Treblinka's Last Witness | KCET
Treblinka's Last Witness
Samuel Willenberg, now 92 years old, is the last living survivor of the Treblinka death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, where an estimated 900,000 Jews were murdered in a 13-month period 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 his harrowing experiences in a series of bronze sculptures of the tragic victims who dwell indelibly in his memory like ghosts. In "Treblinka's Last Witness," 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, he witnessed the death of his two beloved sisters, Itta and Tamara in the gas chambers, among countless others. In his sculptures, the most poignant of these individual tragedies are brought back to life. "Treblinka's Last Witness" 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, and seven times greater than the Jewish population of pre-war Germany. Samuel Willenberg's story is one of survival against staggering odds and though heart-rending and horrifying, it is ultimately one of triumph.