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Treblinka's Last Witness


TREBLINKA’S LAST WITNESS, a WLRN original documentary, is a first-hand account of Samuel Willenberg’s life as a Jewish prisoner of the Treblinka death camp.  


WLRN Radio interview with Samuel Willenberg - 2014


Samuel Willenberg, was the last living survivor of the Treblinka death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland where an estimated 900,000 Jews were murdered in a period of just 13 months at the height of World War II. Still haunted 70 years later by the horrors he witnessed as a young forced laborer, Samuel has immortalized the Treblinka story in a series of bronze sculptures of the tragic victims who dwell indelibly in his memory like ghosts.

The sculptures, together with archival footage and photographs from the period, illustrate Samuel’s riveting narrative, telling a singularly powerful and personal story of the annihilation of Polish Jewry in the death camps built by the Germans to carry out Hitler’s infamous Final Solution.

As a prisoner at Treblinka, Samuel witnessed the death in the gas chambers of his two beloved sisters, Itta and Tamara, among countless others. In his sculptures, the most poignant of these individual tragedies are brought back vividly to life.  Like Polansky’s “The Pianist”, the film focuses on one man’s personal odyssey to reflect the enormity of the genocide inflicted upon Poland’s 3.5 million Jews, at the time the world’s largest Jewish community, seven times greater than the Jewish population of pre-war Germany.

Samuel’s story is one of survival against staggering odds and, though heart-rending and horrifying, it is ultimately one of triumph. WLRN’s latest film gives a first-hand account about his life during the Holocaust and as a Jewish prisoner of the Treblinka death camp.