Chil Rajchman in Poland
|Born||June 14, 1914
|Known for||Treblinka survivor, author of Treblinka memoir|
Chil Meyer Rajchman a.k.a. Henryk Reichman nom de guerre Henryk Ruminowski (June 14, 1914 – 2004) was a Polish-Jewish Holocaust survivor; former prisoner of the Treblinka extermination camp which took the lives of 800,000 Jews during the genocidal Operation Reinhard in World War II. Rajchman belonged to a group of inmates who escaped successfully during the perilous Treblinka revolt which resulted in the camp's closure in October 1943. His Treblinka memoir titled The Last Jew of Treblinka: A Memoir originally in Yiddish, was published in 2009 for the very first time in German and French, without the English translation, which appeared in 2011 with the Preface by Elie Wiesel seven years after his death at the age of 90.
Rajchman was born on June 14, 1914 in Łódź. He was one of six children raised by his widowed father. After the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, he and his sister joined the family in Pruszków, a small town in central Poland. The Jewish ghetto was created there in October 1940, and liquidated in February 1941. All Pruszków Jews were deported to the Warsaw Ghetto. With the work-permit issued by the Judenrat on German orders, Rajchman went to live and work in Ostrów Lubelski. He was rounded up on October 10, 1942 along with other ghetto inmates, loaded onto a Holocaust train, and sent to Treblinka extermination camp. Upon his arrival at the camp the following day, he was separated from his sister Anna, and put to work with the Jewish Sonderkommando. He was ordered to cut the hair of female victims before they were gassed, and later also to extract gold teeth at the Totenlager and dispose of the victims' bodies.
On August 2, 1943 along with the few dozen other prisoners, Rajchman managed to escape from Treblinka during the uprising. He returned to Warsaw and lived there under false "Aryan" identification papers till 1944. During that time he joined Polish Socialist Party and the underground resistance. On January 17, 1945 he was liberated by the Soviets, and 14 days later returned to his hometown where he stayed till late 1946. He soon emigrated to France and then with his wife went to Uruguay. In 1980, he was contacted there by the American embassy and on March 12, 1980 interviewed by the Office of Special Investigations. He went to the United States to testify against John Demjanjuk who was extradited to Jerusalem for a war trial in 1987–88. Rajchman died in 2004 in Montevideo, Uruguay.
It was not until 2009, that Rajchman's Treblinka memoir written in Yiddish while in Warsaw in 1944–45, was first published in France by Les Arènes Publishing (fr) under the title Je suis le dernier Juif. It was then translated into German as Ich bin der letzte Jude. Treblinka 1942/43. The original manuscript was edited for print already in 1946 by the poet in Yiddish, Nachum Bomze (Bumse) – according to Rajchman's own testimony during Demjanjuk's trial in Israel – but appeared for the very first time only five years after his death. As an old man, Rajchman was featured in the Uruguayan documentary film "Despite Treblinka" along with Kalman Taigman and Samuel (Schmuel) Willenberg from Jerusalem. The film was finished in 2002 and presented at the 24th International Film Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana, Cuba.
- Jankiel Wiernik, Treblinka revolt survivor, author of a parallel 1944 memoir A Year in Treblinka
- Jonathan Harrison, Roberto Muehlenkamp, Jason Myers, Sergey Romanov, Nicholas Terry (2011). "Chil Rajchman (aka Henryk Reichman)" (PDF file, direct download 3.98 MB). Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. Holocaust Controversies 2011. Adelaide Institute. pp. 32–33, 307–308. Retrieved August 31, 2013. Lay summary – Thomas Kues: Chil Rajchman’s Treblinka Memoirs, Inconvenient History 2/1. "Source: Chil Rajchman, Je suis le dernier Juif. Treblinka (1942-1943). Paris, 2009. See, p. 34 in source document: The ultimate test for any piece of historical evidence.. is whether it can be used to construct a historical narrative or historical explanation."
- Chil Rajchman (February 15, 2011). "The Last Jew of Treblinka: A Memoir". Pegasus (Amazon Product Details). ISBN 1605981397. Retrieved August 30, 2013.
- "Chil Meyer Rajchman". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
- Virtual Shtetl (2013). "Getto w Pruszkowie". Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- Gerardo Stawsky (2013). "Despite Treblinka. Protagonists". Teaching the Holocaust to Spanish speakers. ORT Uruguay University's Film Department. Retrieved 30 August 2013.