... The earlier committee is now strengthened by Engineer Galewski
and the Kapo of the “Court Jews”, Maniek
a young lad of about twenty but quite, energetic, and quick thinking. A few other young and energetic
people joined in. Chaim Tik
was excluded from the
committee because of his somewhat reluctant and conservative attitude. The meetings were mostly held
in our workshop. The conspiracy was kept as strictly as was possible in Treblinka, where so
many people were packed together in so small a space. Still the work of the committee was kept
secret from the masses until the last moment. A detailed plan of action was worked out. All the
participating members were divided into groups of five, each with a group leader. Each group had its
place of operation and its specific task. The entire action would take place quietly and consist
of sudden and unexpected attacks on the Germans.
Before the beginning of the action the armoury, would have been emptied, the weapons secretly
brought to the sorting square, distributed and hidden. At the start of the action each group of five,
with their leader, would leave the workshop separately and go to the empty German barracks,
take the weapons found there and then take their positions. To all outward appearances, camp
work would proceed normally lest the Germans discover that something was brewing. If a
German wandered into a barracks workshop, or into some other position he would be quietly killed
on the spot by the group assigned to that location, as would the next one to come along.
The real revolt would start after a large number of Germans had been eliminated in this way.
The Administration office would then be attacked, the Germans killed, the telephone lines cut. The oil
and gasoline barrels would be emptied and the camp set afire. The groups which were supposed to
be watching the Ukrainian barracks from their hiding places, would then enter the barracks, disarm the
Ukrainians and lock them up in the storehouse under guard. At the same time the watchtowers
would be fired on, and the guards forced to leave them.
According to Kurland
’s plan, we would also station machine guns
at the gate leading to the [Polish] work camp Treblinka, two kilometres away, stop the incoming train,
disarm the Germans and guards, and free the workers. At the end we would all march out of the camp
in an organized formation. It was understood that the inhabitants of Camp 2 would be informed and
obviously, at the time of the action, there would be no more division between Camps 1 and 2. That was
what was supposed to happen, according to plan. The reality was altogether different.
Before noon on 2 August
the armoury was emptied this time down to the last
piece of equipment. The construction brigade loaded the weapons on their wagons, beneath piles of
mortar and bricks, and brought them to the sorting square to be distributed. The work in the shops again
goes on intensively. Knives, axes, anything that can be used is hastily prepared. The tension is great. The camp
work however appears to proceed as usual.
The revolt was set to start at 5 p.m. At that time we of the workshops were supposed to go to the German
barracks, pick up our weapons and take our positions. At about 4 o’clock,
comes into our courtyard. The block elder, standing at the
door of Barrack 2, calls Küttner
in and they remain there for
some time. We are all sure that information is being leaked about the revolt. What are we to do? How do
you handle the situation? Salcberg
, a committee member,
comes running into our workshop terribly upset. In his opinion we have to finish
off right away before it is too late. This eventuality
had not been foreseen in the plan. We cannot attack Küttner
unexpectedly now; we do not even have weapons. Therefore one of the men runs to the square,
where the weapons are already being distributed. Meanwhile
leaves the barracks and goes off in the direction
of the storehouse located in the Ghetto, at the roll call square.
I did not notice Küttner
careful on leaving the barracks. I also did not see a revolver in his hand. He did not look around and
went straight ahead, unperturbed. It is therefore possible that Kuba
did not spill any information about the revolt, or perhaps Küttner
simply did not believe that the Jews were capable of such a thing. In any case, as he is approaching the
, probably already equipped
with a machine gun, comes running from the square, and a few shots are heard, one after another.
was a notorious figure in the
underworld. He was tall and blond, around twenty
years old, very strong, energetic, and extremely tough. I once witnessed
dealing with him. As usual he started boxing with him.
however was so nimble that he managed to avoid
every punch. Franz
became very angry, grabbed him by
the lapel and tried with all his strength to punch him in the head. The boy flung himself to the ground
missed his punch, lost his footing and also
landed flat on the ground. Franz
’s rage then had no limits.
He pelted him with stones and bricks, threw the boy to the ground, and kicked and beat him
mercilessly. I was watching the scene from the roof and was convinced that
had been murdered. But no,
he stood up, gave himself a shake and walked off to work as though nothing had happened.
The first shots heard from the entrance square were the signal for the beginning of the revolt. Shortly
afterwards we heard terrible sounds of cannon fire and several explosions from the big square.
The entire stretch of camp which contained the German barracks, the food storehouses, the bakery,
and the shack containing the barrels of oil and gasoline, was now engulfed by a huge fire. The flames
reached and blocked our gate. Our whole plan of action was wiped out. The people in our
courtyard - around three hundred - are overcome by panic. No groups of five, no leaders -
everyone now strives, at any cost, to escape from the blocked courtyard. A large crowd gathers
in the locksmith’s and carpenter’s shops. We break the iron bars in the windows and jump out.
With pliers and axes we cut the barbed wire, and break down the fences of the Ghetto and the barriers
farther on. The tightly packed mass of people runs in the direction of Camp 2. We pass through a
small gate. There, in Camp 2, everything is in flames. There is no time to look around. I pay attention to
only one thing: not to lose my brother in the crowd. I see people jumping through the flames towards
an opening in the fence. Zygmunt
and I do the same
and find ourselves in an open space. We must overcome one more obstacle - the thickly tangled barbed
wire. We run on with the crowd. At one point the wires have been trampled by so many feet that
we scramble through without great difficulty. I notice a Ukrainian shooting from a distance at the
running crowd. Maniele
falls - a fine, decent women. She was in
Treblinka with her husband Chaim
runs on, wringing his hands and crying:
Running through practically all of Camps 1 and 2, we never saw another guard - neither German nor
Ukrainian. Most probably they all ran off and hid right at the beginning of the revolt. There were normally
about forty Germans and about one hundred and fifty guards working in both camps (for them it was
actually only one camp - the division was just for the inmates). One third of the Germans were usually
on leave. It was very rare that everyone was there at the same time. As well,
himself was quite often absent for a few days,
for administrative reasons. The day of the revolt was carefully chosen so that some of Germans
were away on leave and Franz
, whom we feared most
as the most daring and dangerous of them all, was also absent.
Once outside of the camp, the mass of people broke apart into smaller groups, running off in different
directions. There are about twelve of us running eastwards. We run for a long time, straining to the
limits of our endurance. We cut across a village, railway tracks, fields, and swamps. Finally, exhausted
and breathless, we find a ditch sheltered on both sides by thick shrubbery. We lie down and wait for
dusk to fall. In the distance we hear single shots and the humming of car engines.
© ARC 2005