The Jewish issue was especially painful for Grossman. Since the first days of the Nazi attack, the writer had been tortured by his failure to extricate his beloved mother from Berdichev. For years Grossman could not determine if she was alive or dead. It would eventually be Grossman's fate to enter his hometown with a liberating Soviet army in 1944 and to discover the truth for himself: All 30,000 of Berdichev's Jews, including his mother, had been methodically massacred.
Yet another equally shattering experience awaited Grossman. It was his fate once again to be with the Soviet troops who discovered Treblinka. His report, based on relentless interviewing of survivors, of captured death-camp personnel and of peasants from the area, made for an article of staggering impact. Yet it is only in his diary, and not in the account published in November 1944, that Grossman could refer to the victims as Jews.
The piece, replete with Grossman's outrage and disgust, was eventually cited at the Nuremberg trials, and one can only imagine its effect when it first appeared in print. Entitled "The Hell Called Treblinka," the article is a meticulous recreation of the killing ground. Beevor quotes more than 20 pages of the article, and even readers who think they "know what happened" in the death camps are likely to be staggered and sickened anew. I will quote only from Grossman's conclusion:
"The earth is throwing out crushed bones, teeth, clothes, papers. It does not want to keep secrets. And the objects are climbing out from the earth, from its unhealing wounds. Here they are, half- ruined by decay, shirts of the murdered people, their trousers, shoes, cigarette cases... towels with Ukrainian embroidery, lace underwear, scissors, thimbles, corsets, bandages.... And further on - it is as if someone's hand is pushing them up into the light, from the bottomless, bulging earth - emerge the things that the Germans had tried to bury, Soviet passports, notebooks with Bulgarian writing in them, photographs of children from Warsaw and Vienna....
"We walk on and on across the bottomless unsteady land of Treblinka, and then suddenly we stop. Some yellow hair, wavy, fine and light, glowing like brass, is trampled into the earth, and blonde curls next to it, and then heavy black plaits on the light- coloured sand, and then more and more. Apparently, these are the contents of one - just one sack of hair - which hadn't been taken away. Everything is true. The last, lunatic hope that everything was only a dream is ruined.... And one feels as if one's heart could stop right now, seized with such sorrow, such grief, that a human being cannot possibly stand it."
Thus the response of a battle-hardened war correspondent - a man who with much justification believed he had already seen the worst mankind could offer. But the Treblinka experience was only part of the grief that would dog Grossman to the end of his days. In late 1943, Grossman joined fellow writer Ilya Ehrenburg in a project to document Nazi war crimes for the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, a group at first endorsed by Stalin (in a ploy for gaining Western aid) and then later denounced by him. Most of the Jewish writers involved in the project would eventually be jailed or executed. Like Ehrenburg, Grossman unaccountably survived, but to his profound dismay and incomprehension, the findings of the committee, slated to be published as "The Black Book," were long suppressed.
The article do not mention that the "Black Book" is full of utter bs, that the Nuremberg trial documents were full of the same stuff, or that Ilya Ehrenburg was a genocidal propagandist who urged Red Army soldiers to rape and murder all Germans they encountered.
Nesvisky further do not mention that no names of the supposedly relentlessly interviewed survivors, peasants and captured "perpetrators" appears in Grossman's ridiculous Treblinka pamphlet.
How can Grossman's text be called "a meticulous recreation of the killing ground"? Let me give you some quotes from it (this is from The Treblinka Hell: Photographic Album of Martyrs, Heroes and Executioners by Vasili Semenovich Grossman Translated from the Russian Edited by Gershon Aharoni Tel-Aviv, 1984 Judaica Collection):
Grossman on the three murder methods employed at Treblinka
(p.23)Various means were employed to effect this mass slaughter. One of them was by forcing into the chambers the exhaust fumes from the engine of a heavy tank that served as a motor at the Treblinka power station. These fumes contained two to three percent of carbon monoxide, which has the property when inhaled of combining with the hemoglobin of the blood to form a stable compound known as carboxyhemoglobin.
Carboxyhemoglobin is far more stable than the compound of oxygen and hemoglobin formed in the course of the respiratory process. In some
fifteen minutes the hemoglobin combines with carbon monoxide to form a stable compound and is no longer capable of serving as an oxygen carrier. The victim begins gasping for air, but no oxygen reaches the
suffocating organism; the heart beats as if ready to burst, driving blood into the lungs, but the poisoned blood can no longer assimilate the oxygen in the air. Breathing becomes hoarse, all the symptoms of painful
strangulation appear, consciousness dims, and the victim perishes just as ifhe had been strangled.
The second method, and one that was the most widely used, was pumping air out of the chambers with suction pumps until the victims were dead. As in the case of the first method, death was caused by depriving the victims of oxygen.
The third method, used less but nevertheless used, was murder with steam. This method, too, aimed at depriving the organism of oxygen, fothe steam was used to expel the air from the chambers. Diverse poisons, too, were employed, but this was experimentation; the first two were the methods generally used for mass murder on industrial scale.
Grossman on the victim figure
(p.23)At average operations pace the lethal chambers of the Treblinka hell were filled at least two ro three times a day (there were days when they were filled as many as six times). At the lowest estimate, two loadings a day of the new chambers alone meant the destruction of some 10,000 persons daily or some 300,000 every month. Treblinka was in operation every day for thirteen months. If however, we allow ninety days for stoppage, repairs and hitches in the delivery of the victims, it still leaves ten months of continuous operation. If the average number of victims a month was 300,000, in ten months Treblinka destroyed three million lives. Again we have the same fearful figure: three million; the first time we arrived at it through a deliberately low estimate of hte number of victims brought in by train.
Some tearjerking greuelpropaganda from Grossman
(p.23-4)The SS men subjected the group of rebels from the Warsaw ghetto to especially- vicious torture. They picked out the women and children and took them not to the gas chambers but to the cremation ovens. They forced the mothers, half crazed with terror, to lead their children between the red-hot bars on which thousands of dead bodies writhed and squirmed from the heat, twisting and turning as though alive; where the bellies of dead women with child burst open from the heat and still-born infants burned up inside rent wombs. This spectacle was enough to rob the strongest man of his reason, but the Germans knew that its effect would be a thousand times more terrible on a mother who was frantically trying to shield the eyes of her children from the ghastly sight while they shrieked in terror: "Mama, mama, what are they going to do to us? Will they burn us?" There were no such scenes in Dante's inferno.
After they had amused themselves sufficiently with this spectacle, the Germans actually did throw the children into the names.
[text missing in translation] superhuman effort to obtain a whit more breathing space for her child in order that his last anguished gasps might be alleviated if only by one-millionth by this last evidence of maternal solicitude. We can hear some young girl, her tongue turning to lead, ask
piteously: "But why are they suffocating me, why?" What visions passed before the glassy eyes of the victims as their heads spun and their breath was stifled in their bodies? Their childhood, the happy days of peace, the last painful journey. Someone may have remembered the leering face of the SS man on the station square and thought: "So that is why he laughed!" The brain swam, consciousness faded and the last moment of terrible agony came ....
Some typical anti-German propaganda
(p.24)There is no doubt that had it been convenient or advantageous for the SS to extract the teeth from living people, they would have done so with no compunction, but evidently it was simpler to extract the teeth from corpses.
Grossman on the grave pits and cremations
(p.24)The huge excavators operated day and night, digging huge dark ditches hundreds of metres long and many metres deep. And the ditches stood open. They were waiting. They did not wait long.
So where exactly are those mass graves? If Grossman was there, he should have been able to discern the outlines of the filled in pits. By the way how come other writers and "eye witnesses" claim the pits had widely different dimensions?
The SS Reichsfuhrer left the camp the same day. Before his departure Himmler issued an order to the camp command that dumb-founded them all - Hauptsturmfuhrer Baron von Pfein; his assistant Korol, and Captain Franz. The order was to .proceed immediately to burn all the buried corpses, every single one of them, and to carry the ashes and residue out of the camp and strew them over the fields and roads. Inasmuch as there were already millions of corpses in the ground this seemed an incredibly difficult task. Moreover, the freshly killed victims were not to be buried, but burned at once.
Yes, burning 3 million corpses on a few rail road grates within the space of a few months seems quite impossible, but not to Grossman.
(p.24-5)At first there was considerable trouble with the cremation: the bodies would not burn. True. it was observed that the bodies of the women burned better. Large quantities of gasolene and oil were used up, but this was expensive and in any case the effect was insignificant. Things began to look serious, when there arrived from Germany a thickset SS man of about fifty, an expert in his line. One cannot but marvel at the experts begotten by the Hitler regime - there were expert baby killers, expert stranglers, expert gas chamber designers and experts who specialized in the scientifically organized destruction of large cities in the course of a single day. So, too, an expert specializing in exhuming and buming millions of human bodies was found. Under his' direction they, began to build furnaces. These were a special type of furnace, for neither the Lublin furnace nor those of the largest crematorium in the world could ever have handled such a gigantic number of corpses in so short a time as was required at Treblinka.
Hmm... so outdoor incinerations are more efficient than crematory ovens? Strange that someone would actually build a crematory if that was true. Btw the Russian propaganda machine which Grossman clearly was a part from claimed that 1.5 million people were killed and burned in a few crematory ovens at Majdanek (Lublin which Grossman refers to)
The construction is patently absurd, at odds with both practical reality, "eyewitness accounts" and the (modern) orthodox Treblinka story:
(p.25)The excavator dug a pit 250-300 m. long, 20-25 m. wide and 6 m. deep. Three rows of evenly spaced reinforced concrete pillars 100-120 cm. high were installed across the length of the pit to support steel beams that were laid along them. Rails were then laid crosswise across these beams at intervals of five to seven centimetres. The result was the grating of a titanic firebox. A new narrow-gauge railway was laid from the burial pits to the furnace pit. Soon afterwards a second and then a third furnace of like dimensions were built. Each of these furnaces took 3,500 to 4,000 corpses at a loading.
Where are the traces of those three gigantic ditches (which would have occupied more or less the whole area of the alleged "upper camp" aka "death camp" area)? Grossman surely must have seen traces of it if it was true!
Why dig a 6 meter deep ditch? It surely would have struck groundwater.
How could the fire be practically maintained with the dimensions and construction alleged by Grossman?
(p.25)More than 800 prisoners (which is more than the number of workers in the blast-furnace or open-hearth departments of big iron and steel plants) were engaged in burning the corpses. This monster workshop operated day and night for eight months wihtout let up, but it could not cope with the millions of buried bodies. True, new batches of victims continued to arrive all the time, which added to the load on the furnaces.
800 workers? All other sources I have seen claims that the workers in the "death camp" part numbered around 300.
Operated for eight months? Grossman claims, without giving dates, that the cremations were begun some time after the visit of Himmler to Treblinka at the "end of winter 1943" (p.24). However, Treblinka was shut down in mid-August 1943, which would place Himmler's visit in the earliest days of January 1943 or in December 1942. Most orthodox historians claim that the incinerations lasted for about 4 months.
Grossman on "truth"
(p.25)It is the duty of a writer to tell the truth however gruelling, and the duty of the reader to learn the truth. To turn aside, or to close one's eyes to the truth is to insult the memory of the dead. The person who does
not learn the -whole truth will never understand what kind of enemy, what sort of monster, our great Red Army is waging battle against to the death.