The City of the Dead
The Fellowship | January 29, 2018
It is important that we remember the Holocaust – and the millions who were murdered – as well as the aging, and too-often-impoverished survivors. And, writing at The Times of Israel, Israeli Knesset member Yair Lapid says that the memory of the Treblinka death camp reminds us that anti-Semitism is still alive and well today:
“Look at the floor,” I told my students. We were standing in Treblinka. An exposed area, freezing cold, surrounded by dark forests. They looked down. “Under your feet,” I said to them, “there is a city of the dead. It’s a city twice the size of Tel Aviv. 880,000 dead. They died for only reason — they were Jews.”
The extermination at Treblinka was overseen by fewer than 30 Germans. Most of the atrocities were committed by a Ukrainian squadron. The prisoners who tried to escape from the trains which led to the camp were caught and returned by Polish neighbors. Everyone was complicit.
My father’s grandmother, Hermione, was arrested by the Germans in Serbia. She was sent to Auschwitz, where she was murdered in the gas chambers. Why did she make that long journey to her death? Why were most of the camps set up in Poland? The Germans knew that at least some of the local population would cooperate.
Hundreds of Jewish residents of the town of Jedwabne were murdered by Poles. In June 1941, they were caught by their Polish neighbors, locked in a barn and burned alive. After the war, the Poles tried to claim that the Germans had carried out the massacre, but the Jews who had managed to survive the massacre bore witness to the truth…