90 Comments

My grandfather grew up 10K from Treblinka.

When my 9-year-old son and I visited his village, Malkinia, in 1989, an elderly Polish couple who did not speak English, but heard the word 'Treblinka,' offered to guide us to the site. It was a two-hour walk through snowy woods to the back edge of the Treblinka memorial fields. My son and I agree-- this was one of the most profound experiences of both our lives.

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I'm sure that you have seen "Shoah", Claude Lanzmann's film completed in the early 1980s that depicts, toward the end, Lanzmann's visit to Treblinka with a then young former prisoner at Treblinka. Powerful. Remember in 1982 when the interview was conducted the subject was only in his early 50s as his liberation was in 1945 when he was probably 12 or 13 yeas old.

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Yes, we watched it before our trip,

(and again since). A remarkable film!

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Those here in North Carolina who voted for Mark Robinson are complicit with desecration. Call them out as much as we call him out.

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Steve, you said it all as eloquently as it could be said. Your words and the pictures you included, says it all. I can add nothing...... except that I agree: we must never forget what human monsters did to other humans.

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Aviva Blaichman

I took a small grey rock from the ground of Treblinka and placed it in my pocket. I brought it home to New York. Occasionally my eyes land on it near my home office desk. Occasionally I pick it up. With reverence. It is a Jewish tradition to place a rock on a gravestone. There are no graves or gravestones at Treblinka. Only unbearable stillness. Thanks for writing this piece. It’s important.

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As an NC native, I am disgusted, appalled, embarrassed that Mark Robinson is the lt. governor and that he is running for governor. He doesn't seem to understand that the Nazis would have killed him too because he was not of the Aryan master race.

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I am also a resident of North Carolina and thoroughly embarrassed and disgusted by this man and the woman nominated to control public schools here. And I am also embarrassed and disgusted by the people who support these two.

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Not a native but I’ve lived here for 25 years. Robinson disgusts me. There’s something very wrong with him (and his supporters). He’s an embarrassment to this beautiful state.

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Remind those of us who are not NC natives or residents: Robinson was elected to his current position, yes? Had he not, when running before, expressed the views he now expresses? What percentage of NC residents have supported him? What rationale is used? The MAGA Party clearly endorses his views. Does the state Party have a platform since the National one does not? Is there nothing in it that debunks his views?

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This brought me to my knees with grief for the inhumanity. I was an infant when this all took place. The horror of history is incomprehensible. The potential horror of electing a fascist dictator in 2024 is even more incomprehensible. Thank you for all you do to keep us informed.

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Thanks again Steve Schmidt for your timely visit to Poland and your exceptional writing.

In the early morning hours of July 8, 1943, seventeen people were murdered by Nazis in Stobierna Poland. Six were my relatives including my great grandparents. The Nazis were searching for my uncle Stanislaw Szybisty and his partner Jozef Bielenda who were members of the Polish Workers Party and the People's Guard underground. They didn't find them that night; however, Stanislaw didn't see the end of 1944. My mother's grandfather was executed in his front yard and her grandmother was burned alive in her home. That night, the Nazis torched eight more homes of the seventeen murdered. This was a horrible story my mother would tell me from time to time, especially when she would diligently pack boxes of used clothing she would ship to her remaining family in Poland, as I remember, in the late 1950's and early 1960's, a mere decade and a half after WWII. The details I shared above came from a legal document given to me in 2009 titled the discontinuance of an investigation by the Polish Department of the Commission of Prosecution of Crimes by the Nazis. So, what I thought were embellished stories were actual fact. Fortunately, my mother was still alive; and, not only was I able to share the document with her, I was also able to understand her deep commitment to caring for people and for speaking truth.

I apologize to those that may have read my comment this far as I realize how 'wordy' I can get, so I'll try and cut this short. I'm thinking about Steve Schmidt's essay, where more people were killed in war in the 18th century compared to the 17th and more killed in the 19th century than the 18th. The 20th century started out with an estimated 20 million dead after WWI, then 80 to 100 million at the end of WWII. I'm thinking of Maya Angelou's quote 'when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time'. We know the history and tools of fascism; the use of fear and terror, the apathy it generates, and the utter destruction caused by it. Wake up humanity, the past is close behind!

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Thank you for sharing your story Joe. It is heartbreaking. "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it." - George Santayana. 💔🫂💔

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Thank you Lisa. Your Santayana quote is perfect and reminds me of another from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a 12/15/23 article on Substack; ‘anyone who views the world at 70 the same as when they were 50; hasn’t been paying attention’. Apathy in our society may doom us all.

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Too, it is the sounds of silence from our 'friends' that we remember. An entire Red side of the US House of Representatives who say naught. This quote from Dr. King stays with me “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Thank you for sharing this story of horror and for seeking and obtaining confirmation of what should be unthinkable and are real.

Your mother gave you a gift of knowledge. Were not these stories told, do you think, to Jared Kushner? to Stephen Miller? to others who too, whether Jewish or among the many others put to death or near death to pass along and to live differently? I grew up in a neighborhood filled with Survivors. Our family, to the best of what we can and have learned, escaped before these horrors tho many remarkably lived through Pogroms. From early childhood (I'm now in my late 70s) on, my WWII veteran father (z"l) and neighbors who fought and those who survived ensured we understood our obligations to humanity.

It is the wanton disregard for history and the desire to visit the same on others that I cannot abide - nor understand. Repeat what you said, tell more. Each time it will matter.

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No apologies please, you spoke your truth, I thank you for it. 🙏

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Joe, thank you for sharing. I grew up with friends who were the children of Holocaust survivors, and my parents were friends with their parents. Our parents seared into our minds the need to never forget, and to never blindly fall into a "tribe" and follow their leader. This was especially poignant as part of our heritage was German/Polish (immigrated to the United States right before the Covil War). As a child I asked my parents, " How could people we are related to let this happen?" Fast forward to 2024, and my hair stylist is from the Czech Republic, with her family still there. They are terrified by what they see unfolding. Among those complicit in promoting the Big Lie will be held accountable...but that is too far in the future. We need to stand up and stop this now.

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I was at Treblinka on my 50th birthday. I continue to think about the visit to that site which haunts me to this day, and I am now 76. It is sad that those Trump supporters don’t know the history of fascism and the horror which it brings.

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Apr 3·edited Apr 3

God Love you Steve. I thank you so much for sharing this incredible journey with us. I can't even imagine what you're feeling right now.

I went through a phase during my 30's before the internet was big and checked out several books from the Library on every concentration camp I could find. I had always been fascinated with WWII History. I read them all but Treblinka stood out to me because of it's sheer savagery. It wasn't a work camp like you said. It's only purpose was killing. Plain and simple. Just ghastly. Beyond my comprehension.

We must never ever forget and somehow in this Country we have raised a Generation where many have forgotten or didn't learn History. If we do manage to win this Election and God help us we must, we desperately need to fix that among many other things.

Thank you again Steve. I'm praying for you on your travels. ❤️🇺🇸💙

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May their memory be for a blessing

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There is so much overwhelming, irrefutable, undeniable evidence that these shameful atrocities took place, people who lived through it,lost entire families to it,for stubborn,hateful people to deny this ever happened,is heartbreaking.The people who deny this,and the history that has been undeniably proven,show themselves to be as heartless as the perpetrators.This did happen,and it has been proven true.

The soldiers who liberated the camps,who saw these starved people up close,and discovered the evidence left behind,had to have been haunted by the memories of how truly evil some people can be.

Trump desperately desires to have this kind of power,to be able to lawfully get away with murdering anyone he hates.And he says it out loud,in broad daylight.Why on Earth is anyone considering such a person to run(or"ruin")our country?

All of us have a duty to keep people like tfg and Mark Robinson out of office,far away from the levers of power.They are a dangerous threat to our freedom and our society.

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Many years ago, probably at least 40, I worked with a production manager who liberated one of the camps as a member of the US Army, like very many in the motion picture industry he was a Jew. He was indeed haunted by what he witnessed. To deny that the Holocaust existed is to have your head so far up your ass that you don’t know whether it’s day or night. It’s not pathetic, which in ordinary circumstances you might say, it’s evil and while it’s not up to me, maybe beyond redemption.

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Thank you, Steve. I plan to use your piece in my next class. I wish we could get you to come speak to our students.

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And I sent it along to my niece, a social studies teacher, and a colleague of hers in another school who I know will use it in their teaching. We all can send on or if teachers, teach with this. Thank you for doing so.

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Thank you for bringing this to us, Steve. Although I’ve done a lot of research on the Holocaust, there is nothing like being there and seeing pictures of the horror that occurred at Treblinka and the other camps. I unfortunately have not had the opportunity to visit Poland and the camps. I hope to be able to so, someday. Unfortunately there are deniers of the Holocaust everywhere. And what you said, all of what you said, is true. Thank you again for bringing history to life. Unfortunately, even though this is a sad part of history, it’s still, as you said, must never be forgotten, and always remembered.

I myself are lucky to have visited the only Holocaust museum in my state of Michigan. I have visited it several times; although I have not been there in five years. They recently did upgrades to the old exhibits, and brought in new ones. When I was last there in 2019, I was there for over four hours. Nobody but the staff was there. This was obviously during Covid. While I was viewing the museum, I almost jumped out of my skin when a staff member just asked me “do you need any help?“ This is because I wasn’t expecting anyone to address me. The museum has two parts to it as it says. One part of it is light, and the other is darkness. Going into the darkness really opened up my eyes, and after my long, but thankful visit, I came out of that darkness and back into the light with a vast amount of knowledge I will always remember, and never forget. Thanks again, Steve.

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One of the rare times I am speechless.

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Ditto

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Steve, I admire your historical knowledge and equally your ability to educate those who don't know about those terrible times. As a young Jewish girl in the 60's, I had lots of friends whose Survivor parents had "numbers" on their arms; when we had sleep overs, I could overhear their screams in their sleep. So I don't need to be told to "Never Forget" as that would be quite impossible: And I am sure your travels to Treblinka will forever leave you a changed person. Lastly, run don't walk to see "Farewell Mr. Haffmann." And a big thank you for all you do.

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Thank you Steve. This essay is a masterpiece. It should be used in high school and college classes where history is still taught.

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