(84) Death camps & Survival

Title:  The Last Jew of Treblinka: A Memoir by Chil Rajchman
Publisher: Pegasus Books
138 pages
Genre: non-fiction

Synopsis: The extermination center Treblinka was located approximately 50 miles from Warsaw and became operational in June 1942. The sole purpose of the camp was the murder of Jews, a process which began immediately following disembarkation from the railway cars. The Nazis kept a few Jews temporarily alive to assist them in advancing the machinery of death. Rajchman was sent to Treblinka in 1942 at age 28.

Review: This is one of the most haunting and riveting books I have read about the holocaust. Rajchman escaped Treblinka after 11 of the most horrifying months. Starved, beaten and used as a barber to shave the heads of the women before they were gassed, or a "dentist" to extract the gold teeth from the mouths of the dead.  His account of the brutality, and sadism of his captors was horrifying.  Yes I've read accounts of camps before but none so vivid and detailed.  His details are almost detached as he watched men cover the pathways with sand to cover the blood so the next victims wouldn't see what was about to happen.  Having to sing to the cries and screams of Jews being gassed to death, removing bodies to be burned or buried. That this man had enough hope to participate in an uprising and escape, to go on living, after what he had seen and been forced to do is amazing.  Most would have broken under much less.  He survived to reveal what what happened, so that we can remember all those that were lost.


  1. This is one I must read. Thanks for the heads up. I recently finished reading Auschwitz by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli - another haunting book.



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