Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

Bronislaw Falborski

Film | Accession Number: 1996.166 | RG Number: RG-60.5059 | Film ID: 3809, 3810

Bronislaw Falborski witnessed the deportation of Jews from Kolo to Chelmno. He talks about the speed of the gas vans. This interview takes place in Falborski’s home in Poland and was recorded during Lanzmann’s second trip to Poland.

FILM ID 3809 -- Camera Rolls 1-5
CR 1;2;3 (Rue à Midevits) CU, framed painting of Mary nursing baby Jesus on the wall. Mr. Falborski was the private driver for May from the autumn of 1941 to 1942. May lived in the house of a former forest warden, named Gay, in a town near Kolo. Falborski also lived in the house of an evicted forest warden. The wardens had been evicted because they were Polish. Falborski did not know German that well when he first began working for May, but after one year they could communicate without gestures. May supervised the German forest wardens in the area. Lanzmann asks when Falborski first learned of the exterminations in Chelmno.

CR 4 (Tyzem) Falborski was almost shot the first time he went to Chelmno. He had parked the car in the forest to let May out, and decided to follow May into the woods. About 100 meters along the forest path he was stopped by a Gestapo who demanded to know what Falborski was doing in the woods. The Gestapo had his gun aimed at Falborski when May came back and stopped Falborski from being shot. He moved the car back to a forest warden's house. The state employee who lived there told Falborski that Jews were being exterminated in the forest. Falborski did not discuss this with May, but with May's wife. Falborski claims he cannot say anything bad about May, as was always treated well by him. Falborski went to the forest many times, as well as the village of Chelmno. Falborski describes how the Polish citizens of Chelmno had been evicted and the castle became the designated camp for the Jews.

CR5 (Tyzem) Gas vans would leave the castle at the same time empty vans from the forest would return. Typically, two people sat in the front of the grey vans. They drove the vans slowly, at a calculated speed, so that the people inside would die before the van reached the forest. Once, a forest warden named Sendjak told Farboski a van had skidded. The Jewish prisoners fell out of the back of the van, still alive, and started to crawl on the ground. One of the Gestapo drivers shot them with his revolver. They Gestapo men then made the Jews of the Sonderkommando put the bodies back in the van and took them to be dumped in the clearing. The mass graves were roughly 500 to 700 meters from the road. Though he never went near the graves, Falborski and May could smell the odor of the decaying bodies. This was the only time the two men referred to the Jews.

FILM ID 3810 -- Camera Roll 6
CR6 Falborski knew what was happening in Chelmno because a young man in the Gestapo told him. The man told Falborski that Jews entering the camp were told they had to go through a disinfection process. Before they were taken away, their jewelry and gold teeth were forcibly removed. Finally, they were forced into the vans and taken to the forest. In Kolo, the city where Falborski lived, the Jews were grouped together at the synagogue and then chased by Germans to the train station which took them to Chelmno.

Event:  March/April 1979 (Pologne II)
Production:  1985
Created by Claude Lanzmann during the filming of "Shoah," used by permission of USHMM and Yad Vashem
Record last modified: 2023-11-07 13:20:43
This page: