Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
The IMT Series
Testimony about Treblinka at the Eichmann Trial 1961
Avraham Lindwasser arrived in the Treblinka death camp on the 28 August 1942 from Warsaw. He escaped during the revolt on the 2 August 1943.
At the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem in 1961, Avraham Lindwasser described his arrival:
“There was a notice, it read”
“Jews after you have bathed and changed your clothes, the journey will continue to the east, to work.”
Avraham Lindwasser continued with his arrival at the ramp:
“They opened the freight cars - we heard the order “Get Out.” There were shouts, we began getting off, so that they did not give us an opportunity to understand where we were or what was happening
– we were chased straight away to the square, and there we were ordered to hand over our money and jewellery, we were then told to remove our shoes.
Avraham Lindwasser confirmed exactly where this took place – In front of the huts where people undressed:
“Suddenly we heard an order to line up. We lined up. We were made to stand there again - all the time, I want to stress, with blows – they arranged us in rows, in threes.
One of them passed through the ranks – later I heard he was called the “Hauptmann with the glasses,” and he did wear glasses. He began asking us, one by one, what was his profession. When he reached me, he looked at me – I also wore glasses, in a gold frame.
He asked me if that was gold
I said, “Yes.”
And do you know what gold is, do you know what silver is, do you know what jewellery is?
I said “Yes.”
I received a further blow from a club and he told me to step forward. Next to me stood a Jew who was an electrical engineer and he was also ordered to step forward.
The two of us left the line – apart from us none of the transport stepped forward, more than one thousand were in this transport.
Avraham Lindwasser was taken to the Totenlager, the Upper Camp:
“At the beginning when I entered the place- I was brought in by a German, also one of the SS – whose name I subsequently learned was Matthias (correct name was Matthes).
He took me inside, and we were immediately ordered to take hold of bodies and drag them towards the graves. At first I thought that the corpses came from the freight cars, people who had died, who were suffocated in the cars, and I was certain that they were undergoing some kind of disinfection here and then buried.
Avraham Lindwasser then came face to face with the Hauptmann who had selected him, the Hauptmann said to him:
“Why was I carrying bodies?”
“After all I was a dentist.”
“He pulled me by the sleeve, seized me by the hand, by the sleeve, dragged me by force, again with blows, and he brought me to a well. Next to the well there were basins with gold teeth and also pairs of forceps for extracting teeth.
He ordered me to take a pair of forceps and to extract the teeth from the bodies by the side of the cabins, next to the small gas chambers.
Avraham Lindwasser continued:
“I was occupied in this work for approximately one month, a month and a half, perhaps less, perhaps more, until once I recognised my sister’s body. Then the commander of our group was Dr. Zimmerman, I asked him to take me back to the cabin, I could not continue with this. (Dr Zimmerman was the Jewish kapo of the dentists).
Avraham Lindwasser repeated:
“That he should take me off teeth extraction and put me on to cleaning the teeth in the cabin, inside the building where we were living.”
Avraham Lindwaser described some of the plunder from the murdered Jews:
“Each week two suitcases were sent off, each of them containing about eight to ten kilograms. They were delivered again to this Matthias (Matthes), who was the chief of our camp – in fact, the chief of our barracks, told us they were dispatching them to Berlin.”
Avraham Lindwasser told of his despair:
“After I knew what my job was to be, I could not stand it. I tried to commit suicide. I was already hanging by my belt, when a bearded Jew – I do not know his name – took me down.
He began preaching to me, that while the work in which we were going to be engaged was contemptible and not the kind of thing one ought to do, nevertheless we should tolerate it and ought to make efforts, so that at least someone should survive who would be able to relate what was happening here, and this would be my duty, since I had light work and would be able to go on living and be of help to others.
Avraham Lindwasser worked near the gas chambers:
“While we worked at the gas chambers, inside the corridor of the small gas chambers, we could also see the gas chambers at the end. On one occasion I was even taken – again by that Matthias (Matthes) – to the first camp, in order to fetch pairs of forceps for extracting teeth, since extra men had been added to our group.
We passed by the large chambers and, on the way back I saw a big curtain at the entrance to the large chambers, a curtain used to cover the Ark containing the Torah Scrolls with the Shield of David on it and on the curtain there was the inscription, “This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous shall enter.”
The curtain was of quite large dimensions – it measured three by four metres, something like that.
The Complete Transcripts of the Eichmann trial – Nizkor
US National Archives
Ghetto Fighters House
Holocaust Historical Society
Copyright. Johannes Weber H.E.A.R.T 2008