Joe Rosenblum of Miedzyrzec Podlaski, Poland


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First-Hand Account

From Joe Rosenblum's autobiography, "Defy the Darkness: A Tale of Courage in the Shadow of Mengele": On arrival at the Majdanek camp....

"We were all lined up in rows, five abreast. Our family was all in one line. I spotted someone I knew from my city. I was astonished. He had disappeared three years earlier, and we all thought he was dead. I tried to speak to him out of the corner of my mouth. He did the same.

'What goes on here?' I asked.

'They're gassing people every day, bringing in people from all over. If you go right, you live. If you go left, you die. But even if you live, you may not survive. I came here with fifty of my landsmen. Now I'm the only one left.'

I saw several wagons with wounded people outside the gas chamber. We had heard about gas chambers from Treblinka escapees. I knew what was happening to them. The wounded were crying, screaming, pleading to be shot. The crematorium chimney shot flames, like hell's fire, and its smoke smelled like frying bacon--but I knew it was human flesh.

Yudel said, 'This is the end.' He was almost speechless. We were all trembling in fear.

The SS man at the head of the line motioned for Jacob Wilder and me to go to the right. I knew what that meant. I could see the women, the children, and the old and sick were being sent to the left. They were headed toward the crematoriums.

Sara's and Rachel's children were crying. As young as they were, they could see what was coming. They could see the ashen looks on their mothers' faces, and they were afraid.

I looked at Jacob and said, soulfully, 'We have to stay together. Now it's just you and me.'


The gas chamber and the crematorium were in the middle of the camp. There were two lines. One led straight to the gas chamber. I saw my uncle and his family start to shuffle into it.

'Uncle, I don't know what to say and what will be for all of us. This is the end of the road,' I yelled.

Yudel was speechless, the women were speechless, the cousins knew this was it. Yudel, Rachel, Sara, all were walking with their heads down. They knew. Then they entered the building...."













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