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Witness at Eichmann Trial Describes Jewish Revolt in Treblinka Camp

June 7, 1961
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

One of the inmates who helped plan an uprising at the Treblinka murder camp testified at the trial of Adolf Eichmann today how two children who had access to SS barracks at the camp stole weapons for a revolt in which about 150 inmates made a successful escape.

The witness, Kalman Teigman, said the uprising was organized by inmates working as servants for the SS guards and by others in camp services who were able to move about the camp. The children, who had access to the barracks as shoe-shiners, managed to bring guns, ammunition and hand grenades to the plotters.

He said the original plan was to lure as many SS men as possible to the various workshops, kill them individually and then make a break for freedom. When two of the organizers were found out 30 minutes before the revolt had been scheduled, the plans were put into effect immediately. SS men were shot down, the fuel stores ignited and the barracks and wire fences engulfed in the flames, as the prisoners made their bid for freedom.

Mr. Teigman said that Rudolf Masaryk, reported to be a relative of the first President of Czechoslovakia, was one of the organizers of the uprising. He said Masaryk, though not Jewish, was one of the inmates because he had a Jewish wife.

Mr. Teigman told the court, as had previous witnesses, that Ukrainians in German uniforms participated in all of the murders. He said he was assigned to sorting out the personal belongings of the victims which were sometimes piled “50 stories high. ” He added that each transport to the camp averaged 60 freight cars with 80 to 100 victims in each car. Two of the transports contained gypsies and all the rest were made up of Jews.

He said prisoners in the first transports displayed no resistance, believing they were going to a bathhouse. The Jews in one transport, who had somehow learned their fate, resisted and the SS opened fire on them. The survivors were forcibly shoved into the gas chambers.

The witness, like others, described how the Nazis-camouflaged the nature of the camp. The place of arrival of the trains was set up like a railroad station, with flowers, a big clock, a timetable and a big sign in Polish and in German: “Jews, after a bath and a change of clothes, you will be sent to work camps. ” The victims were asked to deposit documents and valuables in a special office located on the path to the gas chambers.


Another witness was Eliahu Rosenberg who was a member of a detail which carried bodies from the gas chambers. He testified that 400 Jews were pushed at bayonet point into each chamber. At one time, when all chambers were working, 10,000 victims were gassed simultaneously within 45 minutes. The gas was emitted from special diesel engines operated by two Ukrainians whose names the witness knew only as Ivan and Nikolai.

He testified that at first horrible cries were heard which died into moans and finally silence. After that, the SS men would call out “all are sleeping, ” and the bodies were then taken to mass graves.

The witness testified that children who fell from their mothers’ arms and who remained alive on the floor of the gas chambers were shot by the SS men and the Ukrainians. He said that after the first day of this terrible work, many members of his group committed suicide.

One of those who tried and was stopped from suicide was Avraham Lindenwasser, now an Israeli electrician, who took the stand as the next witness. Lindenwasser was cut from his self-made noose by an older inmate who told him somebody had to remain alive to tell the world afterwards.

The electrician, whose voice broke in frequent sobbing, told how he was picked out from a transport by an SS officer who told him “you’re a dentist. ” He then was sent to a detail of six inmates assigned to extract the gold teeth of gassed victims before cremation. He said he recognized his sister among the victims.

Adolf Eichmann will testify in his own defense on June 19 after a week’s recess next week to enable the defense to prepare its presentation, Presiding Judge Moshe Landau announced last night. The schedule was based on the expectation that the prosecution would complete its presentation by the end of this week.

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