Testimony of Nochem Babikier


November 24, 1946

Yad Vashem Archives 

Testimony of Nochem Babikier, son of Mordchai and Liba, nee Nowikow, born in 1900, in Zabludorie, and since the second year of life, resided in Bialystok. A tailor of women's clothing by profession, he lived in the ghetto at 9 Gorna Street, now Rynek Kosciuszki 40, Bialystok. 

The train started at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. People were nervous. They spoke very little. They were immersed in their thoughts. They were waiting in suspense to know in what direction the train was headed. The train passed Starosielec, a district of Bialystok. After a moment, the observers near the window shouted in despair, 'We are all toast, we're going to Malkinia, unto doom in Treblinka.' 

Panic broke out in the carriage. People were panicking and wringing their hands. The young people decided to violently break down the door and jump off the train. A piece of iron was used to punch a hole in the door. Several people jumped. From Starosielec a cannonade sounded in the speeding train. Young people jumped from all the wagons. The Ukrainians fired weapons at them. A significant number of jumpers were killed on the spot. The carriage B was overtaken by jumping. In the wagon, the 30-year old owner of a cosmetics store from Gieldowa Street, cut his throat with a razor. No one responded to him. Suddenly, in an open field the train stopped. The Germans went from wagon to wagon. They rushed inside where there was an open door and bolted it shut. 

The train moved, Doctor Biezenic took an injection, but it did not work. There was a hook that was hammered into the middle of the ceiling. He hung a strap on it. No one disturbed him. He hung himself on it. However, the belt did not hold him. He fell and remained alive. The doctor gave his son poison and then he took it himself. A conversation went on between them, 'My child, what will your mother in heaven say to me, that I kill you!' Child: 'I do not want to die, but I prefer death from your hand, than from the hand of the Germans.' 

After a while, a rifle bullet pierced the wagon and hit one in the abdomen. The victim suffered for half an hour, screamed for someone to save him, and died. Biezenic with his son, decided not to take their own lives. They had two flasks which they decided to throw at the German heads in Treblinka, if they saw they were definately going to die there.

Meanwhile the train had already been running for quite a long time, according to their calculations, they should have arrived at Treblinka. The train stopped and they asked a Ukrainian where they were going. He told them they were going to Lublin. He said they were already 20 kilometers past Malkinia. There was unheard-of -joy in the carriage. People kissed and congratulated each other. Niomke said to his father, 'I'll see that we'll still be alive.' The man who had cut his throat, now demanded help with gestures. There was no way to save him, and he died. 

Dr Gawze, who sat listless, saving the lethal injection for last, rushed to save the doctor with his son. He ordered soapy water to make them vomit. Babikier gave the rest of his water, but it was a futile attempt. The father put his arms around his son. He held his son's pulse with his other hand. Their faces were joyful. They tottered like drunkards. Soon they died. The one who broke from the belt succumbed to injuries. The four people who had died were stacked in the corner of the train.

When the fear for their lives passed, there was an uncontrollable thirst for water. The tongues were dry. They cried out for water, but no one gave it to them. At one of the stops they handed a gold watch to a Ukrainian guard. He brought them two flasks of water. Everyone grabbed the flasks. The flasks of water fell and smashed on the floor. No one was able to quench their thirst. 

The shootings stopped. People were convinced that they were going to Lublin, to the railroad ramp. They stayed in the train car all night. Thirst drove people to hang their tongues out like dogs. Screams for help were heard throughout the train. Suddenly there was gunfire. People who could not stand the heat and left the wagons were shot and killed. It was dawn. They saw a group of women marching in a row. 

They asked them by sign, showing their necks, whether they were brought to their death. They outright denied it. They started cursing them out loud. They were convinced that it was the Germans who had put them down to manhandle them. At 7 o'clock in the morning they alighted. Standing near the wagons were SS men and Ukrainians with whips. At disembarkation they beat the captives. They lined up in lines of five. When anyone stepped out of line, the dogs would pounce on them and bite them. They inhaled deeply the air that they had been missing for so many hours. They asked the Ukrainians for water. They told them that they were going to a camp and there they would get everything. 

In front of the wagons lay several naked corpses. They were shot at night, when they tried to escape from the wagons. They undressed in the wagons because they were unbearably hot. It was reported to Dr Kaplan that his daughter was pronounced dead in one of the cars of the train that had arrived earlier. They were surrounded by a cordon of SS men with dogs and off they went.


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Sources

Yad Vashem Archives 

Translation by S.Straus


Holocaust Historical Society December 10, 2022