Complaint / Reporting On Holocaust
Open Letter To Associated Press
Dear Mr. Federman,
Please allow me to contact you today as the bureau chief of Associated Press in Israel.
I refer to the AP news story “Last survivor of Nazi death camp Treblinka dies in Israel” by the Jerusalem correspondent of Associated Press. He (or she) reports about passing away of the last survivor of the Treblinka Uprising in August 1943 Samuel Willenberg. The article appeared today in your international news service and was subsequently reproduced in various international media.
Your correspondent states among others the following: “On Aug. 2, 1943, a group of Jews stole some weapons, set fire to the camp and headed to the woods. Hundreds fled, but most were shot and killed by Nazi troops in the surrounding mine fields or captured by Polish villagers who returned them to Treblinka.” The story has been reprinted among others in the British “Guardian”, “Daily Mail”, “The Australian”, Canadian “Metro” and the Swiss “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” (with the small difference that the AP story in NZZ reports not about “Polish villagers” but about “Polish Nazi Collaborators”), just to name few examples.
The news story imputes that Poles were helping the SS soldiers in extermination of Jews.
I would like to confront your allegations about apparent Polish collaboration with Nazis with the memoir of the uprising survivor Mr. Willenberg (“Surviving Treblinka” by Samuel Willenberg, Hardcover – July, 1989).
Willenberg reported among others the following. After the Jewish revolt and escape from Treblinka, the Germans’ hunt was so intense that two of the Poles who helped Willenberg had already experienced a German search of their domiciles (p. 144, 147). Willenberg noticed how Germans were checking all traffic on the roads (p. 145), and also encountered a poster that warned Poles against helping any of the “typhus-bearing Jewish bandits” (p. 149). Some Poles approached by Willenberg for help were obviously so frightened that they immediately departed from him (p. 25, 28, 144). But, in spite of the death penalty for the slightest Polish assistance to Jews, local Polish peasants helped Willenberg on no less than nine separate occasions in the first days after his escape (pp. 143-on). Willenberg doesn’t mention in his book even one single Polish Nazi collaborator!
I would be very grateful, if you could explain, how is it possible that your correspondent from Jerusalem, who certainly was not a direct witness of the Treblinka uprising (the last one, Mr. Willenberg has just passed away) comes to a quite different conclusion about treating of escaping Jews by Poles than Mr. Willenberg itself and what was AP’s motivation to disseminate a story which casts a shadow on the Polish villagers and which seems to be far from the truth?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Dr. Marek Blazejak