Into That Darkness: From Mercy Killing to Mass Murder

Sereny, Gitta

McGraw-Hill, 1974

p. 101

The Nazis humiliated Treblinka inmates before killing them: “the crammed, airless freight-cars without sanitary provisions, food or drink, far worse than any cattle-transport; the whipped-up (literally so) hysteria of arrival; the immediate and always violent separation of men, women, and children; the public undressing; the incredibly crude internal examinations for hidden valuables; the hair-cutting and shaving of the women; and finally the naked run to the gas chamber, under the lash of whips. ‘Why,’ I [Sereny] asked Franz Stangl [Treblinka commandant] ‘if they were going to kill them anyway, was the point of all the humiliation, why the cruelty?’ ”To condition those who actually had to carry out the policies,’ he said. ‘To make it possible for them to do what they did.’ To achieve the extermination of these millions of men, women, and children, the Nazis committed not only physical but spiritual murder: on those they killed, on those who did the killing, on those who knew the killing was being done, and also, to some extent, for evermore, on all of us.”