Claude Lanzmann Shoah Collection
US Holocaust Memorial Museum & Yad Vashem & State of Israel
Abraham Bomba, a barber from Czestochowa, Poland, is featured prominently in the film Shoah. In the outtakes interview he talks about the treatment the Jews received when the Germans first arrived in his town, deportation to Treblinka, and his work cutting the hair of people right before they entered the gas chambers. Bomba escaped from Treblinka and tried to warn the remaining residents of Czestochowa but they did not believe him. In his memoirs published in 2009, Lanzmann calls Bomba "one of the heroes of my film."
FILM ID 3197 -- Camera Rolls #1-3A -- 01:00:06 to 01:33:59
Lanzmann asks Bomba how long he has lived in Israel and how he likes it. Bomba says he was a Zionist when he lived in Czestochowa, Poland before the war. He talks about his family, how hard things were after World War I, and the Jewish community of Czestochowa. When the Germans invaded in 1939 his family tried to flee but they had nowhere to go. He describes the rapid stigmatization and loss of rights suffered by the Jews: mandatory armbands, confiscation of radios and valuables, curfews. In 1941 the ghetto was created. Bomba says that conditions were terrible but that people still had hope. He got married in 1940 and in August 1941 (or 1942?) his wife had a son.
FILM ID 3198 -- Camera Rolls #4-6 -- 02:00:06 to 02:21:10
On September 22, 1942, the first deportation from Czestochowa took place, and Bomba's brother and his family were deported. Bomba did not know at this time that deportation meant death. Bomba describes the next deportation, when he and his family were selected and loaded onto trains. He says that the Polish people who watched the trains go by laughed at the plight of the Jews. He describes the train journey to Treblinka and arrival at the camp. He was immediately separated from his wife, child, and mother, and assigned to the red (Jewish) commando.
FILM ID 3199 -- Camera Rolls #5A,8A,9A -- 03:00:09 to 03:23:23
Camera mostly on Lanzmann with some side views of Bomba. Some segments have no picture. Lanzmann clasps Bomba's hand for most of the interview. Bomba describes arrival at Treblinka and his escape from the camp. Some parts (Camera Rolls 8 and part of 9) are repeated from a different view on Film ID 3200.
FILM ID 3200 -- Camera Rolls #7-9 -- 04:00:04 to 04:29:17
[CLIP 1 BEGINS] Bomba was selected to work and he describes the strange quiet that descended after the other prisoners entered the gas chamber, and the location where the corpses were burned. The Germans found out that Bomba was a barber and assigned him to cut the hair of the women before they were gassed. Lanzmann asks Bomba how many people escaped from Treblinka and how he decided to try and escape. Bomba describes his escape from the camp after he had been there for three months [CLIP 1 ENDS].
FILM ID 3201 -- Camera Rolls #10-12 -- 05:00:06 to 05:34:07
[CLIP 2 BEGINS] Bomba and another man manage to return to Czestochowa and tell people there that their relatives who have been sent to Treblinka are dead, but people do not want to believe them. Eventually some of the ghetto residents went to the German commandant, Degenhart [?] and reported Bomba, but Degenhart did not do anything about it [CLIP 2 ENDS]. Lanzmann asks Bomba why he thinks the Jews were so reluctant to believe him about Treblinka. Bomba gives a long answer and says that the Jewish people did not go to the slaughterhouse like sheep, that they did fight back. Bomba talks about the experience of the religious Jews.
FILM ID 3202 -- Camera Rolls #13-15 -- 06:00:00 to 06:11:23
This tape contains footage of Bomba in the barber shop. The man in the chair getting his hair cut is Bomba's friend from Czestochowa. There is no dialogue.
FILM ID 3203 -- Camera Rolls #16-17 -- 07:00:05 to 07:03:24
Bomba describes the appearance of the gas chamber. He describes cutting the hair of the women and children, who thought that they were about to take showers.
FILM ID 3204 -- Camera Rolls #18-19 -- 08:00:06 to 08:32:01
[CLIP 3 BEGINS] Bomba says that the girlfriend of the Jewish commandant, Galewski, arrived at the gas chamber too and he did not tell her what was about to happen. He says the Polish Jews realized more than those from other parts of Europe what was about to happen to them. Bomba tells the story of a woman who managed to cut the throats of two Capos in the gas chamber. One of them died and the Germans gave him a funeral and he was buried, the only proper grave at Treblinka [CLIP 3 ENDS]. Bomba says that the barbers only cut hair in the gas chamber for a short time before they were moved to the undressing barracks. Bomba says it was hard for him to get used to cutting womens' hair again after the war.
FILM ID 3205 -- Coupes -- 09:00:00 to 09:04:58
Short, mute clips.
Abraham Bomba appears in "Shoah." Interview segments that appear in the final film are NOT available at the USHMM. The Claude Lanzmann Shoah Collection at the USHMM contains only the outtakes from the film. Outtakes are sections of a movie that are filmed but not used in the final version.
See pages 426-434 in Lanzmann's memoir "The Patagonian Hare" (English translation, March 2012) for his description of the search for Bomba and the interview.
The clips that stream on the Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive online catalog (www.ushmm.org/online/film) correspond to the following Film IDs and time codes. Go to collections.ushmm.org/search to watch full Film ID reels -- the more complete outtake interview.
Clip 1, Film ID 3200, 04:00:06 - 04:18:06
Clip 2, Film ID 3201, 05:00:00 - 05:11:06
Clip 3, Film ID 3204, 08:00:05 - 08:11:13
Biography / History:
Abraham Bomba was born on June 9, 1913 in Germany.
Claude Lanzmann spent more than ten years searching for survivors, perpetrators, and eyewitnesses for his nine and a half hour film "Shoah" released in 1985. Without archival footage or dramatic enactment, "Shoah" weaves together extraordinary testimonies to render the step-by-step machinery of the destruction of European Jewry. Critics have called it "a masterpiece" and a "monument against forgetting."
1996.166 The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum purchased the Shoah outtakes from Claude Lanzmann on October 11, 1996. The Claude Lanzmann Shoah Collection is now jointly owned by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem - The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.
16mm original color camera negative; 1/4 inch magnetic audio track; 16mm image and sound rushes
16mm; 1/4 in audio; DigiBeta; Betacam SP; VHS
Created by Claude Lanzmann during the filming of "Shoah," used by permission of USHMM and Yad Vashem