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[Page 401]

Extermination Camps

In one day, the 10th of October 1942, 15,000 Ostrovtse Jews were sent to Treblinki and there horribly murdered in the gas chambers and in the crematory.

 

Ostrovtse Jews Are Transported to a Death–camp

by Paltiel Geshri–Brikman, Toronto

Translated by Tina Lunson

Adolf Eichman may his name be blotted out maintained that he had done nothing, had only transported Jews to the death–camps. I will tell you how he carried out that transportation, and by all means, you may judge whether for that alone he deserves a violent death.

The torture of the local Jews began as soon as the German beasts arrived, but the liquidation of all Ostrovtse was designated for the Sunday after Sukes in 1942.

On that day they chased all the Jews with their wives and children together in one place and held them there for a few days, without food, without water. The German, Lithuanian, Latvian and Ukrainian murderers sat with rifles over their heads and shot them for any small infraction.

No pen can describe what took place there. The screams reached the high heavens. Children lost their parents and wailed. A community of Jews, among whom there were so many dear souls, herded like a herd of animals being taken to the slaughter.

But one does not bully and deride animals. They do not torture for no reason, and here the murderers spilled blood with particular pleasure, gruesomely beating and laughing about it, making jokes.

My younger brother and I were standing

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on a hillock at the factory “Zaklaki Ostrovietske” where we had worked and wept bitterly, seeing the hellish scenes at the collection point.

From Sunday on they were driving Jews to this point. Lithuanians, Letts and Ukrainians helped the S.S. soldiers and civilian Germans to beat Jews with rifle butts, pull off the boots from some Jews and shoot them, dropping them dead on the spot.

In the Jewish hospital they shot nurses and doctors where they stood, and they hanged the young Doctor Abramovitsh.

About 20,000 Jewish men, women and children, including refugees from Lodz, were assembled at Koniev hill and from there marched to the train cars. This went on for three days. They marched the hungry and exhausted. The entire path was strewn with dead bodies, as the murderers shot left and right.

They stuffed the nearly–dead into the wagons much worse than animals and the Ukrainians, Lithuanians and Germans continually chased and beat them. They wanted only broken and unconscious Jews in the wagons.

Jammed on top of one another lay holy men, rabbis, scholars, doctors, attorneys, and they sealed the wagons. Many who had been shot lay on along the sides. The moans, screams and cries for help were indescribable.

The Jewish [ghetto] policemen had known earlier about the Sunday action but they did not say anything. Only two of the Jewish [ghetto] policemen wakened their pity and seeing the hellish scenes threw aside their police hats with the stripes and willingly leapt into the wagons along with the other Jews. They were a son of Avrom Funt and a young man from Lodz, manager of the sanitations command for the “Judenrat”.

Two years later they also stuffed me and my two brothers into those wagons. Until then I had worked in the “A. G. Farben” factory near Auschwitz, and in January 1944, on the coldest and snowiest day, they took us through the Yelanker brick factory to Glivitz.

They threw 150 people into an open train car and the same number into a closed wagon and sent all the cars around for twelve days and twelve nights, without even a drink of water. Perhaps two times in that whole period they threw in a couple of hard, frozen loaves of bread. We went through Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany. And when we came to Orenburg, an airplane factory near Berlin, 80 percent were dead.

My two brothers and I remained alive – because we were traveling in an open car we had air and mostly, we could lick the snow.

Everyone was pressed together like herring [in a tin] and people had to defecate behind themselves. People became wild and bit one another. If you wanted to bend over you had to kill someone. Or throw them over the side of the moving train. People jumped from one wagon to another and the guards quickly shot them, or they fell between the wheels and were shredded.

We were successful. My two brothers and I were the first into the wagon and grabbed a place in a corner. Two of us would stand while the third sat between their feet, and we exchanged places.

Finally I want to remember the Czechs for good. When we passed through their country, they began to throw us food. I succeeded in grabbing an apple, which I promptly shared with my brothers. But many Czechs paid for this with their lives, because the guards opened fire on them with rifles.

There was also a case when we were going through a large train station and there was a passenger train standing near our train, and the passengers began throwing their food to us. My youngest brother succeeded in grabbing a treasure: a sandwich, two thin pieces of bread with shmalts, which we also shared.

The trip lasted, as I have stated, for twelve days, and it is impossible to describe how it looked in the wagons and what happened in there. Frozen from traveling in an open wagon during such a crackling frost, filthy from defecating behind oneself and hungry and thirsty, with the fear of death every moment, because the guards were continually murdering us.

 

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