Łódź, 9 October 1945. Judge Z. Łukaszkiewicz, with the participation of reporter-prosecutor J. Maciejewski, interviewed the person specified below as a witness, without swearing him in. Having been advised of the criminal liability for making false declarations, the witness testified as follows:
|Forename and surname||Hejnoch Brener|
|Names of parents||Moszka|
|Place of residence||Łódź, Piotrkowska Street 117|
|Occupation||craftsman skilled in making shoe uppers|
On 15 October 1943 I arrived with a transport from Koniecpol at the camp in Treblinka. The transport consisted of 60 wagons, each of which contained between 180 and 200 people. Women, men and children all travelled together. The transport had been travelling for two days and nights but we did not receive even a single drop of water during that time.
When we arrived in Treblinka, 20 wagons were moved onto the ramp of the camp, while the remaining ones waited at the Treblinka railway station. Immediately after the arrival, Ukrainians and Germans started to throw people out of their wagons and herded them into a courtyard between huts, where the men were ordered to strip naked. The women were told to undress in the hut on the left.
I survived in the following way. I had been selected to pile up clothes, together with 200 naked men. My group carried clothes for the entire time during which the people from the 60 wagons of the transport in which I arrived were being murdered. It took about three hours. We worked naked all the time. At the end of the work, I realized that Treblinka was an extermination camp, so I hid in a pile of clothes. After a while, taking advantage of the fact that a German guard was absent, the Jewish laborers who were sorting the clothes helped me to dress myself, and I mingled with this group.
I want to explain that it was possible only because at that time the laborers had not yet been assigned numbers.
On the third or fourth day after my arrival, I was assigned to a group of barbers who were obliged to shave the women’s hair before their death. On the very first day of my work in this group, we were sent to so-called camp no. 2 (where gas chambers, pits and camp personnel huts were located), in which one of the chambers intended for exterminating people had been turned into a barber’s shop. Then, I was able to scrutinize the arrangement and fittings of the chambers, since I worked during the liquidation of the victims from the 60 wagons in the transport.
The chambers were located in a long building and were made of concrete, with entrances from the corridor through small doors. There were two openings in the ceiling, which were used to pump out air (people were killed by pumping air out with a motor situated next to the chambers). The floor of the chambers sloped down towards the outer walls, which had hatches that could be lifted up. After the killing was complete (it took about 15 minutes from the moment the chamber was locked), the hatches were opened and the corpses slid outside inertly, from where they were carried into the pits. When the chambers were filled with adults, who had to enter with their arms up (so that more people could be fitted in), little children and babies were flung in onto the heads of the people who were standing.
A Ukrainian called “Ivan the Terrible” stood out for his extreme cruelty when herding people into the chambers, setting his dog on victims. He cut a woman’s breast off in my presence. When the hatches were opened, the corpses were blue and swollen. As far as I know, all the chambers were the same size; each could hold over 400 people.
After the trial of shaving off the women’s hair in the chamber, each subsequent shaving of hair took place in a hut located on the left side of the undressing courtyard.
As soon as they entered that hut, women were forced to quickly strip naked and were ordered to hold their papers, valuables and money in their hands. Then, they had to hand these objects over at the cashier’s room, where Jewish laborers (so called Goldjuden) worked under the supervision of a German. After the money and papers had been handed over, bodily orifices were searched for hidden valuables. When that was over, women were sent to the hair-shaving room, where there were 16 benches with four or five barbers working at each. The barbers were not allowed to talk to the victims. If a supervising German noticed such a conversation, the barber had to undress and was sent to a gas chamber.
I remember a woman recognizing her brother in one of the barbers and greeting him. The barber was immediately ordered to strip naked and was killed.
Near the place where people undressed was a so-called lazarett, in which people who were not able to walk to the gas chambers on their own were exterminated. The killing consisted of shooting the person dead at a pit in which there was a fire burning constantly. The corpses were soon consumed by flames.
The frequency of transports was highest from the time I arrived at the camp until approximately the middle of December. Each day (with no break for holidays), at least one transport arrived, consisting of 60 wagons, and frequently two or even three transports arrived. Later, from the beginning of January 1943, there was a break, since this was a period when the Germans were on vacation. From that time, during February and March, two transports came per week on average. The final transport came in May 1943.
It was mainly Jews from the General Government, some areas in the East, Germany, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia that were transported to Treblinka; moreover, some Gypsies were brought for extermination in cars or less frequently in wagons.
In some transports, one also came across Poles among the Jews.
It also happened that local lowlifes brought those Jews who had managed to escape from transports to the camp for a reward of half a liter of vodka given to them by the Germans.
Some six weeks after my arrival, corpses started to be cremated. At first, it was done in a pit, and later on iron grates in specially constructed cremation pits.
I do not know if the ashes were scattered in the pits. But I know very well that they were mixed with cinder and scattered around on the roads both inside the camp and those connecting the extermination camp with the labor camp, located approximately one and a half kilometers away.
During my stay in the camp, there were several inspections conducted by SS generals, who were shown the whole camp and the manner in which people were exterminated. I eventually escaped from the camp on 2 August 1943, when an uprising broke out, which we had started organizing long before. During the uprising, we set fire to the buildings of the Treblinka camp, and as far as I know, they were burnt down.
The witness interview report was read out to the witness and he confirmed it by signing it on each page.