Treblinka Testimony of Ya'akov Wiernik

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Treblinka Testimony of Ya'akov Wiernik

Post by David Thompson » 20 Apr 2004 07:46

This testimony was given 6 Jun 1961 during the trial of Adolf Eichmann. The complete trial transcripts are available on-line, courtesy of the Nizkor Project, with an index to the case available here: ... /Sessions/
Attorney General: We now come to the Treblinka extermination camp. I call Mr. Wiernik.

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness: Yiddish.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Ya’akov Wiernik.

Attorney General: You live in Rishon leZion, 73 Rehov Nordau?

Witness Wiernik: Yes.

Q. And you are a carpenter?

A. Yes, and a construction worker.

Q. When did they bring you to Treblinka, Mr. Wiernik?

A. On 23 August 1942.

Q. And how long did you remain there?

A. Until 2 August 1943.

Presiding Judge: How old are you now?

Witness Wiernik: Seventy-two.

Q. And are you still a construction worker?

A. No. I am now living on a pension. In Israel, I worked for “Amidar”.

Attorney General: Mr. Wiernik, when you came to Treblinka, the camp was not yet in existence?

Witness Wiernik: When I came there, there were only three gas chambers. The large kitchen was not yet there. I constructed various barracks, I built the guard room, I built the door, the entrance gate.

Q. You built that?

A. Yes, I and my companions.

Q. After the War, immediately following the War, you drew a sketch of Treblinka?

A. Yes. This is it, here. I drew it. I prepared it when I was still underground, after my liberation in 1943, I drew it. I was working in Warsaw, in the Tashitza Palace. I worked as a Pole.

Attorney General: I submit the sketch which the witness made at the time.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1300.

Attorney General: At a later stage, when you were already in Israel, you built a copy, a model, after the sketch, and this exists in Kibbutz Lohamei Ha-Getta’ot?

Witness Wiernik: Yes.

Q. And the photograph of this model, which is kept in the museum of Kibbutz Lohamei Ha-Getta’ot, that is the photograph which you see on the wall of the courtroom? [Photographs of this model may be seen via ... ages/model. knm, 99/06/08]

A. Yes. That is an exact photograph.

Q. And now, please tell the Court, what is in this picture? [He points to the photograph.]

A. That was the entrance.

Q. Is this where people entered?

A. Yes. This is where they remained standing. In the courtyard, there were the two large barracks, 1 and 2. They brought the women in to the left, and the men were kept outside. They made the women remove all their clothes.

Q. Did you say that the women went into the one barrack and the men into the other?

A. The men remained standing outside. On either side, there were two large written notices to the effect that money and valuables had to be handed over, and whoever failed to do so would be put to death.

Q. What happened to the women?

A. Over here [he indicates] their hair was cut off. At the end, a small area was fenced off. Here their hair was cut off, and then they were taken to the gas chambers. Here [points to it] was a building with three gas chambers; in the large building there were ten gas chambers. The doors were closed, and it lasted some forty to forty-five minutes.

Q. Were these the gas chambers? [Points to them.]

A. These were the ten gas chambers which they built when I was there, and these were the three gas chambers. The machines stood at the edge.

Q. Is this the same building which we see here?

A. That is the same.

Q. It is the same, but here we see the Shield of David?

A. That was the front, the side where people entered.

Q. Who made the Shield of David?

A. That was made by the metal-workers of the first camp.

Q. You say there were two camps, Treblinka 1 and Treblinka 2?

A. They were separated from each other.

Q. How were they divided?

A. Here was the entrance; here is the first camp [points to it]. All this belongs to the first camp. And here is the second camp. These were the barracks where we lived, and there were the gas chambers.

Q. And the gas chambers were here?

A. The gas chambers were in the second camp.

Q. What is this?

A. These are the barracks where we used to live, three hundred and fifty to four hundred men.

Eichmann trial - The District Court Sessions
The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 66
(Part 4 of 9)

Q. What are these numbers on the huts? [He points to them.]

A. I put them there.

Q. That was not in Treblinka?

A. I put them there so that it would be easier to identify them.

Q. Was this the path along which the people walked?

A. This was the Schlauch (hosepipe).

Q. And this and that?

A. Here people went out through the side. They went into the gas chambers. When the gas chambers were not yet in existence, they went in this way. [He indicates the spot.]

Q. What is this hut numbered 10?

A. This is what they called the “Lazarette.” What was the Lazarette? They used to bring elderly people there, and underneath they put timber. They would seat the people on a bench, the back of their necks facing this way, and shoot them so that they would fall inside.

Q. What is this?

A. These were the graves. Before they constructed the gas chambers, towards the end of 1942, they used to gas the people and then put them into these pits.

Q. And what is this?

A. These are also graves.

Q. And what were these irons?

A. These were the grids. They were made this way with low concrete bases and iron rails on them, and they would lay the people on the rails, light a fire, and burn them.

Q. And were these your barracks? [Points to them.]

A. Here the people of the second camp lived. I also lived there.

Q. What is this?

A. Here we made an entrance for the members of the SS and all those who were there on behalf of the SS. They made use of this entrance only. Above the gate, there was still a sign, “The Jewish State.”

Presiding Judge: A Jewish city or a Jewish State?

Witness Wiernik: I do not know German, but it was Jewish State.

Attorney General: Mr. Wiernik, were the people of Camp 1 always allowed to enter Camp 2?

Witness Wiernik: They were never allowed to enter Camp 2 from Camp 1.

Q. And also not from Camp 2 into Camp 1?

A. No.

Q. But a few artisans had free access?

A. A few persons as well as myself used to go in. There was a time when they did not allow anyone to enter. But there was also a time when there was nobody to work there, and then I went there, together with a few others.

Q. And you also acted as a liaison between the underground in the first camp and the underground in the second camp, and you passed messages on from one camp to the other? Is that correct?

A. I was the liaison between the one and the other. We used to keep it secret. At midday we used to meet the others - we used to stand in groups; I used to talk with my people and they with their people. And those who were standing at a distance did not know whom we were talking to. And in this way we maintained the connection between one camp and the other.

Q. And you participated in the uprising which ended in an escape? Is that correct?

A. Yes, yes. When people escaped from there, I also escaped - it was on 2 August 1943.

Q. Who was the leader of the uprising in Treblinka 1?

A. Galewski took part, together with some others.

Q. And do you recall Dr. Chorazycki?

A. I did not see Dr. Chorazycki, but I was told that he committed suicide.

Q. And what happened in Treblinka 2?

A. I was in Treblinka 2, as well as Djielo and Ya’akov. We were a group of five who used to maintain daily contact about what was going on.

Q. Did any of them survive?

A. I know that there were survivors... I do not know their names. Throughout the whole world, there ought to be some eighteen to twenty men.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions to the witness?

Dr. Servatius: No, I have no questions to the witness.

Attorney General: I ask the Court to accept these photographs as exhibits and to number them. They may be rolled up. We presented them here so that the witnesses would be able to identify them. It is, of course, the same model, but photographed from two different angles.

Presiding Judge: These will be exhibits T/1301 and T/1302. I would request a Hebrew translation, and also one in a language with which Dr. Servatius is familiar, concerning the Polish markings on the sketch.

Attorney General: I understand that it belongs to T/1300.

Presiding Judge: Yes.

Judge Halevi: Did you join the underground?

Witness Wiernik: In Treblinka? Certainly. I was the liaison between the one camp and the other.

Q. I mean after the escape - which underground did you join after the escape?

A. After I escaped, I came to Warsaw. I had a Christian acquaintance, and I went to him - he was a writer named Stefan Przibishevski.

Attorney General: I am aware of these matters. This will undoubtedly help the witness. He has a certificate from the Polish Armia Ludowa, of which he was a member. And that will clarify the situation. If the Court is interested, he can hand it in.

Judge Halevi: I understood that you made your sketch during that period?

Attorney General: He has a certificate. It will immediately explain to which underground he belonged.

Witness Wiernik: I worked for the Warsaw municipality after my return.

Attorney General: The underground pseudonym of the witness appears there, as well as his real name, in order to certify that he was a member of the Polish People’s Army, the Armia Ludowa.

Judge Halevi: [to witness] When you were a member of the Armia Ludowa, was it then that you drew this sketch?

Witness Wiernik: I prepared it when I was working in Warsaw in the Tashitza Palace. The SS was there on the one side, and I was a night watchman against air attacks - I also have a certificate about that. I used to sit there at night. Nobody disturbed me, and I gradually made that sketch.

Q. Do you remember in what month and what year you drew this sketch?

A. It was in 1944. It took a long time. I also wrote A Year in Treblinka. In 1944, it was already in America, via the underground.

Attorney General: The brochure about Treblinka was published both in Polish and in English.

Judge Halevi: Did you make the sketch only as a memento or for some practical purpose?

Witness Wiernik: I made my notes while I was still in the camp. I made notes of everything. I saw that nothing was known about the camp, so I wrote A Year in Treblinka.

Q. And you handed over all the material to the underground for their use?

A. They sent it over. I wrote it in Polish, and it was published in Warsaw at the beginning of 1944, in ten or twelve thousand copies. And the copies were sent over to America. They were sent to London. Professor Garka received the copies and sent them on to America.

Presiding Judge: Can you tell us what is the scale of this model?

Witness Wiernik: The length of the camp was about one kilometre and its width five to six hundred metres.

Q. And this is the entire camp that we see here?

A. That is the entire camp.

Q. What was the length of the large building containing the gas chambers?

A. The gas chambers of the large building were seven by seven. The entire building was thirty-six metres in length and eighteen metres wide.

Q. You could not see the inside of the building of the gas chambers?

A. When the doors were open, I did see them.

Q. When they removed the dead bodies, could you look inside the gas chambers?

A. Yes. The doors were open - they were open almost completely, and when they were opened, the dead bodies fell out, since they had been lying there crowded together. Into a room of 1.90 metres, they forced many inside.

Q. Can you describe the inner structure?

A. It was a room. The floor was somewhat sloping. When the people inside were suffocated, they used to wash the floor with a hosepipe or a bucket of water. When they removed the bodies, they had been suffocated.

Q. Where did the gas enter?

A. That is in the sketch. Here was the gas engine, the engine which forced the gas in. And there were pipes with valves. They would open the valve into the chamber where the people were. There was an engine of a Soviet tank standing there, and in this way the gas was introduced.

Here were the doors where people entered from one side, and, on the other, this was the large door which opened along almost the entire wall.
And, after forty to forty-five minutes had passed, they would stop, they would open the door, and the dead bodies would fall out. And here was a spare engine next to the three. Numbers 1, 2, 3 and 26 were the engines that generated the electricity, and there, too, there was a motor.

Q. I understand from this that the gas was produced on the spot, or was it brought in ready-made from outside?

A. The gas was produced on the spot.

Q. The burning of the bodies - was it always in the manner in which you described it, or was it perhaps in crematoria, inside buildings? A. Until the end of 1942, they did not burn those who had been gassed, but they would bury them in enormous pits. The bodies were placed inside. Only at the beginning of 1943 did they make various experiments of how to burn them, and they did not succeed. Then a certain Scharfuehrer arrived, an SS man, and he brought this model for the grids, and he always used to stand near the fire and shout:”Tadellos, tadellos!” (perfect, perfect!).

Q. And were they burned only in this way?

A. Yes. This is the way they burned them.

Presiding Judge: Are there any further questions in connection with the questions the witness was asked by the judges?

Attorney General: No, Your Honour.

Dr. Servatius: I have no questions to the witness.

Presiding Judge: Thank you, Mr. Wiernik. You have concluded your testimony.

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