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Death Camp Treblinka

Posted by WMHT Web Editor

BBC

Watch Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 9pm on WMHT TV.

This film tells the remarkable story, and gives the final testimony of the two last survivors of the hellish extermination camp Treblinka. As with Anne Frank, Holocaust histories NEED personalities and individuals to help us navigate the numbing scale of the genocide; and the suffering, defiance and courage of our two very different survivors  

No one liberated Treblinka.  The SS destroyed the camp and attempted to wipe one of the world’s most blood soaked crime scenes off the map as early as autumn 1943. A tiny site deep in the forests east of Warsaw, Treblinka had devoured between 800-900,000 innocents in a killing spree that lasted just over a year; 10,000 people a day were gassed within only two hours of the arrival.  Treblinka is the heart of the Holocaust; the epicentre of the genodice of Warsaw and 3 million Polish Jews in Operation Reinhardt. Yet because it was far in the East and there was no archive and so few survivors (unlike the thousands who survived the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the world has remained ignorant of the horrors of Treblinka.

Yet Treblinka matters, for it also witnessed an heroic uprising. A forgotten Revolt by the near one thousand slave inmates on August 2 1943.  They rose up against the 800 Hiwis and only 30 SS and succeeded in destroying some parts of the camp.  Around 500 died in the breakout. And after a manhunt in the nearby forest, under a hundred were alive. Chillingly, the SS felt the job of extermination was done and began to dismantle the site.

Only 30 to 40 survived the remaining year of the war.  And today, just two of them can bear witness to all this suffering. Their names are Samuel Willenberg and Kalman Taigman.

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