Jechiel Rajchman – T2 prisoner
Jechiel Rajchman was born in 1914 in Łódź. Despite the fact that he was not born in a wealthy family, he was running his own business before the outbreak of World War II. In October 1939, together with his youngest sister Rywka, they moved from Łódź to Pruszków. From there, after liquidation of the ghetto, he was moved to the railway workshops and his sister, together with other women, was moved to the Warsaw Ghetto. In Autumn 1942 the workshops where Rajchman worked were closed and its workers were moved to the Warsaw Ghetto. They both managed to flee from Warsaw and eventually they found themselves in the ghetto in Ostrów Lubelski. From there, on October 19, 1942, they were transported to the Treblinka II Extermination Camp. Jechiel managed to avoid immediate death in the gas chamber because during the selection he claimed to be a barber. Rywka, together with other people from the transport, was directed to the gas chambers. At first Rajchman was only supposed to cut hair of women directed to the gas chambers, later he also worked on sorting stolen Jewish property. After some time he was moved from the transit camp (“lower camp”, also called camp no. 1, which included the reception area and the Lazaret) to the death camp (Totenlager, ”upper camp”, also called camp no. 2, which included gas chambers and grates for burning the bodies of murdered people). There he was supposed to move dead bodies from gas chambers to the pits, he also had to pull golden teeth out of murdered people.
Older woman sits in front of me. I cut her hair and she is asking me to fulfill her last will before she dies, to cut her hair a little slower, because in front of my colleague stands her daughter and she wants to go to death with her. I am trying to stop this woman and at the same time I ask my colleague to cut this girl’s hair faster, so they could go to the gas chamber together. I want to fulfill the last will of this woman, but the murderer is yelling at me and hits my head with a whip. I have to hurry up and I can’t hold the mother any longer. She has to run without her daughter…
Jechiel Rajchman, Ocalałem z Treblinki. Wspomnienia z lat 1942 – 1943, 2011, s. 31.
Jechiel Rajchman survived almost 10 moths in the Death Camp. During his stay he was a witness to annihilation of thousands of people. on August 2, 1943 prisoners rose up the uprising. Rajchman was one of the few to run away and survive to the end of the war.
In 1946 he left Poland together with his just married wife and eventually he settled in Uruguay. Most of his relatives died in Holocaust. Of his five siblings, only his younger brother Moniek survived. Jechiel Rajchman is the author of the memories “The Last Jew of Treblinka”. He died in 2004 in Montevideo.
Photos were taken from Jechiel Rajchman’s book “The Last Jew of Treblinka: A Memoir”.
A.S. i A.K.