Treblinka was a death camp of the Nazi regime during World War II. It was a place of extermination for Jews or anyone else deemed “unworthy” under Hitler’s diabolical reign. A living hell where the incinerator fires burn day and night in effort to destroy the bodies of all those who were murdered in the gas chambers of Treblinka.
From the depths of this unimaginable hell, comes the story of Chil Rajchman, a Jew sent to Treblinka who escaped the gas chamber because able-bodied men were needed to keep the camp running. To cut the hair from the heads of those headed to the gas chambers, to pull gold fillings from the teeth of the dead, to bury the bodies and then later dig them up and burn them and too many other atrocious acts to name.
Very few prisoners escaped Treblinka and Rajchman’s is one of only a few known survivor’s accounts of the Nazi war crimes that were committed at Treblinka. His brief memoir is a horrifying truth of what really occurred at the death camp. His factual description, written with no emotion, no drama, like reciting the dictionary, makes the book all the more haunting and terrible and acts as evidence of the numbness that was required just to survive another day, another hour, another minute at Treblinka. The hell he lived through is inconceivable. I don’t think anyone can truly comprehend the horror of surviving in the death camp and living with the memories afterwards. And perhaps that is why the memoir ends so abruptly with no account of what Rajchman’s life was like after the war.
The Last Jew of Treblinka doesn’t take long to read, but it is time well spent. The holocaust is the blackest mark on the history of civilization, and personal accounts like Rajchman’s should be shared so that the world never forgets and never allows such atrocities to take place again.