Richard Glazar

* 1920  †︎ 1997

  • "The uprising had to take place on Monday, because on Monday these boys had to make the cleaning-up in the barracks very properly and they used for this purpose, only for this purpose, a cart. And in this cart, under the litter, they were able to hide the guns and grenades from the ammunition store. It happened that, I think it was still in July, that one Monday they succeeded to do it. But then we found out that the grenades were without firing pins. So they had in a hidden way to put everything back and we had to postpone it. It was just at that time that I was very ill, I had typhus. So if the revolt had taken place at that date I wouldn´t have survived. On 2nd August, it was Monday, we succeeded. But the whole revolt was not a heroic one in my view. It was half success and half failure, it was just an act of desperation."

  • "Opposite to Auschwitz Treblinka was a very small camp. Treblinka had dimensions of some 300 by 500 metres, that was all. And the capacity of Treblinka was some 15 even 18 thousand people a day. So Treblinka maybe had a bigger capacity than Auschwitz and if the Germans had managed to transport all the people to Treblinka, they would have been able to kill all the six millions Jews killed in the 2nd World War in Treblinka. The bottleneck, that was the luck, the bottleneck lay on the transport routes, on the railway routes to Poland and to Treblinka."

  • "The people, who were persecuted for such a long time before they were deported, they kept the last most precious things for the last moment. And it´s obvious that they brought their last very precious things, jewels, gold and so on, with them, and all the money. All the property piled in Treblinka to a horrible… I called it mammon. Now just imagine that all the mammon corrupted all the people, the SS, the Ukrainian Guards and even the Polish inhabitants. And so all of them did things that Treblinka persists and that Treblinka creates the by-product – that was gold, jewels and money. And the main product in Treblinka was „nothing“. The main product was the people who were killed in the gas chambers, were then burnt on a huge pyre, sometimes even two thousand people burt at once."

  • "They pulled out some 18 people of these thousand people. And that was, as I knew later, relatively very many. There were transport where they took out one or even none. So they led us to another place, to a barrack, and I saw everything in the barrack was in a horrible, horrible state, clothing, sheets, everything you can imagine lay everywhere. There, after a few minutes, I as told from others who were working there, from the slave labourers, that we were in an extermination camp called Treblinka and that all people, who came with me and went to the baths were dead already."

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My faith in life helped me survive Treblinka

Richard Glazar, 1981
Richard Glazar, 1981
photo: USHMM

Richard Glazar was one of the few survivors of the Treblinka extermination concentration camp. In 1943, he managed to escape from the camp and was able to report to the world about the horrific conditions and procedures in the camp. In the 1960s, he testified in Germany at the trials of former Treblinka guards and was also one of the key witnesses of the film documentary Shoah. In 1969 he emigrated from Czechoslovakia to Switzerland. Although he wrote his own book, Trap with a Green Fence: Survival in Treblinka, right after the war, he did not publish it until 1992. His faith in life, which helped him so much to survive the most difficult moments, left him only after his wife’s death. On 20 December 1997, in his native Prague, he decided to end his life. This story is based on a recording made on 26 October 1981 in English. We are allowed to publish it on Memory of Nations thanks to our cooperation with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. RECORDING SOURCE: