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Lublin & Treblinka

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Or the Minsk Ghetto....or Babi Yar...Mila 18.


Wild grasses rustle over Babi Yar,

The trees look sternly, as if passing judgement.

Here, silently, all screams, and, hat in hand,

I feel my hair changing shade to gray.

---Yevgeni Yevtushenko: Babi Yar

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I didn't know this.

From link above:

The ghetto in Minsk was established on 20 July 1941. Jews were brought to the ghetto from Slutzk, Dzerzhinsk (Koidanovo), Cherven, and other localities in the vicinity of Minsk. The ghetto consisted of 34 streets and lanes, including Perekopskaia, Kolkhoznaia, Nemiga, Shornaia, Kollektornaia, Respublikanskaia, Obuvnaia and Zaslavskaia Streets and Kolkhoznyi, Mebel'nyi and Vtoroi Opanskii lanes, as well as Yubileiny Square and the Jewish cemetery. Jewish men and women who had married non-Jews were also taken to the ghetto, as were their children.

The German Nazis set the extermination camps east of the Vistula, in the poorer, Russian portion of Poland. The Jews east of Brest-Litovsk were apparently brought west.

Are there any Jews in Belarus nowadays?


Treblinka is a terrifying place. Little remains to indicate what happened there. A railway track (now largely removed) and a few monuments, stones in the ground. About 1 million people were killed in Treblinka in less than a year - about 3,000 people were killed every day and on some days, as many as 20,000. Treblinka made me realize that the idea of "ovens" is wrong. It is impossible to burn thousands of bodies every day in ovens. In Treblinka, dead bodies burned in the open pits all day and all night for over a year. As I drove through the surrounding Polish countryside, over the Bug River, it almost made sense. It's a rural area like the Eastern Townships or eastern Ontario.

The Nazis built extermination camps near Polish cities in eastern Poland. Auschwitz was the extermination/labour camp of Krakow. Treblinka is about 100 kms from Warsaw and this is where the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, or those brought to the Warsaw Ghetto, were killed. Treblinka was the extermination camp of Warsaw. Later, the Nazis tried to erase all evidence of Treblinka.

Why does eastern Poland have to carry this shame?

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The Minsk Ghetto was where a number of the Jews of Germany were deported to after it opened. A few of my extended family members ended up there. After the Ghetto was liqudated, many were moved via Kiev to the Babi Yar site which became the Syrets concentration camp. Not nice places by any sense of the word.

You're touring the area, I assume, August?


... in those half-naked men who reeked of putrefying flesh, whose bodies were eaten by scabies and covered with a layer of mud and soot, and of whose physical strength so little remained, there survived a spirit that defied everything that the Nazis' New Order had done or could do to them. In the men whom the SS men saw only as walking corpses, there matured a determination that at least one of them must survive to tell the world about what happened in Babi Yar.

---Reuben Ainsztein

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  • 1 year later...
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I am still trying to understand European history.
To understand European history is to understand why the best and the brightest came to your great land and mine.

As for the Holocaust, there's Dachau. Other less well-known names are Bergen-Belsen and Sobibor. Names that send shivers down my spine.

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