Treblinka
in peak days...
To process 18,000 people?
18,000 is too high.
- But I read that figure in court reports.
- Sure.
To process 18,000 people.
To liquidate them.
Mr. Lanzmann, that's an exaggeration.
Believe me.
How many?
12,000 t015,000.
But we had to spend half the night at it.
- Ja.
In January,
the trains started arriving at 6 A.M.
Always at 6 A.M.?
- Not always.
- Yes.
- The schedules were erratic.
- Yes.
Sometimes one came at 6 A.M.,
then another at noon,
maybe another late in the evening.
You see?
- So a train arrived.
I'd like you to describe in detail
the whole process.
During the peak period.
- Uh-huh.
[ Lanzmann ]
[ Suchomel ]
The trains left Malkinia station,
for Treblinka station.
[ Lanzmann ]
How many miles from Malkinia to Treblinka?
[ Suchomel]
About six miles.
Treblinka was a village.
A small village.
As a station,
it gained in importance
because of the transports of Jews.
There were at least 30 to 50 cars.
They were divided
into sections of 10 or 15
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.
[ Lanzmann ]
How many Germans?
[ Suchomel ]
3 to 5.
- No more?
- No more. I can assure you.
How many Ukrainians?
- Ten.
- [ Lanzmann Repeats Phrase]
[ Lanzmann ]
10 Ukrainians, 5 Germans.
Ja, ja.
2... 20 people from the Blue Squad.
Men from the Blue Squad
were here and here.
They sent the people inside.
The Red Squad was here.
- Ja?
- 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.
- [ Repeats Phrase]
An hour, an hour and a half.
A whole train took 2 hours.
- Yes.
In 2 hours, it was all over.
- Between the time of arrival...
- Und... and...
and death.
It was all over in 2 hours?
- 2 hours, 2 1/2 hours, 3 hours.
A whole train?
Yes, a whole train.
And for only one section,
for 10 cars, how long?
I can't calculate that
because the sections
came one after another,
and people flooded in constantly,
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.
5... at a time.
50 people.
60 women with children.
They had to wait here
until there was room here.
- Naked.
- Naked.
In summer and winter.
- In winter?
- In winter.
[ Lanzmann ]
Winter in Treblinka can be very cold.
[ Suchomel] Well, in winter,
in December, anyway after Christmas.
- J a.
- Bu! e van before Christmas it was cold as hell.
Between 15 and minus 4.
I know: At first
it was cold as hell for us, too.
We didn't have suitable uniforms.
It was cold for us too.
But it was colder for...
- For those poor people.
- In the funnel.
In the funnel, it was very, very cold.
- [ Repeats Phrase]
- Ja.
Can you...
describe this funnel precisely?
What was it like? How wide?
- Ja. Ja, der Sch/auch. ..
How was it
for the people in this funnel?
It was about 13 feet wide.
- Das Isl'...
- As wide as this room.
[ Repeats Phrase]
On each side were walls
this high or this high.
- Walls?
- No, barbed wire.
Woven into the barbed wire,
uh, were branches of pine trees.
- Mm-hmm.
- You understand?
It was known as camouflage.
There was a Camouflage Squad of 20 Jews.
They brought in new branches every day.
- From the woods?
- That's right.
- Uh-huh.
- So everything was screened.
People couldn't see anything
to the left or right.
You couldn't see through it.
- Impossible.
[ Repeats Phrase]
Here and here too.
Here, too.
- Ja?
- Und hier.
[ Suchomel]
Impossible to see through.
[ Lanzmann ]
where so many people
were exterminated,
wasn't big, right?
[ Suchomel]
It wasn't big.
1600 feet at the widest point.
It 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.
I only heard those two names for it.
[ Lanzmann ]
I need to see it.
The people go into the funnel.
Then what happens?
They're totally naked?
- Totally naked.
stood two Ukrainian guards.
- Yes.
- Mainly for the men.
If 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?
- I didn't see it.
- Ja.
I didn't see it.
Maybe they were beaten too.
Why not?
[ Repeats Phrase]
They were about to die anyway. Hmm?
Why not?
At the entrance to the gas chambers,
[ Lanzmann, In English]
Abraham, can you tell me how did it happen?
How were you chosen?
[ Bomba ]
There came an order
from the Germans
to take out the barbers they could get.
And they needed them for a certain job.
What kind ofjob they needed it for,
we didn't know at that time.
But, we gathered together
as many barbers as we could.
How long did it happen
after your arrival in Treblinka?
That... I would say that happened to me
about four weeks after I was in Treblinka.
When was it?
It was in the morning, in the...
That was in the morning.
It was around 10:00
when a transport came to Treblinka,
and the women went into the gas chambers.
And they chose some people
from the working people over there,
and they asked the question:
Who was a barber, and who was not a barber?
I was a barber for quite a number of years.
Some of them, they knew me,
like people from Czestochowa
and from other places.
So, naturally, they chose me,
and I selected some more barbers
which I know of them,
and we got it together.
- Professional barbers?
- Professional, yes.
We got it together,
and we were waiting for the order.
And the order came to go with them,
with the Germans.
They took us into the gas chamber,
to the second... part
of the camp in Treblinka.
It was far from the first part?
It was not too far,
but it was all covered
with gates, barbed wires
and trees covering the gate,
that nobody should see there is a gate,
or there is a place
going into the gas chambers.
Is it what the Germans
called the 'Schlauch?
No, the Germans,
what they called it, they called...
Like going to...
Road to the Heaven.
- 'Himmelweg ?
- "Himmel"... "Himmel way", yeah.
The Road to the Heaven.
And we knew about it
because we worked for quite a time
before we went in
to work in the gas chamber.
Going in over there,
they put in some benches
where the women could sit
and not to have the idea
that this is their last way,
or that it is the last time
they're going to live
or they're going to breathe,
or they're going to know
what is going on.
How long did it last that the barbers
cut the hair inside the gas chamber,
because it was not always the case?
We worked inside the gas chamber
for about a week or 10 days.
After that,
they decided that we will cut the hair
in the undressing barrack.
- How did it look, the gas chamber?
- It was a room, not a big room.
The room was, I would say, the size, by feet...
12 by 12.
But, in that room,
they pushed in a lot of women,
almost one on top of the other one.
But, like I mentioned before,
when we came in, we didn't know
what we're going to do.
And then, one of the kapos,
he came in and he said,
Barbers, you have to do a job:
to make to believe
all those women that came in
that they are just taking a haircut
and going in to take a shower,
and, from there,
they go out from this place.
But we knew already that there is
no way going out from this room.
Because this room is the last place
where they went in alive,
and they will never go out alive again.
Can you describe precisely?
Precisely, to describe, is...
When the transport came in...
Waiting there
until the transport came in.
The transport came in.
Women with children.
And pushing into that place.
We, the barbers, started to cut the hair,
and some of them,
I would say all of them,
some of them, they knew already
what's going to happen to them.
We tried to do the best what we could...
- [ Lanzmann ] No, no, no, no. No.
- the most human being what we could.
Excuse me.
How did it happen?
When the women came
into the gas chamber,
were you yourself already in the gas chamber...
- In, in.
- or did you come afterwards?
I said we were already
in the gas chamber,
because we were waiting over there
for the transport to come in.
- You were inside?
- Inside, yes.
Inside the gas chamber.
We were already in.
And suddenly you saw the women coming?
Yes, they came in.
How were they?
They were undressed, all naked,
without clothes, without anything else.
- All of them completely naked?
- Completely naked.
All the women and all the children.
- All the children too?
- The children too.
Because they came
from the undressing barracks.
There was a barracks
before going into the gas chamber
where they had undressed themselves.
What did you feel the first time
that it happened that you saw
all these naked women coming?
Well, I felt that,
I got to do what they told me:
to cut the hair in a way
that it should look like
a barber is doing his job,
like he's doing a job for a woman,
a nice haircut to give them,
but to take off as much hair as we could,
because they needed the women's hair
to be transported to Germany.
This means that you didn't shave them?
No, we did not shave them.
We just cut their hair to make them believe
that they're getting a nice haircut.
- But you cut with what? With scissors?
- With scissors, yes.
With scissors and with a comb,
without any clippers.
Just like a...
a man's haircut, I would say.
Not a... Not a baldy one to take out...
to take off all the hair,
but just to have the imagination
that they're getting a nice haircut.
- There were no mirrors, no?
- No, there were no mirrors.
There were just benches, not chairs,
but just benches where we worked,
about 16, 17 barbers,
and we had a lot of women in.
Every haircut, it took about two minutes,
no more than that,
because there was a lot of women to come in
and to get rid of their hair.
Can you imitate now how did you do?
Well, how we did it...
We did it as fast as we could,
because we were quite a number
of professional barbers.
And the way we did it,
we just stopped this and this,
and we cut...
And we just cut this like this,
here and there and there
and this side and this side
and the hair was all finished.
- With big movements?
- With big...
Naturally, with big movements,
because we could not waste any time.
The other party was waiting already outside,
coming in to do the same thing,
the same, uh, job, the same procedure.
- You said that you were 16 barbers, about?
- Yes.
This means you cut the hair
of how many women in one batch?
In one batch,
there was about, I would say,
going into that place,
between 60 and 70 women
in the same room at one time.
Afterwards, the doors
of the gas chamber were closed?
After that, we were finished with this party,
another party came in.
It was around about 140, 150 women.
- You were...
- They all were already taken care of.
They told us to leave the gas chamber
for a few minutes, about five minutes,
while they put in the gas
and they choked them to death.
- Where did you wait?
- Outside the gas chamber.
And, on the other side, where...
On this side, the women went in.
On the other side was
a group of working people,
which they took out already the dead bodies.
Some of them, they were not exactly dead.
They took them out,
and, in two minutes...
Not even two minutes.
In one rninute, everything was clear.
And it was clean to take in
the other party of the other women
to go through the same thing
what the first one, they went through.
These women, they had long hair?
Most of them, they had long hair,
they had short hair,
but we had to do the job
to get rid of the hair.
Like I mentioned, the Germans,
they needed the hair for their purposes.
But I asked you, and you didn't answer:
What was your impression
the first time you saw arriving
these naked women with children?
What did you feel?
I tell you something.
To have a feeling over there...
It was very hard to feel anything
or to have a feeling,
because, working there day and night
between dead people,
between bodies, men and women,
your feeling disappeared.
You were dead with your feeling.
You had no feeling at all.
And matter of fact, I want to tell you
something what had happened.
At the gas chamber,
when I was chosen in over there
to work as a barber,
some of the women, they came in
from a transport from my town,
from Czestochowa.
And, from the women,
from the number of women,
I knew a lot of people.
- You knew them?
- I knew them.
I lived with them in my town.
I lived with them in my street.
And I was...
Some of them, they were my close friends.
And when they saw me,
all of them started hugging me.
Abe! This and that.
What are you doing here?
What's going to happen with us?
What could you tell them?
What could you tell?
A friend of mine, he worked as a barber.
He was also a good barber
in my hometown.
When his wife and his sister...
came into the gas chamber...
[ Lanzmann ]
Go on, Abe. You must go.
You have to.
I can't do it.
It's too horrible.
- Please.
We have to do it.
You know it.
I won't be able to do it.
You have to do it.
I know it's very hard.
I know, and I apologize.
Don't keep me long with that, please.
Please. You must go on.
I told you,
today it's going to be very hard.
It was taken in with bags,
and it was transported to Germany.
[ Murmuring In Yiddish]
[Yiddish 1
Okay, go ahead.
Yes, what did he answer...
when his wife and sister came?
They tried to talk to him
and the husband,
also from his sister.
They could not tell them
that is the last time they stay alive,
because behind them was the German Nazis,
the SS men,
and they knew,
the minute they will say a word,
not only the wife and the women,
which they are dead already,
but also they will share
the same path with them.
But, in a way, they tried
to do the best for them,
to stay with them a second longer,
a minute longer,
just to hug them and just to kiss them,
because they knew
they will never see them again.
[ Suchomel, In German]
In 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 ovem/helmed them.
Death-panic makes people let go.
They empty themselves,
from the front or the rear.
So often, where the women stood,
there were 5 or 6 rows of excrement.
They stood?
They could squat or do it standing.
I didn't see them do it.
I only saw the feces.
Only women?
- Not the men, only the women.
- [ Repeats Phrase]
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.
- Ah, fa?
- 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.
It's well-known when someone's terrified
and knows he's about to die.
It can happen in bed.
My mother was kneeling by her bed.
- Your mother?
- Yes. Then there was a big pile.
- Ja.
- That's a fact.
- It's been medically...
- [ Repeats Phrase]
Since you wanted to know:
As soon as they were unloaded,
if they'd been loaded
in Warsaw, or elsewhere,
they'd already been beaten.
Beaten hard, worse than in Treblinka,
I 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!
Szybciej, szybciej!
I can't pronounce it:
I have false teeth.
It's Polish.
Bremze or szybciej.
What does bremze mean?
It's a Ukrainian word.
It 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.
Assignment to the Infirmary
was decided by Germans.
The Jews of the Blue Squad...
- Ja.
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.
l! 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.
[ In German]
The infirmary was a narrow site
very close to the ramp
to which the aged were led.
I had to do this too.
This execution site wasn't covered,
just an open place with a 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.
Ja. A sort of tiny labyrinth.
In 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.
If 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.
In the peak periods,
that happened daily.
In those days, the pit...
and it was at least
10 to 12 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.
[ Vrba, In English]
There was always an amount of people
who could not get out from the wagons.
There were those who died on the road,
or people who were sick to such a degree
that even a persuasion with violent beating
wouldn't get them moving fast enough.
So those people remained in the wagons.
Survivor of Auschwitz
So our first job was to get into the wagons
to get out the dead bodies or the dying
and transport them im Laufischr/tt,
as the Germans like to say.
This means running.
- [ Lanzmann ] Laufischritt.
Laufischritt, yeah.
Never, never, never walking, or something.
Everything had to be done im Laufischritt.
- Immer Iaufen?
- Immer Iaufen.
Very sporty.
They are a sporty nation, you see?
And, uh, we had to get out those bodies
and, on the ramp, running,
to get them on a truck,
which was at the head of the ramp.
There were already trucks prepared.
Trucks were ready.
Say, uh, the trucks were five, six
sometimes standing there, sometimes more.
There was no iron rule.
But the first truck
was for the dead and the dying.
There was not much, uh,
medical care taken to establish
who is dead and who feigns to be dead.
I mean, you know, who is only simulating.
So they were put on the truck,
and these trucks went to...
Then, once this was finished,
then this was the first truck which move off,
and it went straight to the crematorium,
which was about two kilometers
to the left from the ramp.
- At the time, it was two kilometers.
- At the time.
- It was before the construction of...
- Before the construction of the new ramp.
[ Vrba ]
This was the old ramp.
Through that old ramp,
the first one and three-quarters
of a million people went.
Through that old ramp.
I mean the majority.
The new ramp was only built
for the expected murder,
in a very shod time,
of one million Jews from Hungary.
The whole murder machinery could work
only on one principle:
that the people came to Auschwitz
and didn't know where they were going
and for what purpose.
The new arrivals were
supposed to be kept without panic
and orderly marching into the gas chamber.
Especially, the panic was dangerous
from women with small children.
So, it was important for the Nazis
that none of us give some sort of a message
which could cause a panic
even in the last moment.
And anybody who tried
to get into touch with newcomers
was either clubbed to death
or taken behind the wagon and shot.
Because, if a panic would have broken out,
and a massacre would have taken place
on the spot, on the ramp,
it would already be a hitch
in the machinery.
You can't bring in the next transport
with dead bodies and blood around,
because this will only increase the panic.
The Nazis were concentrated upon one thing:
It should go in an orderly fashion,
so that it goes unimpeded.
One doesn't lose time.
[ Muller, In German]
Before each gassing operation,
the SS took stern precautions.
The crematorium
was surrounded by 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.
In Birkenau, there were 4 crematoria,
Crematorium II, III and IV, V.
Crematorium II was similar to III.
In II and III,
the undressing room
and the gas chambers were underground.
A large undressing room
of about 3000 square feet
and a large gas chamber...
where one could...
gas up to 3000 people at a time.
Crematorium IV and V
were of a different type
in that they weren't located underground.
Everything was at ground level.
In IV and V,
there were 3 gas chambers
with a total capacity
of at most 1800 to 2000 people at a time.
Elevators hoisted bodies
to the ovens
Crematorium II and III had 15 ovens each.
Crematorium IV and V had 8 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 none of them
had the faintest of notions
that in 3 or 4 hours
they'd be reduced to ashes.
When they reached
the undressing room,
they saw
that it looked like
an International Information 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 pillars
that held up
this underground undressing room,
there were signs with slogans
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 undressed.
And to the left,
at a right-angle,
was the gas chamber
with its massive door.
In Crematoria II and III,
Zyklon gas crystals were poured in
by a so-called
SS disinfection squad,
through the ceiling,
and in Crematoria IV and V
through side openings.
With 5 or 6 canisters of gas,
they could kill around 2000 people.
This so-catted 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 canisters of Zyklon gas
and the hammers to open them.
The gas took about
10 to 15 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 blocks of stone.
How they tumbled out of the gas chamber!
I saw that several times.
That was the toughest thing to take.
You could never get used to that.
It was impossible.
[ Lanzmann ]
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 a struggle.
The lights were switched off
in the gas chambers.
It was dark, no one could see.
So the strongest people
tried to climb higher.
Because they probably realized
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.
It was psychological:
They knew where the door was,
so maybe they could force their way.
It was instinctive,
a death struggle.
Which is why 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...?
- Ja.
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.
- Yes.
- What?
It 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.
It was terrible to see.
That was the toughest part.
survivor of the 5 liquidations
of the Auschwitz special detail
It was pointless
to tell the truth to anyone
who crossed the threshold
of the crematorium.
You couldn't save anyone there.
It was impossible to save people.
One day, in 1943,
when I was already in Crematorium V,
a train from Bialystok 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.
In 3 hours, you'll be ashes.
The woman believed him
because she knew him.
She ran all over
and warned 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 Bialystok 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. In shock.
And she started to scream.
[ Muller Continues ]
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 horribly,
because she wouldn't betray him.
In the end, she pointed to him.
He was taken out of the line
and thrown alive into the oven.
We were told,
Whoever says 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.
But 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 Theresienstadt
(the Czech family camp),
who'd already spent 6 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 Hungary, from Corfu
who'd been traveling for 10 or 12 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.
It 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.
Informing those people
was quite pointless.
[ Bells Jingling ]
[ Metal Banging, Distant]
[ Banging Grows Louder]
[ Banging Continues]
[ Banging Continues, Distant]
[ People Chattering In Greek]
[ Metal Banging ]
- [Greek] Grab it from there.
- [ Greek] Yes, grab it from there.
- Put it right there.
- Okay.
- Right there.
- Okay, yes.
Okay, be careful. Wait.
You'll come and pick it up later?
- Yes.
- Put it down.
- In a second.
Hold on a second.
Just hold on a second.
Maybe if you removed this?
Got it? That's how you'll load it.
Come and pick it up next week.
Now move the cart away from here.
Move the cart.
Yes, let's make some space.
[ Man ]
So you're an actor now.
Let's finish this.
[ Man, In Italian]
These are my nephews.
They burned them in Birkenau.
Two of my brothefs kids.
They took them
to the crematorium with their mom.
They were all burned in Birkenau.
My brother.
- [ Lanzmann] Si?
He was sick,
and they put him in the oven,
in the crematorium, and burned him.
That was at Birkenau.
[ Mordo, In Italian]
The oldest boy was 17,
the second was 15.
Two more kids kaput with their morn.
Yes, 4 children I lost.
- [ Woman ] Suo flare/lo?
- No.
[Women Chattering In Greek]
[ Lanzmann, In Italian ]
Your father too?
- [Woman Repeats Phrase]
- My dad, him too.
How old was your father?
Dad was 85 years old.
- 85 years old and he died in Auschwitz.
- Si.
Auschwitz, that's right.
[Woman Murmuring In Italian]
85 and he died at Birkenau.
My father.
- Your father made the whole trip.
- Si.
[ Mordo]
The whole family died.
First the gas chamber,
then the crematorium.
[ Man Singing In Hebrew]
[ Mordo Singing In Hebrew]
[ Continues ]
[ Continues ]
[ Ends ]
[ In French]
On Friday morning, June 9, 1944,
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.
- [ Lanzmann, In French] By the street?
- Yes, by this street.
- How many of you were there?
- Exactly 1,650.
[Speaking Greek]
- Quite a crowd?
- A lot of people.
Christians stopped there.
Christians, that's right.
And they saw.
- Where were the Christians?
- La'.
[ Greek ]
- 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?
- It was 6 A.M.
- [ In French] In the morning.
- A fine day?
- Yes, the day was fine.
6 o'clock in the morning.
1 ,600.
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 hospital,
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.
- [Greek] Poland.
- [ French] Poland, that's right.
The Germans had put up
a proclamation on all the walls in Corfu.
It said all Jews had to report.
And once we were all rounded up,
life would be better
without us in Greece.
It 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 anti-Semitic?
Corfu's always had anti-Semitism?
It 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.
President of the Corfu Jewish community
- And now?
- Now we're free.
- How do you get on with the Christians now?
- Very well.
- [ Man Speaking Greek]
[ Greek ]
Trs bonnes.
- What'd he say?
- He asked me what you said.
He agrees our relations
with the Christians are very good.
[ Man #2 Speaking Greek]
- Did all the Jews live in the ghetto?
- Most of them.
What happened after the Jews left?
They took all our possessions,
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, usurped.
- By whom?
- By everybody, and by the Germans.
[ Lanzmann ]
Of the 1,700 people deported...
[Aaron ]
Around 122 were saved.
95% of them died.
Was it a long trip
from Corfu to Auschwitz?
We were arrested here on June 9,
and finally arrived June 29.
Most were burned on the night of the 29th.
It lasted from June 9 to 29?
[ Greek ]
[ In French]
We stayed here for around 5 days.
Here in the fort.
No one dared escape
and leave his father, mother, brothers.
Our solidarity was
on religious and family grounds.
The first group left on June 11.
[ Boat Motor Humming ]
I went with the 2nd convoy, on June 15.
What kind of a boat were you on?
A zattera.
That's a boat made of barrels and planks.
It was towed by a small boat
with Germans in it.
On our boat there were 1, 2 or 3 guards,
not many Germans, but we were terrified.
You can understand,
terror is the best of guards.
- What was the journey like?
- Terrible! Terrible!
- No water, nothing to eat.
- [ Men Chattering In Greek]
90 cars that were good
for only 20 animals,
all of us standing up.
A lot of us died.
Later they put the dead
in another car in quicklime.
- [ Men Chattering In Greek]
- They burned them in Auschwitz, too.
[Whistle Blows]
Next figure: WALTER STIER
Ex-member of the Nazi party
Former head, Reich Railways, Bureau 33
(Railroads of the Reich)
[ Lanzmann, In German]
You never saw a train?
[ Stier, In German]
No, never.
We had so much work,
I never left my desk.
We worked day and night.
[ Lanzmann ]
GEDOB means Head office of Eastbound Traffic.
- [ Stier Repeats Phrase, Agrees ]
In January 1940,
I was assigned to GEDOB Krakow.
In mid-1943, I was moved to Warsaw.
I was made chief traffic planner.
Chief of the traffic planning office.
But your duties were the same
before and after 1943?
The only change:
I was promoted to head of the department.
What were your specific duties
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?
- Yes.
Department 33 was in charge
of special trains
and regular trains.
The special trains
were handled by Department 33.
You were always
in the Department of Special Trains?
What's the difierence between
a special and a regular train ?
A regular train may be 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.
- [ Lanzmann Repeats Phrase]
Are there still special trains now?
- Of course.
- Ja?
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...
[ Clears Throat]
Special trains are scheduled.
Or else one couldn't handle the traffic.
- Ja.
You said after the war you handled
trains for visiting dignitaries.
- After the war, yes.
- [ Repeats Phrase]
If a king visits Germany by train...
- Ja.
That's a special train?
- That's a special train. Mm-hmm.
- Ja.
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 I ask you another question?
- Hmm?
- Why were there more special trains
during the war, than before or after?
- Ja.
I 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...
[ Both Repeat Phrase]
- In Berlin?
- Correct.
As for the implementation of those orders,
the Head Office of Eastbound Traffic
in Berlin dealt with it.
[ Lanzmann ]
Yes, Iunderstand.
- [ Stier ] Is 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.
[ Lanzmann ] But you knew that
the trains to Treblinka or Auschwitz were...
Of course we knew.
I was the last district:
- [ Lanzmann Continues Speaking German]
Without me, these trains
couldn't reach their destination.
- Ja. Ja.
- Um...
For instance,
a train that started in Essen
had to go through
the district of Wuppertal,
Hannover, Magdeburg, Berlin,
Frankfurt/Oder, Posen, Warsaw, etc.
So I had to.
Did you know that Treblinka
meant extermination?
Of course not!
You didn't know?
Good God, no!
How could we know?
I never went to Treblinka.
I stayed in Krakow, in Warsaw,
glued to my desk.
You were a...
- I was strictly a bureaucrat!
- lsee.
[ Lanzmann ]
But ifs astonishing
that people in the Department
of Special Trains
never knew about the final solution.
[ Stier ]
We were at war.
Because there were others
who worked for the railroads who knew.
Like the train conductors.
- Nein.
Yes, they saw it. They did.
- [ Lanzmann Repeats Phrase]
But as to what happened, I know...
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.
People were put up there.
For instance,
for a train coming from Essen
or Cologne, or elsewhere,
room had to be made for them there.
With the war and the allies
advancing everywhere,
those people had to be
concentrated in camps.
When exactly did you find out?
When the word got around,
when it was whispered.
- Ja.
- It was never said outright.
Good God, no!
They'd have hauled you off at once!
We heard things...
- Rumors?
- That's it, rumors.
- During the war?
- Bitte?
[ Repeats Phrase]
- Towards the end of the war.
- [ Repeats Phrase]
Not in 1942?
- No!
Good God, no! Not a word!
Towards the end of 1944, maybe.
[ Clears Throat]
- End of 1944?
- Not before.
What did you...?
It was said that
people were being sent to camps,
and those who weren't in good health
probably wouldn't survive.
Extermination came to you
as a big surprise?
- Completely. Yes.
- [ Repeats Phrase]
You had no idea.
- Not the slightest.
Like that camp, what was its name...?
It was in the Oppeln district.
I've got it: Auschwitz!
- Yes.
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 40 miles.
- That's not very far.
And we knew nothing.
Not a clue.
- [ Lanzmann Repeats Phrase]
- Nein.
But you knew that the Nazis...
that Hitler didn't like the Jews?
That we did.
It was well-known,
it appeared in print.
- [ Lanzmann ] Ja.
- It was no secret.
But as to their extermination,
that was news to us.
I mean, even today people deny it.
They say there couldn't
have been so many Jews.
Is it true? I don't know.
That's what they say.
- Ja.
Anyway what was done was an outrage.
- What?
- The extermination.
Everyone condemns it.
Every decent person.
But as for knowing about it, we didn't.
The Poles, for instance.
- Ja?
- The Polish people knew everything.
That's not surprising, Dr. Sorel.
They lived nearby,
they heard, they talked.
And they didn't have to keep quiet.
[Whistle Blows]
[ Hilberg, In English]
This is the Fahrplananordnung Number 587,
which is typical for special trains.
The number of the order goes to show you
how many of them there were.
Underneath, Nur fUr den Dienstgebrauch.
Only for internal use.
But this turns out to be
a very low classification for secrecy.
And the fact that, in this entire document,
which, after all, deals with death trains,
0H6 cannot SEE...
not only on this one,
but one cannot see it on others...
one cannot see
the word geheim, secret,
is astonishing to me.
That they would not have done that
is very astonishing.
But, on second thought, I believe that,
had they labeled it secret,
they would have invited a great many
inquiries from people who got hold of it.
They would then have
perhaps raised more questions.
They would have focused
attention on the thing.
And the key to the entire operation,
from a psychological standpoint,
was never to utter the words
that would be appropriate
to the action being taken.
Say nothing. Do these things.
Do not describe them.
So, therefore, this is
Nur fur den Dienstgebrauch.
And now notice to how many recipients
this particular order goes.
Bie Bahnhbfe.
On this stretch, there is one, two,
three, four, five, six, seven, eight,
and here we are in Malkinia...
- Malkinia.
Which is, of course,
the station near Treblinka.
Of course.
But notice that it takes eight recipients
for this relatively short distance,
through Radom to the Warsaw district.
Eight, because the train
passes through these stations.
Therefore, each one has to know.
Not only that, but, of course,
you're not going to write two pieces of paper
if you can write one.
So, therefore, we find here not only PKR,
which is a death train going here,
in the plan, labeled thus,
but we also see the empty train
after it has arrived in Treblinka,
now originating in Treblinka.
And you can always know when it's an empty train
with the word L in front of it,
- Yes. Ruckleitung des Leerzuges...
- And now...
Yes. And now... And now... And now...
- ...which means return the empty train.
And now we're going back.
Then we have another train.
Now notice that there's very little subtlety
to this numbering system.
We're going from 9228 to 9229,
to 9230, to 9231, to 9232.
Hardly any, uh, originality here.
It's just very regular traffic.
[ Lanzmann ]
Death traffic.
[ Hilberg ]
Death traffic.
And, here, we see that,
starting out in one ghetto,
which obviously is being emptied,
the train leaves for Treblinka.
It leaves on the 30th of September, 1942,
18 minutes after 4:00,
by schedule at least,
arrives there at 11:24
on the next morning.
This is also a very long train,
which may be the reason that it takes so slow.
It's 50 G. That's, uh, "funfzig Guterwagen,
50 freight cars filled with people.
That's an exceptionally heavy transport.
Now, once the train
has been unloaded at Treblinka...
And you notice there are two numbers here:
11:24... that's in the morning...
and 15:59, which is to say,
almost 4:00 in the afternoon.
In that interval of time,
the train has to be unloaded, cleaned
and turned around.
- It has to be... It has to be very fast.
It has to be turned around.
And you see, here, the same numbers appear
as the 'Zeerzug, now empty train,
goes to another place.
And it leaves at 4:00 in the afternoon
and now goes to that other place,
which is yet another small town,
where it picks up victims.
And there you are at 3:00 in the morning.
It leaves on the 23rd at 3:00 in the morning
and arrives there the next day.
What is that? it seems to be
the same train, as a matter of fact.
- This is quite obviously the same.
- it is the same train,
which gets every time another number.
- The number...
The number has to be changed,
quite obviously. Correct.
Then it goes back to Treblinka,
and this is again a long trip.
It arrives in Treblinka,
now goes back to yet another place.
Then the same situation, the same trip.
And then yet another.
It goes to Treblinka
and then arrives in Czestochowa
on the 29th of September.
And then the cycle is complete.
And this is called a 'Fahrplananordnung,
and if you count up the...
the number of, uh,
not empty numbers, but full ones, PKRs...
There's one.
There is one.
- But why?
- That's two. That's three.
- Why such a...
- That's four.
- Why...
We may be talking here
about 10,000 dead Jews
on this one Fahrplananordnung right here.
- More than 10,000.
- Well, we will be conservative.
But why such a document
is so fascinating, as a matter of fact?
Because I was in Treblinka,
and to have the two things together,
Treblinka and that document...
Well, you see,
when I hold a document in my hand,
particularly if it's an original document,
then I hold something
which is actually something
that the original bureaucrat
had held in his hand.
It's an artifact. it's a leftover.
it's the only leftover there is.
- Yes.
- The dead are not around.
[Cattle Mooing ]
[ Dogs Barking ]
[ Hilberg ]
The Rekzhsbahn was ready to ship, in principle,
any cargo in return for payment.
And, therefore, the basic key,
price-controlled key,
was that Jews were going to be
shipped to Treblinka,
were going to be shipped to Auschwitz,
Sobibor, or any other destination,
so long as the railroads
were paid by the track kilometer,
so many pfennig per mile.
And the basic rate was the same
throughout the war,
with children under 10 going at half fare,
children under four going free.
And the payment had to be made
for only one way.
The guards... The guards, of course,
had to have return fare paid for them
because they were going back
to their place of origin.
Excuse me. The children were shipped
in the extermination camps...
The children under four...
- ...went free.
They had the privilege to be gassed freely?
Yes, transport was free.
And, in addition to that,
because the person who had to pay,
the agency that had to pay,
was the agency that ordered the train,
and that happened to have been
the Gestapo, Eichmann's office...
Because of the financial problem
which that office had in making payments,
the Reichsbahn agreed on group fare.
So the Jews were being shipped
in much the same way
as any excursion fare would be granted
if there were enough people traveling.
And the minimum was 400,
a kind of charter fare.
400 was the minimum.
So even if there were fewer than 400,
it would pay to say that there were 400,
and, in that way,
get the half fare for adults as well.
And that was the basic principle.
Now, of course, if there was
exceptional filth in the cars,
which might be the case,
if there was damage to the equipment,
which might be the case,
because the transports took so long,
and the inmates, to the extent
of five or ten percent, died en route,
uh, then there might be
an additional bill for that damage.
But, in principle, uh,
so long as payment was being made,
transports were being shipped.
Sometimes, the SS got credit.
Sometimes, the transport
went out before payment,
because, as you see, the...
the whole business was handled,
as in the case
of any other charter traffic, especially,
or any really personal traffic of any kind,
through a travel bureau.
Mitteleuropaisches Reisebiiro
would handle some of these transactions:
the billing procedure,
the ticketing procedure.
Or if a smaller transport
was involved, the SS would...
Excuse me. It was the same bureau who was
dealing with any kind of normal passenger?
- Absolutely.
- It was dealing with the Jews too.
Just the official travel bureau.
Mitteleuropisches Reisebiiro
will ship people to the gas chambers,
or they will ship vacationers
to their favorite resorts.
And that was basically the same office
and the same operation,
the same procedure, the same billing.
- No difference?
- No difference whatsoever.
And, as a matter of course,
everybody would do that job
as if it were the most normal thing to do.
But it was not a normal job.
No, it was not a normal job.
As a matter of fact, you know, even, uh...
even the complicated currency
procedures were followed
in much the same way
as with any other transaction,
if borders had to be crossed,
and that was very frequent.
For instance?
Well, I think the most interesting example
is, of course, Greece,
the... the transports from Saloniki, Greece,
in the spring of 1943,
involving some 46,000 victims
over a considerable distance,
so that, even with group fare,
the bill came to almost two million marks,
which was quite a sum.
And the basic principle, you see,
with such traffic,
is that which is employed
in the usual customary way,
even to this day, all over the world.
One pays in the currency
of the place of origin,
but, then, one has to pay
the participating railroads en route
in their own currencies.
- From Saloniki, they had to cross Greece.
- They had to cross Greece.
- In Greece, it was drachmas?
In Greece, it was drachma,
and then you might have to go through the...
- Yugoslavia.
- Yes, the Serbian and Croatian railroads.
And you might have to then go
through the Re/chsbahn and pay in mark.
Now, ironically, the problem was, you see,
that the military commander in Saloniki,
who was in charge,
so he, in a sense, was the ultimate person
responsible for paying for these things,
didn't have the mark.
And he didn't have the Reichsmark,
although he did have the drachma.
The drachma, you see, he had
from the confiscated Jewish property
which was used to pay for these things.
This was a self-financing principle.
The SS or the military
would confiscate the Jewish property
and, with proceeds, especially
from bank deposits, would pay for transports.
This means that the Jews themselves...
- Absolutely.
- ...would pay for their death?
You have to remember...
You have to remember one basic principle:
There was no budget for destruction.
So that is the reason that
the confiscated property had to be used
in order to make the payments.
All right.
The property of the Jews
in Saloniki was confiscated,
but the proceeds were
in local Greek currency.
The Reichsbahn, of course,
would want payment in mark.
How, then, do you change
the drachma into mark?
Now, you have exchange controllers,
right within occupied Europe.
The only way it could be done, of course,
is if somebody
in this occupied zone obtained mark.
But how could they?
This was not
such a simple thing in wartime.
And, therefore, for once,
there was a default.
The railroad had shipped all of these Jews
to Auschwitz without compensation.
[Whistle Blows]
[Whistle Blows]
[ MUIIer, In German]
The special detaifs life depended
on the trainloads due for extermination.
[Whistle Blows]
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.
But when there were fewer trainloads...
[Train Whistle Blows]
It meant immediate extermination for us.
We, in the special detail, knew
that a lack of trains
would lead to our liquidation.
[ Train Clacking Continues]
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.
[ Suchomel, In German]
At that time,
in January, February,
hardly any trains arrived.
Was Treblinka glum without the trains?
I wouldn't say the Jews were glum.
They became so when they realized...
I'll come to that later,
it's a story in itself.
- Yes, it's a story in itself.
- it's a story in itself.
Yes, I know.
The Jews,
those in the work squads,
thought at first...
- Those in the work squads, yes.
- 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 500 to 600
of them in Camp I...
- Up there?
- Yes.
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.
- Ja.
- It was all over.
They'd stopped believing.
- Ja.
It was all very well to say...
We kept on insisting,
You're going to live!
We almost believed it ourselves.
If you lie enough,
you believe your own lies.
But they replied to me,
No, chief, we're just reprieved corpses.
[ Glazar, In German]
The dead season, as it was called,
began in February 1943,
after the big trainloads came in
from Grodno and Bialystok.
Absolute quiet.
It quieted in late January,
February and into March.
Not one trainload.
The whole camp was empty,
and suddenly, everywhere,
there was hunger.
It 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 Saloniki.
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,
a feeling of shame.
For we 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,
filling 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.
[ Lanzmann, In German]
This realization came suddenly
with the fresh trainloads?
Maybe it wasn't so sudden,
but it was only
with the Balkans trainloads
that it became...
so stark to us, unadorned.
24,000 people,
probably with not a sick person
among them,
not an invalid, all healthy and robust!
I 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...
- Fighters!
- Yes, they could have been fighters.
It 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.
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 1942.
Beginning in November '42
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 tasks:
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 1943,
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.
[ MUIIer, In German]
In the fall of 1943,
when it was clear to all of us
that no one would help us
unless we helped ourselves,
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 I,
so the revolt could be
coordinated everywhere.
The answer came
that the Resistance command
in Auschwitz I
agreed with our plan
and would join with us.
among the Resistance leaders,
there were very few Jews.
Most were political prisoners
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.
[ In English]
Auschwitz and Birkenau,
apart from being a Hinrichtung center,
a mass -murder center,
was a normal concentration camp too,
which had its order, like Mauthausen,
like Buchenwald,
like Dachau, like Sachsenhausen.
But whereas, in Mauthausen,
the main product
of prisoners' work was stone...
there was a big stone quarry...
the product in Auschwitz was death.
Everything was geared
to keep the crematoria running.
This was the aim.
This means that the prisoners would work
on the road leading to the crematoria.
They would build the crematoria.
Uh, they would build all barracks
necessary for keeping up prisoners.
And, of course, apart from that,
there was an element
of a normal German concentration camp,
because the Krupp and Siemens factories
moved in and utilized slave labor.
So the Krupp factories
and Siemens factories were built partly
directly within the concentration camp
The tradition in the concentration camp was
that there was a considerable amount
of political prisoners:
trade unionists, Social Democrats,
ex-fighters from Spain.
What happened was
a very peculiar development.
The Resistance leadership in Auschwitz
was concentrated in the hands of...
German-speaking anti-Nazis,
who were German by birth,
were considered racially pure
by the Nazi hierarchy.
They got a bit better treatment
than the rest of the camp.
I don't say that
they were treated with gloves.
But they managed, with time,
to gain influence over various
Nazi dignitaries from the SS
and to use it in a way
which led systematically
to an improvement of conditions
within the concentration camp itself.
Whereas, in 1943... '42...
in Birkenau, in December and January,
a death rate of 400 prisoners
per day was common,
by May 1943,
not only because of the weather improvement,
but due to the activities
of the Resistance movement,
the improvement was so marked
that the mortality grossly decreased
in the concentration camp.
And they considered it
a great victory on their side.
And that improvement of living conditions
within the concentration camp
was, perhaps, not so against the policy
of the higher echelons of SS ranks,
as long as it did not interfere
with the objective of the camp.
This means production
of death on the arrivals,
which were not prisoners of the camp.
There was a rule that if there are
those people in the transport
who can be utilized for work,
who are in good physical condition,
they are not old, they are not too young,
they are not children,
they are not women with children,
et cetera, they look healthy,
they should come into the concentration camp
for replacement of those
who were dying in the concentration camp,
as a fresh force.
And I could see the following discussions.
I once overheard...
A transport came from...
I think it was from Holland or from Belgium.
I do not guarantee which one it was.
And the SS doctor selected a group
of well-looking Jewish prisoners, newcomers,
from the whole transport,
which would be gassed,
which was gassed.
But the representative SS
from the concentration camp
said he doesn't want them.
And there was a discussion between them
which I could overhear,
in which the doctor was saying,
Why don't you take them?
They are ausgefressene Juden
auf der hollndischen Kse.
This mean, uh, Jews full of...
very, very nourished on Dutch cheese.
They would be good for the camp.
And Fries, it was,
HauptscharfiJhrer Fries, answered him.
[Quoting Fries In German]
L can't take those people,
because nowadays they don't
kick the bucket so fast in the camp.
- This means they don't die fast enough?
- That's right.
In other words, he explained that
the stand of the camp was, say, 30,000.
If 500 or 5,000 died,
they were replaced by a new force
from the Jewish transport which came in.
But, if only a thousand died,
well, only a thousand were replaced,
and more went into the gas chamber.
So, the improvement of the conditions
within the concentration camp itself
made a higher death rate
in the gas chamber,
straight into the gas chamber.
It decreased the death rate
among the prisoners in concentration camp.
So, it was clear to me
that the improvement of the situation
of the concentration camp
does not impede
the process of mass executions
of those people
who were brought in into the camp.
Consequently, my idea, then,
of the Resistance movement,
of the sense
of the Resistance movement, was
that the improvement of the conditions
within the camp is only a first step,
that the Resistance movement
actually wants... is aware...
that the main thing is to stop
the process of mass execution,
the machinery of the killing,
and that, therefore,
it is a time of preparation,
of gathering of forces
for attacking the SS from inside,
even if it is a suicidal mission.
But, destroy the machinery.
And in this respect,
I would consider it as a suitable objective,
worthy objective.
And, um, it was also clear to me
that such an objective
cannot be achieved overnight,
that there is necessary a lot of preparation
and a lot of circumstances
about which, being only a small cog
in the whole machinery of resistance,
I could not know or decide.
But it was clear in my mind
that the only objective of any resistance
within a concentration camp
of the type of Auschwitz
has to be different from that
in Mauthausen or in Dachau.
Because, whereas
in Mauthausen and in Dachau,
this policy of resistance improved
the survival rate of political prisoners,
the same very noble policy
improved and oiled
the machinery of mass annihilation,
as practiced by the Nazis
within the concentration camp.
[Train Clacking ]
[ Woman, In English]
In Theresienstadt,
this time it reached us,
the transport to the east.
[Train Whistle Blows]
We were loaded
into these wagons for cattle.
Deported from Theresienstadt
[ Clacking Continues ]
And it went for two days...
[ Clacking Fades ]
and one night.
- [ Lanzmann ] In wintertime?
- The second day...
It was December,
but it was warm inside
because we made the heat.
We heated it up with our temperature,
body temperature.
One evening, the train came to a stop,
the next day in the evening,
and the doors were opened.
And there was a terrible screaming.
Out! Out! Out! Out!
We were shocked. We didn't know
what's going on, where we are.
We saw only SS with dogs.
And we saw, in the distance,
in symme... in symmetric lights there,
but we didn't know where we are,
what the lights,
the thousands of lights, were meaning.
We only heard this shouting.
Out! Out! Out! And we...
- [ Lanzmann ] Raus!
Yes, just exactly.
And, Schnell! Schnell! Schnell!
Out we came of these wagons.
We had to line up.
And there were some people
with striped uniforms.
We didn't know what the stripes are.
And I asked one in Czech,
Where are we?
And it was a Polish who understood my Czech,
and he told me, Auschwitz,
but it didn't mean anything to me.
What is Auschwitz?
I didn't know about Auschwitz anything.
We were /ed into a so-cal/ed family camp,
Familienlager B Zwei B,
children, men and women together,
without any selection beforehand.
Men from the Mnnerlager,
they came in and told us
that Auschwitz is a Verriuzhtungsmtger,
where they are burning people,
and we didn't believe.
In this camp,
there was already e transport'
who left Theresienstadt in September,
three months before us.
They didn't believe too,
because we were all together,
and nobody was taken away,
and nobody was burned.
We didn't believe it.
[ Vrba, In English]
Those Czech Jews from Theresienstadt,
from the ghetto near Prague,
came into one particular part of the camp,
which was cal/ed Bauabschnitt Zwei B, ll B.
At that time, I was working
as a registrar in II A.
The division between II A and II B
was only one electrical fence,
through which nobody could climb,
but you could speak through it.
In the morning,
I could sort out the whole situation.
There were a number
of surprising circumstances.
The families...
this means men, women and children...
were taken together,
and nobody was gassed.
They took with them
their luggage into the camp,
and they were not sham.
Their hair was left.
So they were in a different position
than anything
which I have seen until now.
I didn't know what to think about it,
and nobody knew.
But in the main registrafs office,
it was known that all those people
have got special cards,
which had a remark on them:
SB mit sechsmonatiger Quarantne.
SB we knew what it means:
Sonderbehandmng which meant gassing.
And Quarantne
also we knew what it means.
But it didn't make sense to us
that somebody should be kept
in the camp for six months
in order to be gassed after six months.
Therefore, it was left
open to interpretation
if SB Sonderbehancflung
always means death in gas chamber
or if perhaps it has got a double meaning.
And the six months
were supposed to elapse on March 7.
In December,
and I think it was close to December 20,
another transport of...
from Theresienstadt came,
also about 4,000 people strong,
which was added to the first transport
into the camp B ll B.
Also, men, women and children
were left together.
Families were not torn apart,
old people, young people.
Everything was... remained intact.
And their hair was left,
and their personal property was left.
They could wear civil clothes,
whatever they had.
They were given
a sort of a different treatment.
A school was arranged
for the children in a special barrack.
The children soon made a theater there.
And also it was not really a very
comfortable life, because they were cramped,
and, from the first 4,000 people
during the first six months,
the mortality was about a thousand.
One thousand died.
- [ Lanzmann ] Were they obliged to work?
Yes, they had to work,
but only inside their camp.
They were making a new camp road,
and they were ornamenting the barracks.
They were induced to write letters,
induced to write letters by the SS,
uh, to their relatives
in the Theresienstadt ghetto,
saying that they are all together, et cetera.
They had better conditions
of food, for instance?
Definitely better conditions of food,
better conditions of treatment.
I mean, the conditions were so good
that, within six months,
including the old people and children,
only one quarter of them died.
I mean, this was a very unusually
good condition in Auschwitz.
And, uh, to the children's theater,
the SS used to come there
and play with the children.
Personal relationships were struck up.
And, of course, uh,
one of my tasks as a registrar
was to find out the possibility
of people who are resistance...
who have got a mind for resistance,
and to strike up with them a relationship
and contact, and...
- You were already a member of...
- The Resistance. Yes, yes.
That was my job as a registrar,
that I had the possibility of moving
a bit around under various pretexts,
to carry papers from my part of the camp
into the central registry,
and, at that occasion, to meet
other people and give them messages,
take messages from them.
And one of my tasks then was,
because I was closest to this camp,
to find out if,
among the members of this transport,
there are people who are suitable
for organizing a Resistance nucleus.
We soon found several ex-members
of the International Brigade in Spain.
And so, in no time,
I had a list of about 40 people
who had a record from the past
of developing some sort of resistance
against the Nazis.
A special figure emerged
among this family camp,
a man called Fredy Hirsch.
He was a German Jew
who emigrated from Germany to Prague.
Fredy Hirsch showed
a considerable amount of interest
for the education
of the children who were there.
He knew each child by name.
And, by his upright behavior
and obvious human dignity,
he became a sort of a spiritual leader
of this whole family camp.
Now, the March 7th started to near,
and this was supposed to give us the signal
of what is supposed to happen,
but, what, we did not know for sure.
[ MUIIer, In German]
At the end of February,
I 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 4 crematoria.
I 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.
I 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 500 pieces.
He said, By morning,
those 500 pieces must be...
reduced to ashes.
You're sure it's 500?
Just about, they said.
What do you mean, just about?
Then he left
for the undressing room
to see for himself.
[ Lanzmann ]
Where the bodies were?
They were piled there:
At Crematorium V,
the undressing room also served
as a warehouse for bodies.
[ Lanzmann ]
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.
I quickly scanned it
and was shocked by what I read.
The crematorium was
to be gotten ready
for special treatment
of the Czech family camp.
In the morning,
when the day squad came on,
I ran into kapo Kaminski,
one of the Resistance leaders
in the special detail
and told him the news.
He informed me
that Crematorium II
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 II B.
Tell them to warn these people
of what' is" in store for them,
and say that if they defend themselves,
we'll reduce the crematoria to ashes.
And at Camp B H 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...
of having circulated false reports.
[ Vrba, In English]
Approximately by the end of February,
a rumor was spread by the Nazis
that the family transport will be moved
to a place called Heydebreck.
The first move was to separate
the first family transport
from the second family transport
by transferring them overnight
into the quarantine camp B II A,
where I was a registrar.
So I could now speak
with those people directly.
I talked to Fredy Hirsch specifically,
and I told him about the possibility
that the transport has been...
his transport,
the family transport of the Czechs...
has been transferred
to the quarantine camp
because of the possibility
of them being predestined
to be gassed on the March 7th.
He asked me if I know that for sure.
And I said, I do not know it for sure,
but it is a serious possibility,
because there is no record
of any train going away
from Auschwitz.
And, usually, the offices, the registrars,
where the Resistance movement
had their people,
would get wind of such an information,
of a transport being prepared
out from Auschwitz,
and there was no such information.
And I explained him the circumstances,
and I explained him what it means.
And the possibility, then, would arise
that, for the first time,
there are, in camp, people
who are relatively physically preserved,
who have some sort of a morale retained,
who are certain to go to die,
in other words, to be subject
to the normal execution procedure,
anonymous major
execution procedure, as usual,
and they will know it,
they can't be just tricked,
and that this is perhaps the time to act.
And the action, of course,
will have to come out from them.
Because there are others
whose death was imminent,
and those were the people from the
Sonderkommando who worked in the crematorium,
which was periodically replaced.
And they showed a willingness,
that, if the Czechs,
before the gassing, attack the SS,
they will join them.
F red y Hirsch objected.
He was very reasonable.
He said that it doesn't make sense to him
that the Germans would keep them
for six months,
and feeding the children
with milk and white bread,
in order to gas them after six months.
On the next day, I got the message,
again from the Resistance,
that it is sure
that they are going to be gassed,
that the Sonderkommando
already received the coal
for burning the transport.
The Sonderkommando knew exactly
how many people are going to be gassed,
what son of people,
because there were
certain rules of work too.
So I called up again to Fredy
and, uh, explained to him
that, as far as this transport
is concerned, included him,
they are going to be gassed
in the next 48 hours.
So, he suddenly started to worry.
He said, What happens to the children
if we start the uprising?
He had a very close relationship with the children.
- How many children?
Could be about 100.
- And how many people able to fight?
Uh, well, the nucleus was about 30,
and now it was not necessary
to keep any precautions,
and this depends.
I mean, if it comes to fighting,
even an old woman can pick up a stone.
Anybody can fight.
I mean, this is difficult to predict.
But there, it was necessary
to have a nucleus,
and it was necessary
to have a leading personality.
You see, those are small details
which are extremely important.
He said to me,
lf we make the uprising, what is going...
what is going to happen to the children?
Who is going to take care of them?
I said, The children? I cannot say you anything
except that there is no way out for them.
They will die whatsoever.
That's... that's for sure.
This we cannot prevent.
The question what we can do is,
'Who is going to die with them,
and how many SS are going to die with them,
and how will it impede
the whole machinery?'
Plus, the possibility that a part,
during the uprising,
will find their way out from the camp,
which is possible in such a situation.
I mean, to break through the guards,
because, once the uprising starts,
some weapons can be expected to be had.
And I explained to him that
there is absolutely no chance for him
or for anybody from that transport,
to the best of my knowledge
and everybody else's knowledge
whom I trust,
to survive the next 48 hours.
- This took place inside the block?
- Inside the block, in my room.
And I told him also
that the need of the personality,
and that he has been selected for that.
And, of course, he explained to me
that he understands the situation,
that it is extremely difficult
for him to make any decisions
because of the children,
and that he cannot see how he can leave
those children just to their fate.
He was sort of their father.
I mean, he was only 30 at that time,
but the relationship between him
and those children was very strong.
And he said to me that, of course,
he can see the logic behind my argumentation,
and that he would like
to think about it for an hour,
if I could leave him alone
to think for an hour.
And because I had, at that time,
a room of my own, as a registrar,
I left him in my room,
which was equipped with a table,
a chair and a bed
and some writing instrumentation,
and I told him that I will come,
in an hour's time, back.
And I came back in an hour,
and I could see
that he is laying on my bed,
and that he's dying.
He was cyanotic in the face.
He had froth around the mouth,
and I could see
that he has poisoned himself.
He took poison,
but he was not dead.
And, because of him being so important, I...
I didn't know what sort of poison he took,
but I had, again, a connection
to a man called Dr. Kleinman.
This Dr. Kleinman was
of Polish origin and a French Jew
and medically qualified.
And I called Dr. Kleinman
immediately to Hirsch
and asked Kleinman to do what he can
because this is an important man.
And Kleinman inspected Fredy Hirsch,
and he said that he thinks that he poisoned
himself with a big dose of barbiturates,
that it might be perhaps
possible to save his life,
but he won't be on his feet
for a long time to come,
and he is going to be gassed
within the next 48 hours, and he thinks...
Kleinman said it would be better
to leave things as they are
and to do nothing.
Well, the story after the suicide
of Fredy Hirsch developed very fast.
The first thing,
I informed the rest of... of them, uh,
what I told to Hirsch.
Secondly, I moved to the camp ll D
to establish a contact
with the Resistance there,
with the Resistance movement.
They gave me bread for the people...
bread, yes, bread and onions...
and said that I will get...
they don't know any...
no decision has been made, and I should
come later for... for instructions.
The moment I distributed the bread,
something happened,
namely, a special curfew
was made within the camp.
All administrative activities were stopped.
All guards were doubled.
Machine guns, et cetera,
were spread around the quarantine camps,
and I was out of contact.
The transport, the Czech family transport,
was then gassed in the evening.
They were put on trucks.
All of them knew.
They were put on trucks.
They behaved very well.
We didn't know, of course,
where the trucks are going.
They were being assured once more
that they are going to Heydebreck
and not to be gassed.
And we knew that,
if they are going out from the camp,
the trucks will turn right
when they leave the camp.
And we knew that, if they turn left,
there is only one way.
500 yards, and that's where
the crematorium was.
[ Muller, In German]
That night I was at Crematorium II.
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...
[ Lanzmann ]
Without explanation?
Not a word.
As soon as they left the vans,
the beatings began.
When they entered the undressing room,
I was standing near the rear door,
and from there
I witnessed the frightful scene.
The people were bloodied.
They knew then where they were.
They stared at the pillars
of the so-called international
Information Center I'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,
He'd given them his word
as an SS officer
that they'd be transferred to Heydebreck.
So they all began to cry out, to beg,
shouting, Heydebreck 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.
In 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 rang
with the Czech national anthem,
and the Hatikva.
That moved me terribly, that...
Please stop!
That was happening to my countrymen,
and I realized
that my life had become meaningless.
Why go on living? For what?
So I went into the gas chamber with them,
resolved to die.
With them.
Suddenly, some who recognized me
came up to me.
For my locksmith friends and I
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?
- [ Repeats Phrase, Agrees]
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.
[ Vrba, In English] That's how it ended
with the first Czech family transport.
And it was quite clear to me then
that the resistance in the camp
is not geared for an uprising,
but for survival,
for the survival of the members
of the Resistance.
I then decided to act,
what was called
by the members of Resistance
as anarchic and individualistic activity,
like an escape
and leaving the community
for which I am co-responsible
by that time.
Rudolf Vrba
and his friend Wetzler
escaped on April 7, 1944.
Several prisoners
had previously tried to flee,
but all were caught.
The decision to escape,
in spite of the policy
of the Resistance movement at that time,
uh, was formed immediately,
and I started to press on
with the preparations for the escape
together with my friend Wetzler,
who was extremely important in this matter.
And I... Before I left,
I spoke with, uh, Hugo Lenek.
And Hugo Lenek was
in command of the second...
of the Resistance group
in the second family transport.
Yes, and I explained to him that,
from the Resistance movement,
they can explain nothing now...
expect nothing but bread.
But when it comes to the dying,
they should act on their own.
As for myself is concerned,
I think that if I successfully managed
to break out from the camp
and bring the information
to the right place, in the right time,
that this might be a help,
that I might manage, if I succeed,
to bring help from outside.
And also it was a firm belief in me
that all this was possible
because either the victims
who came to Auschwitz
didn't know what is happening there,
or, if somebody had the knowledge outside,
that the knowledge was with...
I would say that
they didn't know. That's it.
And I thought that, if this will be made known,
by any means, within Europe,
and especially within Hungary,
from where a million Jews were supposed to be
transported to Auschwitz immediately, in May,
and I knew about that,
that this might stir up
the Resistance outside
and bring help from outside
directly to Auschwitz.
And, thus, the escape plans
were finally formulated,
and the escape took place on April 7.
[ Lanzmann ] And this is the main
and the deep reason why you decided to escape?
Suddenly, at that moment,
to press on with it.
In other words, not to delay anything,
but to escape as soon as possible.
To inform the world.
- About what was going on?
- Right.
- In Auschwitz?
- Right. Right.
[ Exhales]
[ In English]
Now... now I go back
35 years.
I don't go back, you know,
as a matter of fact.
[Sobbing ]
I come back.
University Professor (USA)
Former courier
of the Polish government in exile
- [ Karsky] I am ready.
- [ Lanzmann ] All right.
In the middle of 1942,
I was thinking to continue
my service as a courier
between the Polish underground
and the Polish government
in exile, in London.
The Jewish leaders in Warsaw
learned about it.
A meeting was arranged
outside of the ghetto.
There were two gentlemen.
They did not live in the ghetto.
They introduced themselves:
leader of Bund,
Zionist leader.
Now, what transcribed,
what happened in our conversation,
first, I was not prepared for it.
I was relatively isolated
in my work in Poland.
I did not see many things.
In 35 years after the war,
I don't go back.
I have been a teacher for 26 years.
I never mention
the Jewish problem to my students.
I understand this film
is for historical record,
so I will try to do it.
They described to me
what is happening to the Jews.
Did I know about it?
No, I didn't.
They described to me first
that the Jews...
Jewish problem is unprecedented,
cannot be compared with the Polish problem,
or the Russian, or any other problem.
Hitler will lose this war,
but he will exterminate all Jewish population.
Do I understand it?
The Allies fight for their people.
They fight for humanity.
The Allies cannot forget
that the Jews will be
exterminated totally in Poland,
Polish and European Jews.
They were breaking down.
They paced the room.
They were whispering.
They were hissing.
It was a nightmare
for me.
Did they look in complete desperation?
Yes, at various stages of the conversation,
they lost control of themselves.
I just sat in my chair.
I just listened.
I did not even react.
I didn't ask them questions.
I was just listening.
Well, and then they...
They wanted to convince you to convey...
They realized, I think...
They realized from the beginning
that I don't know,
that I don't understand this problem.
Once I said I will take messages from them,
they wanted to inform me
what is happening to the Jews.
And I didn't know this.
I was never in a ghetto.
I never dealt with the Jewish matters.
Did you know yourself at the time
that most of the Jews of Warsaw
had already been killed?
I did know, but I didn't see anything.
I had never heard any description
what is happening over there.
I was never there.
It is one thing to know statistics.
There were hundreds of thousands
of Poles also killed,
Russians, Serbs, Greeks.
We knew about it,
but it was a question of statistics.
But did they insist about
the complete uniqueness of the...
of the situation of the Jews?
- Yes, this was their problem:
to impress upon me,
and then it was my mission
to impress upon all people
whom I am going to see,
that the Jewish situation
is unprecedented in history.
Egyptians... Egyptian pharaohs did not do it.
Babylonians did not do it.
Now, for the first time in history,
actually, they came to the conclusion:
Unless the Allies take
some unprecedented steps,
regardless of the outcome of the war,
the Jews will be totally exterminated.
And they cannot accept it.
This means that they asked
for very specific measures for the...
So then, excha... interchangeably,
at a certain point, the... the Bund leader,
at a certain point, the Zionist leader...
Then what do they want?
What message am I supposed to take?
Then they gave me messages,
various messages
to the Allied governments, as such.
I was to see as many
government officials as I could.
As I could, of course.
Then, to the Polish government.
Then to the president of the Polish Republic.
Then to the international Jewish leaders,
and to individual political leaders,
leading intellectuals.
Approach as many people as possible.
And then they gave me segments:
To whom do I report what?
So now, in this nightmarish...
- Excuse me.
Two meetings, I had with them,
nightmarish meetings.
Well, then, they presented their demands,
separate demands.
The message was:
Hitler cannot be allowed
to continue extermination.
Every day counts.
The Allies cannot treat this war
only from a purely military,
strategic standpoint.
They will win the war
if they take such an attitude,
but what good will it do to us?
We will not survive this war.
The Allied governments
cannot take such a stand.
We contributed to humanity.
We gave scientists for thousands of years.
We originated great religions.
We are humans.
Do you understand it?
Do you understand it?
It never happened before in history,
what is happening to our people now.
Perhaps it will shake
the conscience of the world.
We understand
we have no country of our own.
We have no government.
We have no voice in the Allied councils,
so we have to use services,
little people like you are.
Will you do it?
Will you approach them?
Will you fulfill your mission,
approach the Allied leaders?
We want an official declaration
of the Allied nations
that, in addition
to the military strategy
which aims at securing victory,
military victory in this war,
extermination of the Jews
forms a separate chapter,
and the Allied nations
formally, publicly announce
that they will deal with this problem,
that it becomes a part!
of their overall strategy in this war.
Not only defeat of Germany,
but also saving
the remaining Jewish population.
Once they make such an official declaration...
They have an air force.
They drop bombs on Germany,
why cannot they drop millions of leaflets
informing the German population
exactly what their government
is doing to the Jews?
Perhaps they don't know it!
Now, let them make official declaration,
again, official, public declaration
that, if the German nation
does not offer evidence
of trying to change the policy
of their government,
German nation
will have to be held responsible
for the crimes
their government is committing.
And now, if there are not such an evidence,
to announce publicly, officially,
certain objects in Germany
will be bombed, destroyed,
as a retaliation
for what the German government
is doing against the Jews.
That bombing which will take place
is not a part of the military strategy.
It deals only with the Jewish problem.
Let the German people know
before bombing takes place
and after bombing takes place
that this was done
and will continue to be done
because Jews are being
exterminated in Poland.
Perhaps it will help.
They can do it.
This, they can do it.
This was one mission.
both of them,
particularly the Zionist leader...
He was again, like,
whispering, hissing to me.
Something is going to happen.
The Jews in the Warsaw ghetto
are talking about it.
Particularly young elements,
they will fight.
They speak about declaration
of war against the Third Reich,
unique war in the world history.
Never such a war took place.
They want to die fighting.
We cannot deny them this kind of death.
By the way, I didn't know at that time
Jewish military organization emerged.
They didn't tell me about it,
only that, Something is going to happen.
The Jews will fight.
They need arms.
We approached the commander
of the Home Army,
the underground movement in Poland.
Those arms were denied, refused.
They cannot be denied arms
if such arms exist,
and we know you have arms.
This message to the commander
in chief, General Sikorski,
to issue orders
that those arms will be given to the Jews.
This was another part of the mission.
There are international Jewish leaders.
Reach as many as possible.
Tell them this:
They are Jewish leaders.
Their people are dying.
There will be no Jews,
so what for do we need leaders?
We are going to die as well.
We don't try to escape.
We stay here.
Let them go
to important offices
in London, wherever they are.
Let them demand for action.
If it is refused,
let them walk out,
stay in the street,
refuse food,
refuse drink.
Let them die
in view of all humanity.
Who knows? Perhaps it will shake
the conscience of the world.
Between those two Jewish leaders,
and this belongs to human relations...
I took, so to say, to the Bund leader,
probably because of his behavior.
He looked like a Polish nobleman,
a gentleman, straight,
beautiful gestures, dignified.
I think that he liked me, also personally.
Now, at a certain point, he suggested it.
He says, Mr. Witold,
I know the Western world.
You are going to deal with the English.
Now, you will give them your oral reports.
I am sure it will strengthen your report
if you will be able to say,
'I saw it myself.'
We can organize for you
to visit the Jewish ghetto.
Would you do it?
If you do,
to the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw,
I will go with you,
so I will be sure
that you will be as safe as possible.
A few days later,
we established contact.
By that time,
Jewish ghetto,
as it existed in 1942 until July,
did not exist anymore.
Out of approximately 400,000 Jews,
in the meantime, some 300,000
were already deported from the ghetto.
So within the outside walls,
practically, there were some four units.
The most important was
the so-called central ghetto.
They were separated by some areas
inhabited by the Aryans,
already some areas
not inhabited by anybody.
There was some building.
This building was constructed
in such a way
that the wall which separated
the ghetto from the outside world
was a part of the back of the building.
So the front was facing the Aryan area.
There was some tunnel.
We went through this tunnel
without any kind of difficulties.
What struck me:
completely different man,
the Bund leader,
the Polish nobleman.
I go with him.
He is broken down,
curving, like a Jew from the ghetto,
as if he lived there all the time.
Apparently, this was his nature.
This was his world.
So we walked the streets.
He was on my left.
We didn't talk very much.
He led me.
Well, so what?
So now comes the description of it, yes?
Naked bodies on the street.
I ask him, Why are they here?
- Corpses, you mean?
- Corpses.
He says, Well, they have a problem.
If J... a Jew dies,
and the family wants some burial,
they have to pay tax on it,
so they just throw them in the street.
- Because they cannot pay the tax?
- Yeah.
They cannot afford it.
So then they say, Every rag counts,
so they take their clothing.
And then, once the body,
the corpse, is on the street,
the Judenrat has to take care of it.
Women with their babies,
publicly feeding their babies,
but they have no... no breast.
It's just flat.
Babies with some crazy eyes, looking.
Did it look like a complete strange world?
- What?
- It was a world, I mean.
No, it was not a world.
That... That was not humanity.
Streets full.
Apparently, all of them lived in the street.
Exchange what...
what was the most important.
Everybody offering something to sell.
Three onions.
Buy onions. Some cookies?
Begging each other.
Crying, I am hungry.
Those horrible children.
Some children running by themselves,
or with their mothers, sitting.
It wasn't humanity.
It was some... some... some hell.
this part of the ghetto,
German officers were there,
in the central ghetto.
If Gestapo released somebody,
and the Gestapo officers,
they had to pass
through the ghetto to get out of it.
So there were also Germans,
German traffic.
Now, the Germans in uniform,
they were walking.
Everybody frozen until he passed.
No movement, no begging, nothing.
This is those... apparently...
dirty subhuman.
They are not human, this.
Now, at a certain point,
some movement starts.
Jews are running from the street I was on.
We jumped into some house.
He just hits the door.
Open the door! Open the door!
They opened the door.
We moved in.
Windows go... give
to the back of the street.
We go to the opposite.
In the door.
Some woman opened the door.
He says, All right, all right.
Don't be afraid.
We are Jews.
He pushes me to the window.
Now look at it. Look at it.
[ Sighs ]
There were two boys,
nice-looking boys,
Hitler-Jugend unfiorms.
They walked.
Every step they made, Jews disappearing,
running away.
They were talking to each other.
At a certain point,
a boy gets into his pocket,
without even thinking,
Some, Aaah!
Some broken glass.
Some shouting, Aaah!
The other boy says something,
congratulating him.
They go back.
So I was paralyzed.
[Gasping 1
[Sobbing ]
So then the Jewish woman...
Probably she recognized me...
I don't know... that I am not a Jew.
She embraced me.
Go, go. It doesn't do you any good.
Go, go.
So we left the house.
Then we left the ghetto.
So then he said, You didn't see everything.
You didn't see too much.
Would you like to go again?
I will go with you.
I want you to see everything.
I will.
Next day, we went again.
The same house, the same way.
So then, again,
now I was more conditioned,
so I felt the other things.
Dirt, stench.
Everywhere. Suffocating.
Dirty streets.
Nervousness. Tension.
Some bedlam.
This was Platz Muranowski.
In a corner of it,
some children playing
something with some rags.
They're throwing the rags to another.
He says, They are playing, as you see.
Life goes on. Life goes on.
So then I said,
They are simulating playing.
They don't play.
It was a special place for playing?
In the corner of Platz Muranowski.
No, no, no. Open.
As I say, they are...
- There were trees?
There were a few trees, rachitic trees.
So then we just walked the streets.
We didn't talk to anybody.
We walked probably one hour.
Sometimes, he would tell me,
Look at this Jew,
a Jew standing, without moving.
[ Indistinct]
I said, Is he dead?
He says, No, no, no. He's alive.
Mr. Witold, remember, he's dying.
He's dying. Look at him.
Tell them over there.
You saw it. Don't forget.
We walk again.
It's macabre.
Only from time to time,
he would whisper,
Remember this. Remember this.
Or he would tell me, Look at her.
In very many cases,
I would say,
What are they doing here?
His answer: They are dying.
That's all right. They are dying.
And always, But remember, remember.
We spent more...
perhaps one hour.
We left the ghetto.
Frankly, I couldn't take it anymore.
Get me out of it.
And then I never saw him again.
I was sick.
I don't...
Even now, I don't want...
I understand your role.
I am here.
I don't go back in my memory.
I couldn't take any more.
But I reported what I saw.
Yes, it was not a world.
It was not a part of humanity.
I was not part of it.
I did not belong there.
I never saw such things. I never...
Nobody wrote about this kind of reality.
I never saw any theater...
I never saw any movie...
This was not the world.
I was told that these are human beings.
They didn't look like human beings.
Then we left.
He embraced me then.
Good luck. Good luck.
I never saw him again.
Next figure: Dr FRANZ GRASSLER,
deputy to Auerswald,
the Nazi Commissioner
of the Warsaw ghetto
[ Lanzmann, In German]
You don't remember those days?
[ Grassier, In German]
Not much.
I 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.
It's a fact: we tend to forget,
thank God,
the bad times
more easily than the good.
The bad times are repressed.
[ Lanzmann ]
I'll help you remember...
In Warsaw,
you were Dr. Auerswald's deputy.
[ Grassier ]
[ Lanzmann ]
Dr. Auerswald was...
[ Grassier ]
Commissioner of the Jewish district of Warsaw.
Dr. Grassier, this is Czerniakow's diary.
You're mentioned in it.
- It's been printed, it exists?
- Ja, ja.
He kept a diary...
- Mm-hmm. Ja.
That was recently published.
He wrote on July 7, 1941
July 7, 1941?
That's the first time I've relearned a date.
May I take notes?
After all... it interests me too.
So in July I was already there!
He wrote on July 7, 1941,
Morning in the Community
- the Jewish Council HQ -
Ja, fa. Ja.
and later with Auerswald, Schlosser...
Schlosser was...
- and Grassier...
- Ja.
On routine matters.
That's the first time...
- That my name is mentioned...
- Ja, ja.
Yes, but there were 3 of us.
Schlosser... was in...
the economic department.
I think he had to do with economics.
- Ja. Ja, ja.
And the second time
was on July 22.
Czerniakow was president
of the Warsaw Jewish Council
- He wrote every day?
- Yes.
- Ja? Mm-hmm?
- Yes, every day.
- [ Repeats Phrase]
- it's quite amazing...
That the diary was saved.
It's amazing that it was saved.
[ Hilberg, In English]
Adam Czerniakow began keeping a diary
the very first week of the war,
before the Germans entered Warsaw,
and before he took over the responsibility
of leading the Jewish community,
and kept his diary in daily entries
until the afternoon of the day
that he ended his life.
He left us a window
through which we can observe
a Jewish community
in the terminal hours of its life.
A dying community,
for it began dying from the beginning.
And, in that sense,
Adam Czerniakow, urn,
did something very important.
He didn't save the Jews.
In that respect,
he was like other Jewish leaders.
But he left a record
of what had happened to them
in a day-by-day fashion.
And you could see that he did all this
on top of working a seven-day week,
for he was a man without vacations,
without any day off.
And yet every day,
almost every day,
he had an entry.
He might record the weather,
where he went in the morning,
and then all the things that happened,
but he never failed to write.
That was something
that moved him, pushed him,
compelled him throughout the years,
almost three years of his life
under the Germans.
And, in that sense, uh,
perhaps because he wrote
in such a prosaic style,
we now know what went on in his mind,
how things were perceived,
recognized, reacted to.
We even know from what he didn't say
just what it is that
went through this community.
There are constant references in the diary
to the end.
He talks in terms of Greek mythology,
and he refers to himself
as wearing a poisoned cloak,
as Hercules once did.
He has, um, a feeling of doom
for the Jews of Warsaw.
And there are remarkable passages
in the diary that illustrate what he meant.
He is, uh, sarcastic enough,
if that is the word,
in December 1941, to remark
that now the intelligentsia were dying also.
Up to this point,
poor people were dying,
but, by December 1941, members
of the intelligentsia were starving to death.
And he even has...
[ Lanzmann ] Why does he mention
specifically the intelligentsia at this time?
He mentions it
because there is a difference,
owing to the class structure
within the ghetto,
in vulnerability to starvation.
The lower classes died first.
The middle class died a little bit later.
Intelligentsia were, of course,
at the top of the middle class,
and once they started dying,
the situation was really very, very bad.
And that's the meaning of that.
Now we're dealing with a ghetto where the average
consumption was about 1,200 calories, you see.
He mentions with...
with approval, with approval, uh,
that one petitioner came to him for money
and said, I want money,
not in order to eat.
I want money for the rent,
to pay the rent for my apartment,
because I don't want to die in the street.
This is the kind of comment
that Czerniakow writes down in his diary.
This meaning of dignity,
the approval of the...
You mean he received
a petition from somebody...
- Yes.
- who said, Give me money?
Yes, but not for food.
Give me money so that I can pay the rent,
because I don't want to die in the street.
There were people
dropping dead in the street.
They were covered with newspaper.
Why was the housing
more important to him than the food?
To this particular individual,
who wasn't eating enough to remain alive,
who didn't want to be dying of hunger
while collapsing in the street.
This means that death was not avoidable,
but it was avoidable...
- Death was not...
- to die either inside or outside?
- To die... Well, of course. Of course.
It is a... It is a...
one of these sardonic jokes,
of which he had quite a few.
He always had the...
strange, strange description
of a band playing
in front of a funeral parlor,
of a hearse with drunken drivers,
and a dead child
running around the grounds.
He had... He had rather
sardonic comments about death.
He lived with death.
[ Pages Turning ]
[ Lanzmann, In German]
Did you go into the ghetto?
Seldom. When I had to visit Czerniakow.
What were the conditions like?
Yes a ' Ppall' ' Yes? mg
I never went back
when I saw what it was like.
Unless I had to.
In the whole period
I think I only went once or twice.
We, at the Commission, tried
to maintain the ghetto
for its labor force,
and especially
to prevent epidemic, like typhus.
That was the big danger.
- Yes.
- Yes?
Can you tell us about typhus?
I'm not a doctor.
I only know that typhus
is a very dangerous epidemic
that wipes people out like the plague,
and that it can't be confined to a ghetto.
If typhus had broken out...
I don't think it did,
but there was fear that it might...
it would have killed
the Poles and the Germans.
Why was there typhus in the ghetto?
I 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.
If 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.
[ Repeats Phrase]
He says Germans always
associated Jews with typhus.
I'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.
[ Hilberg, In English]
There was a lady somewhere in Warsaw,
in love with a man.
And the man was hit,
grievously wounded,
with his insides coming out.
This woman stufied the insides back
with her own hands.
She carried the man
to a first-aid station. He died.
He was buried in a mass grave.
She disinterred him and buried him.
This, to Czerniakow, this simple episode,
was the ultimate of virtue.
[ Lanzmann ]
He is never revolted?
He doesn't bother,
or he doesn't express the revolt.
He doesn't express the disgust
except with other Jews,
Jews who either deserted the community
by emigrating early,
or Jews who, like Gancwajch,
are collaborating with the Germans.
And, for the Germans,
he doesn't have words of disgust.
I think he is beyond such words.
He hasn't any criticism
of the Germans themselves
and only seldom allows himself
to make a remark
which indicates that
he opposed something by arguing.
He very seldom argues with the Germans.
He pleads, he appeals,
but he doesn't argue with them.
He does argue when he's forced,
not only to build the wall,
but to pay for it.
And he says that, if the wall
is being put up as a hygienic measure
to prevent Jewish epidemics from engulfing
the Polish or German population outside,
then why is it...
why is it that the Jews have to pay for it?
The people who get the protection
should be paying for the medicine.
If the wall is medicine,
let the Germans pay.
And Auerswald, the ghetto Kommissar,
says that's a very nice argument
that he, Czerniakow, might bring up
at an international conference some day,
but, for now, he'll pay for the wall.
Czerniakow writes all this down,
including Auerswald's reply
to his own argument.
And that's about the most
he ever allows himself to say in criticism
of what the Germans are doing.
So he takes for granted,
he assumes, he anticipates
everything that is happening to the Jews,
including the worst.
[ Lanzmann, In German]
The Germans had a policy on the Warsaw ghetto.
What was that policy?
You're asking more than I know.
The policy that wound up
with extermination...
- Ja.
- 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 1941?
- Nein.
I don't know now... if I ever knew it.
But you did know.
There are exact figures.
I probably knew...
Yes: 5,000 a month.
- 5,000 a month? Yes, well...
- Ja.
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.
- [ Repeats Phrase]
Far too many.
[ Lanzmann ]
My question is philosophical.
What does a ghetto mean, in your opinion?
[ Grassier ]
History's full of ghettos,
going back centuries, for all I know.
Persecution of the Jews
wasn't a German in vention,
and it didn't start with World War II.
The Poles persecuted them too.
[ Lanzmann ]
But a ghetto like Warsaw's,
in a great capital,
in the heart of the city.
[ Grassier ]
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.
- Ja.
That was the whole problem...
The problem needed to be resolved.
I knew that.
But people were dying in the streets.
There were bodies everywhere.
- Yes.
- Nee?
That was the paradox.
- You see it as a paradox?
- I'm sure of it.
Can you explain?
- No.
Why not?
Explain what?
But the fact is...
Jews were being exterminated
daily in the ghetto.
Czerniakow wrote...
- Ja. Ja.
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.
[ Lanzmann]
That's right, later. In 1942.
- Precisely!
- Ja.
3 years later.
- Just so.
Our mission, as I recall it,
was to manage the ghetto,
and, naturally,
with those inadequate rations,
and the overcrowding,
a high, even excessive death rate
was inevitable.
- Yes.
- Nee?
What does maintain the ghetto
mean in such conditions...
the food, sanitation, etc.?
What could the Jews do
against such measures?
They couldn't do anything.
[ Lanzmann, In English]
Czerniakow saw a film before the war
where the captain of a sinking ship
gives order to the orchestra to play jazz.
In the entry of July 8, 1942,
not even two weeks before his death,
he identifies himself
to this captain of the sinking ship.
Of course, there is no jazz,
but there is a kind of children's festival.
There are chess tournaments, yes.
There's theater.
There is a children's festival.
There's everything going on
until the last moment.
But, more importantly, these are symbols.
These outward cultural activities,
these festivals,
uh, they're not simply
morale-building devices,
which is what Czerniakow
identifies them to be.
Rather, they are symbolic
of the entire posture of the ghetto,
which is in the process of healing,
or trying to heal, sick people
who are soon going to be gassed,
which is trying to educate youngsters
who will never be growing up,
which is in the process of trying to find work
for people and increase employment
in a situation which is doomed to failure.
They are going on
as though life will continue.
They have an official faith
in the survivability of the ghetto,
even after all indications
are to the contrary.
The strategy continues to be:
We must continue,
for this is the only strategy that is left.
We must minimize the injury,
minimize the damage, minimize the losses,
but we must continue.
And continuity
is the only thing, in all of this.
But, obviously, when he compares himself
to this captain of a sinking ship,
he knows that everything is sinking.
- He knows. He knows.
I... I think he knew or he sensed
or he believed the end was corning
perhaps as early as October 1941,
when he has a note about alarming rumors
as to the fate of Warsaw Jewry
in the spring.
This is also when Bischoff,
the head of the Transferstelle, tells him
that, after all, a ghetto
is only a temporary device,
without specifying for what.
He knows, because in January he... he...
he has premonitions or reports and rumors
about Lithuanians coming.
He is concerned when Auerswald
disappears and is going to Berlin
right around January 20, 1942,
which we now know to have been the date
of the Final Solution Conference in Berlin,
the Wannsee Conference.
The Final Solution Conference
was held here
And even though Czerniakow,
in Warsaw, behind the walls,
has no idea of such a conference
going on in Berlin,
yet he is concerned that Auerswald,
the ghetto Komnfvssar, is going to Berlin.
He can't imagine why,
unless it is for a purpose
that bodes no good.
And so, in February,
there are more rumors.
In March, the rumors
are becoming even more specific.
He now begins to record
the departure of Jews
from the Lublin ghetto,
or Mielec,
or Krakow
and L wow.
And he recognizes
that something may well be
in the offing for Warsaw itself.
And every subsequent entry is replete
with the anxiety that he feels.
[ Lanzmann ]
When Czerniakow hears rumors
about the depo/Tations
from Lublin, Lwow and Krakow
around March 1942,
and we know now that
the transports went to Belzec,
does he ask in his diary
where they are shipped,
what happens to them?
[ Hilberg ]
No. He never does.
And he never mentions any destination.
But we cannot really decide
that he had no knowledge whatsoever
about these camps.
All we know is that
he didn't mention them in the diary.
And we also know, of course,
from other sources,
that the existence of death camps
was already known in Warsaw,
certainly by June.
[ Lanzmann, In German]
Why did Czerniakow commit suicide?
Because he realized
there was no future for the ghetto.
He probably saw before I did
that the Jews would be killed.
I suppose the Jews already had
their excellent secret services.
They were too well informed,
better than we were.
- Think so?
- Yes, I do.
- The Jews knew more than you?
- I'm convinced of it!
- It's hard to believe.
- Doch, doch.
The German administration
was never informed
of what would happen to the Jews.
When was the first deportation
to Treblinka?
Before Auerswald's suicide, I think.
- Auerswald's?
- I mean Czerniakow's. Sorry.
July 22.
Those are dates...
So the deportations began July 22, 1942.
To... Treblinka.
And Czerniakow killed himself July 23.
Yes, that is...
- The next day.
- The next day.
So that was it, he'd realized
that his idea...
it was his idea, I 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.
[ Lanzmann, In English] The last entry takes place
how long before his suicide?
[ Hilberg] The last entry
precedes his death by a few hours.
[ Lanzmann ]
And what does he write?
It is 3200.
So far, 4,000 are ready to go.
The orders are that
there must be 9,000 by 4:00.
This is the last entry of a man
on the afternoon
of the day that he commits suicide.
[ Lanzmann] The first transport
of the Jews of Warsaw for Treblinka
was the 22nd of July, 1942.
And he commits suicide the day after?
- That's right.
In other words, on the 22nd, you see,
on the 22nd, he is called in
by SturmbannfiJhrer Hofle,
who is in charge of the resettlement staff,
who has come in there for the express purpose
of taking the Jews out of Warsaw.
Hofle tells him, on the 22nd...
And, here, incidentally,
is another fascinating point.
Czerniakow is so agitated
that he doesn't put the date down correctly.
Instead of saying, July 22, 1942,
he says, July 22, 1940.
[ Clicks Tongue ]
Hofle calls him in at 10:00,
disconnects the telephones.
Children are removed from the playground
opposite the community building.
And then he is told that all Jews,
irrespective of sex and age,
with certain exceptions,
will be deported to the east.
To the east.
Again, the east.
And by 4:00 p.m. today, a contingent
of 6,000 people must be provided,
and this, at the minimum,
will be the daily quota.
Now, he's told that at 10:00
in the morning of July 22, 1942.
He then goes on.
He keeps appealing.
He... He wants certain exemptions.
He wants the Council staff to be exempt.
He wants the staff
of the welfare organizations to be exempt,
and he's terribly worried
that the orphans will be deported,
and he repeatedly brings up the orphans.
And, on the next day,
he still doesn't have assurance
that the orphans are going to be saved.
Now, if he cannot be
the caretaker of the orphanage,
then he has lost his war,
he has lost his struggle.
But why the orphans?
They are the most helpless element
in the community.
They are the little children, its future,
who have lost their parents.
They cannot possibly
do anything on their own.
If the orphans do not have exemption,
if he doesn't even get the promise,
the words spoken by a German SS officer,
not even assurances,
which, as he knows, cannot be counted on,
if he cannot even get the words,
what can he think?
If he cannot take care of the children,
what else can he do?
Some people report that
he wrote a note,
after he closed the book, on the diary,
in which he said,
They want me to kill the children
with my own hands.
[ Lanzmann, In German] Did you think
this idea of a ghetto was a good one?
A sort of self-management, right?
- That's right.
- A mini-State?
- It worked well.
- But it was self-management for death, no?
We know that now.
But at the time...
- Even then!
- No!
Czerniakow wrote,
We're puppets, we have no power.
- Yes.
- No power.
- Sure... that was...
- You Germans were the overlords.
- Yes.
The overlords. The masters.
- Czerniakow was merely a tool.
- [ Repeats Phrase] Ja.
Yes, but a good tool.
Jewish self-management worked well,
I can tell you.
It worked well for 3 years,
1941, 1942, 1943...
2 1/2 years... and in the end...
In the end...
Worked well for what?
To what end?
For self-preservation.
No! For death!
- Yes, but...
- Self-management, self-preservation...
That's easy to say now.
- You admitted the conditions were inhuman.
- Ja.
[ Lanzmann ]
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...
- Yes.
But to understand the process, one must...
I repeat: extermination did not
take place in the ghetto, not at first.
Only with the evacuations.
Otherwise, in the ghetto, we would have...
The evacuations to Treblinka.
The ghetto could have been
wiped out with weapons...
Nein? - Ja.
as it was finally done,
after the rebellion.
After I'd left.
But at the start...
Mr. Lanzmann, this is getting us nowhere.
We're reaching no new conclusions.
- I don't think we can.
- Nein.
I didn't know then what I know now.
You weren't a nonentity.
- But I was!
- You were important.
- You overestimate my role.
- No.
- Nein?
- Nein.
You were 2nd to the Commissioner
of the Warsaw Jewish district.
- But I had no power.
- It was something.
You were part of the vast
German power structure.
Correct. But a small part.
You overestimate the authority
of a deputy of 28 then.
- You were 30.
- 28.
- At 30, you were...
- [ Laughs]
- Das ist...
[ In French ] you were mature.
[ Repeats In German]
Yes, but for a lawyer
who got his degree at 27,
it's just a beginning.
You had a doctorate.
The title proves nothing.
- Did Auerswald have one too?
- No.
But the title's irrelevant.
Doctor of Law...
What did you do after the war?
- Aber...
I was with a mountaineering
publishing house.
- That so?
- Ja, ja.
I wrote and published mountain guidebooks.
I published a climbers' magazine.
Is climbing your main interest?
- Yes.
The mountains, the air...
- Yes.
The sun, the pure air...
Not like the ghetto air.
[ Women Singing In Yiddish]
y The words, the words that I write to you y
J' Are not written with ink,
but with tears J'
p The best years are ending now p
J' Are not written with ink,
but with tears J'
p The best years are ending now p
p And are gone, not to return y
,r It is difficult to fix
that which is shattered y
g And it is difficult to unite our love J'
J' Oh, show your tears J'
J' The fault is not mine J'
g Because it must be so J'
g It must be so
It must be so g
g We must both separate g
g It must be so
It must be so g
J' The love that ends for both of us g
g Do you remember when I left you? J'
g My fate dictated I must leave you J'
g Because in this way
I will never again be bothered g
g Because it must be so J'
The Jewish Combat Organization (J.C.O.)
in the Warsaw ghetto
was officially formed on July 28, 1942.
After the first mass
deportation to Treblinka,
which was interrupted on September 30,
some 60,000 Jews remained in the ghetto.
On January 18, 1943,
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.
It lasted 3 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 19, 1943,
the eve of Pessach Passover.
It had to be a fight to the death.
SIMHA ROTTEM, known as Kajik
ITZHAK ZUCKERMANN, known as Antek,
2nd in command of the J.C.O.
[ Antek Speaking Hebrew]
[ Interpreter #3, In French]
I began drinking after the war.
[ Antek Speaking Hebrew]
It was very difficult.
[ Antek Speaking Hebrew]
Claude, you asked for my impression.
If you could lick my heart,
it would poison you.
At the request of Mordechai Anielewicz,
commander-in-chief of the J.C.O.,
Antek had left the ghetto
6 days before the German attack.
His mission:
To ask Polish Resistance leaders
to arm the Jews.
They refused.
[Speaking Hebrew]
[ Interpreter #3, In French]
I don't think the human tongue can describe
the horror we went through in the ghetto.
In 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.
[ Interpreter #3, In French]
We were in such a state
that we could no longer understand
the very meaning of
why we went on fighting.
[ Kajik Continues ]
We thought of attempting a breakout
to the Aryan part of Warsaw,
outside the ghetto.
[ Kajik Continues ]
Just before May 1,
Sigmund and I were sent
to try to contact Antek in Aryan Warsaw.
[ Interpreter #3, In French]
We found a tunnel under Bonifrateska Street
that led out into Aryan Warsaw.
[ Kajik Continues ]
Early in the morning,
we suddenly emerged
into a street in broad daylight.
[ Kajik Continues ]
Imagine us on that sunny May 1,
stunned to find ourselves in the street,
among normal people.
We'd come from another planet.
[ Kajik Continues ]
People immediately jumped on us
because we certainly looked exhausted,
skinny, in rags.
Around the ghetto,
there were always suspicious Poles
who grabbed Jews.
[ Kajik Continues ]
By a miracle, we escaped them.
[ Kajik Continues ]
In Aryan Warsaw,
life went on as naturally
and normally as before.
[ Kajik Continues ]
The cafes operated normally,
the restaurants, buses, streetcars...
The movies were open.
[ Kajik Continues ]
The ghetto was an isolated island
amid normal life.
[ Kajik Continues ]
Our job was to contact
Itzhak Zuckermann
to try to mount' a rescue operation,
to try to save the few fighters
who might still be alive in the ghetto.
[ Kajik Continues ]
We managed to contact Zuckermann.
[ Kajik Continues ]
We found two sewer workers.
[ Kajik Continues ]
On the night of May 8-9,
we decided to return to the ghetto
with another buddy, Riszek,
and the 2 sewer workers.
After the curfew, we entered the sewers.
[ Kajik Continues ]
We were entirely
at the mercy of the two workmen,
since only they knew
the ghettds underground layout.
[ Kajik Continues ]
Halfway there, they decided to turn back,
they tried to drop us,
and we had to threaten them with our guns.
[ Kajik Continues ]
We went on through the sewers...
[ Kajik Continues ]
until one of the workmen told us
we were under the ghetto.
[ Kajik Continues ]
Riszek guarded them
so they couldn't escape.
MILA 18.
[ Kajik Continues ]
I raised the manhole cover
to go up into the ghetto.
[ Kajik Continues ]
At bunker Mila 18, I missed them by a day.
[ Kajik Continues ]
I had returned the night of May 8-9.
The Germans found the bunker
on the morning of the 8th.
[ Kajik Continues ]
Most of its survivors committed suicide,
or succumbed to gas in the bunkers.
[ Kajik Continues ]
I went to bunker Franciszkanska 22.
There was no answer
when I yelled the password,
so I had to go on through the ghetto.
I suddenly heard a woman
calling from the ruins.
It was darkest night,
no lights, you saw nothing.
All the houses were in ruins,
and I heard only one voice.
I thought some evil spell
had been cast on me,
a woman's voice talking from the rubble.
I circled the ruins.
I didn't look at my watch,
but I must have spent
a half hour exploring,
trying to find the woman
whose voice guided me,
but, unfortunately, I didn't find her.
[ Lanzmann, In French]
Were there fires?
[ Interpreter #3 Speaking Hebrew]
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.
I continued on my way,
going to other bunkers
in search of fighting units,
but it was the same everywhere.
I'd give the password: Jan.
[ Lanzmann, In French]
That's a Polish first name, Jan.
[ Interpreter #3 Speaking Hebrew]
Right. And I got no answer.
I went from bunker to bunker,
and after walking for hours in the ghetto,
I went back toward the sewers.
- Was he alone then?
- [ Interpreter #3 Speaking Hebrew]
Yes, I was alone all the time.
[ Interpreter #3 ]
Except for that woman's voice,
and a man I met
as I came out of the sewers,
I was alone throughout my tour
of the ghetto.
I didn't meet a living soul.
At one point, I recall
feeling a kind of peace, or serenity,
when I said to myself, I'm the last Jew.
I'll wait for morning
and for the Germans.
[ Train Clacking Continues]
[ Clacking Fades ]