Treblinka is the site of a Nazi extermination camp in occupied Poland where an estimated 900,000 Jews were murdered. On Thursday night at Northeastern, Jan Grabowski recalled a visit last November to the meadow in his native Poland where the gas chambers once stood.
“It was a very sad day with clouds crying out and the rain dripping,” Grabowski told a rapt audience. “I looked at the ground under my feet, and I saw tiny white specks. Little pebbles, I thought. But they were too small. They actually were pieces of unburned bones which come to the surface after every rain.”
“After the 80 years,” he said of the generations gone by since World War II, “it is a place where the ashes, the bodies, of hundreds of thousands of people were burned and later buried. These remnants, these ashes, they come to the surface. So this is a place where you can feel history touching you with its cold hand or grabbing you by your throat. Treblinka has one meaning and this is the memory of the nearly 1 million people who had the chance to live, and this chance has been denied to them.”