Treblinka Survivor: The Life and Death of Hershl Sperling
Mark S. Smith
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fellow Auschwitz survivor Jean Amery, whose experiences had been less appalling than Hershl’s. ‘What if each of us is born not with innate hatred in us, but merely the capacity to hate, like a cup not filled? What if this cup can only be filled by our parents? What we experience as children makes us what we are as adults. Isn’t that your father’s story? He was only twelve when the Nazis marched into Klobuck. He was fifteen in Treblinka. I have a strong feeling that anti-Semitism, and all other
Niklas Koppernick – later latinised into Copernicus – studied there. Although the Jewish community in Kraków had lived unperturbed beside its Christian neighbours under the protection of Casimir, relations had deteriorated by the reign of Jogaila and Jawiga in 1386 and pogroms occurred with increasing frequency. In later centuries, Polish kings allowed Kraków’s Jewish community – always an essential part of the city’s commercial and intellectual lifeblood – to build interior defensive walls and
the Wannsee Conference. The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi regime, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference was to inform senior Nazis and senior Governmental administrators of plans for the ‘final solution to the Jewish question’. Reinhard Heydrich, the man who chaired the Wannsee Conference and presented the plan for the deportation and annihilation of Europe’s Jews. After his assassination in Prague on 27 May
swim together and play together. It was a wonderful time. Then the Germans came and everything changed.’ By 1939, the map of Europe was already changing as a consequence of German opportunism and aggression. In 1936, Hitler moved troops unopposed into the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland, directly contravening the Treaty of Versailles. Neither France nor Britain took action against him. Although the Rhineland had been intended as a buffer zone between France and Germany, the French were
or whether he was another prisoner who had come into the forest. He was wounded in some way, and he knew my father was in the tree because he was begging him to come down and kill him before the Germans arrived. I got the impression this went on for a long time, this begging and pleading. I don’t know whether my father couldn’t kill him or if he was just too frightened to come down from the tree.’ ‘That would have been utterly terrifying,’ I said. ‘It was something that haunted him,’ Sam said.