In 1943 August, some Jewish prisoners that had been held captive at Treblinka stole weapons, fired up the camp and flee into the nearby woods. About 200 of the prisoners fled of which most of them were shot by the Nazi guards while others captured by the Polish visitors and taken back to the camp, which the Nazi razed so as to cover up their crimes. 67 prisoners were successful in the escape and Samuel Willenberg was one of them. The escapees joined the Polish resistance that was fighting the Nazis. After the war, he went to Israel where he spent his life teaching others about Holocaust via his writing, sculpture and speaking. Willenberg died in the 3rd week of February at Tel Aviv where his home is situated. The Treblinka Survivor died at the age of 93.
Samuel Willenberg’s birth place is in Czestochowa, Southern Polish city. The 1923-born was a father, painter and also a teacher at a local Jewish school. His mother converted to Judaism from Christianity after she got married. When the Nazi Invasion of Poland occurred in 1939, which caused World War II, the family was separated. Samuel’s 2 sisters were arrested in1941 while himself was among the 6,000 Jewish that were rounded in Southern Poland and transported to Treblinka via train in October 1942. His life was saved by the fact that he was a bricklayer.
Treblinka, located northeast of Warsaw, later on became symbolic of Adolf Hitler’s attempt to exterminate the Jewish population in Europe. In other camps, the prisoners were forced to carry out labor after which they were killed. About all that were brought to Treblinka were gassed to death. Most of the people died due to starvation, forced labor, diseases and gas chambers.
Few of the strongest and skilled male prisoners such as Willenberg were selected to carry out maintenance work in Treblinka. In this role, they were put under conditions to murder as well as support the killing of the fellow prisoners.
By April 1943, the Nazis started to dig up the killed prisoners bodies so as to burn them on huge pyres. The prisoners that were still alive were forced to do so. With the knowledge that once that task had finished they would be the next to die, Willenberg and the others came up with an escape plan. On 2nd August, some 200 prisoners used a copied armory key and stole weapons. They set the camp to fire and fled.
Some were killed while others got lucky to escape.
When World War II ended, Willenberg and his wife Ada moved to Israel. She had managed to survive the horrors and got a job as a surveyor.
Willenberg’s death occurred on 19th of February at his home in Tel Aviv. He is survived by his wife, daughter and 3 grandchildren.