In Remembrance

Dear Friends,

Greetings in the Lord. We hope and pray you are well and that the Lord is blessing you in every way. It has been a busy month for us at Travel the Road as we have been on missions in Albania, Kosovo and Poland. God is good and His Word goes forward in power and strength. We want to thank each of you who make Travel the Road possible for it is with your prayers and support that we can reach the unreached. The next journeys ahead will take us to West Africa and we know the Lord will open doors of ministry as we boldly proclaim the Good News. Some of the upcoming countries we will be working in are rife with conflict and disease, but they are also places where the Gospel is desperately needed. It is our joy and honor to carry the message of Christ Jesus to these lands and we know the Lord will guide our every step. Your prayers and support will be vital in the months ahead so please continue with both. God Bless you and thanks for always standing with us.

This month, as we have recently conducted missions in many Eastern European countries we would like to share the story of a memorial/historical site we visited and a message about the importance of Remembrance. The site we are referring to is the Nazi extermination camp of Treblinka in Eastern Poland. Treblinka was a camp where it is estimated that between 800,000 and 900,000 people (mostly Jews) were murdered by the Nazi’s. These killings took place between July 1942 to August 1943. The camp of Treblinka differs from other Nazi camps like Auschwitz, in that, Treblinka was not designed as a concentration camp to intern prisoners, but rather it was a camp deliberately built for immediate mass executions. As such, Treblinka is not as well known today because there were so few survivors. The only known survivors number just a few hundred. These remaining few, who shared their eyewitness testimonies were mostly Jewish men that were forced to assist in the process of the mass executions. Their accounts are horrific and the only reason their stories have been heard is due to the uprising and escaped they led on August 2nd, 1943. Treblinka is a grim account of a Nazi death camp, but it is a necessary one to remember as well. In the eyewitness accounts below, you will read the words of one of the few survivors. Through them, you will better understand what Treblinka was like. As a point of reference, the author refers to the Nazi soldiers as murderersWe due warn that much of what you are about to read is a disturbing and raw account.

“Through a small opening (in sealed train car) I see great piles of clothes. I realize that we are lost. Alas, it is hopeless. After a short while the door of the traincar is abruptly thrown open to the accompaniment of fiendish screams—Raus! Raus! (Get out! Get out!). I no longer have any doubts about our misfortune. I put my arm around my sister and try to get out of the car as quickly as possible. I leave everything behind. My poor sister asks me why I am leaving our baggage. I reply—It is not necessary … I don’t manage to say even a few more words to her before we hear a murderous shout—Men to the right, women to the left. I barely have time to kiss her and we are torn apart forever. Blows begin falling on us from all sides. The murderers drive us in rows into an open space and scream at us to surrender our gold, money and valuables immediately. Anyone who tries to conceal anything will be shot…Then we are ordered to undress quickly and tie our shoes together by the laces. Everyone undresses as quickly as possible, because the whips are flying over our heads. Whoever undresses a bit more slowly—is savagely beaten. Treblinka is built in a professional way. On arrival it might appear to be an ordinary train station. The platform is long and wide enough to accommodate a normal train of as many as forty cars...The barracks on the left is where the women and children undress...Opposite the platform where the barracks stand begins the road to the gas chambers, known as the Schlauch (pipeline). The road is planted with small trees and looks like a garden path. Down this road, which is covered with a layer of white sand, all must run naked. No-one returns from this road. People driven down this road are beaten mercilessly and stabbed with bayonets, so that after the people have been driven down it, the road is covered in blood...The Schlauch road is not long. In a few minutes you find yourself in a white structure, on which a Star of David is painted. On the steps of the structure stands a German, who points to the entrance and smiles—Bitte, bitte! The steps lead to a corridor lined with flowers and with long towels hanging on the walls. The size of the gas chamber is 7 by 7 meters. In the middle of the chamber there are shower-heads through which the gas is introduced. On one of the walls a thick pipe serves as an exhaust to remove the air. Thick felt around the doors of the chamber renders them airtight. In this building there are some ten gas chambers. At a short distance from the main structure there is a smaller one with three gas chambers...

Train car arrival point and view to gas chamber — Treblinka

Train car arrival point and view to gas chamber — Treblinka

Memorial marker signifying location of gas chamber — Treblinka

Memorial marker signifying location of gas chamber — Treblinka

I notice that in the barracks opposite us, the women and children are undressing, and we can hear their pitiful screams. It is impossible to get near them. We are ordered to line up in rows...When nearly all of us are lined up, the guards approach and choose some hundred men from among us, only young ones, and have us stand aside. The others are led away. Where, no one knows. I find myself among the chosen hundred young men...I never see my sister again...Us workers are never allowed to stand upright or we are beaten. We sort the huge piles of clothes and shoes as we are whipped mercilessly...I am selected as a barber...The first night in the barracks some choose to hang themselves. This is normal and will happen often during my 10-months as a laborer...The next morning Kommandant of Treblinka comes in—a tall, stout murderer of about fifty. He orders us to work fast. After five cuts the hair must be all cut off...A train arrives...A few minutes pass and we hear pitiful screams. Naked women appear. In the corridor stands a murderer who tells them to run into the room where we are. They are beaten murderously and driven with cries of “Faster, faster!” I stare wide-eyed at the victims and cannot believe my eyes...Next to me a young woman sits down. My hands are paralyzed and I cannot move my fingers. The women sit opposite us and wait for us to cut off their beautiful hair, and their weeping is pitiful and terrible...Before I have time to turn around, a second woman is already sitting down. She takes my hand and wants to kiss me—I beg you, tell me, what do they do with us? Is this already the end? She weeps and begs me to tell her if it is a difficult death, if it takes long, if people are gassed or electrocuted…I turn my head away, because I cannot look her in the eye. The murderer standing near us shouts—Los! Schneller die Haare schneiden! (Come on! Cut the hair faster!)...An elderly woman sits down in front of me. I cut her hair and she begs me to grant her a last wish before her death: to cut her hair a bit more slowly, because after her, next to my friend, stands her young daughter, and she wants them to go to their deaths together. I try to oblige the woman and at the same time I ask my friend to speed up his cutting. I want to fulfill the last request of the elderly woman. But unfortunately the murderer screams at me and whips my head. I have to hurry and cannot help the woman anymore. She has to run without her daughter …The work proceeds without hindrance. The whole transport is disposed of in an hour: several thousand people have been gassed...The work of clearing out the corpses was divided up. In addition to the “ramp men” (about twenty men), forty to fifty carriers were employed, six “dentists” and, at the pits, a commando of grave-diggers. About ten of the latter stood in the pit and worked at laying out the corpses head to foot and foot to head so that the maximum number went in. A second group covered the corpses with sand, whereupon a second layer was laid down. The pits were dug by a bulldozer (later on there were three of them). The pits were enormous, about 50 meters long, about 30 wide and several stories deep. I estimate that the pits could contain about four stories...In February 1943 great piles of ash began to accumulate as a result of the decision to begin burning the corpses...In winter the criminals leave the women destined for the gas chambers outside at a temperature of -25 degrees Celsius. The snow is half a meter high and the murderers laugh—How beautiful it is! The season of Passover is approaching. The murderers wish to turn it into a farce and give us flour for baking matzo and a bottle of wine. A seder is prepared and the SS men come to our barracks as guests...The murderers poke fun at this comedy and after a few minutes they leave the barracks. I recall the night of the seder: several comrades performed the ceremony. Outside a breeze was blowing, the ovens were burning, and the flames were flaring. That evening ten thousand Jews were burning; in the morning no trace would be left of them. And we carried out the seder according to all the rules.”  — Rajchman, Chil. 

Jagged stone memorial markers represent burial pits — Treblinka

Jagged stone memorial markers represent burial pits — Treblinka

Walking along the perimeter and forest area leading into Treblinka

Walking along the perimeter and forest area leading into Treblinka

The accounts above are only a few abbreviated stories of Chil Rajchman’s 10-months as a forced laborer at Treblinka. He would later be part of the revolt on August 2nd, 1943 and escape. These horrific accounts are a grim reminder of the darkness that exists in this world. When one reads them a person feels their heart being wretched with pain and sorrow. One lesson we always take from reminders like this is that it makes imagined hardships of life in the modern world seem like nothing. How can one complain about small discomfort after hearing this? How can one complain of selfish needs after hearing this? It’s also a great reminder to hold your family close and enjoy every day the Lord has given. 

Remembrance is important and we should hold onto this. We are told from Christ Jesus at the last supper that His broken body and poured out blood is in remembrance. “And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.’”Luke 22:19. Christ suffered and died harshly. His captors also mocked Him as he was dying. His death and resurrection are the cornerstones of our faith. The symbol of the cross is our remembrance of his ultimate sacrifice and the price he paid for the sins of all mankind. In the Old and New Testament, God constantly reminds us to remember Him. If we forget, we are destined to make mistakes. So, stand strong, give thanks for what you have and remember the Lord in all things. Remember those who suffered and the lives that were cut short by such evil. Never Forget.  

In the months ahead, we will be undertaking Gospel Expeditions in dangerous areas where war, disease and hardships are common. But it’s in these areas where the Gospel is needed most. It is with your prayers and support that we can reach remote people groups and bring the Good News. For the journeys ahead we’ll need your help and if Travel the Road has been a blessing to you, please consider supporting the work at hand with a monthly or one-time gift. No matter how large or small, your support makes a difference as we reach the unreached. Thank you for always being there for us! Peace be with you.

In Him,

Tim and Will