Daughter of Treblinka survivor to design death camp’s new education center


TREBLINKA, Poland (JTA) — The Israeli daughter of a Jewish man who escaped Treblinka will design a Holocaust education center to be opened on the premises of the Nazi death camp.

The plan to have Orit Willenberg-Giladi, an architect from Tel Aviv and daughter of Samuel Willenberg, design the center was announced Friday at a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the uprising in Treblinka.

“We meet at one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the world,” said Pawel Spiewak, director of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, during the ceremony.

During the ceremony, participants laid the foundation stone for the Holocaust Education Center of Treblinka, which is to be built over the next three to four years. The project’s total cost is still unknown.

The Treblinka extermination camp was partly destroyed during the uprising of prisoners that took place on Aug. 2, 1943.

Some 870,000 people were murdered at Treblinka, according to the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem. The first transports reached Treblinka on July 23, 1942 and included Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto approximately 62 miles away.

“Our goal was to destroy the factory of death,” said Samuel Willenberg, who is the last-known living survivor from the camp. “This whole revolt lasted maybe 20 or 30 minutes. We wanted this camp to stop working. In the forest I started to shout ‘hell is burnt.’ ”

Willenberg fought and escaped during the uprising.

Shevah Weiss, a former Israeli ambassador to Poland, referred during the ceremony to the recent ban on ritual slaughter, or shechitah, in Poland.

“This is a bridge. I’m talking to Poles. Do not destroy this bridge today,” Weiss said. “There are not many Jews in Poland. Let them live peacefully and preserve their rituals.”


Recommended from JTA