Treblinka: A Survivor’s Memory by Chil Rajchman (Translated by Solon Beinfeld) - review by Mark Glanville

Mark Glanville

Horror Stories

Treblinka: A Survivor’s Memory


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Chil Rajchman was one of only a handful to survive Treblinka. Unlike Auschwitz, Treblinka was purely an extermination camp, where the only Jews not immediately gassed were Sonderkommandos employed in duties associated with the killing. Rajchman worked variously as a ‘hairdresser’, detailed to cut hair from the heads of women about to be murdered so that it could be used as stuffing in clothes and bedding; a dentist, whose duty was to remove gold teeth from the corpses of the gassed; and a corpse-carrier, who had to ensure that heads did not become caught between the bars of the litters bearing the corpses and thus slow the process of emptying the gas chamber. In just over a year 800,000 Jews were murdered at Treblinka. 

Sonderkommandos like Rajchman were usually shot after a few days and replaced by others from the continually arriving transports; but eventually it was thought more efficient not to have to retrain people to perform these duties in the meticulous manner the Nazis demanded. Rajchman survived because of a

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