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Reflections of a working writer and reader



The Road to Heaven

Less than a year before, SS officers and their Ukranian co-workers had dismantled the gas chambers and crematoria. The earth had been groomed, pines planted; a small farmhouse – built from the bricks of the disassembled gas chambers – served as a home to a Ukranian family. But the crime proved impossible to conceal. Grossman would later write that as he drove to Treblinka over a road blackened with the cinder and ash of burned corpses, he could hear a “mournful rustle.” On the killing ground, he noticed “the earth throwing out crushed bones, teeth, clothes, papers.” And he found strands of blonde hair “glowing like brass” and “heavy black plaits” from a sack of women’s hair that had not been taken away. In that instant, he realized that the rumours he’d heard about the death camps were true, shattering “the last, lunatic hope that everything was only a dream . . .”

The opening paragraph of an article on Vasily Grossman’s Treblinka by Kenneth Sherman. Taken from Brick Magazine.

Kenneth Sherman’s most recent book of poetry is Black River. His Vasily Grossman essay is from a collection, What the Furies Bring, to be published by Porcupine’s Quill in 2009.

5 Responses to “The Road to Heaven”

  1. Watch Heroes Online says:

    Powerful stuff. I just recently finished reading “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” by John Boyne. I recommend this book to anyone whom was moved by the above excerpt as I was.

  2. Dollhouse says:

    For the uninitiated I add that the camp was closed in 1944, and as a labor camp not acted already in 1943 and was nearly the largest (behind the Birkenau) extermination camp Jews.
    Today we are celebrating anniversaries in Poland and Warsaw uprising known TV interview with a former officer of SSM who said: “I saw a Ukrainian village, completely taken up with fire. It was a beautiful view.” Next I had the power not to watch.

  3. Raymond Johansen says:

    I like this story. But I don’t like the history:-) Thanks for sharing with us:-)

  4. gene says:

    there is a brief note about this at the epilogue of “village of a million spirits” another haunting work about treblinka and the uprising.

    the ukrainian who is sent to live in the house is aware of the fact that the fine bricks have been conveniently recycled from the treblinka gas chambers; which have killed more than a million people. he describes the bricks different textures and bodily stains as well as the haunting voices he hears from them.

    the most haunting scene, though, is where the main character is forced to sort out bodies in mass graves for incineration on bonfires. it was so sickening, i had trouble sleeping that night.

    i had a touch of being haunted, compared with the utmost giddy chaotic horror that tainted all who worked at the camp. as Janusz declares in a few instances, “Treblinka is special” not only a place that lives in timeless eternity, but a place of such unrelenting inhumane terror that people lose the reality of themselves.

  5. Ines says:

    Aw, this was an extremely good post. Spending some time and actual effort to produce a good article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.