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.