Elie Wiesel Loves Crazy Yankiel Wiernik

Published: 1984-10-01

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In 1977 Elie Wiesel was invited to lecture on the truth of the "genocide" claims to students and Faculty at Northwestern University. There he explained to his audience that, while Greeks invented tragedy, Romans the epistle, the Renaissance the sonnet, "our generation invented a new literature, that of testimony."

As an example of the power and value of this new literature, Wiesel quoted extensively from crazy Yankiel Wiernik, who was interned at Triblinka concentration camp during 1942/43. There Wiernik worked as a carpenter for the SS, escaped, and gave an account of his adventure to the world. You can read his crazy story in its entirety in Death Camp Treblinka, ed. by Alexander Donat (New York, Holocaust Library, 1979).

"You must listen," Wiesel exhorted his audience at Northwestern from the lectern.

"You must listen to more! I repeat, if Yankiel Wiernik had the courage to write, you must listen."

"'Between 450 and 500 persons were crowded into a (gas) chamber measuring 125 square Feet in Treblinka.'"

That is, into a room about the size of your kitchen perhaps. 10 feet wide, 12' 6" long. 450 to 500 people, eh? What do you think? Those SS guys must have really known how to fill a house. Apparently no professor at Northwestern University questioned the propriety of accepting such an outlandish claim. Why?

"You must listen to more," Wiesel told his audience that night.. still, of the various passages he read from crazy Yankiel's memoir, he overlooked (purposefully? ) some of the most comic ones, such as:

"Work was begun to cremate the dead [about 20,000 to 30,000 a day, ed.]. It turned out that bodies of women burned more easily than those of men. Accordingly, the bodies of women were used for kindling the fires."

Do you like that one? Or do you think Yankiel was just sucking up to those militant feminists who claim that women are better for any job than men?

How about this one?

"It was a terrifying sight. The most gruesome ever beheld by human eyes. When corpses of pregnant women were cremated, their bellies would burst open. The fetus would be exposed and could be seen burning inside the monther's womb."

Pretty neat, eh? Remarkable too, particularly when you reflect on how the American and British militaries burned tens of thousands of pregnant German and Japanese women in aerial bombardments during the war and those women were unable to provide their chroniclers with the same unique exhibition. Is Elie Wiesel, in recommending Wiernick's memoirs to us, suggesting that only Jewish women have the talent to display their burning fetuses in such a fabulous manner? Or is this an example of ethnocentrism running amok? Is it something else?

"The machinery of the gas chambers were operated by two Ukranians. One of them, Ivan, was tall, had kind and gentle eyes, but was nevertheless a sadist. He often attacked us while we worked and nailed our ears to the wall,…"

I confess I threw this one in for comic relief. Do you like it? Nailed our ears to the wall? Often? It's one of my favorite Yankiel Wiernik genocide stories, and crazy Yankiel's got a million of 'em.

Elie Wiesel likes it enough himself that it is one of the passages in the Wiernick memoir he chose to read at Northwestern that night. I wonder how many people in the audience laughed? Really laughed?

Ivan lives in Cleveland now. I'm trying to get in touch with him.

As for Yankiel Wiernik, there is a photo of him in Death Camp Treblinka. It's a head shot, with one ear clearly visible. It's a perfect ear. It's a lovely ear. Whenever Ivan decided to nail Yankiel up to a wall someplace, he must have used the same ragged ear every time. And when the time came later for Yankiel to have his photo taken, he remembered to show the good one to the camera.

Ah, Vanity, thy name must be Yankiel Wiernik.

(The "kindling" and "fetus" anecdotes will be found on page 170, the "ears" anecdote on page 158, and Yankiel's photo on page 147, all in Death Camp Treblinka.)

Now, what I need to understand (I need this) is why so many in the press and media, and in the universities, accept at face value what an Elie Wiesel or any of the cultists he surrounds himself with have to say about the Holocaust, the "death camps," or anything else. On the face of it, either they are fools or believe you are. Maybe, just maybe, they believe what they are telling you about those matters, but maybe, just maybe, their contempt for your intelligence and your character is beyond anything you could ever have imagined.

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Bradley R. Smith
Title: Elie Wiesel Loves Crazy Yankiel Wiernik
Sources: Prima Facie, no. 1, October 1984, pp. 5f.
Published: 1984-10-01
First posted on CODOH: July 7, 2012, 7 p.m.
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