Friday, June 10, 2011

The Last Jew of Treblinka by Chil Raichman

It has been a serious week here at ricklibrarian, and nothing is more sobering than a Holocaust memoir. In this case, the title is The Last Jew of Treblinka by Chil Raichman. Raichman beat terrible odds to survive a camp which was set up specifically to exterminate Jews. If the Nazis had not had the idea of employing a few Jews to do all of the worst tasks, such as extracting gold teeth from corpses and feeding skeletons into incinerators, he would not have survived. They assumed that they could work Jewish laborers to death in the process, but Raichman kept getting up early every morning and surviving.

After more than a year of unimaginably awful work, he took part in a revolt and escaped. Once he had time to consider what he had been through, he contemplated suicide, but caretakers convinced him to write his story, which he did in 1945 in Paris. It has only recently been translated into English.

The Last Jew of Treblinka is an important reminder of the crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis of World War II. This short memorable book might soon be required reading for history classes and belongs in most public libraries.

Raichman, Chil. The Last Jew of Treblinka: A Survivor's Memory 1942-1943. Pegasus Books, 2011. ISBN 9781605981390

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