Treblinka - More Bumblings from Bomba

Published: 2009-10-20

Most of my readers are likely already familiar with the Treblinka eyewitness Abraham Bomba. In an article for The Revisionist, "Abraham Bomba, Barber of Treblinka" (Vol. 1, Issue 2, May 2003, pp. 170-176) Bradley Smith exposed Bomba's rather infantile mendacity as displayed in an interview made in Tel Aviv in 1979 for Claude Lanzmann's well-known 9 hour documentary film Shoah (1985). In this, Bomba asserted that he and fifteen or sixteen other "barbers" had cut the hair of between sixty and seventy women at the same time inside one of the gas chambers, which was moreover equipped with several benches. According to Holocaust historian Yitzhak Arad, who bases his statements on West German trial verdicts summarized by A. Rückerl, the chambers of the first gassing building measured 4 x 4 m, whereas those of the second one measured 4 x 8 m (Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka..., p. 42, 119). Bomba himself describes the room as measuring only "around twelve feet by twelve feet", (3.6 x 3.6 m) which is slightly smaller than the size of the alleged first gas chambers (Shoah. The Complete Text of the Acclaimed Holocaust Film, Da Capo Press 1995, p. 103). It is obvious that neither a 4 x 4 m or a 4 x 8 m chamber would have offered a feasible working condition for Bomba and his colleagues. Furthermore, Bomba reveals in the film that after he and the other members of the haircutting commando had left the chamber, the women and children still inside were gassed with an astonishing quickness:

"After we were finished with this party, another party came in, and there were about 140, 150 women. They were all already taken care of, and they told us to leave the gas chamber for a few minutes, about five minutes, when they put in the gas and choked them to death. (...) [We waited] outside the gas chamber and on the other side. Well, on this side the women went in and on the other side was a group of working people who took out the dead bodies - some of them were not exactly dead. They took them out, and in two minutes - in one minute - everything was clear. It was clear to take in the other party of women and do the same thing they did to the first one." (Shoah, p. 106)

Thus within merely 6-7 minutes, the 140-150 people inside the chamber were not only gassed, but also dragged out of it, one and all. It hardly needs to be stated that this is utterly inconceivable. Such a scenario would only be possible, if the "victims" left the "gas chamber" on their own feet, still alive after having been showered or deloused.

While the statements made by Bomba in Shoah are enough to destroy the credibility of this witness, he made many other absurd and interesting claims that were never shown to the movie viewers. Of the long interview made by Lanzmann, only a smaller portion was included in the finished movie. Thanks to a fellow revisionist researcher, I have recently come by, however, a transcript of the full interview. This 73-page transcript is available online at the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In the present article I will scrutinize A. Bomba's further statements on the "pure extermination camp" Treblinka.

Bomba's Personal Background

Abraham Bomba was born in Germany in 1919, but at an early age his family moved to the Polish town of Czestochowa, where he worked in a barber shop and married in 1940. One of his brothers was deported to Treblinka together with his family on the first transport from Czestochowa on September 22, 1942. Bomba himself, with his wife, infant son, mother and a 12-year-old brother were sent to Treblinka with the second transport which left "the day before Sukoth" (Interview transcript, p. 18). In 1942 the Sukkot holiday fell on October 6, although Bomba mentions September rather than October (p. 20). The trip to Treblinka reportedly took 24 hours (p. 22). The date of October 5 is indicated by Arad (p. 393) as the last day of deportations from Czestochowa. In Treblinka, all of Bomba's family except himself were supposedly gassed on arrival. Contrary to most Jewish Treblinka witnesses, he did not participate in the prisoner revolt and mass escape on August 2, 1943 but escaped with two other inmates after having spent three months working in the camp (p. 32).

Bomba's much older brother was deported with his wife to Auschwitz from France in 1943. His sister survived the war and later lived in Paris. In 1949 Bomba migrated to Israel, but due to his wife's severe illness he left for the United States in 1950 and stayed there for 28 years. During the Düsseldorf Treblinka trial of 1964-65, Bomba appeared as a witness for the prosecution (p. 71). On September 17, 1978 he and his family migrated to Israel once more. In Tel Aviv he continued working as a barber (one might think that his traumatic Treblinka experience would have made him change his profession, but this was apparently not the case).

"B[omba]. I like Israel and I worked very hard for Israel.

C.L[anzmann]. Yes?

B. Yes. In organisations, in the Histadrouth, and even before the war. I was an active member in the organisations.

C.L. You mean before the war, the Second World War?

B. Yes, before the Second World War. I was active in the Zionist organisations. C.L. And you were a Zionist?

B. Yes." ( p. 2)

Histadrouth or Histadrut is a Jewish trade union in Israel, which Bomba supposedly joined after migrating there. The fact that Bomba already before the war was a dedicated Zionist provides a reason for his false accusations against the Germans: without the alleged gas chamber mass murder there would likely be no "very, very nice country of Israel" that is "very good especially for Jewish people" (p. 3).

Arrival at Treblinka

At the square in Treblinka where the deportees were received and divided into men and women, Bomba was separated from the other members of his family, who were taken through a "big door" and from there supposedly to the gas chambers to be killed. Abraham was picked out with 20 or 22 other men to tidy up the reception square before the arrival of the next transport:

"After the arrival of every transport it was almost the same thing. There was screaming and hollering from those places where they went in, especially the women, it was impossible to have your mind straight, because all the hollering was in your ears and in your mind. But, like I said, in one second or one minute, everything was quiet. Then they told us to make clean the whole place (...) That had to be done in minutes." (p. 26)

Bomba describes the scenery of the reception camp as follows:

"There were no trees, there were barracks; one barrack on the left side where the people went in, and on the right side there was another barrack but we didn't go into it. What we saw was a well, where they used to take water out to drink. So at that time there was a well, and some of the people from the transport had an idea what was going on, because you could also smell it a little bit, something was wrong with the smell, like burning meat or the smell of chalk or other things. It happened that people jumped into that well. It happened also in my transport." (p. 25)

The Jews selected for work not only jumped into wells, but according to the witness they also committed suicide in droves. Their bodies from the suicides were taken to a large burning pit near the so-called "Lazarett" and burned there (p. 29). This caused the nauseating stench of burning bodies to pervade the air in the camp. Bomba notes that not only corpses, but also clothes and papers were burned at the same site (p. 34).

At first, Bomba was set to work as a member of the Sortierungskommando, which sorted the clothings and other belongings of the victims in a couple of barracks near the reception camp (p. 29). Four weeks after his arrival, however, he was picked out to work as a barber, and in turn selected a number of professional barbers whom he knew from Czestochowa (p. 54). The men, numbering 16 or 17 in total, were led along the pathway reportedly known as the "Road to Heaven" to the part of Treblinka called "Treblinka 2" by Bomba and the "Upper Camp" or "Totenlager" by other eyewitnesses, where the alleged gas chambers were located:

"That was the first time that somebody working in Treblinka 1 came into Treblinka 2, where the gas chambers were, and walked out from the gas chamber alive and not be (sic) carried out as a dead man." (p. 61).

According to Arad (p. 109) the hair cuttings in the Aktion Reinhardt camps began in September or October 1942, which is slightly earlier than implied by Bomba's account.

The Gas Chambers

When Bomba and the other barbers were led to Camp 2 it was the first time they witnessed the gas chambers - or "gas chamber". Only once during the interview does Bomba mention the plural form of the word, and he never explicitly states the number of chambers. At the time in question - late October or early November 1942 - the alleged first gas chamber building had supposedly been taken out of operation and replaced with a large concrete building containing either 10 or 6 chambers, each measuring 4 x 8 m, arranged five and five (or three or three) alongside a narrow corridor. The new building was inaugurated at the middle of October (Arad, pp. 119-120). At the same time, the old gassing building was converted into a tailor's shop (!). This means that the dimensions of the gas chamber stated by the witness, 3.6 x 3.6 m, is in contradiction with established Treblinka chronology.

As already mentioned, Bomba claims that the female victims had their hair cut inside "the gas chamber":

"They took us to the place - we had never been over there, no one from Treblinka where we were, at our place, ever went across that big door going in to what we knew already was the gas chamber. They took us over there and we cut the women's hair. That was another thing that was horrible. Unbelievable. They took the women in, they undressed themselves and we were supposed to do a job. They didn't know they were going into the gas chamber. They didn't know they were in the gas chamber. They knew there was a little place called the barber's shop where they would have their hair cut, afterwards they would have a shower and everything would be finished and they would be back to work." (pp. 29-30)

Later in the interview Bomba describes the walk to the gas chamber area in more detail:

"B. (...) Going in they had put some benches, where the women could sit so they would not have the idea that this was their last way, the last time they were going to live or breath or know what was going on.

C.L. Can you describe how the gas chamber looked?

B. It looked like a simple room, closed from 2 sides with an opening on the other sides, like a door from this side and a door on the other side. But on these [other] 2 sides there was no door, nothing. At the ceiling there was like a shower head, to give the idea that the women going into the gas chamber were taking a bath - not that from the shower head poison gas or chankali(?) [read: cyankalium] or other things were going to come in." (pp. 54-55)

Many of the Aktion Reinhardt eyewitnesses makes it clear that the SS camp staff made extraordinary efforts to trick the deportees into believing that they had arrived in a transit camp: propaganda posters were put up, "deceptive" speeches were held, soaps handed out &c. Bomba here makes an interesting contribution to the "historiographical" picture of the Treblinka transit camp "deception" by informing us that the Germans had provided benches for the female victims - whether they were inside the chamber or outside it, on the "Road to Heaven" is not really clear due to Bomba's less than perfect English - in order to provide them with a false sense of comfort.

In fact, the whole notion of cutting the hair of the female victims makes little or no sense within the context of assembly line mass killings. As has been pointed out by the pseudonym DenierBud, the cutting of the hair of 1,000 women would result in approximately 100 kg of hair. We should recall here that the valuables (money, jewels, precious metals) confiscated from the Aktion Reinhardt deportees amounted to a total of 178,745,960.59 RM (Arad, p. 161). Does it really sound reasonable that the SS would have instituted a bottleneck - the hair cutting - into the mass killing procedure just in order to gain some 40 tons of hair (assuming 400,000 female deportees), that easily could have been procured from other sources? On top of this, Bomba has it that the SS found it a good idea to cut the hair inside the gas chambers. A bottleneck willfully placed in a bottleneck! On the other hand, hair cutting makes perfect sense as part of a delousing procedure.

Clearly smelling a rat, Lanzmann repeatedly asks his interviewee for how long a period the hair cutting was done inside the gas chamber, but Bomba misunderstands the question, believing that Lanzmann is asking how long it took to cut the hair. Finally Lanzmann asks for how many weeks he worked in the gas chamber, to which Bomba replies "about a week or ten days". After that, the SS decided to have the hair cut in a separated part of the undressing barrack (p. 68); a claim consistent with established historiography (Arad, p. 109).

What Bomba has to say on the subject of the murder weapon is nothing short of astounding:

"C.L. When they were already inside the gas chamber and the room was closed and the gas was sent [in], did you hear anything?

B. It was not the sort of thing you ask to hear. It was not only that you heard it, but people from outside, the Polish people for kilometres around could hear the screaming and choking that was going on for a number of seconds, even 1 or 2 minutes, until everything was quiet.

C.L. It was so short? No more than 2 minutes?

B. No, that is as short as it was, because when in Treblinka they stopped giving in poion or other kinds of poison things to gas them, they had a pump pumping out the air from the chamber. Naturally, without air the women had to be choked and fall on each other to catch the breath from each other. But it was impossible, and in a very short time, maximum 2 minutes, they were all quiet until the other door opened up; because the Nazi was looking through a little hole to see what was going on, whether they were still alive or dead, to give the order to take them out of the gas chamber.

C.L. But I thought the Jews were killed with carbon monoxide gas from a motor.

B. That happened at the beginning. After that they stopped it because it was expensive. It cost money and it was very hard to get through to them. At the last time they pumped out the air from the chamber.

C.L. You are sure of this?

B. I am pretty sure. And I know about it, I was there and I saw it. I was inside and not many people - maybe 2 or 3 of the people who worked in the second part of Treblinka are still alive. I was one of them, I know, I was there and I saw that." (pp. 65-67)

Not only are the screams heard kilometers away or the 2 minutes required to kill the victims patently absurd (and the latter statement contradicted by numerous other witnesses), but here Bomba has the audacity to resurrect the bogus atrocity propaganda of the (technically less than feasible) Treblinka "vacuum chambers", thirty years after this claim was thrown down the memory hole together with the "steam chambers" in favor of engine exhaust gas being used as the killing agent (cf. J. Graf, C. Mattogno, Treblinka..., pp. 47-76). It should not surprise that Lanzmann did not include this portion of the interview in the finished film.

Interestingly, Bomba's story is blatantly contradicted by the only Treblinka eyewitness to take the stand at IMT Nuremberg, Samuel Rajzman. In his account "Uprising in Treblinka" presented before the American House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 1945, Rajzman stated that the killing installation

"consisted of 10 cabins with room for 700 to 800 persons each. In these cabins there were even towels and rules posted. Once the people were inside, the cabins were hermetically sealed, and the air pumped out with machine (poison gas was used later). Thus the victims were suffocated to death. They remained in the cabins for 10 to 20 minutes; the large number of others waiting in line for the "bath" made it impossible for the Germans to leave them there any longer"

Thus according to Bomba each chamber held 140-50 people whereas Rajzman claims as many as 700 to 800 victims per chamber; engine exhaust fumes were initially used as the murder weapon but then replaced with vacuum, if we are to believe Bomba, but Rajzman has it the other way around - vacuum was replaced with "poison gas"; the killings took 1 to 2 minutes according to Bomba, but 10 to 20 minutes according to Rajzman. Two accounts, completely contradictory, equally ridiculous.

Mass Graves and Cremations

The Höfle telegram shows that up to the end of December 1942, a total of 713,555 Jews were deported to Treblinka. Orthodox historians claim, without a shred of evidence, that virtually everyone of them were killed with engine exhaust fumes immediately at arrival. But how did the SS manage to dispose of this vast amount of corpses? Bomba tells us:

"After they were gassed the spectacle had already started, and the people from the other places, the gas chamber, worked already taking out the people clamped one to another, because even after their death they clamped to one another to be close to one another, not to be apart from each other, in life time and also in death. That is how they took them out of the gas chamber and to the places where they put them for a while, they dug a big trench and put them there, but that was not the end. After that they dug them out and put them on top of each other, body by body, and burned them like an autodafé in the time of the inquisition in Spain. They burnt all those bodies on top of another." (p. 52)

As we have already seen, Bomba arrived at Treblinka in early October 1942 and escaped from the camp three months later. Established historiography has it that the exhumation and cremation of corpses at Treblinka commenced in March 1943 (Y. Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, p. 173). Aside from Bomba, there are only two witnesses who speak of earlier cremations: Samuel Rajzman and Richard Glazar (Graf & Mattogno, Treblinka..., p. 39, 142). The only eyewitness to have provided information on the dimensions of the Treblinka mass graves, Eliahu Rosenberg, spoke of graves each measuring 120 x 15 x 6 m. Given a 0.5 m thick top layer and a maximum density of 8 corpses per cubic meter, each grave could have contained at most 79,200 bodies, so that 9 such graves would have been needed to contain the 713,555 Jews that had been deported to Treblinka (and allegedly killed there) up until the time of Bomba's escape (cf. Graf & Mattogno, Treblinka..., p. 138). Bomba, however, knows of only one "big trench". It is further worthy of note that Bomba does not mention with a single word the fuel needed for the incineration pyres. One might think that the procurement of the firewood necessary - more than 100,000 tons in total (ibid., p. 150) - and the work involved with it would have caught his attention!

The Escape

Bomba's story of his escape from the "death camp" begins reasonably: he and two other inmates hid beneath a pile of clothing in a warehouse, and then snuck out after nightfall. What supposedly happened next is, however, more difficult to lend credence to:

"B. (...) The only place to escape from Treblinka, the safest place, was to the Lazarett, because otherwise you had 4 or 5 different gates to go around, where it was very dangerous. There was barbed wire, and it was almost impossible to get through. Coming out from the barracks we didn't see anybody, all we saw was a huge place for burning, burning clothes, paper and people. And we had to go through that place to get to the wire fence, where there was only one fence to go through.

C.L. You mean you went...

B. Through that fire too...

C.L. Through the ditch of the Lazarett?

B. Through the ditch. We wore some clothes on top so that we wouldn't get burned, and we just went through.

C.L. You went into the ditch of the Lazarett?

B. Like a fire. We went through there. One of us in the third one (sic), when we came to the barbed wire fence, we put some clothes on top of it and went through that fence, one on top of the other. It just happened that Saturday night that the Ukrainians were all drunk, and nobody was in the watchtower. There was no-one around." (pp. 32-33)

It is hard to refrain from pointing out that, with a little reconnaissance, Bomba and his pals could have sneaked out of the camp without having to wade through fire with some rags on the head for dubious protection. Not to mention the absurdity of the camp staff leaving a huge fire unattended! The whole scenario makes for a good Monty Pythonesque sketch, not for a testimony believable to people over the age of 5.

A look at a "map" of Treblinka further suggests that the escapees would just as easily have been able to penetrate the fences to the west of the "Lazarett", and that they also could have circumpassed the burning pit by climbing the sand banks surrounding it.

After the miraculous escape from the death camp, Bomba and friends did not try to escape from German-occupied territory, but instead went from Zagrodiniki to Warsaw where they took a train to Czestochowa to find relatives still living there.

Bomba's return to the Czestochowa ghetto

After having themselves smuggled into the Czestochowa ghetto, Bomba and his fellow escapees set out to inform the 5,000 Jews still remaining there of the "truth" about Treblinka. However, the Czestochowa Jews were not very willing to believe their story. Bomba recall their reactions:

"Something is wrong with all of you. Either you are out to get something here, or you want to do something. We don't believe you. You must be crazy. The way you look, the way you behave, you must be crazy, because that is impossible." (pp. 40-41)

Some women in the ghetto "could never believe" the stories of Bomba and went to see the ghetto commandant Degenhart:

" B. (...) They went to him and told him, "We know that there are people from Treblinka who came over here, and they are making a panic and telling everyone that everybody is dead"

C.L. Jews went to Degenhart?

B. Yes, Jews went and told him. And do you know what he said? 'they have run away from Treblinka, let them stay as long as they can.'" (p. 42)

Bomba then claims that the members of the Jewish Elder's Council in Czestochowa fully well knew the "truth" about Treblinka, but did nothing to warn the others, as they sought to save themselves and their relatives by ingratiating themselves with the Germans. All were later killed however, either sent to Treblinka or shot a the local Jewish cemetery (p. 43). In spite of this supposedly treacherous behavior our witness maintains that

"The Jewish people - and I want you to know this - is a strong nation. No nationality would have survived if that had happened to them. Take the Polish people, the French people or any other people - they would break down like flies. But the Jewish people have a will, a will to live. I mean to live even in suffering." (p. 44)

To summarize: the Jewish people possess an immense collective will to survive, but their leadership in Europe during the war consisted of cowards and traitors who assisted in having their fellow Jews deported to death camps and who sought to save their own skins by sucking up to an enemy who planned to exterminate each and every one of them!

Tales from Treblinka

No Holocaust story would be complete without a dose of insane, sadistic violence perpetrated by demonic SS men. Bomba relates:

"Like the guy Lalko [Kurt Franz] - his speciality was in taking out the nicest, healthiest men and without saying anything just going over and taking out his gun and killing them." (p. 72)

On one occasion Bomba gets very sick and asks his foreman to be sent to the "Lazarett" and killed and thus be spared his pains. "He looked at me as if I was crazy. He asked me "How long have you been working here?". I said "I've been working here for about 5 or 6 weeks already". "5 or 6 weeks!" he said. "Go to the kitchen and tell the man to give you some whisky. When you've got some whisky you will feel better.""(pp. 69-70)

Generally Treblinka was hell on earth, but sometimes the Nazis stopped their random butchering and baby killing for a moment and suddenly turned humane:

"B. (...) It happened in Treblinka that a woman coming in with a transport from a town near Warsaw - I don't know how, but she knew what was going to happen. She took out a razor and cut the throat of one of the workers.

C.L. One of the Jewish workers?

B. One of the Jewish workers. One of them tried to rescue him, and she cut his throat with the razor. The other one - as a matter of fact he was the 'capo' of the barbers - she cut his throat too. He survived, but the other one, who was what I would call an 'Over-capo', died. The Germans took him to the hospital and tried to do everything they could to rescue him but they could not succeed. The only grave of a man dying in Treblinka was his, in which he was buried, a natural grave like any other human being's all over the world." (p. 63)

This singular honor was bestowed to the dead man "because he was like a hero for them - a Jewish hero for the Nazis" - "All the Germans went to the funeral, all the people working there in Treblinka had to stand at 'Appel' and they had to salute the body going through to be buried." (p. 64). Naturally we will have to suppose that with the funeral ceremony finished, Kurt Franz and his companions in genocide resumed their diabolical mass murdering.

Conclusion

There is not much need to discuss in depth the reliability of Bomba as a "Holocaust" eyewitness. From the haircutting in a jam-packed gas chamber turned into a vacuum chamber, to the escape route through a burning pit - his story is a sad mess of contradictions and absurdities. One can only draw the conclusion that Bomba is either a slightly mentally deficient liar, or else delusional. Perhaps sensing his own lack of credibility, Bomba resorts to making vague references to other, supposedly overwhelming evidence:

"But not only witnesses, the Germans themselves have filmed all those places, they have photographed all those places which took in the people, where they were gassed and the corpses of the dead people were taken out, which they cannot deny. The Germans themselves know they are guilty of this thing that they did to our people" (p. 62).

If Lanzmann was striving to reach the truth about the Holocaust - which he most certainly wasn't - he would have asked Bomba about those war-time photos and films of gas chambers, because no other person on Earth has laid eyes on such material! As for the eyewitness evidence provided by Bomba himself, it is all too obviously inadmissible. The fact that Lanzmann promotes Bomba's tears as prime evidence for the alleged gas chamber mass murders at Treblinka, while cutting from the released documentary a number of statements which clearly reveals this witness as a brazen liar, speaks volumes about the nature of the Shoah propagandists.

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Author(s) Thomas Kues
Title Treblinka - More Bumblings from Bomba
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Dates published: 2009-10-20, first posted on CODOH: Oct. 19, 2009, 10:34 p.m., last revision: n/a
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