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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon 19 December 2002
An exceptional account of the Nazi death camp at Treblinka.
When one visits Treblinka today, it is difficult to imagine the atrocities and slaughter depicted in this excellent book. My own personal visit to Treblinka was on a Summer's day when the sky was blue and the birds were singing. The lasting impression left on me was one of utter isolation, emptiness and an absolute thunderous silence surrounding me.
Gone are the buildings and gas chambers, long destroyed by the Nazis in their attempt to extinguish any memory or evidence of the genocide that was perpetrated here. Apart from the symbolic cemetery and memorials and the remains of the railway station where the innocent Jews were disembarked prior to their massacre only minutes later, there is little to see apart from the location of the mass graves and the vast empty space amongst the surrounding trees where the Nazi extermination camp once stood.
Each individual stone memorial at the site representing one Jewish community whose members perished at Treblinka. Photographs, diagrams and maps are provided which afford a valuable context and framework to assist in the readers' understanding.
It is fitting therefore that Samuel Willenberg, one of the very few survivors of the Treblinka holocaust, has been able to provide us with his harrowing account of what actually went on there. The vast open spaces that I personally saw are here filled with maps and detailed descriptions of the hell erased by the Nazi genocide machine that killed so many innocent Jews. The procedures at this death camp from the moment that the innocents arrived at the railway platform still visible are documented in detail, until their wholesale slaughter in the gas chambers and the burning of their bodies in the burial pits not so far away.
This moving account of the functioning of the Treblinka death camp not only speaks out for those whose lives were destroyed and who cannot speak for themselves, but it also covers the heartbreaking daily lives of those prisoners who were forced to function as vital cogs in the Nazi death machine. Further to this we have a commendable account of the uprising against the Nazis amongst these prisoners, many of whom were also killed. Very few in fact survived to escape. One of those who did survive, escape and manage to bring this moving account to our attention was Samuel Willenberg.
The author's memoirs of Treblinka extend from October 1942 until the rebellion and his escape in August 1943, when he went into hiding in Warsaw and took an active personal part in the armed Polish underground resistance against the Nazis until the quelling of the Warsaw Uprising.
This is a must read on this particular section of the Holocaust. Of some interest is the portrayal of the underlying Polish-Jewish relations during the Nazi occupation. This is a story that will chill you to the bone.
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