Shmuel Goldberg Interview

Sam Esther 2

Shmuel (Sam) Goldberg and Esther Goldberg- circa 1997 (Karen Treiger Family)

Shmuel Goldberg Extracts of Interview with the Shoah Foundation

Date of Interview: July 13, 1997

Interviewer: Fay Nicoll

Location: North Miami Beach

Translation: Shlomo Goldberg

Sam: I was in Stoczek..... there were Ukrainians and Germans. They surrounded the Shetl. It was a small Shetl and they caught us. They got me too. So everyone that was caught, they made us lie down. So its lost, there was nothing I could do about it. I was skilful in escaping but they didn't let me... the girl who was in love from the butchers, she came and she lay down next to me and started to cry. What can you do? So they put us on a truck, 135 people and they took us to Treblinka. We arrived at Treblinka and they took us off the truck.

Fay: What was there when you arrived?

Sam: When the 135 came to the camp, they put us in groups of five. They asked me and I said, 'I am a farmer, but I can do anything,' .... so they took me to make a roof from bundles of straw and to bind them together and to make a roof from that.

Fay: When did you arrive there?

Sam: June 1942

Fay: Tell me a little bit about Treblinka 

Sam: When I finished the roof, they asked, 'Can you wash laundry?' I said, 'Yes.' So they bring me a basin with a board, and they said, 'That I should wash clothes.' I wasn't alone there were five or six. Two people from Stoczek, were killed right away because they didn't want to work. I worked for about six weeks, and I saw that they needed more people to do the laundry..... So the Senior German said to me, 'You have nice eyes, I will make a laundry for you and you will be the supervisor of the laundry..... it didn't take two days and there was a laundry.

So this German said to me, 'You should wash now. Jewish laundry, Ukrainian laundry and German laundry should never be mixed together.... Twenty-four basins, there were twelve and twelve in the middle there was a pot to boil the laundry. It was a very big laundry.

Fay: When they came in, what did they do with them; the people who came to Treblinka?

Sam: After they took all their things, they brought wagons from Warsaw, mostly from Warsaw, not just Warsaw, from all around - but mostly from Warsaw..... the wagons came in the morning..... about 11 o'clock there were already transports. They got the people ready to chase the people to get undressed to go into the gas chambers. And in the evening again between three and four another transport came.

Fay: After eleven in the morning, the people undressed?

Sam: They had to undress

Fay: After that what happened?

Sam: They put them into the gas chambers....... the ones that hesitated, they thought maybe they would save themselves. They had a dog whose name was Barry..... such a big dog. And if the person didn't want to go, the dog bit him, so they ran. They rushed, tortured, urged very much..... in the beginning I took laundry from there, but then the Germans didn't let us go there.

Fay: But there were gypsies there?

Sam: They had nebach, an ugly death. They burnt them alive. The Jews they put in the gas chambers and they gassed them, they didn't put them in the fire like this, but these gypsies they burnt them alive. They put barbed wire around them and a fire burnt there all the time.

Sam: Do you know what 'sakesh' means in German? We were 12 men from the organisation to make the uprising. Every word that he said to me that I would survive, I will live, I will get out of there, I told to this man, I have a picture of this man, I carry it around with me, because he was my best friend.

Fay: What is his name?

Sam: Shmuel Rajzman. This is him. He was the leader of our organisation. He was a carpenter, he really wasn't a carpenter, but he worked in the carpentry shop. I told him that they wanted to lead me out of here, so that I would survive and they are going to kill, so we went and organised ourselves like this.

Fay: When did you decide to make the uprising?

Sam: We decided the first day to make the uprising. But we couldn't. It isn't the kind of thing that you can just announce, so we had to think about how to do it, so that we would stay alive. We thought like this, first we should get some weapons out of the camp, from Treblinka.

Fay: How did you do that?

Sam: We had two locksmiths .... One was brilliant - unbelievable. The other was a good locksmith, but he wasn't like that. The 'brainy' one made keys. We all had keys for the arsenal storehouse. Each of us had a key, 12 keys to go into the arsenal and take out weapons.

Fay: What happened to you when you escaped from the camp, after the uprising on August 2, 1943?

Sam: We ran into the woods. The Poles were cutting the corn, so with the machete's they were running after us. They were close to me. I had poison with me to commit suicide...... I didn't want to commit suicide, Close by there was a body of water, the River Bug. I had to cross it to get to Warsaw, which was 100 km's away. So I was there with Velvel Schneidmann (Wolf Sznajdman). We ran into the water and I cant swim to this day, and I swam across the Bug.

They threw grenades and they had machete's. They wanted to cut off our heads with machete's. The Poles were terrible. We went across and in the water I became tired, so I stopped there in the very tall grass that grows there. I went into the tall grass and sat there till it became dark.


Smuel Goldberg Interview with Fay Nicholl, Shoah Foundation, July 13, 1997, in Miami Beach

Thanks to Karen Treiger and Shlomo Goldberg and the family of Karen Treiger

Victor Smart

Holocaust Historical Society 2018