fbpx
Wikipedia

Sobibor extermination camp

"Sobibor" and "Sobibór" redirect here. For the village, see Sobibór (village). For other uses, see Sobibor (disambiguation).

Sobibor (, Polish:) was an extermination camp built and operated by Nazi Germany as part of Operation Reinhard. It was located in the forest near the village of Sobibór in the General Government region of German-occupied Poland.

Sobibor
Extermination camp
Sobibor extermination camp, summer 1943
Location of Sobibor within Poland
Show map of Poland
Sobibor extermination camp (Europe)
Show map of Europe
Coordinates51°26′50″N23°35′37″E /51.44722°N 23.59361°E /51.44722; 23.59361Coordinates: 51°26′50″N23°35′37″E /51.44722°N 23.59361°E /51.44722; 23.59361
Other namesSS-Sonderkommando Sobibor
Known forGenocide during the Holocaust
LocationNear Sobibór, General Government (occupied Poland)
Built by
Commandant
OperationalMay 1942 – 14 October 1943
InmatesJews, mainly from Poland
Number of inmates600–650 slave labour at any given time
Killed170,000–250,000
Notable inmatesList of survivors of Sobibor

As an extermination camp rather than a concentration camp, Sobibor existed for the sole purpose of killing Jews. The vast majority of prisoners were gassed within hours of arrival. Those not killed immediately were forced to assist in the operation of the camp, and few survived more than a few months. In total, some 170,000 to 250,000 people were murdered at Sobibor, making it the fourth-deadliest Nazi camp after Belzec, Treblinka, and Auschwitz.

The camp ceased operations after a prisoner revolt which took place on 14 October 1943. The plan for the revolt involved two phases. In the first phase, teams of prisoners were to discreetly assassinate each of the SS officers. In the second phase, all 600 prisoners would assemble for evening roll call and walk to freedom out the front gate. However, the plan was disrupted after only 11 of the SS officers had been killed. The prisoners had to escape by climbing over barbed wire fences and running through a mine field under heavy machine gun fire. About 300 prisoners made it out of the camp, of whom 58 are known to have survived the war.

After the revolt, the Nazis demolished the camp and planted it over with pine trees. The site was neglected in the first decades after World War II, and the camp had little presence in either popular or scholarly accounts of the Holocaust. It became better known after it was portrayed in the TV miniseries Holocaust (1978) and the film Escape from Sobibor (1987). The Sobibor Museum now stands at the site, which continues to be investigated by archaeologists. Photographs of the camp in operation were published in 2020 as part of the Sobibor perpetrator album.

Contents

Operation Reinhard

Further information: The Holocaust in Poland
Map of the Holocaust in Europe. Sobibor is located right of centre.

Sobibor was one of four extermination camps established as part of Operation Reinhard, the deadliest phase of the Holocaust. The extermination of Europe's Jews did not originate as a single top-down decision, but was rather a patchwork of decisions made regarding particular occupied areas. Following the invasion of Poland in September 1939, the Germans began implementing the Nisko Plan in which Jews were deported from ghettos across Europe to the forced labour camps which comprised the Lublin Reservation. Lublin District region was chosen in particular for its inhospitable conditions. The Nisko Plan was abandoned in 1940, but many forced labour camps continued operations in the area, including Trawniki, Lipowa 7, and Dorohucza.

Map of the Lublin District camps. Sobibor is right of centre.

In 1941, the Nazis began experimenting with gassing Jews. In December 1941, SS officials at Chełmno conducted experiments using gas vans and the first mass gassings were conducted at Auschwitz concentration camp in January. At the Wansee Conference on 20 January 1942, Reinhard Heydrich announced a plan for systematically killing the Jews through a network of extermination camps. This plan was realized as Operation Reinhard.

Nothing is known for certain about the early planning for Sobibor in particular. Some historians have speculated that planning may have begun as early as 1940, on the basis of a railway map from that year which omits several major cities but includes Sobibór and Bełżec. The earliest hard evidence for Nazi interest in the site comes from the testimony of local Poles, who noticed in Autumn 1941 that SS officers were surveying the land opposite the train station. When a worker at the station cafeteria asked one of the SS men what was being built, he replied that she would soon see and that it would be "a good laugh."

Camp construction

In March 1942 SS-Hauptsturmführer Richard Thomalla took over construction work at Sobibor, which had begun at an unknown earlier date. Thomalla was a former building contractor and committed Nazi whose service as an auxiliary police commander and adviser on Jewish forced labour had earned him a high-ranking position in Odilo Globočnik's construction department. Having previously overseen the construction of Bełżec extermination camp, he applied lessons learned there to Sobibor. Thomalla allotted a much larger area for Sobibor than he had for Bełżec, allowing more room to maneuver as well as providing space for all of the camp's facilities to be constructed within its perimeter.

SS-Hauptsturmführer Richard Thomalla, who oversaw the initial construction of Sobibor.

The camp incorporated several pre-war buildings including a post office, a forester's lodge, a forestry tower, and a chapel. The forester's lodge became the camp administration building, while the post office was used as lodging for the SS (though not, as commonly reported, for the commandant). The former post office, located near the railroad tracks, still stands today. The SS adapted the preexisting railroad infrastructure, adding an 800-meter railroad spur that ended inside the camp. This third set of tracks allowed regular rail traffic to continue uninterrupted while the camp unloaded transports of new prisoners. Some building materials were supplied by the SS Central Construction Office in Lublin, while others were procured from local sawmills and brickworks, as well as from the remains of demolished houses of Jews.

The first group of workers who built the camp were primarily locals from neighbouring villages and towns. It is unknown to what extent these were Polish or Jewish forced labourers. After Thomalla's arrival, the Jewish council in nearby Włodawa was ordered to send 150 Jews to assist in the construction of the camp. These workers were constantly harassed as they worked, and were shot if they showed signs of exhaustion. Most were killed upon completion of construction, but two escaped back to Włodawa, where they attempted to warn the Jewish council about the camp and its purpose. Their warnings were met with disbelief.

The first gas chambers at Sobibor were built following the model of those at Belzec, but without any furnaces. To provide the carbon monoxide gas, SS-Scharführer Erich Fuchs acquired a heavy gasoline engine in Lemberg, disassembled from an armoured vehicle or a tractor. Fuchs installed the engine on a cement base at Sobibor in the presence of SS officers Floss, Bauer, Stangl, and Barbl, and connected the engine exhaust manifold to pipes leading to the gas chamber. In mid-April 1942, the Nazis conducted experimental gassings in the nearly finished camp. Christian Wirth, the commander of Bełżec and Inspector of Operation Reinhard, visited Sobibor to witness one of these gassings, which killed thirty to forty Jewish women brought from the labour camp at Krychów.

The initial construction of Sobibor was finished by summer 1942, and a steady stream of prisoners began thereafter. However, the SS camp was continuously expanded and renovated throughout its existence. After only a few months of operation, the wooden walls of the gas chambers had absorbed too much sweat, urine, blood, and excrement to be cleanable. Thus, the gas chambers were demolished in the summer of 1942, and new larger ones were built made out of brick. Later that summer, the SS also embarked on a beautification project, instituting a more regular cleaning schedule for the barracks and stables, and expanding and landscaping the Vorlager to give it the appearance of a "Tyrolean village" much noted by later prisoners. When Sobibor ceased operations in mid-1943, the SS were part way through the construction of a munitions depot known as Lager IV.

Layout

Sobibor was surrounded by double barbed wire fences which were thatched with pine branches in order to block the view inside. At its northeast corner, it had two side-by-side gates; one for trains and another for foot traffic and vehicles. The site was divided into five compounds: the Vorlager and four Lagers numbered I-IV.

The layout of Sobibor, as it appeared in summer 1943

The Vorlager (front compound) contained living quarters and recreational buildings for the camp personnel. The SS officers lived in cottages with colorful names such as Lustiger Floh (the Merry Flea), Schwalbennest (the Swallow's Nest), and Gottes Heimat (God's Own Home). They also had a canteen, a bowling alley, a hairdresser, and a dentist, all staffed by Jewish prisoners. The watchmen, drawn from Soviet POWs, had separate barracks, and their own separate recreational buildings, including a hair salon and a canteen.

The Vorlager's quaint buildings such as the Merry Flea (pictured in summer 1943) helped conceal the purpose of the camp from new arrivals

The Nazis paid great attention to the appearance of the Vorlager. It was neatly landscaped, with lawns and gardens, outdoor terraces, gravel-lined paths, and professionally painted signs. This idyllic appearance helped hide the nature of the camp from prisoners, who would arrive on the adjacent ramp. Survivor Jules Schelvis recalled feeling reassured upon arrival by the Vorlager's "Tyrolean cottage-like barracks with their bright little curtains and geraniums on the windowsills".

Lager I contained barracks and workshops for the prisoners. These workshops included a tailor's shop, a carpenter's shop, a mechanic's shop, a sign-painter's shop, and a bakery. Lager I was accessible only through the adjacent Vorlager, and its western boundary was made escape-proof with a water-filled trench.

Lager II was a larger multi-purpose compound. One subsection called the "Erbhof" contained the administration building, as well as a small farm. The administration building was a pre-war structure previously used by the local Polish forestry service. As part of the camp, this building was adapted to provide accommodation for some SS officers, storage for goods stolen from victims' luggage, as well as a pharmacy, whose contents were also taken from victims' luggage. On the farm, Jewish prisoners raised chickens, pigs, geese, fruits and vegetables for consumption by the SS men.

The entrance to the Erbhof in Lager II

Outside the Erbhof, Lager II contained facilities where new arrivals were prepared for their deaths. It contained the sorting barracks and other buildings used for storing items taken from the victims, including clothes, food, hair, gold, and other valuables. At the east end was a yard where new arrivals had their luggage taken from them and were forced to undress. This area was beautified with flower beds to hide the camp's purpose from newcomers. This yard led into the narrow enclosed path called the Himmelstrasse (road to heaven) or the Schlauch (tube), which led straight to the gas chambers in Lager III. The Himmelstrasse was covered on both sides by fences woven with pine branches.

Lager III was the extermination area. It was isolated from the rest of the camp, set back in a clearing in the forest and surrounded by its own thatched fence. Prisoners from Lager I were not allowed near it, and were killed if they were suspected of having seen inside. Due to a lack of eyewitness testimony, little is known about Lager III beyond the fact that it contained gas chambers, mass graves, and special separate housing for the Sonderkommando prisoners who worked there.

Lager IV (also called the Nordlager) was added in July 1943, and was still under construction at the time of the revolt. Located in a heavily wooded area to the north of the other camps, it was being developed as a munitions depot for processing arms taken from Red Army soldiers.

Prisoner life

Because Sobibor was an extermination camp, the only prisoners who lived there were the roughly 600 slave labourers forced to assist in the operation of the camp. While survivors of Auschwitz use the term “selected” to mean being selected for death, at Sobibor being “selected” meant being selected to live, at least temporarily. The harsh conditions in the camp took the lives of most new arrivals within a few months.

Work

Prisoners worked from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, with a short lunch break in the middle. Sundays were designated as half days, but this policy was not always observed. The prisoner population included many labourers with specialized skills such as goldsmithing, painting, gardening, or tailoring. While such prisoners were officially spared death only to support the camp's primary operations, much of their labour was in fact diverted for the SS officers' personal enrichment. Renowned Dutch Jewish painter Max van Dam was nominally kept as a sign painter, but the SS also forced him to paint landscapes, portraits, and hagiographic images of Hitler. Similarly, Shlomo Szmajzner was placed in charge of the machine shop in order to conceal his work making gold jewelry for SS officers. Prisoners with specialized skills were considered especially valuable and were afforded privileges not available to others.

Those without specialized skills performed a variety of other jobs. Many worked in the Lager II sorting barracks, where they were forced to comb through luggage left behind by gas chamber victims, repackaging valuable items as "charity gifts" for German civilians. These workers could also be called on to serve in the railway brigade which greeted new prisoners. The railway brigade was considered a relatively appealing job, since it gave famished workers access to luggage which often contained food. Younger prisoners commonly worked as putzers, cleaning for the Nazis and the watchmen and attending to their needs. A particularly horrifying job was that of the "barbers" who cut the hair of women on their way to the gas chamber. This job was often forced upon young male prisoners in an attempt to humiliate both them and the naked women whose hair they were cutting. Armed watchmen supervised the process in order to ensure that barbers did not respond to victims' questions or pleas.

In Lager III, a special unit of Jewish prisoners was forced to assist in the extermination process. Its tasks included removing bodies, searching cavities for valuables, scrubbing blood and excrement from the gas chambers, and cremating the corpses. Because the prisoners who belonged to this unit were direct witnesses to genocide, they were strictly isolated from other prisoners and the SS would periodically liquidate those unit members who had not already succumbed to the work's physical and psychological toll. Since no workers from Lager III survived, nothing is known about their lives or experiences.

When construction of Lager IV began in the summer of 1943, the Nazis assembled a forest commando who worked there cutting timber for heat, cooking, as well as cremation pyres.

Prisoners struggled with the fact that their labour made them complicit in mass murder, albeit indirectly and unwillingly. Many committed suicide. Others endured, finding ways to resist, if only symbolically. Common symbolic forms of resistance included praying for the dead, observing Jewish religious rites, and singing songs of resistance. However, some prisoners found small ways of materially fighting back. While working in the sorting shed, Saartje Wijnberg would surreptitiously damage fine items of clothing to prevent them from being sent to Germany. After the war, Esther Terner recounted what she and Zelda Metz did when they found an unattended pot of soup in the Nazis' canteen: "We spit in it and washed our hands in it… Don't ask me what else we did to that soup… And they ate it."

Social relations

Prisoners found it difficult to forge personal relationships. This was in part due to the constant turnover in the camp population, but also to an atmosphere of mutual distrust which was often exacerbated by national or linguistic divisions. Dutch Jews were particularly subject to derision and suspicion because of their assimilated manners and limited Yiddish. German Jews faced the same suspicion as the Dutch, with the added implication that they might identify more with their captors than with their fellow prisoners. When social groups did form, they were generally based on family ties or shared nationality, and were completely closed off to outsiders. Chaim Engel even found himself shunned by fellow Polish Jews after he began a romantic relationship with Dutch-born Saartje Wijnberg. These divisions had dire consequences for many prisoners from Western Europe, who were not trusted with crucial information about goings-on in the camp.

Because of the expectation of imminent death, prisoners adopted a day-at-a-time outlook. Crying was rare and evenings were often spent enjoying whatever of life was left. As revolt organizer Leon Feldhendler recounted after the war, “The Jews only had one goal: carpe diem, and in this they simply went wild.” Prisoners sang and danced in the evenings and sexual or romantic relations were frequent. Some of these affairs were likely transactional or coerced, especially those between female prisoners and kapos, but others were driven by genuine bonds. Two couples that met in Sobibor were married after the war.) The Nazis allowed and even encouraged an atmosphere of merriment, going so far as to recruit prisoners for a choir at gunpoint. Many prisoners interpreted these efforts as attempts by the Nazis to keep the prisoners docile and to prevent them from thinking about escape.

Prisoners had a pecking order largely determined by one's usefulness to the Germans. As survivor Toivi Blatt observed, there were three categories of prisoners: the expendable “drones” whose lives were entirely at the mercy of the SS, the privileged workers whose special jobs provided some relative comforts, and finally the artisans whose specialized knowledge made them indispensable and earned them preferential treatment. Moreover, as at other camps, the Nazis appointed kapos to keep their fellow prisoners in line. Kapos carried out a variety of supervisory duties and enforced their commands with whips. Kapos were involuntary appointees, and they varied widely in how they responded to the psychological pressures of their position. Oberkapo Moses Sturm was nicknamed "Mad Moisz" for his mercurial temperament. He would beat prisoners horrifically without provocation and then later apologize hysterically. He talked constantly of escape, sometimes merely berating the other prisoners for their passivity, other times attempting to formulate actionable plans. Sturm was executed after being betrayed by a lower ranking kapo named Herbert Naftaniel. Naftaniel, nicknamed "Berliner", was promoted to Oberkapo and became a notorious figure in the camp. He viewed himself as German rather than Jewish, and began a reign of terror which came to an end shortly before the revolt, when a group of prisoners beat him to death with SS-Oberscharfuhrer Karl Frenzel's permission.

Despite these divisions in the camp, prisoners found ways to support each other. Sick and injured prisoners were given clandestine food as well as medicine and sanitary supplies stolen from the camp pharmacy. Healthy prisoners were expected to cover for sick prisoners who would otherwise be killed. The camp nurse Kurt Ticho developed a method of falsifying his records so that sick prisoners could take more than the allotted three day recovery period. Members of the railway brigade attempted to warn new arrivals of their impending murder but were met with incredulity. The most successful act of solidarity in the camp was the revolt on 14 October 1943, which was expressly planned so that all of the prisoners in the camp would have at least some chance of escape.

Health and living conditions

Prisoners suffered from sleep deprivation, malnourishment, and the physical and emotional toll of grueling labour and constant beatings. Lice, skin infections, and respiratory infections were common, and typhoid swept the camp on occasion. When Sobibor first opened, prisoners were regarded as expendable and shot at the first sign of illness or injury. After a few months, the SS grew concerned that the enormous death rate was limiting the camp's efficiency. In order to increase the continuity of its labour force and alleviate the need to constantly train new workers, the SS instituted a new policy allowing incapacitated prisoners three days to recover. Those still unable to work after three days were shot.

Food in the camp was extremely limited. As at other Lublin district camps, prisoners were given about 200 grams of bread for breakfast along with Ersatz coffee. Lunch was typically a thin soup sometimes with some potatoes or horse meat. Dinner could be once again simply coffee. Prisoners forced to live on these rations found their personalities changing due to hunger. Others supplemented these rations surreptitiously, for instance by helping themselves to food from victims' luggage while working in the sorting barracks or in the railway brigade. A barter system developed in the camp, which included not only prisoners but also the watchmen, who would serve as intermediaries between the Jews and local peasants, exchanging jewels and cash from the sorting barracks for food and liquor in exchange for a large cut.

Most prisoners had little or no access to hygiene and sanitation. There were no showers in Lager I and clean water was scarce. Although clothing could be washed or replaced from the sorting barracks, the camp was so thoroughly infested that there was little point. However, some prisoners worked in areas of the camp such as the laundry which gave them occasional access to better hygiene.

Camp personnel

The personnel at Sobibor included a small cadre of German and Austrian SS officers, and a much larger group of watchmen, generally of Soviet origin.

SS garrison

Sobibor was staffed by a rotating group of eighteen to twenty-two German and Austrian SS officers. The SS officers were generally from lower-middle-class backgrounds, having previously worked as merchants, artisans, farmhands, nurses, and policemen. Almost all the Sobibor SS officers had previously served in Aktion T4, the Nazi forced euthanasia program. In particular, a large contingent had previously served together at Hartheim Euthanasia Centre. Many practices developed at Hartheim were continued at Sobibor, including methods for deceiving victims on the way to the gas chambers. Before beginning work at Sobibor, they had met with Odilo Globočnik in Lublin and signed a confidentiality agreement. Over the course of its operation, roughly 100 SS officers served at Sobibor.

When Sobibor first opened, its commandant was SS-Obersturmführer Franz Stangl, a meticulous organizer who worked to increase the efficiency of the extermination process. Stangl had little interaction with the prisoners, with the exception of Shlomo Szmajzner who recalled Stangl as a vain man who stood out for "his obvious pleasure in his work and his situation. None of the others—although they were, in different ways, so much worse than he—showed this to such an extent. He had this perpetual smile on his face." Stangl was transferred to Treblinka in August 1942, and his job at Sobibor was filled by SS-Obersturmführer Franz Reichleitner. Reichleitner was an alcoholic and a determined anti-semite who took little interest in what went on in the camp aside from the extermination process. SS-Untersturmführer Johann Niemann served as the camp's deputy commandant.

SS officers entertaining a customs official on the terrace of the Merry Flea. The high quality drinking glasses were likely stolen from gas chamber victims. (Left-to-right: Daschel, Reichleitner, Niemann, Schulze, Bauer, two unknown women, and the customs official).

Day-to-day operations were generally handled by SS-Oberscharfuhrer Gustav Wagner, the most feared and hated man in Sobibor. Prisoners regarded him as brutal, demanding, unpredictable, observant, and sadistic. They referred to him as "The Beast" and "Wolf". Reporting to Wagner was SS-Oberscharfuhrer Karl Frenzel, who oversaw Lager I and acted as the camp's "judicial authority". Kurt Bolender and de:Hubert Gomerski oversaw Lager III, the extermination area, while SS-Oberscharfuhrer Erich Bauer and SS-Scharführer Josef Vallaster typically directed the gassing procedure itself.

The SS men considered their job appealing. At Sobibor, they could enjoy creature comforts not available to soldiers fighting on the Eastern Front. The officer's compound in the camp had a canteen, a bowling alley, and a barber shop. The "officers' country club" was a short distance away, on nearby Perepsza Lake. Each SS man was allowed three weeks of leave every three months, which they could spend at Haus Schoberstein, an SS-owned resort in the Austrian town of Weissenbach on Lake Attersee. Moreover, the job could be lucrative: each officer received base pay of 58 Reichmarks per month, plus a daily allowance of 18 marks, and special bonuses including a Judenmordzulage (Jew murder supplement). In all, an officer at Sobibor could earn 600 marks per month in pay. In addition to the official compensation, a job at Sobibor offered endless opportunities for the SS officers to covertly enrich themselves by exploiting the labour and stealing the possessions of their victims. In one case, the SS officers enslaved a 15-year-old goldsmith prodigy named Shlomo Szmajzner, who made them rings and monograms from gold extracted from the teeth of gas chamber victims.

During post-war trials, SS officers from all of the Operation Reinhard camps claimed that they would have been executed if they had not participated in the killings. However, the judges in the Treblinka trial could not find any evidence of SS officers being executed for desertion, and at least one Sobibor officer (Alfred Ittner) successfully got himself transferred.

Watchmen

Watchmen in front of Lager III. The roof of the gas chamber is visible in the background.

Sobibor was guarded by approximately 400 watchmen. Survivors often refer to them as blackies, Askaris, or Ukrainians (even though many were not Ukrainian). They were captured Soviet prisoners of war who had volunteered for the SS in order to escape the abominable conditions in Nazi POW camps. Watchmen were nominally guards, but they were also expected to supervise work details and perform manual labour including punishments and executions. They also took an active part in the extermination process, unloading transports and escorting the victims into the gas chambers. Watchmen dressed in mixed-and-matched pieces of Nazi, Soviet, and Polish uniforms, often dyed black (giving rise to the term "blackies"). They received pay and rations similar to those of Waffen-SS, as well as a family allowance and holiday leave.

Although the watchmen inspired terror among the prisoners, their loyalty to the SS was not unwavering. They played an active role in Sobibor's underground barter economy, and drank copiously despite being prohibited from doing so. The SS officers were wary of the watchmen, and limited their access to ammunition. Watchmen were also transferred frequently between different camps in order to prevent them from building up local contacts or knowledge of the surrounding area. After the prisoner uprising, the SS feared that the watchmen would themselves revolt, and sent them all back to Trawniki under armed guard. Their fears proved correct, as the watchmen killed their SS escort and fled.

Interactions between prisoners and perpetrators

Prisoners lived in constant fear of their captors. They were punished for transgressions as inconsequential as smoking a cigarette, resting while working, and showing insufficient enthusiasm when forced to sing. Punishment was used not only to enforce the official camp rules, but also the guards' personal whims. The most common punishment was flogging. SS officers carried 80 centimeter whips which had been specially made by slave labour prisoners using leather taken from the luggage of gas chamber victims. Even when flogging was not in itself lethal, it would prove a death sentence if it left the recipient too injured to work. Many survivors remember an unusually large and aggressive St. Bernard named Barry that Kurt Bolender and Paul Groth would sic on prisoners. In the summer of 1943, SS-Oberscharfuhrer Gustav Wagner and SS-Oberscharfuhrer Hubert Gomerski formed a penal brigade, consisting of prisoners who were forced to work while running. Prisoners were assigned to the penal brigade for a period of three days, but most died before their time was up.

The SS exercised absolute authority over the prisoners and treated them as a source of entertainment. They forced prisoners to sing while working, while marching, and even during public executions. Some survivor testimonies recount prisoners performing mock cockfights for the SS, with their arms tied behind their backs. Others recount being forced to sing demeaning songs such as "I am a Jew with a big nose". Female prisoners were sexually abused on several occasions. For instance, at a postwar trial, Erich Bauer testified that two Austrian Jewish actresses, named Ruth and Gisela, were confined in an SS barracks and gang raped by SS-Oberscharfuhrer Kurt Bolender and SS-Oberscharfuhrer Gustav Wagner, among others.

Unique among the SS officers, Unterscharführer Johann Klier was known to be relatively humane, and several survivors testified on his behalf at his trial. In an interview with Richard Rashke, Esther Terner commented "I don't even know why he was in Sobibor ... even the other Nazis picked on him."

Prisoners regarded the watchmen as the most dangerous among the Sobibor staff, their cruelty surpassing that of the SS officers. In the words of historian Marek Bem, “It can be said that the Ukrainian guards’ cynicism was in no way inferior to the SS men's premeditation.” However, some individual watchmen were sympathetic to the Jews, doing the minimum possible while on duty and even assisting with prisoners’ escape attempts. In one documented instance, two watchmen named Victor Kisiljow and Wasyl Zischer escaped with six Jewish prisoners, but were betrayed and killed.

Prisoners developed complex relationships with their tormenters. In order to avoid the most extreme cruelties, many tried to ingratiate themselves with the SS officers, for instance by choosing maudlin German folk songs when ordered to sing. In other cases, prisoners found themselves unwillingly favored. SS-Oberscharfuhrer Karl Frenzel took a liking to Saartje Wijnberg, constantly smiling at her and teasingly referring to her and Chaim Engel as "bride and groom". He was protective towards her, excusing her from torturous work inflicted on other Dutch prisoners and sparing her when he liquidated the sick barracks on 11 October 1943. She struggled with this attention and felt angry at herself when she noticed herself feeling grateful to him. At his trial, Frenzel declared "I actually do believe the Jews even liked me!" though both prisoners and other SS officers regarded him as exceptionally cruel and brutal. Similarly, camp commandant SS-Obersturmführer Franz Stangl "made a pet" of the 14 year old goldsmith Shlomo Szmajzner and regarded his post-war trial testimony as a personal betrayal. Stangl particularly objected to the implication that his habit of bringing Smajzner sausages on the sabbath had been a deliberate attempt to torment the starving teenager. Szmajzner himself wasn't sure of Stangl's intentions: "it's perfectly true that he seemed to like me… still, it was funny, wasn't it, that he always brought it on a Friday evening?"

Killing process

On either 16 or 18 May 1942, Sobibor became fully operational and began mass gassings. Trains entered the railway siding with the unloading platform, and the Jews on board were told they were in a transit camp. They were forced to hand over their valuables, were separated by sex and told to undress. The nude women and girls, recoiling in shame, were met by the Jewish workers who cut off their hair in a mere half a minute. Among the Friseur (barbers) was Toivi Blatt (age 15). The condemned prisoners, formed into groups, were led along the 100-metre (330 ft) long "Road to Heaven" (Himmelstrasse) to the gas chambers, where they were killed using carbon monoxide released from the exhaust pipes of a tank engine. During his trial, SS-Oberscharführer Kurt Bolender described the killing operations as follows:

Before the Jews undressed, SS-Oberscharführer Hermann Michel made a speech to them. On these occasions, he used to wear a white coat to give the impression he was a physician. Michel announced to the Jews that they would be sent to work. But before this they would have to take baths and undergo disinfection, so as to prevent the spread of diseases. After undressing, the Jews were taken through the "Tube", by an SS man leading the way, with five or six Ukrainians at the back hastening the Jews along. After the Jews entered the gas chambers, the Ukrainians closed the doors. The motor was switched on by the former Soviet soldier Emil Kostenko and by the German driver Erich Bauer from Berlin. After the gassing, the doors were opened, and the corpses were removed by the Sonderkommando members.

Local Jews were delivered in absolute terror, many amongst them screaming and pounding. Foreign Jews, on the other hand were treated with deceitful politeness. Passengers from Westerbork, Netherlands, had a comfortable journey. There were Jewish doctors and nurses attending them and no shortage of food or medical supplies on the train. To them, Sobibor did not seem like a genuine threat.[better source needed]

A contemporary drawing of the train tracks leading into Sobibor

The non-Polish victims included 18-year-old Helga Deen from the Netherlands, whose diary was discovered in 2004; the writer Else Feldmann from Austria; Dutch Olympic gold medalist gymnasts Helena Nordheim, Ans Polak, and Jud Simons; gym coach Gerrit Kleerekoper; and magician Michel Velleman.

After the killing in the gas chambers, the corpses were collected by Sonderkommandos and taken to mass graves or cremated in the open air.[better source needed] The burial pits were 50–60 m (160–200 ft) long, 10–15 m (30–50 ft) wide, and 5–7 m (15–20 ft) deep, with sloping sandy walls in order to facilitate the burying of corpses.

Death toll

Between 170,000 and 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor. The precise death toll is unknown, since no complete record survives. The most commonly cited figure of 250,000 was first proposed in 1947 by a Polish judge named Zbigniew Łukaszewicz, who interviewed survivors, railwaymen, and external witnesses to estimate of the frequency and capacity of the transports. Later research has reached the same figure drawing on more specific documentation, although other recent studies have given lower estimates such as Jules Schelvis's figure of 170,165. According to historian Marek Bem, "The range of scientific research into this question shows how rudimentary our current knowledge is of the number of victims of this extermination camp."

One major source which can be used to estimate the death toll is the Höfle Telegram, a collection of SS cables which give precise numbers of "recorded arrivals" at each of the Operation Reinhard camps prior to 31 December 1942. Identical numbers are found in the Korherr Report, another surviving Nazi document. These sources both report 101,370 arrivals at Sobibor during the year 1942, but the meaning of this figure is open to interpretation. Some scholars, such as Bem, suggest that it refers only to Jews arriving from within the General Government. However, others such as Jules Schelvis take it as a record of the total arrivals during that year and thus combine it with an estimate of the killings in 1943 to reach a total estimate.

Other key sources of information include records of particular transports sent to Sobibor. In some cases, this information is detailed and systematic. For instance, the Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies archive contains precise records of each transport sent to Sobibor from the Netherlands, totaling 34,313 individuals. In other cases, transports are only known through incidental evidence, such as when one of its passengers was among the survivors.[citation needed]

The "Memory Mound"

Many of the difficulties in reaching a firm death toll arise from the incompleteness of surviving evidence. Records of deportations are more likely to exist when they took place by train, meaning that estimates likely undercount the number of prisoners brought on trucks, horse-drawn carts, or by foot. Moreover, even records of trains appear to contain gaps. For example, while a letter from Albert Ganzenmüller to Karl Wolff mentions past trains from Warsaw to Sobibor, no itineraries survive. On the other hand, estimates may count small numbers of individuals as Sobibor victims who in fact died elsewhere, or conceivably even survived. This is because small groups of new arrivals were occasionally selected to work in one of the nearby labour camps, rather than being gassed immediately as was the norm. For instance, when Jules Schelvis was deported to Sobibor on a transport carrying 3,005 Dutch Jews, he was one of 81 men selected to work in Dorohucza, and the only one to survive. Although these instances were rare and some are documented well enough to be accounted for, they could still have a small cumulative effect on estimates of the death toll.

Other figures have been given which differ from what is indicated by reliable historical evidence. Numbers as high as 3 million appear in reports requested immediately after the war by the Central Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland. During the Sobibor trials in the 1960s, the judges adopted a figure of 152,000 victims, though they stressed that this was not a complete estimate but rather a minimum limited by the procedural rules concerning evidence. Survivors have suggested numbers of victims significantly higher than what historians accept. Many recall a camp rumour that Heinrich Himmler's visit in February 1943 was intended to celebrate the millionth victim, and others suggest figures even higher. Bem suggests that survivors' estimates disagree with the record because they reflect "the state of their emotions back then, as well as the drama and the scale of tragedy which happened in Sobibor". Another high figure comes from one of the perpetrators, SS-Oberscharfuhrer Erich Bauer, who recalled his colleagues expressing regret that Sobibor "came last" in the competition among the Operation Reinhard camps, having claimed only 350,000 lives.

On the afternoon of 14 October 1943, members of the Sobibor underground covertly killed 11 of the on-duty SS officers and then led roughly 300 prisoners to freedom. This revolt was one of three uprisings by Jewish prisoners in extermination camps, the others being those at Treblinka extermination camp on 2 August 1943 and at Auschwitz-Birkenau on 7 October 1944.

Lead up

In the summer of 1943, rumors began to circulate that Sobibor would soon cease operations. The prisoners understood that this would mean certain death for them all, since the final cohort of Bełżec prisoners had been killed at Sobibor after dismantling their own camp. The Sobibor prisoners knew this since the Bełżec prisoners had sewn messages into their clothing:

We worked at Bełżec for one year and did not know where we would be sent next. They said it would be Germany… Now we are in Sobibór and know what to expect. Be aware that you will be killed also! Avenge us!”

An escape committee formed in response to these rumors. Their leader was Leon Feldhendler, a former member of the judenrat in Żółkiewka. His job in the sorting barracks gave him access to additional food, sparing him from the hunger which robbed other workers of their mental acuity. However, the escape committee made little progress that summer. In light of previous betrayals and the ever-looming threat of collective punishment, they needed to keep their discussions limited to roughly seven Polish Jews, but this insularity severely limited their capacity to form a plan, since none of their members had the military or strategic experience necessary to carry out a mass escape. By late September, their discussions had stalled.

Leon Feldhendler, co-organizer of the Sobibor revolt, pictured in 1933

On 22 September, the situation changed dramatically when roughly twenty Jewish Red Army POWs arrived at Sobibor on a transport from the Minsk Ghetto and were selected for labour. Among them was Alexander Pechersky, an actor, songwriter, and political commissar who would go on to lead the revolt. The members of the escape committee approached the newly-arrived Russians with excitement, but also caution. On one hand, the Russians were soldiers and thus had the expertise to pull off an escape. But on the other hand, it was not clear whether there was sufficient mutual trust.

Feldhendler introduced himself to Pechersky using the alias "Baruch" and kept an eye on him for his first several days in the camp. In those days, Pechersky distinguished himself by not only standing up to the SS officers, but by showing discretion in how he did so. Feldhendler invited Pechersky to share news from outside the camp at a meeting in the women's barracks. Feldhendler was initially shocked to discover Pechersky's limited ability to speak Yiddish, the common language of Eastern European Jews. However, the two were able to communicate in Russian, and Pechersky agreed to attend. At the meeting, Pechersky gave a speech and took questions while his friend Solomon Leitman translated into Yiddish. (Leitman was a Polish Jew who had befriended Pechersky in the Minsk Ghetto.) Feldhendler and the other members of the escape committee were concerned about Pechersky's blatant communist propaganda, but were nonetheless impressed by him. They were particularly struck by Pechersky's response to a question about whether Soviet partisans would liberate the camp: "No one can do our work for us."

Alexander Pechersky, the principal organizer of the revolt

Over the next few weeks, Pechersky met regularly with the escape committee. These meetings were held in the women's barracks under the pretext of him having an affair with a woman known as "Luka". Pechersky and Feldhendler agreed that the revolt would allow all 600 prisoners at least some chance of escape, though they later concluded that they would not be able to include the over fifty sonderkommando workers who were kept under strict isolation in Lager III. At first, Pechersky and Leitman discussed a plan to dig a tunnel from the carpenter's workshop in Lager I, which was close to the south fence. This idea was abandoned as too difficult. If the tunnel was too deep, it would hit the high water table and flood. Too shallow, and it would detonate one of the mines surrounding the camp. Furthermore, the organizers doubted that they could get all 600 prisoners through the tunnel without getting caught.

The ultimate idea for the revolt came to Pechersky while he was assigned to the forest brigade, chopping wood near Lager III. While working, he heard the sound of a child in the gas chamber screaming "Mama! Mama!". Overcome with his feeling of powerlessness and reminded of his own daughter Elsa, he decided that the plan could not be a mere escape. Rather, it would have to be a revolt. Over the next week, Pechersky and Leitman developed what became the ultimate plan.

Revolt

The revolt began late in the afternoon on 14 October, 1943. The plan consisted of two phases. In the first phase, the prisoners would lure the SS officers to secluded locations around the camp and kill them. These covert killings would take place in the hour before evening roll call. The second phase would begin at evening roll call, after all the prisoners had assembled in the Lager I roll call yard. The kapos would announce that the SS had ordered a special work detail in the forest outside the camp, and the entire group would calmly march to freedom out the front gate. If the watchmen found this unusual, they would not be able to confirm their suspicions or coordinate a response since the SS men would be dead.

Covert killings

At 4:00 pm, Deputy Commandant SS-Untersturmführer Johann Niemann rode up to the Lager I tailor's barracks on his horse. Earlier in the day, the head tailor had scheduled an appointment with him to be fitted for a leather jacket taken from a murdered Jew. The conspirators had prioritized Niemann's execution, since he was acting commandant while Commandant Reichleitner was on leave. Even if the rest of the plan failed, they anticipated that Niemann's death alone would cause enough chaos to allow some chance of escape. While admiring the jacket, Niemann spotted one of the Russian prisoners standing by with an axe. Niemann asked what he was doing there, but was satisfied with the head tailor's explanation that he was simply there to repair a table. At the tailor's request, Niemann removed his pistol holster and put on the jacket. The tailor asked Niemann to turn around, ostensibly to check if any alterations were needed in the back. When Niemann complied, two prisoners crept up behind him with axes and split his head open. Niemann's body was shoved under a table and his blood was covered up with sawdust.

Johann Niemann riding through Lager II several months before he was killed in the revolt

Over the next hour, one SS officer was killed roughly every six minutes. Other than Niemann, those killed in Lager I included SS-Unterscharführer Josef Vallaster, SS-Oberscharführer Siegfried Graetschus, Sturmführer Ivan Klatt, SS-Unterscharführer Friedrich Gaulstich, and Fritz Konrad (rank unknown). Those killed in Lager II included SS-Scharführer Josef Wolf and SS-Oberscharführer Rudolf Beckmann. Unterscharführer Walter Ryba was killed in the Vorlager. Other officers killed include Max Bree, Anton Nowak, Thomas Steffl, Ernst Stengelin. The details of many of these killings are unknown.

The conspirators had originally planned to kill SS-Oberscharführer Rudolf Beckmann in a Lager II storage barracks, but on his way to the appointment, Beckmann had suddenly turned around and headed back to the administration building. Chaim Engel volunteered to kill Beckmann in his office, after overhearing Feldhendler discussing the situation with Kapo Hersh Pozyczki, the younger brother of Oberkapo Pozyczki. Engel and the younger Pozyczki went together to the administration building, and Engel stabbed Beckmann while Pozyczki restrained him. When Engel stabbed Beckmann, he shouted "For my father! For my brother! For all the Jews!" Beckmann struggled as Engel stabbed him, causing Engel's knife to slip and cut his own hand. Once Beckmann was dead, the two prisoners pushed his body under the desk, not having time to better hide him or clean up.

While the killings proceeded, Szlomo Szmajzner went to the Vorlager to acquire additional guns from the watchmens' barracks. During the last organizational meeting, on 12 October, he had offered to do so himself. As the camp machinist, Smajzner was often called to the Vorlager to clean and repair the stoves there, so he was able to enter the barracks carrying a replacement stovepipe over his shoulder. He entered the watchmens' barracks and helped himself to six rifles and ammunition. However, he could only fit two of the rifles inside the stovepipe, so he wrapped the others in a blanket. Once he was ready to go, he decided that it might be safer to hunker down in the Vorlager and not return to Lager I until the bugle call. That way, it would seem like he had been acting alone if he was caught. Just before the bugle at 5:00 pm, he found two child prisoners and ordered them to carry the blanket with the rifles. They were scared, so he forced them to do it at knifepoint. After the bugle call, he delivered the rifles to the Russians, but demanded that they let him keep one for himself.

Breakout

As roll call drew closer, Pechersky became increasingly concerned that the revolt would soon be discovered. He was surprised that the plan had succeeded so far, but nonetheless several killings had not gone as intended. In particular, while his plan had required that the SS men be killed discreetly, an impulsive prisoner had killed Unterscharführer Walter Ryba in the outdoor Vorlager garage. Pechersky considered beginning the breakout early, but was reluctant to do so while SS-Oberscharführer Karl Frenzel was still alive. Frenzel, regarded as one of the most dangerous officers in the camp, had dallied in the shower and was late for his appointment in the carpenter's shop. Close to 5:00 pm, Pechersky and Leitman finally decided to give up on Frenzel and sent the bugler Judah to climb the forester's tower and blow the bugle announcing the end of the workday.

At this point, many prisoners in Lager I had already left their jobs and were standing around in the roll call yard or hiding in the adjacent buildings. In Lager II, the prisoners were confused by the early bugle call and gathered haphazardly for the march back to Lager I. Feldhendler was concerned that their unusual and disorderly lineup would attract attention from the guards, so he decided to lead the march on his own. He lined them up and they marched, singing the German sentimental tune "Es war ein Edelweiss". As the prisoners gathered in the roll call yard, rumours about the revolt began to spread among them. When a watchman prodded them to line up faster, a group of prisoners shouted "don't you know the war is over" and killed him out in the open, to the shock of many others. Realizing that the yard had become a powder keg, Pechersky attempted to inform the group of what was going on. Blatt recalled Pechersky's speech as follows:

Our day has come. Most of the Germans are dead. Let's die with honor. Remember, if anyone survives, he must tell the world what has happened here!

As the prisoners began to disperse, they heard shots from Lager II. These shots were fired by SS-Oberscharführer Erich Bauer, who had returned from Chełm with a truck full of vodka. Just before the bugle sounded, Bauer had ordered two child prisoners to unload the vodka and carry it into the storeroom in the administration building where Beckmann had been killed. At approximately the moment when Pechersky was making his speech in Lager I, a watchman ran over to Bauer shouting "Ein deutsch kaput!" Thinking that the children were responsible, Bauer fired his pistol, killing one of the children but missing the other. When the prisoners in Lager I heard these shots, they ran in every direction. A group of them dragged a watchman off his bicycle and killed him. Many prisoners had to make a split-second decision without knowing exactly what was going on. The plan had been kept on a need-to-know basis, so even those who were aware of the revolt knew few details. Pechersky and Feldhendler ran around the yard trying to shepherd prisoners out, but around 175 nonetheless stayed back.

As the crowd surged forward, there was a moment of confusion in which the watchmen in the towers did not react. Itzhak Lichtman reported seeing some of the remaining SS men hiding, perhaps thinking that the camp was being attacked by partisans. After a moment, the watchmen began shooting into the crowd, and some of the prisoners shot with the rifles procured by Szmajzner and with pistols taken from dead SS officers. Szmajzner hit a watchman in a tower, later recalling "I did not do that; God did."

The main gate as it appeared in March 1943. The fence was thatched with pine branches in order to block the view inside.

One group of prisoners ran behind the carpenters shop. The carpenters had left ladders, pliers, and axes lying in the weeds next to the south fence, as a backup plan in case the main gate in the Vorlager proved inaccessible. These prisoners scaled the fence, traversed the ditch, and began running through the minefield towards the forest. As they ran, the mines exploded, killing some of the escapees and attracting the attention of the watchmen in the towers who began shooting. Esther Raab felt a bullet graze her head above her right ear. She kept running, but felt herself losing strength. She reached out to hold onto a woman running next to her, but the woman pushed her off and shouted "leave me alone!"

A larger group of prisoners headed for the Vorlager. These prisoners tried to escape through the main gate or over the south fence, while a group of Soviet prisoners attempted to raid the armoury. There, they were met with Frenzel, who at this point had gotten out of the shower and was getting himself a pre-roll call drink in the canteen. Attracted by the commotion, Frenzel had grabbed a machine gun and run outside. Seeing the crowd of prisoners heading to the main gate, he opened fire, spraying the crowd of prisoners. Pechersky fired at Frenzel using Vallaster's pistol but missed. A group of prisoners attempted to rush the main gate, but were met with another SS officer there shooting into the crowd. Some scattered, but others were pushed forward by the force of those behind them. They trampled the main gate and flooded out.

Others in the Vorlager tried to escape over the barbed wire behind the SS officers' barracks, correctly guessing that there would be fewer mines there. Many prisoners who attempted to get out this way got stuck on the barbed wire. Among these prisoners was Thomas Blatt, who survived because the fence collapsed on top of him. As he lay on the ground, he saw the prisoners in front of him blown up as they crossed the minefield. Blatt freed himself by slipping out of his coat which was stuck on the barbed wire and running across the exploded mines and into the forest.

Roughly 300 prisoners escaped to the forest.

Aftermath

Immediately after the escape, in the forest, a group of fifty prisoners followed Pechersky. After a few days, Pechersky and seven other Russian POWs left, claiming that they would return with food. However, they instead left to cross the Bug River and make contact with the partisans. After Pechersky did not return, the remaining prisoners split into smaller groups and sought separate ways.

In 1980, Blatt asked Pechersky why he abandoned the other survivors. Pechersky answered,

My job was done. You were Polish Jews in your own terrain. I belonged in the Soviet Union and still considered myself a soldier. In my opinion, the chances for survival were better in smaller units. To tell the people straight forward: "we must part" would not have worked. You have seen, they followed every step of mine, we all would perish. [...] what can I say? You were there. We were only people. The basic instincts came into play. It was still a fight for survival. This is the first time I hear about money collection. It was a turmoil, it was difficult to control everything. I admit, I have seen the imbalance in the distribution of the weaponry but you must understand, they would rather die than to give up their arms.— Pechersky

Dutch historian and Sobibor survivor Jules Schelvis estimates that 158 inmates perished in the Sobibor revolt, killed by the guards or in the minefield surrounding the camp. A further 107 were killed either by the SS, Wehrmacht, or Orpo police units pursuing them. Some 53 insurgents died of other causes between the day of the revolt and 8 May 1945. There were 58 known survivors, 48 male and 10 female, from among the Arbeitshäftlinge prisoners performing slave-labour for the daily operation of Sobibor. Their time in the camp ranged from several weeks to almost two years.[page needed]

Liquidation and demolition

Once the shooting stopped, the surviving SS secured the camp. They held the remaining prisoners in Lager I at gunpoint and executed those found hiding in other areas of the camp. They searched for Niemann, who had been left in charge of the camp while Commandant Reichleitner was on holiday. After the sun set, the search continued in the dark, since the prisoners had cut the powerlines.

Sobibór train station, where Frenzel called for backup after the revolt

Around 8:00 pm, Niemann's corpse was found in the tailor's barracks and Frenzel assumed command. His first undertaking was to summon reinforcements, thinking that the remaining prisoners would resist and worried that the escapees might launch a second attack. After discovering that the prisoners had cut the phone lines, he went to use the phone at the Sobibór train station, located a few metres outside the camp. He called multiple SS outposts in Lublin and Chełm, as well as a nearby battalion of Wehrmacht soldiers. Reinforcements were delayed by bureaucratic confusion as well as the railway lines having been blown up by partisans. However, a group of SS officials arrived later that night, including Gottlieb Hering and Christian Wirth. Wirth ordered Erich Bauer to go to summon the Sicherheitspolizei from Chełm in person, since Frenzel had been unable to reach them by phone. Bauer balked, afraid that he would be attacked on the way.

During the night, the SS combed the camp for hiding prisoners. Many were armed and fought back. Jakub Biskubicz, the putzer who Bauer had shot at during the revolt, witnessed this part of the search before escaping:

Until midnight I lay on the earth. I could hear shouts and screams from all directions. At midnight, I heard shooting close to me and the voices of Germans say: "Nobody is here." They left… I reached [Lager] IV. I saw the open door of a watchtower. Nobody was around. I climbed the ladder of the tower and jumped outside over the fences and mines. I fell on the railway and escaped to the forest.

Early the next day, 15 October, the Sobibor SS were joined by numerous SS including Hermann Höfle, as well as eighty Wehrmacht soldiers. They marched the remaining 159 prisoners to Lager III and shot them. The Nazis launched a manhunt, worried that the advancing Red Army would find the Polish countryside scattered with witnesses to their crimes. SS officers, Wehrmacht soldiers, and Luftwaffe airplanes swept the surrounding area, while locals were offered bounties for assisting. Several SS officers involved in the manhunt were put up for medals for their "incisive action".

Surviving German documents show that 59 escapees were caught in the nearby villages of Sobibór and Różanka on 17 and 18 October. The Germans recovered weapons from them, including a hand grenade. A few days later, on 21 October, another five Jews were killed by Wehrmacht soldiers near Adampol and an additional eight in Sawin. In all, records indicate that at least 107 escapees were killed specifically by the Germans, while another 23 are known to have been killed by non-Germans. Jules Schelvis estimates that roughly 30 died in other ways before the end of the war.

On 19 October, SS chief Himmler ordered that the camp be closed. Jewish slave labourers were sent to Sobibor from Treblinka in order to dismantle the camp. They demolished the gas chambers and most of the camp buildings, but left behind several barracks for future use by Baudienst. The work was finished by the end of the October, and all of the Jews brought from Treblinka were shot between 1 November and 10 November.

Survivors

Further information: List of survivors of Sobibor

Several thousand deportees to Sobibor were spared the gas chambers because they were transferred to slave-labour camps in the Lublin reservation, upon arriving at Sobibor. These people spent several hours at Sobibor and were transferred almost immediately to slave-labour projects including Majdanek and the Lublin airfield camp, where materials looted from the gassed victims were prepared for shipment to Germany. Other forced labour camps included Krychów, Dorohucza, and Trawniki. Most of these prisoners were killed in the November 1943 massacre Operation Harvest Festival, or perished in other ways before the end of the war.[page needed] Of the 34,313 Jews deported to Sobibor from the Netherlands according to train schedules, 18 are known to have survived the war. In June 2019 the last known survivor of the revolt, Simjon Rosenfeld, who was born in Ukraine, died at a retirement home near Tel Aviv, Israel, aged 96.

Trials

Further information: Sobibor trial

Most perpetrators of Operation Reinhard were never brought to trial. However, there were several Sobibor trials after the war. SS-Oberscharführer Erich Bauer was the first SS officer from Sobibor to be tried. Bauer was arrested in 1946 when two former Jewish prisoners from Sobibor, Samuel Lerer and Esther Terner, recognized him at a fairground in the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin. On 8 May 1950, Bauer was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity, though his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Terner testified against Bauer, and later recalled thinking "This nothing had such power?" The second Sobibor trials occurred shortly after, against Hubert Gomerski and Johann Klier. Gomerski was given a life sentence while Johann Klier was acquitted, in part due to favorable testimony from Terner.

The third Sobibor trials were the Hagen Trials, which took place in West Germany. The twelve defendants included Karl Frenzel and Kurt Bolender. Frenzel was sentenced to life imprisonment for personally killing 6 Jews and participating in the mass murder of an additional 150,000. Bolender committed suicide before sentencing. Five other defendants were given sentences of less than eight years, and the rest were acquitted.

In the 1970s and 1980s, several SS men were retried. Gomerski was ultimately freed on procedural grounds since he was deemed too ill to participate in the proceedings. Subsequently, Frenzel's life sentence was upheld after a retrial in which Gomerski testified.

Shlomo Szmajzner (left) confronts Gustav Wagner (right) at a Brazilian police station in 1978.

In the Soviet Union, there were several rounds of trials against Soviet citizens who had served at Sobibor as watchmen. In April 1963, a court in Kiev convicted eleven former watchmen, sentencing ten to death and one to 15 years in prison. In June 1965, more watchmen from Sobibor were convicted in Kiev. Another six were put to death in Krasnodar.

In May 2011, John Demjanjuk was convicted for being an accessory to the murder of 28,060 Jews while serving as a watchman at Sobibor.[page needed] He was sentenced to five years in prison, but was released pending appeal. He died in a German nursing home on 17 March 2012, aged 91, while awaiting the hearing.

The site

Further information: Sobibór Museum
Statue of a mother and her child by Mieczysław Welter [pl], near the former site of the gas chambers.

The Germans were driven out of the area in July 1944. In August, Lieutenant Colonel Semion Volsky of the Red Army photographed the site and prepared a report which is on file in the Central Archives of the Russian Ministry of Defence. After the end of the German occupation, the camp's remaining barracks were briefly used to house Ukrainian civilians waiting to be resettled. These deportees dismantled several remaining buildings for use as firewood. Parts of the Vorlager were subsequently sold to private individuals, though most of the camp site was returned to the Polish forestry administration.

A September 1945 report by Polish authorities noted that locals had dismantled most of the remaining camp buildings, reusing parts of them in their own houses. This report was corroborated in 2010 when a resident of nearby Żłobek Duży discovered unusual woodwork during a renovation project. Knowing that the previous owner of the house had worked near the camp, they alerted researchers from the Sobibor Museum who concluded that the woodwork was taken from the exterior of a camp barracks. The site was also a target for grave-diggers, who scoured the site for valuables left by the camp's victims. When the Chief Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation studied the site in 1945, they found trenches dug by treasure-seekers, who had left the surface strewn with ashes and human remains. Grave-digging continued in the area, despite several prosecutions in the 1960s.

In the first twenty years after the war, the site of the camp was practically deserted. A journalist visiting the site in the early 1950s reported "there is nothing left in Sobibor". When Gitta Sereny visited the site in March 1972, she initially drove past it without realizing. She later commented that she was struck by "the quiet, the loneliness, above all the vastness of the place, which left everything to the imagination"

The first monuments to Sobibor victims were erected on the site in 1965. Installed by the Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites, these consisted of a memorial wall, an obelisk symbolizing the gas chambers, a sculpture of a mother and her child, and a mausoleum called the "Memory Mound". The memorial wall originally listed Jews as just one of the groups persecuted at Sobibor, but the plaque was revised in 1993 to reflect the general historical consensus that all or nearly all victims of Sobibor were Jews.

In 1993, the Włodawa Museum took over the memorial from the forestry administration. They established the Sobibór Museum which opened on 14 October 1993, the 50th anniversary of the revolt. The museum was housed in a post-war building within the former site of Lager II, which had previously served as a kindergarten. In 2012, the memorial changed hands once again, this time falling under the control of the Majdanek State Museum, who held a design competition sponsored by the governments of Poland, Israel, the Netherlands and Slovakia.

The site of the Vorlager, pictured in 2012. The green house is the only remaining building that was part of the camp. Today, it is a private residence.

In 2018, the mass graves in the former area of Lager III were covered with white stones, and construction began on a new museum building. However, most of the area of the site is still either privately owned or under the control of the forestry administration, and the camp's arrival ramp was used for loading lumber as recently as 2015. Since the forestry tower was demolished in 2004 (after decaying nearly to the point of collapse), the only remaining building from the camp is the green post office. This building is privately owned.

Research

In the immediate aftermath of the war, several investigations were carried out. Starting in 1945, the Chief Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation and Central Committee of Polish Jews investigated Sobibor, interviewing witnesses and surveying the site. In 1946, Nachman Blumental published a study entitled "The Death Camp – Sobibór" in 1946 which drew on work by the other investigations, and information about Sobibor was gathered for The Black Book of Polish Jewry.

Until the 1990s, little was known about the physical site of the camp beyond what survivors and perpetrators could recall. Archaeological investigations at Sobibor began in the 1990s. In 2001, a team led by Andrzej Kola from Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń investigated the former area of Lager III, finding seven pits with a total volume of roughly 19,000 cubic meters. While some of these pits appear to have been mass graves, others may have been used for open air cremation. The team also found pieces of barbed wire embedded in trees, which they identified as remnants of the camp's perimeter fence. Thus, they were able to partially map out the perimeter of the former camp site, which had not previously been known.

Archaeological excavations in the former area of the camp, pictured in 2014.

In 2007, two archaeologists named Wojciech Mazurek and Yoram Haimi began to conduct small-scale investigations. Since 2013, the camp has been excavated by a joint team of Polish, Israeli, Slovak, and Dutch archeologists led by Mazurek, Haimi, and Ivar Schute. In accordance with Jewish law, these excavations avoided mass graves and were supervised by Polish rabbis. Their discovery of the foundations of the gas chambers, in 2014, attracted worldwide media attention. Between 2011 and 2015, thousands of personal items belonging to victims were uncovered by the teams. At the ramp, large dumps of household items, including "glasses, combs, cutlery, plates, watches, coins, razors, thimbles, scissors, toothpaste" were found, but few valuables; Schute suggests that these items are indicative of victims' hopes to survive as forced labourers. In Lager III, the extermination area, household items were not found but "gold fillings, dentures, pendants, earrings, and a gold ring" were. Schute notes that such objects could have been concealed by naked individuals, and argues that it is evidence for the "processing" of bodies at this location.

In 2020, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum acquired a collection of photographs and documents from the descendants of Johann Niemann. These photos show daily life amongst the camp staff. Many show the perpetrators drinking, playing music, and playing chess with one another. These photos are significant because there had previously only been two known photographs of Sobibor during its operation. These materials have been published in a German language book and ebook by Metropol Verlag entitled Fotos aus Sobibor. The photos received voluminous press coverage because two of them appear to show John Demjanjuk in the camp.

Dramatisations

The mechanics of Sobibor death camp were the subject of interviews filmed on location for the 1985 documentary film Shoah by Claude Lanzmann. In 2001, Lanzmann combined unused interviews with survivor Yehuda Lerner shot during the making of Shoah, along with new footage of Lerner, to tell the story of the revolt and escape in his followup documentary Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m.

A highly fictionalized version of the Sobibor revolt was depicted in the 1978 American TV miniseries Holocaust.

The revolt was dramatized in the 1987 British TV film Escape from Sobibor, directed by Jack Gold and adapted from the book by Richard Rashke. The film's consultants included survivors Thomas Blatt, Shlomo Szmajzner, and Esther Raab.

More recently, the revolt was depicted in the 2018 Russian movie Sobibor, directed by Konstantin Khabensky. The movie presents Sasha Pechersky as a Russian patriotic figure, a depiction criticized by Garry Kasparov among others.

  1. Arad 1987, pp. 373–374.
  2. Schelvis 2007, pp. 13–14.
  3. Arad 1987, pp. 32–33.
  4. Leni Yahil, Ina Friedman, Ḥayah Galai, The Holocaust: the fate of European Jewry, 1932–1945 Oxford University Press US, 1991, pp. 160–161, 204;ISBN 0-19-504523-8.
  5. Nicosia and Niewyk, The Columbian Guide to the Holocaust, 154.
  6. Silberklang 2013, pp. 364–365. sfn error: no target: CITEREFSilberklang2013 (help)
  7. Schelvis 2007, p. 13.
  8. Bem 2015, p. 46.
  9. Schelvis 2007, p. 23.
  10. Bem 2015, pp. 48–50.
  11. Schelvis 2007, pp. 26–27.
  12. Schelvis 2007, p. 26.
  13. Schelvis 2007, pp. 27–28.
  14. Schelvis 2007, p. 28.
  15. Schelvis 2007, p. 29.
  16. Cüppers et al. 2020, pp. 136–137.
  17. Cüppers et al. 2020, p. 134.
  18. Schelvis 2007, p. 36.
  19. Bem 2015, p. 54.
  20. Schelvis 2007, p. 27.
  21. Bem 2015, p. 56.
  22. Arad 1987, pp. 30–31.
  23. Schelvis 2014, p. 100.
  24. Schelvis 2014, pp. 100–101.
  25. Arad 1987, p. 184.
  26. Schelvis 2007, p. 38.
  27. Cüppers et al. 2020, p. 132.
  28. Webb 2017, p. 39.
  29. Schelvis 2007, p. 103.
  30. Bem 2015, pp. 73–74.
  31. Bem 2015, pp. 74–76.
  32. Cüppers et al. 2020, p. 152.
  33. Schelvis 2007, p. 37.
  34. Schelvis 2007, pp. 69, 76.
  35. Cüppers et al. 2020, p. 136.
  36. Bem 2015, p. 70.
  37. Bem 2015, pp. 71, 73.
  38. Bem 2015, p. 73.
  39. Schelvis 2007, p. 77.
  40. Cüppers et al. 2020, p. 136,143.
  41. Webb 2017, p. 37.
  42. Webb 2017, pp. 313–314.
  43. Cüppers et al. 2020, p. 136, 138.
  44. Bem 2015, pp. 67–68.
  45. Cüppers et al. 2020, pp. 134–135.
  46. Bem 2015, pp. 52, 65, 73.
  47. Bem 2015, p. 211.
  48. Cüppers et al. 2020, p. 130.
  49. Schelvis 2007, pp. 29, 37.
  50. Cüppers et al. 2020, p. 139.
  51. Schelvis 2007, pp. 34, 66.
  52. Bem 2007, p. 192. sfn error: no target: CITEREFBem2007 (help)
  53. Webb 2017, p. 40.
  54. Bem 2015, p. 74.
  55. Schelvis 2007, p. 147.
  56. Cüppers et al. 2020, p. 140.
  57. Bem 2015, p. 7.
  58. Rashke 2013, p. 34.
  59. Arad 1987, pp. 257–258.
  60. Bem 2015, p. 72.
  61. Arad 1987, p. 249.
  62. Rashke 2013, pp. 96–98.
  63. Bem 2015, pp. 188–119.
  64. Bem 2015, p. 69.
  65. Rashke 2013, p. 168.
  66. Schelvis 2007, p. 88.
  67. Bem 2015, p. 186.
  68. Bem 2015, p. 185.
  69. Bem 2015, p. 212.
  70. Bem 2015, pp. 189–190, 192, 356.
  71. Schelvis 2007, p. 11.
  72. Arad 1987, p. 274.
  73. Bem 2015, p. 245.
  74. Bem 2015, p. 201.
  75. Rashke 2013, p. 159.
  76. Rashke 2013, p. 433.
  77. Bem 2015, p. 188.
  78. Rashke 2013, p. 162 See also endnote.
  79. Schelvis 2007, p. 150.
  80. Rashke 2013, p. 163.
  81. Schelvis 2007, pp. 150–151.
  82. Bem 2015, p. 187.
  83. Bem 2015, pp. 199–201.
  84. Arad 1987, p. 278.
  85. Bem 2015, pp. 186–188.
  86. Arad 1987, p. 277.
  87. Arad 1987, pp. 275–279.
  88. Schelvis 2007, p. 91.
  89. Bem 2015, pp. 196–197.
  90. Bem 2015, pp. 197–198.
  91. Bem 2015, pp. 198–199.
  92. Bem 2015, p. 237.
  93. Arad 1987, p. 272.
  94. Bem 2015, p. 68.
  95. Schelvis 2007, p. 87.
  96. Bem 2015, p. 238.
  97. Rashke 2013, p. 243.
  98. Schelvis 2007, p. 86.
  99. Bem 2015, p. 183.
  100. Arad 1987, p. 271.
  101. Bem 2015, pp. 183–184.
  102. Arad 1987, p. 252.
  103. Schelvis 2007, p. 84.
  104. Bem 2015, pp. 188–189.
  105. Arad 1987, p. 251.
  106. Arad 1987, p. 269.
  107. Rather than wearing striped uniforms as was common in concentration camps, Sobibor prisoners wore ordinary clothing.Cüppers et al. 2020, p. 181
  108. Arad 1987, p. 153.
  109. Schelvis 2007, pp. 33–36.
  110. Schelvis 2007, p. 245.
  111. Bem 2015, p. 116.
  112. Schelvis 2007, pp. 29, 31.
  113. Bem 2015, p. 110.
  114. Schelvis 2014, p. 33.
  115. Bem 2015, p. 109.
  116. Arad 1987, pp. 117–118, 141–143.
  117. Webb 2017, p. 314.
  118. Sereny 1974, p. 131.
  119. Bem 2015, pp. 114–115.
  120. Schelvis 2007, p. 260.
  121. Bem 2015, p. 48.
  122. Schelvis 2007, p. 259.
  123. Cüppers et al. 2020, p. 175.
  124. Schelvis 2007, p. 264.
  125. Bem 2015, p. 115.
  126. Bem 2015, p. 372.
  127. Schelvis 2007, pp. 112, 255.
  128. Bem 2015, p. 308.
  129. Schelvis 2007, pp. 263–264.
  130. Bem 2015, pp. 112–113.
  131. Bem 2015, p. 111.
  132. Schelvis 2007, pp. 245–246.
  133. Schelvis 2007, pp. 84–85, 245.
  134. Schelvis 2007, p. 247.
  135. Cüppers et al. 2020, p. 191.
  136. Bem 2015, p. 122.
  137. Schelvis 2007, p. 34.
  138. Bem 2015, pp. 120–121.
  139. Schelvis 2007, pp. 63, 66.
  140. Bem 2015, p. 125.
  141. Schelvis 2007, p. 35.
  142. Bem 2015, p. 130.
  143. Bem 2015, p. 124.
  144. Schelvis 2007, pp. 181, 249–250.
  145. Bem 2015, p. 220.
  146. Schelvis 2007, pp. 83–84.
  147. Schelvis 2007, p. 89.
  148. Bem 2015, p. 194.
  149. Bem 2015, pp. 195–196.
  150. Schelvis 2007, p. 92.
  151. Bem 2015, p. 195.
  152. Rashke 2013, p. 188.
  153. Bem 2015, pp. 199–200.
  154. Rashke 2013, p. 144.
  155. Arad 1987, pp. 152–153.
  156. Schelvis 2007, p. 258.
  157. Bem 2015, pp. 386–388.
  158. Rashke 1982, p. 438.
  159. Bem 2015, p. 123.
  160. Bem 2015, pp. 255–256.
  161. Schelvis 2007, pp. 136–137.
  162. Schelvis 2007, p. 83.
  163. Bem 2015, p. 200.
  164. Rashke 2013, p. 162.
  165. Rashke 2013, pp. 161–162.
  166. Rashke 2013, pp. 273–274.
  167. Schelvis 2007, p. 69.
  168. Schelvis 2007, pp. 252–253.
  169. Sereny 1974, pp. 252–253.
  170. Schelvis 2014, pp. 71–72.
  171. Schelvis 2007, p. 100: Testimony of SS-Scharführer Erich Fuchs about his own installation of the (at least) 200 HP, V-shaped, 8 cylinder, water-cooled petrol engine at Sobibor.
  172. Arad 1987, p. 76.
  173. "Sobibor". The Holocaust Explained. Jewish Cultural Centre, London. Archived from the original on 19 September 2015. Retrieved20 September 2015 – via Internet Archive. As part of the concealment of the camp's purpose, some Dutch Jews dislodging at the ramp were ordered to write "calming letters" to their relatives in the Netherlands, with made-up details about the welcome and living conditions. Immediately after that, they were taken to the gas chambers.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  174. "Michel Velleman (Sobibór, 2 juli 1943)". Digitaal Monument Joodse Gemeenschap in Nederland. Joods Monument. 2013. Retrieved17 May 2013.
  175. Matt Lebovic "70 years after revolt, Sobibor secrets are yet to be unearthed", Times of Israel 14 October 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  176. Chris Webb, Carmelo Lisciotto, Victor Smart (2009). "Sobibor Death Camp". HolocaustResearchProject.org. Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  177. Eberhardt 2015, p. 124.
  178. Schelvis 2007, p. 198.
  179. Bem 2015, p. 161.
  180. Schelvis 2007, p. 197.
  181. Bem 2015, pp. 219–275.
  182. Schelvis 2007, pp. 197–198.
  183. Schelvis 2007, p. 199.
  184. Bem 2015, p. 165.
  185. Schelvis 2007, p. 224.
  186. Bem 2015, p. 178.
  187. Schelvis 2007, p. 4.
  188. Bem 2015, pp. 162–164.
  189. Bem 2015, pp. 165–166.
  190. Bem 2015, p. 117.
  191. Bem 2015, p. 182.
  192. Klee et al. 1991, p. 232.
  193. Lower 2011, pp. 156–157.
  194. Arad 1987, pp. 219–275.
  195. Schelvis 2007, pp. 144–145.
  196. Rashke 1982, p. 200.
  197. Schelvis 2007, pp. 147–148.
  198. Schelvis 2007, pp. 149–150.
  199. Rashke 1982, pp. 210, 214–215.
  200. Rashke 1982, pp. 218–226.
  201. Rashke 1982, pp. 236, 241.
  202. Rashke 1982, p. 236.
  203. Schelvis 2007, p. 152.
  204. Rashke 1982, pp. 245, 252–253.
  205. Schelvis (2007) identifies Luka as Gertrude Poppert-Schoenborn, a German Jew who had fled to Amsterdam with her husband.
  206. Rashke 1982, p. 243.
  207. Schelvis 2007, p. 153.
  208. Schelvis 2007, pp. 160–161.
  209. Rashke 1982, p. 299.
  210. Schelvis 2007, p. 161.
  211. Schelvis 2007, p. 160.
  212. Schelvis 2007, p. 162.
  213. Rashke 1982, p. 300.
  214. Erenburg, Grossman. Black Book: Uprising in Sobibor (in Russian) Archived 14 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 2009-04-21
  215. Blatt, Thomas (1998). Sobibor, the Forgotten Revolt. Holocaust Education Project. p. 78.
  216. Schelvis 2007, pp. 163–164.
  217. Schelvis 2007, p. 175.
  218. (1) See Rashke, pp. 546–547 for discussion of evidence regarding deaths of Niemann, Vallaster, Graetschus, Beckmann, and Wolf. (2) See Schelvis p. 169, Note 1 for discussion of evidence regarding the revolt in general. (3) See p. 171 Note 41 for discussion of evidence regarding Graetschus's death (4) See Rashke pp. 303–304 and Schelvis p. 163 for accounts of the killing of Graetschus and Klatt. (5) See Rashke pp. 300–301 for an account of the killing of Konrad and Vallaster (6) See Rashke pp. 305–306 for an account of Gaulstich's death (7) See Rashke pp. 307–308 for an account of Beckmann's death. (8) See Rashke p. 295 for an account of Wolf's killing (9) See Schelvis pp. 163–164 for an account of Ryba's death. (10) Note that some officers' names have been misspelled in some sources, e.g. Schelvis p. 263 notes that at the Sobibor trial, Vallaster's name was incorrectly spelled "Fallaster" or "Fallaste" (see Schelvis, 263).
  219. Rashke 1982, pp. 295–296.
  220. Rashke 1982, p. 298.
  221. Schelvis 2007, p. 163.
  222. Rashke 1982, p. 307.
  223. Rashke 1982, pp. 283–284.
  224. Rashke 1982, p. 303.
  225. Rashke 1982, pp. 304–305.
  226. Rashke 1982, pp. 309–310.
  227. Rashke 1982, p. 311.
  228. Rashke 1982, pp. 312–313.
  229. Schelvis 2007, pp. 162, 163.
  230. Rashke 1982, p. 292.
  231. Schelvis 2007, p. 164.
  232. Rashke 1982, pp. 308, 309.
  233. Rashke 1982, p. 312.
  234. Rashke 1982, p. 309.
  235. Rashke 1982, p. 313.
  236. Schelvis 2007, pp. 173–174.
  237. Rashke 1982, p. 257.
  238. Schelvis 2007, p. 165.
  239. Rashke 1982, pp. 320, 330.
  240. Schelvis 2007, p. 166.
  241. Rashke 1982, pp. 313, 343.
  242. Rashke 1982, p. 314.
  243. Rashke 1982, pp. 343–344.
  244. Rashke 1982, pp. 314, 549.
  245. It is unknown whether or not the attack on the armoury succeeded. Rashke (1982) described it as "a confusing issue". What is known for certain is that the attack took place, and that SS-Oberscharführer Werner Dubois was severely injured after being struck with an ax or a club. A number of accounts suggest that the attack succeeded, as does a German report from the following day. Pechersky himself reported that the attack failed, though he allowed that another group might have succeeded. Rashke doubts that the attack succeeded, since he suspects that the prisoners who escaped would have been better-armed if they had raided the armoury. He suggests that the German report can be explained away as a face-saving invention.
  246. Rashke 1982, p. 319.
  247. Schelvis 2007, pp. 165–166.
  248. Rashke 1982, pp. 330–331.
  249. Schelvis 2007, p. 168.
  250. Rashke 1982, p. 4.
  251. Jules Schelvis (2003). Vernichtungslager Sobibor. UNRAST-Verlag, Hamburg/Münster. p. 212ff.
  252. Toivi Blatt interviews Sasha Pechersky about Luka in 1980 Retrieved on 2009-05-08
  253. Schelvis, Jules (2004). Vernietigingskamp Sobibor. De Bataafsche Leeuw. ISBN 978-9067076296. Uitgeverij Van Soeren & Co (booksellers).
  254. Schelvis 2007, p. 174.
  255. Rashke 1982, p. 3.
  256. Schelvis 2007, pp. 175–179.
  257. Schelvis 2007, pp. 176, 177–179.
  258. Schelvis 2007, p. 173.
  259. Schelvis 2007, pp. 178–179.
  260. Arad 1987, p. 386.
  261. Schelvis 2007, p. 177.
  262. Rashke 2013, p. 4.
  263. Schelvis 2007, p. 188.
  264. Schelvis 2007, pp. 180–181.
  265. Rashke 2013, p. 3.
  266. Schelvis 2007, p. 179.
  267. Schelvis 2007, p. 180.
  268. Schelvis 2007, p. 182.
  269. Schelvis 2007, p. 191.
  270. Bem, Marek; Mazurek, Wojciech (2012). "Sobibór: Archaelogical Research Conducted on the Site of the Former German Extermination Centre in Sobibór 2000–2011". Foundation for Polish-German Reconciliation.
  271. Schelvis 2007, p. 190.
  272. Schute 2018, The Case of Sobibor: A German Extermination Camp in Eastern Poland.
  273. "Last survivor of Sobibor death camp uprising dies". BBC News. 4 June 2019. Retrieved4 June 2019.
  274. Arad, Yitzhak (2018). "Appendix B: The Fate of the Perpetrators of Operation Reinhard". The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Revised and Expanded Edition: Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. Indiana University Press. pp. 399–400. ISBN 978-0-253-03447-2.
  275. Schelvis 2007, pp. 2, 247.
  276. Dick de Mildt. In the Name of the People: Perpetrators of Genocide, pp. 381–383. Brill, 1996.
  277. Klee, Ernst, Dressen, Willi, Riess, Volker The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders. ISBN 1-56852-133-2.
  278. Rashke 2013, p. 438.
  279. Schelvis 2007, p. 2.
  280. Schelvis 2007, pp. 254, 255.
  281. Douglas 2016, pp. 2, 252.
  282. Douglas 2016, pp. 253, 257.
  283. Cüppers et al. 2020, p. 273.
  284. Bezmozgis, David (14 October 2020). "The Afterlife". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved28 February 2021.
  285. Bem 2015, pp. 292–293.
  286. Cüppers et al. 2020, p. 274.
  287. Bem 2015, p. 340.
  288. Bem 2015, pp. 340–342.
  289. Sereny 1974, p. 114.
  290. Sereny 1974, p. 145.
  291. Rashke 2013, pp. 493, 512.
  292. Bem 2015, pp. 11, 337, 353.
  293. Cüppers et al. 2020, p. 275.
  294. Bem 2015, p. 352.
  295. Bem 2015, p. 353.
  296. Cüppers et al. 2020, pp. 137, 275.
  297. Bem 2015, p. 360.
  298. Bem 2015, pp. 220–221.
  299. Bem 2015, pp. 106–107.
  300. Sopke, Kerstin; Moulson, Geir (28 January 2020). "Berlin museum unveils photos possibly featuring Demjanjuk at Sobibor death camp". Times of Israel. Retrieved5 June 2020.
  301. Lebovic, Matt (3 February 2020). "Sobibor photo album remaps Nazi death camp famous for 1943 prisoner revolt". Times of Israel. Retrieved5 June 2020.
  302. Cüppers et al. 2020.
  303. Weissman 2020, p. 139.
  • Bialowitz, Philip; Bialowitz, Joseph (2010). A Promise at Sobibór. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0-299-24800-0.
  • Blatt, Thomas (1997). From the Ashes of Sobibor: A Story of Survival. Northwestern University Press. ISBN 978-0-8101-1302-2.
  • Freiberg, Dov (2007). To Survive Sobibor. Gefen Publishing House. ISBN 978-965-229-388-6.
  • Lower, Wendy (2011). The Diary of Samuel Golfard and the Holocaust in Galicia. Rowman Altamira. ISBN 978-0-75912-078-5.
  • Novitch, Miriam (1980). Sobibor, Martyrdom and Revolt: Documents and Testimonies. Holocaust Library. ISBN 0-89604-016-X.
  • Ticho, Kurt (2008). My Legacy: Holocaust, History and the Unfinished Task of Pope John Paul II. Muzeum Pojezierza Łęczyńsko-Włodawskiego. ISBN 978-8361393207.
  • Zielinski, Andrew (2003). Conversations with Regina. Hyde Park Press. ISBN 0-9750766-0-4.
  • Walsh, Ann Markham (2016). Dancing Through Darkness. Cable Publishing. ISBN 978-1-934980-07-1.
  • Wewryk, Kalmen (2008). To Sobibor and Back: An Eyewitness Account. Muzeum Pojezierza Łęczyńsko-Włodawskiego. ISBN 978-8361393160.
Wikimedia Commons has media related toSobibór extermination camp.

Sobibor extermination camp
Sobibor extermination camp Language Watch Edit Sobibor and Sobibor redirect here For the village see Sobibor village For other uses see Sobibor disambiguation Sobibor ˈ s oʊ b ɪ b ɔːr Polish sɔˈbibur was an extermination camp built and operated by Nazi Germany as part of Operation Reinhard It was located in the forest near the village of Sobibor in the General Government region of German occupied Poland SobiborExtermination campSobibor extermination camp summer 1943Location of Sobibor within PolandShow map of PolandSobibor extermination camp Europe Show map of EuropeCoordinates51 26 50 N 23 35 37 E 51 44722 N 23 59361 E 51 44722 23 59361 Coordinates 51 26 50 N 23 35 37 E 51 44722 N 23 59361 E 51 44722 23 59361Other namesSS Sonderkommando SobiborKnown forGenocide during the HolocaustLocationNear Sobibor General Government occupied Poland Built byRichard Thomalla camp Erwin Lambert gas chambers CommandantFranz Stangl 28 April 1942 30 August 1942 Franz Reichleitner 1 September 1942 17 October 1943 OperationalMay 1942 14 October 1943 1 InmatesJews mainly from PolandNumber of inmates600 650 slave labour at any given timeKilled170 000 250 000Notable inmatesList of survivors of Sobibor As an extermination camp rather than a concentration camp Sobibor existed for the sole purpose of killing Jews The vast majority of prisoners were gassed within hours of arrival Those not killed immediately were forced to assist in the operation of the camp and few survived more than a few months In total some 170 000 to 250 000 people were murdered at Sobibor making it the fourth deadliest Nazi camp after Belzec Treblinka and Auschwitz The camp ceased operations after a prisoner revolt which took place on 14 October 1943 The plan for the revolt involved two phases In the first phase teams of prisoners were to discreetly assassinate each of the SS officers In the second phase all 600 prisoners would assemble for evening roll call and walk to freedom out the front gate However the plan was disrupted after only 11 of the SS officers had been killed The prisoners had to escape by climbing over barbed wire fences and running through a mine field under heavy machine gun fire About 300 prisoners made it out of the camp of whom 58 are known to have survived the war After the revolt the Nazis demolished the camp and planted it over with pine trees The site was neglected in the first decades after World War II and the camp had little presence in either popular or scholarly accounts of the Holocaust It became better known after it was portrayed in the TV miniseries Holocaust 1978 and the film Escape from Sobibor 1987 The Sobibor Museum now stands at the site which continues to be investigated by archaeologists Photographs of the camp in operation were published in 2020 as part of the Sobibor perpetrator album Contents 1 Background 1 1 Operation Reinhard 1 2 Camp construction 1 3 Layout 2 Life in the camp 2 1 Prisoner life 2 1 1 Work 2 1 2 Social relations 2 1 3 Health and living conditions 2 2 Camp personnel 2 2 1 SS garrison 2 2 2 Watchmen 2 3 Interactions between prisoners and perpetrators 3 Extermination 3 1 Killing process 3 2 Death toll 4 Uprising 4 1 Lead up 4 2 Revolt 4 2 1 Covert killings 4 2 2 Breakout 4 3 Aftermath 4 4 Liquidation and demolition 5 Aftermath 5 1 Survivors 5 2 Trials 5 3 The site 5 4 Research 5 5 Dramatisations 6 Notes 7 References 8 Further reading 9 External linksBackgroundOperation Reinhard Further information The Holocaust in Poland Map of the Holocaust in Europe Sobibor is located right of centre Sobibor was one of four extermination camps established as part of Operation Reinhard the deadliest phase of the Holocaust 2 The extermination of Europe s Jews did not originate as a single top down decision but was rather a patchwork of decisions made regarding particular occupied areas 3 Following the invasion of Poland in September 1939 the Germans began implementing the Nisko Plan in which Jews were deported from ghettos across Europe to the forced labour camps which comprised the Lublin Reservation Lublin District region was chosen in particular for its inhospitable conditions 4 The Nisko Plan was abandoned in 1940 4 5 but many forced labour camps continued operations in the area including Trawniki Lipowa 7 and Dorohucza 6 Map of the Lublin District camps Sobibor is right of centre In 1941 the Nazis began experimenting with gassing Jews In December 1941 SS officials at Chelmno conducted experiments using gas vans and the first mass gassings were conducted at Auschwitz concentration camp in January At the Wansee Conference on 20 January 1942 Reinhard Heydrich announced a plan for systematically killing the Jews through a network of extermination camps This plan was realized as Operation Reinhard 7 Nothing is known for certain about the early planning for Sobibor in particular 8 Some historians have speculated that planning may have begun as early as 1940 on the basis of a railway map from that year which omits several major cities but includes Sobibor and Belzec 9 The earliest hard evidence for Nazi interest in the site comes from the testimony of local Poles who noticed in Autumn 1941 that SS officers were surveying the land opposite the train station 10 When a worker at the station cafeteria asked one of the SS men what was being built he replied that she would soon see and that it would be a good laugh 11 Camp construction In March 1942 SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Richard Thomalla took over construction work at Sobibor which had begun at an unknown earlier date Thomalla was a former building contractor and committed Nazi whose service as an auxiliary police commander and adviser on Jewish forced labour had earned him a high ranking position in Odilo Globocnik s construction department 12 Having previously overseen the construction of Belzec extermination camp he applied lessons learned there to Sobibor 13 Thomalla allotted a much larger area for Sobibor than he had for Belzec allowing more room to maneuver as well as providing space for all of the camp s facilities to be constructed within its perimeter 14 SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Richard Thomalla who oversaw the initial construction of Sobibor The camp incorporated several pre war buildings including a post office a forester s lodge a forestry tower and a chapel 15 The forester s lodge became the camp administration building while the post office was used as lodging for the SS though not as commonly reported for the commandant 16 The former post office located near the railroad tracks still stands today 17 15 The SS adapted the preexisting railroad infrastructure adding an 800 meter railroad spur that ended inside the camp This third set of tracks allowed regular rail traffic to continue uninterrupted while the camp unloaded transports of new prisoners 14 Some building materials were supplied by the SS Central Construction Office in Lublin while others were procured from local sawmills and brickworks as well as from the remains of demolished houses of Jews 17 18 The first group of workers who built the camp were primarily locals from neighbouring villages and towns It is unknown to what extent these were Polish or Jewish forced labourers 19 20 After Thomalla s arrival the Jewish council in nearby Wlodawa was ordered to send 150 Jews to assist in the construction of the camp 21 These workers were constantly harassed as they worked and were shot if they showed signs of exhaustion 21 Most were killed upon completion of construction but two escaped back to Wlodawa where they attempted to warn the Jewish council about the camp and its purpose Their warnings were met with disbelief 21 22 The first gas chambers at Sobibor were built following the model of those at Belzec but without any furnaces 23 To provide the carbon monoxide gas SS Scharfuhrer Erich Fuchs acquired a heavy gasoline engine in Lemberg disassembled from an armoured vehicle or a tractor Fuchs installed the engine on a cement base at Sobibor in the presence of SS officers Floss Bauer Stangl and Barbl and connected the engine exhaust manifold to pipes leading to the gas chamber 24 In mid April 1942 the Nazis conducted experimental gassings in the nearly finished camp Christian Wirth the commander of Belzec and Inspector of Operation Reinhard visited Sobibor to witness one of these gassings which killed thirty to forty Jewish women brought from the labour camp at Krychow 25 The initial construction of Sobibor was finished by summer 1942 26 and a steady stream of prisoners began thereafter 18 27 However the SS camp was continuously expanded and renovated throughout its existence 28 After only a few months of operation the wooden walls of the gas chambers had absorbed too much sweat urine blood and excrement to be cleanable Thus the gas chambers were demolished in the summer of 1942 and new larger ones were built made out of brick 29 Later that summer the SS also embarked on a beautification project instituting a more regular cleaning schedule for the barracks and stables and expanding and landscaping the Vorlager to give it the appearance of a Tyrolean village much noted by later prisoners 30 When Sobibor ceased operations in mid 1943 the SS were part way through the construction of a munitions depot known as Lager IV 31 Layout Sobibor was surrounded by double barbed wire fences which were thatched with pine branches in order to block the view inside 32 At its northeast corner it had two side by side gates one for trains and another for foot traffic and vehicles 33 The site was divided into five compounds the Vorlager and four Lagers numbered I IV The layout of Sobibor as it appeared in summer 1943 The Vorlager front compound contained living quarters and recreational buildings for the camp personnel The SS officers lived in cottages with colorful names such as Lustiger Floh the Merry Flea Schwalbennest the Swallow s Nest and Gottes Heimat God s Own Home 34 They also had a canteen a bowling alley a hairdresser and a dentist all staffed by Jewish prisoners 35 36 The watchmen drawn from Soviet POWs had separate barracks and their own separate recreational buildings including a hair salon and a canteen 37 The Vorlager s quaint buildings such as the Merry Flea pictured in summer 1943 helped conceal the purpose of the camp from new arrivals 35 The Nazis paid great attention to the appearance of the Vorlager It was neatly landscaped with lawns and gardens outdoor terraces gravel lined paths and professionally painted signs 38 This idyllic appearance helped hide the nature of the camp from prisoners who would arrive on the adjacent ramp Survivor Jules Schelvis recalled feeling reassured upon arrival by the Vorlager s Tyrolean cottage like barracks with their bright little curtains and geraniums on the windowsills 39 Lager I contained barracks and workshops for the prisoners 40 These workshops included a tailor s shop a carpenter s shop a mechanic s shop a sign painter s shop and a bakery 26 41 Lager I was accessible only through the adjacent Vorlager and its western boundary was made escape proof with a water filled trench 42 Lager II was a larger multi purpose compound One subsection called the Erbhof contained the administration building as well as a small farm 43 The administration building was a pre war structure previously used by the local Polish forestry service 35 As part of the camp this building was adapted to provide accommodation for some SS officers storage for goods stolen from victims luggage as well as a pharmacy whose contents were also taken from victims luggage 44 35 On the farm Jewish prisoners raised chickens pigs geese fruits and vegetables for consumption by the SS men 43 The entrance to the Erbhof in Lager II Outside the Erbhof Lager II contained facilities where new arrivals were prepared for their deaths It contained the sorting barracks and other buildings used for storing items taken from the victims including clothes food hair gold and other valuables 41 At the east end was a yard where new arrivals had their luggage taken from them and were forced to undress This area was beautified with flower beds to hide the camp s purpose from newcomers 45 46 This yard led into the narrow enclosed path called the Himmelstrasse road to heaven or the Schlauch tube which led straight to the gas chambers in Lager III 47 48 The Himmelstrasse was covered on both sides by fences woven with pine branches 47 Lager III was the extermination area It was isolated from the rest of the camp set back in a clearing in the forest and surrounded by its own thatched fence 49 Prisoners from Lager I were not allowed near it and were killed if they were suspected of having seen inside 50 51 52 Due to a lack of eyewitness testimony little is known about Lager III beyond the fact that it contained gas chambers mass graves and special separate housing for the Sonderkommando prisoners who worked there 50 15 53 Lager IV also called the Nordlager was added in July 1943 and was still under construction at the time of the revolt Located in a heavily wooded area to the north of the other camps it was being developed as a munitions depot for processing arms taken from Red Army soldiers 54 55 56 Life in the campPrisoner life Because Sobibor was an extermination camp the only prisoners who lived there were the roughly 600 slave labourers forced to assist in the operation of the camp 57 While survivors of Auschwitz use the term selected to mean being selected for death at Sobibor being selected meant being selected to live at least temporarily 58 The harsh conditions in the camp took the lives of most new arrivals within a few months 59 Work Prisoners worked from 6 00 am to 6 00 pm with a short lunch break in the middle Sundays were designated as half days but this policy was not always observed 60 61 The prisoner population included many labourers with specialized skills such as goldsmithing painting gardening or tailoring While such prisoners were officially spared death only to support the camp s primary operations much of their labour was in fact diverted for the SS officers personal enrichment Renowned Dutch Jewish painter Max van Dam was nominally kept as a sign painter but the SS also forced him to paint landscapes portraits and hagiographic images of Hitler 62 63 Similarly Shlomo Szmajzner was placed in charge of the machine shop in order to conceal his work making gold jewelry for SS officers 64 Prisoners with specialized skills were considered especially valuable and were afforded privileges not available to others 65 Those without specialized skills performed a variety of other jobs Many worked in the Lager II sorting barracks where they were forced to comb through luggage left behind by gas chamber victims repackaging valuable items as charity gifts for German civilians 66 These workers could also be called on to serve in the railway brigade which greeted new prisoners The railway brigade was considered a relatively appealing job since it gave famished workers access to luggage which often contained food 67 Younger prisoners commonly worked as putzers cleaning for the Nazis and the watchmen and attending to their needs 68 A particularly horrifying job was that of the barbers who cut the hair of women on their way to the gas chamber This job was often forced upon young male prisoners in an attempt to humiliate both them and the naked women whose hair they were cutting Armed watchmen supervised the process in order to ensure that barbers did not respond to victims questions or pleas 69 In Lager III a special unit of Jewish prisoners was forced to assist in the extermination process Its tasks included removing bodies searching cavities for valuables scrubbing blood and excrement from the gas chambers and cremating the corpses Because the prisoners who belonged to this unit were direct witnesses to genocide they were strictly isolated from other prisoners and the SS would periodically liquidate those unit members who had not already succumbed to the work s physical and psychological toll Since no workers from Lager III survived nothing is known about their lives or experiences 70 When construction of Lager IV began in the summer of 1943 the Nazis assembled a forest commando who worked there cutting timber for heat cooking as well as cremation pyres 68 Prisoners struggled with the fact that their labour made them complicit in mass murder albeit indirectly and unwillingly 71 Many committed suicide 72 73 Others endured finding ways to resist if only symbolically Common symbolic forms of resistance included praying for the dead observing Jewish religious rites 73 and singing songs of resistance 74 However some prisoners found small ways of materially fighting back While working in the sorting shed Saartje Wijnberg would surreptitiously damage fine items of clothing to prevent them from being sent to Germany 75 After the war Esther Terner recounted what she and Zelda Metz did when they found an unattended pot of soup in the Nazis canteen We spit in it and washed our hands in it Don t ask me what else we did to that soup And they ate it 76 Social relations Prisoners found it difficult to forge personal relationships This was in part due to the constant turnover in the camp population 59 but also to an atmosphere of mutual distrust which was often exacerbated by national or linguistic divisions 77 Dutch Jews were particularly subject to derision and suspicion because of their assimilated manners and limited Yiddish 78 German Jews faced the same suspicion as the Dutch with the added implication that they might identify more with their captors than with their fellow prisoners 79 When social groups did form they were generally based on family ties or shared nationality and were completely closed off to outsiders 77 Chaim Engel even found himself shunned by fellow Polish Jews after he began a romantic relationship with Dutch born Saartje Wijnberg 80 These divisions had dire consequences for many prisoners from Western Europe who were not trusted with crucial information about goings on in the camp 81 Because of the expectation of imminent death prisoners adopted a day at a time outlook Crying was rare 77 and evenings were often spent enjoying whatever of life was left As revolt organizer Leon Feldhendler recounted after the war The Jews only had one goal carpe diem and in this they simply went wild 82 Prisoners sang and danced in the evenings 83 and sexual or romantic relations were frequent 84 Some of these affairs were likely transactional or coerced especially those between female prisoners and kapos but others were driven by genuine bonds 85 Two couples that met in Sobibor were married after the war 85 The Nazis allowed and even encouraged an atmosphere of merriment going so far as to recruit prisoners for a choir at gunpoint 86 Many prisoners interpreted these efforts as attempts by the Nazis to keep the prisoners docile and to prevent them from thinking about escape 87 Prisoners had a pecking order largely determined by one s usefulness to the Germans As survivor Toivi Blatt observed there were three categories of prisoners the expendable drones whose lives were entirely at the mercy of the SS the privileged workers whose special jobs provided some relative comforts and finally the artisans whose specialized knowledge made them indispensable and earned them preferential treatment 65 Moreover as at other camps the Nazis appointed kapos to keep their fellow prisoners in line 88 Kapos carried out a variety of supervisory duties and enforced their commands with whips 89 Kapos were involuntary appointees and they varied widely in how they responded to the psychological pressures of their position Oberkapo Moses Sturm was nicknamed Mad Moisz for his mercurial temperament He would beat prisoners horrifically without provocation and then later apologize hysterically He talked constantly of escape sometimes merely berating the other prisoners for their passivity other times attempting to formulate actionable plans Sturm was executed after being betrayed by a lower ranking kapo named Herbert Naftaniel 90 Naftaniel nicknamed Berliner was promoted to Oberkapo and became a notorious figure in the camp He viewed himself as German rather than Jewish and began a reign of terror which came to an end shortly before the revolt when a group of prisoners beat him to death with SS Oberscharfuhrer Karl Frenzel s permission 91 Despite these divisions in the camp prisoners found ways to support each other Sick and injured prisoners were given clandestine food 92 93 as well as medicine and sanitary supplies stolen from the camp pharmacy 94 Healthy prisoners were expected to cover for sick prisoners who would otherwise be killed 92 The camp nurse Kurt Ticho developed a method of falsifying his records so that sick prisoners could take more than the allotted three day recovery period 95 Members of the railway brigade attempted to warn new arrivals of their impending murder but were met with incredulity 96 The most successful act of solidarity in the camp was the revolt on 14 October 1943 which was expressly planned so that all of the prisoners in the camp would have at least some chance of escape 97 Health and living conditions Prisoners suffered from sleep deprivation malnourishment and the physical and emotional toll of grueling labour and constant beatings 82 98 Lice skin infections and respiratory infections were common 99 and typhoid swept the camp on occasion 100 When Sobibor first opened prisoners were regarded as expendable and shot at the first sign of illness or injury 98 After a few months the SS grew concerned that the enormous death rate was limiting the camp s efficiency In order to increase the continuity of its labour force and alleviate the need to constantly train new workers the SS instituted a new policy allowing incapacitated prisoners three days to recover Those still unable to work after three days were shot 101 95 Food in the camp was extremely limited As at other Lublin district camps prisoners were given about 200 grams of bread for breakfast along with Ersatz coffee Lunch was typically a thin soup sometimes with some potatoes or horse meat Dinner could be once again simply coffee 102 Prisoners forced to live on these rations found their personalities changing due to hunger 67 Others supplemented these rations surreptitiously for instance by helping themselves to food from victims luggage while working in the sorting barracks or in the railway brigade 85 A barter system developed in the camp which included not only prisoners but also the watchmen who would serve as intermediaries between the Jews and local peasants exchanging jewels and cash from the sorting barracks for food and liquor in exchange for a large cut 103 104 Most prisoners had little or no access to hygiene and sanitation There were no showers in Lager I and clean water was scarce 105 Although clothing could be washed or replaced from the sorting barracks the camp was so thoroughly infested that there was little point 106 107 However some prisoners worked in areas of the camp such as the laundry which gave them occasional access to better hygiene 108 Camp personnel See also List of Sobibor extermination camp personnel The personnel at Sobibor included a small cadre of German and Austrian SS officers and a much larger group of watchmen generally of Soviet origin 109 SS garrison Sobibor was staffed by a rotating group of eighteen to twenty two German and Austrian SS officers 110 The SS officers were generally from lower middle class backgrounds having previously worked as merchants artisans farmhands nurses and policemen 111 Almost all the Sobibor SS officers had previously served in Aktion T4 the Nazi forced euthanasia program 112 In particular a large contingent had previously served together at Hartheim Euthanasia Centre Many practices developed at Hartheim were continued at Sobibor including methods for deceiving victims on the way to the gas chambers 113 Before beginning work at Sobibor they had met with Odilo Globocnik in Lublin and signed a confidentiality agreement 114 Over the course of its operation roughly 100 SS officers served at Sobibor 115 When Sobibor first opened its commandant was SS Obersturmfuhrer Franz Stangl a meticulous organizer who worked to increase the efficiency of the extermination process 116 42 Stangl had little interaction with the prisoners 117 with the exception of Shlomo Szmajzner who recalled Stangl as a vain man who stood out for his obvious pleasure in his work and his situation None of the others although they were in different ways so much worse than he showed this to such an extent He had this perpetual smile on his face 118 Stangl was transferred to Treblinka in August 1942 and his job at Sobibor was filled by SS Obersturmfuhrer Franz Reichleitner Reichleitner was an alcoholic and a determined anti semite who took little interest in what went on in the camp aside from the extermination process 119 120 SS Untersturmfuhrer Johann Niemann served as the camp s deputy commandant 121 122 SS officers entertaining a customs official on the terrace of the Merry Flea The high quality drinking glasses were likely stolen from gas chamber victims Left to right Daschel Reichleitner Niemann Schulze Bauer two unknown women and the customs official 123 Day to day operations were generally handled by SS Oberscharfuhrer Gustav Wagner the most feared and hated man in Sobibor Prisoners regarded him as brutal demanding unpredictable observant and sadistic They referred to him as The Beast and Wolf 124 125 Reporting to Wagner was SS Oberscharfuhrer Karl Frenzel who oversaw Lager I and acted as the camp s judicial authority 126 Kurt Bolender and de Hubert Gomerski oversaw Lager III the extermination area 127 128 while SS Oberscharfuhrer Erich Bauer and SS Scharfuhrer Josef Vallaster typically directed the gassing procedure itself 129 130 The SS men considered their job appealing At Sobibor they could enjoy creature comforts not available to soldiers fighting on the Eastern Front The officer s compound in the camp had a canteen a bowling alley and a barber shop The officers country club was a short distance away on nearby Perepsza Lake 111 Each SS man was allowed three weeks of leave every three months which they could spend at Haus Schoberstein an SS owned resort in the Austrian town of Weissenbach on Lake Attersee 131 Moreover the job could be lucrative each officer received base pay of 58 Reichmarks per month plus a daily allowance of 18 marks and special bonuses including a Judenmordzulage Jew murder supplement In all an officer at Sobibor could earn 600 marks per month in pay 132 In addition to the official compensation a job at Sobibor offered endless opportunities for the SS officers to covertly enrich themselves by exploiting the labour and stealing the possessions of their victims In one case the SS officers enslaved a 15 year old goldsmith prodigy named Shlomo Szmajzner who made them rings and monograms from gold extracted from the teeth of gas chamber victims 133 During post war trials SS officers from all of the Operation Reinhard camps claimed that they would have been executed if they had not participated in the killings However the judges in the Treblinka trial could not find any evidence of SS officers being executed for desertion and at least one Sobibor officer Alfred Ittner successfully got himself transferred 134 Watchmen Watchmen in front of Lager III The roof of the gas chamber is visible in the background 135 Sobibor was guarded by approximately 400 watchmen 136 Survivors often refer to them as blackies Askaris or Ukrainians even though many were not Ukrainian They were captured Soviet prisoners of war who had volunteered for the SS in order to escape the abominable conditions in Nazi POW camps 137 138 Watchmen were nominally guards but they were also expected to supervise work details and perform manual labour including punishments and executions 109 They also took an active part in the extermination process unloading transports and escorting the victims into the gas chambers 29 139 Watchmen dressed in mixed and matched pieces of Nazi Soviet and Polish uniforms often dyed black giving rise to the term blackies 136 They received pay and rations similar to those of Waffen SS as well as a family allowance and holiday leave 140 Although the watchmen inspired terror among the prisoners their loyalty to the SS was not unwavering They played an active role in Sobibor s underground barter economy 103 and drank copiously despite being prohibited from doing so 141 142 The SS officers were wary of the watchmen and limited their access to ammunition 137 Watchmen were also transferred frequently between different camps in order to prevent them from building up local contacts or knowledge of the surrounding area 143 After the prisoner uprising the SS feared that the watchmen would themselves revolt and sent them all back to Trawniki under armed guard Their fears proved correct as the watchmen killed their SS escort and fled 144 145 Interactions between prisoners and perpetrators Prisoners lived in constant fear of their captors They were punished for transgressions as inconsequential as smoking a cigarette 146 resting while working 88 and showing insufficient enthusiasm when forced to sing 61 Punishment was used not only to enforce the official camp rules but also the guards personal whims 146 The most common punishment was flogging SS officers carried 80 centimeter whips which had been specially made by slave labour prisoners using leather taken from the luggage of gas chamber victims 147 Even when flogging was not in itself lethal it would prove a death sentence if it left the recipient too injured to work 148 Many survivors remember an unusually large and aggressive St Bernard named Barry that Kurt Bolender and Paul Groth would sic on prisoners 149 150 In the summer of 1943 SS Oberscharfuhrer Gustav Wagner and SS Oberscharfuhrer Hubert Gomerski formed a penal brigade consisting of prisoners who were forced to work while running Prisoners were assigned to the penal brigade for a period of three days but most died before their time was up 151 152 The SS exercised absolute authority over the prisoners and treated them as a source of entertainment 132 They forced prisoners to sing while working while marching and even during public executions 153 Some survivor testimonies recount prisoners performing mock cockfights for the SS with their arms tied behind their backs Others recount being forced to sing demeaning songs such as I am a Jew with a big nose 154 Female prisoners were sexually abused on several occasions For instance at a postwar trial Erich Bauer testified that two Austrian Jewish actresses named Ruth and Gisela were confined in an SS barracks and gang raped by SS Oberscharfuhrer Kurt Bolender and SS Oberscharfuhrer Gustav Wagner among others 155 Unique among the SS officers Unterscharfuhrer Johann Klier was known to be relatively humane and several survivors testified on his behalf at his trial 156 157 In an interview with Richard Rashke Esther Terner commented I don t even know why he was in Sobibor even the other Nazis picked on him 158 Prisoners regarded the watchmen as the most dangerous among the Sobibor staff their cruelty surpassing that of the SS officers 137 In the words of historian Marek Bem It can be said that the Ukrainian guards cynicism was in no way inferior to the SS men s premeditation 159 However some individual watchmen were sympathetic to the Jews doing the minimum possible while on duty and even assisting with prisoners escape attempts 160 In one documented instance two watchmen named Victor Kisiljow and Wasyl Zischer escaped with six Jewish prisoners but were betrayed and killed 161 Prisoners developed complex relationships with their tormenters In order to avoid the most extreme cruelties many tried to ingratiate themselves with the SS officers 162 for instance by choosing maudlin German folk songs when ordered to sing 163 In other cases prisoners found themselves unwillingly favored SS Oberscharfuhrer Karl Frenzel took a liking to Saartje Wijnberg constantly smiling at her and teasingly referring to her and Chaim Engel as bride and groom 164 He was protective towards her excusing her from torturous work inflicted on other Dutch prisoners 165 and sparing her when he liquidated the sick barracks on 11 October 1943 166 She struggled with this attention and felt angry at herself when she noticed herself feeling grateful to him 164 At his trial Frenzel declared I actually do believe the Jews even liked me 167 though both prisoners and other SS officers regarded him as exceptionally cruel and brutal 168 Similarly camp commandant SS Obersturmfuhrer Franz Stangl made a pet of the 14 year old goldsmith Shlomo Szmajzner and regarded his post war trial testimony as a personal betrayal Stangl particularly objected to the implication that his habit of bringing Smajzner sausages on the sabbath had been a deliberate attempt to torment the starving teenager Szmajzner himself wasn t sure of Stangl s intentions it s perfectly true that he seemed to like me still it was funny wasn t it that he always brought it on a Friday evening 169 ExterminationKilling process On either 16 or 18 May 1942 Sobibor became fully operational and began mass gassings Trains entered the railway siding with the unloading platform and the Jews on board were told they were in a transit camp They were forced to hand over their valuables were separated by sex and told to undress The nude women and girls recoiling in shame were met by the Jewish workers who cut off their hair in a mere half a minute Among the Friseur barbers was Toivi Blatt age 15 170 The condemned prisoners formed into groups were led along the 100 metre 330 ft long Road to Heaven Himmelstrasse to the gas chambers where they were killed using carbon monoxide released from the exhaust pipes of a tank engine 171 During his trial SS Oberscharfuhrer Kurt Bolender described the killing operations as follows Before the Jews undressed SS Oberscharfuhrer Hermann Michel made a speech to them On these occasions he used to wear a white coat to give the impression he was a physician Michel announced to the Jews that they would be sent to work But before this they would have to take baths and undergo disinfection so as to prevent the spread of diseases After undressing the Jews were taken through the Tube by an SS man leading the way with five or six Ukrainians at the back hastening the Jews along After the Jews entered the gas chambers the Ukrainians closed the doors The motor was switched on by the former Soviet soldier Emil Kostenko and by the German driver Erich Bauer from Berlin After the gassing the doors were opened and the corpses were removed by the Sonderkommando members 172 Local Jews were delivered in absolute terror many amongst them screaming and pounding Foreign Jews on the other hand were treated with deceitful politeness Passengers from Westerbork Netherlands had a comfortable journey There were Jewish doctors and nurses attending them and no shortage of food or medical supplies on the train To them Sobibor did not seem like a genuine threat 173 better source needed A contemporary drawing of the train tracks leading into Sobibor The non Polish victims included 18 year old Helga Deen from the Netherlands whose diary was discovered in 2004 the writer Else Feldmann from Austria Dutch Olympic gold medalist gymnasts Helena Nordheim Ans Polak and Jud Simons gym coach Gerrit Kleerekoper and magician Michel Velleman 174 After the killing in the gas chambers the corpses were collected by Sonderkommandos and taken to mass graves or cremated in the open air 175 better source needed The burial pits were 50 60 m 160 200 ft long 10 15 m 30 50 ft wide and 5 7 m 15 20 ft deep with sloping sandy walls in order to facilitate the burying of corpses 176 Death toll Main article List of victims of Sobibor Between 170 000 and 250 000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor The precise death toll is unknown since no complete record survives The most commonly cited figure of 250 000 was first proposed in 1947 by a Polish judge named Zbigniew Lukaszewicz who interviewed survivors railwaymen and external witnesses to estimate of the frequency and capacity of the transports Later research has reached the same figure drawing on more specific documentation 177 although other recent studies have given lower estimates such as Jules Schelvis s figure of 170 165 178 According to historian Marek Bem The range of scientific research into this question shows how rudimentary our current knowledge is of the number of victims of this extermination camp 179 One major source which can be used to estimate the death toll is the Hofle Telegram a collection of SS cables which give precise numbers of recorded arrivals at each of the Operation Reinhard camps prior to 31 December 1942 Identical numbers are found in the Korherr Report another surviving Nazi document These sources both report 101 370 arrivals at Sobibor during the year 1942 180 but the meaning of this figure is open to interpretation Some scholars such as Bem suggest that it refers only to Jews arriving from within the General Government 181 However others such as Jules Schelvis take it as a record of the total arrivals during that year and thus combine it with an estimate of the killings in 1943 to reach a total estimate 182 Other key sources of information include records of particular transports sent to Sobibor In some cases this information is detailed and systematic For instance the Dutch Institute for War Holocaust and Genocide Studies archive contains precise records of each transport sent to Sobibor from the Netherlands totaling 34 313 individuals 183 In other cases transports are only known through incidental evidence such as when one of its passengers was among the survivors citation needed The Memory Mound Many of the difficulties in reaching a firm death toll arise from the incompleteness of surviving evidence Records of deportations are more likely to exist when they took place by train meaning that estimates likely undercount the number of prisoners brought on trucks horse drawn carts or by foot 184 Moreover even records of trains appear to contain gaps For example while a letter from Albert Ganzenmuller to Karl Wolff mentions past trains from Warsaw to Sobibor no itineraries survive 185 On the other hand estimates may count small numbers of individuals as Sobibor victims who in fact died elsewhere or conceivably even survived This is because small groups of new arrivals were occasionally selected to work in one of the nearby labour camps rather than being gassed immediately as was the norm 186 For instance when Jules Schelvis was deported to Sobibor on a transport carrying 3 005 Dutch Jews he was one of 81 men selected to work in Dorohucza and the only one to survive 187 Although these instances were rare and some are documented well enough to be accounted for they could still have a small cumulative effect on estimates of the death toll 186 Other figures have been given which differ from what is indicated by reliable historical evidence Numbers as high as 3 million appear in reports requested immediately after the war by the Central Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland 188 During the Sobibor trials in the 1960s the judges adopted a figure of 152 000 victims though they stressed that this was not a complete estimate but rather a minimum limited by the procedural rules concerning evidence 189 Survivors have suggested numbers of victims significantly higher than what historians accept Many recall a camp rumour that Heinrich Himmler s visit in February 1943 was intended to celebrate the millionth victim 190 and others suggest figures even higher Bem suggests that survivors estimates disagree with the record because they reflect the state of their emotions back then as well as the drama and the scale of tragedy which happened in Sobibor 191 Another high figure comes from one of the perpetrators SS Oberscharfuhrer Erich Bauer who recalled his colleagues expressing regret that Sobibor came last in the competition among the Operation Reinhard camps having claimed only 350 000 lives 192 UprisingOn the afternoon of 14 October 1943 members of the Sobibor underground covertly killed 11 of the on duty SS officers and then led roughly 300 prisoners to freedom 193 This revolt was one of three uprisings by Jewish prisoners in extermination camps the others being those at Treblinka extermination camp on 2 August 1943 and at Auschwitz Birkenau on 7 October 1944 194 Lead up In the summer of 1943 rumors began to circulate that Sobibor would soon cease operations The prisoners understood that this would mean certain death for them all since the final cohort of Belzec prisoners had been killed at Sobibor after dismantling their own camp The Sobibor prisoners knew this since the Belzec prisoners had sewn messages into their clothing 195 196 We worked at Belzec for one year and did not know where we would be sent next They said it would be Germany Now we are in Sobibor and know what to expect Be aware that you will be killed also Avenge us 195 An escape committee formed in response to these rumors Their leader was Leon Feldhendler a former member of the judenrat in Zolkiewka His job in the sorting barracks gave him access to additional food sparing him from the hunger which robbed other workers of their mental acuity 197 However the escape committee made little progress that summer In light of previous betrayals and the ever looming threat of collective punishment they needed to keep their discussions limited to roughly seven Polish Jews but this insularity severely limited their capacity to form a plan since none of their members had the military or strategic experience necessary to carry out a mass escape By late September their discussions had stalled 197 Leon Feldhendler co organizer of the Sobibor revolt pictured in 1933 On 22 September the situation changed dramatically when roughly twenty Jewish Red Army POWs arrived at Sobibor on a transport from the Minsk Ghetto and were selected for labour Among them was Alexander Pechersky an actor songwriter and political commissar who would go on to lead the revolt The members of the escape committee approached the newly arrived Russians with excitement but also caution On one hand the Russians were soldiers and thus had the expertise to pull off an escape But on the other hand it was not clear whether there was sufficient mutual trust 198 199 Feldhendler introduced himself to Pechersky using the alias Baruch and kept an eye on him for his first several days in the camp 79 In those days Pechersky distinguished himself by not only standing up to the SS officers but by showing discretion in how he did so 200 Feldhendler invited Pechersky to share news from outside the camp at a meeting in the women s barracks Feldhendler was initially shocked to discover Pechersky s limited ability to speak Yiddish the common language of Eastern European Jews However the two were able to communicate in Russian and Pechersky agreed to attend At the meeting Pechersky gave a speech and took questions while his friend Solomon Leitman translated into Yiddish Leitman was a Polish Jew who had befriended Pechersky in the Minsk Ghetto Feldhendler and the other members of the escape committee were concerned about Pechersky s blatant communist propaganda but were nonetheless impressed by him 201 They were particularly struck by Pechersky s response to a question about whether Soviet partisans would liberate the camp No one can do our work for us 81 202 Alexander Pechersky the principal organizer of the revolt Over the next few weeks Pechersky met regularly with the escape committee These meetings were held in the women s barracks under the pretext of him having an affair with a woman known as Luka 203 204 205 Pechersky and Feldhendler agreed that the revolt would allow all 600 prisoners at least some chance of escape though they later concluded that they would not be able to include the over fifty sonderkommando workers who were kept under strict isolation in Lager III 206 203 At first Pechersky and Leitman discussed a plan to dig a tunnel from the carpenter s workshop in Lager I which was close to the south fence This idea was abandoned as too difficult If the tunnel was too deep it would hit the high water table and flood Too shallow and it would detonate one of the mines surrounding the camp Furthermore the organizers doubted that they could get all 600 prisoners through the tunnel without getting caught 203 The ultimate idea for the revolt came to Pechersky while he was assigned to the forest brigade chopping wood near Lager III While working he heard the sound of a child in the gas chamber screaming Mama Mama Overcome with his feeling of powerlessness and reminded of his own daughter Elsa he decided that the plan could not be a mere escape Rather it would have to be a revolt Over the next week Pechersky and Leitman developed what became the ultimate plan 207 Revolt The revolt began late in the afternoon on 14 October 1943 The plan consisted of two phases In the first phase the prisoners would lure the SS officers to secluded locations around the camp and kill them These covert killings would take place in the hour before evening roll call The second phase would begin at evening roll call after all the prisoners had assembled in the Lager I roll call yard The kapos would announce that the SS had ordered a special work detail in the forest outside the camp and the entire group would calmly march to freedom out the front gate If the watchmen found this unusual they would not be able to confirm their suspicions or coordinate a response since the SS men would be dead 207 Covert killings At 4 00 pm Deputy Commandant SS Untersturmfuhrer Johann Niemann rode up to the Lager I tailor s barracks on his horse 208 209 Earlier in the day the head tailor had scheduled an appointment with him to be fitted for a leather jacket taken from a murdered Jew 210 The conspirators had prioritized Niemann s execution since he was acting commandant while Commandant Reichleitner was on leave Even if the rest of the plan failed they anticipated that Niemann s death alone would cause enough chaos to allow some chance of escape 209 211 While admiring the jacket Niemann spotted one of the Russian prisoners standing by with an axe Niemann asked what he was doing there but was satisfied with the head tailor s explanation that he was simply there to repair a table 212 At the tailor s request Niemann removed his pistol holster and put on the jacket 212 The tailor asked Niemann to turn around ostensibly to check if any alterations were needed in the back When Niemann complied two prisoners crept up behind him with axes and split his head open 212 213 Niemann s body was shoved under a table 212 and his blood was covered up with sawdust 214 Johann Niemann riding through Lager II several months before he was killed in the revolt Over the next hour one SS officer was killed roughly every six minutes 215 Other than Niemann those killed in Lager I included SS Unterscharfuhrer Josef Vallaster SS Oberscharfuhrer Siegfried Graetschus Sturmfuhrer Ivan Klatt SS Unterscharfuhrer Friedrich Gaulstich and Fritz Konrad rank unknown Those killed in Lager II included SS Scharfuhrer Josef Wolf and SS Oberscharfuhrer Rudolf Beckmann Unterscharfuhrer Walter Ryba was killed in the Vorlager 216 Other officers killed include Max Bree Anton Nowak Thomas Steffl Ernst Stengelin 217 The details of many of these killings are unknown 218 The conspirators had originally planned to kill SS Oberscharfuhrer Rudolf Beckmann in a Lager II storage barracks but on his way to the appointment Beckmann had suddenly turned around and headed back to the administration building 219 Chaim Engel volunteered to kill Beckmann in his office after overhearing Feldhendler discussing the situation with Kapo Hersh Pozyczki the younger brother of Oberkapo Pozyczki 220 Engel and the younger Pozyczki went together to the administration building and Engel stabbed Beckmann while Pozyczki restrained him When Engel stabbed Beckmann he shouted For my father For my brother For all the Jews Beckmann struggled as Engel stabbed him causing Engel s knife to slip and cut his own hand 221 Once Beckmann was dead the two prisoners pushed his body under the desk not having time to better hide him or clean up 222 While the killings proceeded Szlomo Szmajzner went to the Vorlager to acquire additional guns from the watchmens barracks During the last organizational meeting on 12 October he had offered to do so himself 223 As the camp machinist Smajzner was often called to the Vorlager to clean and repair the stoves there so he was able to enter the barracks carrying a replacement stovepipe over his shoulder 224 He entered the watchmens barracks and helped himself to six rifles and ammunition However he could only fit two of the rifles inside the stovepipe so he wrapped the others in a blanket Once he was ready to go he decided that it might be safer to hunker down in the Vorlager and not return to Lager I until the bugle call That way it would seem like he had been acting alone if he was caught 225 Just before the bugle at 5 00 pm he found two child prisoners and ordered them to carry the blanket with the rifles They were scared so he forced them to do it at knifepoint 226 After the bugle call he delivered the rifles to the Russians but demanded that they let him keep one for himself 227 Breakout As roll call drew closer Pechersky became increasingly concerned that the revolt would soon be discovered He was surprised that the plan had succeeded so far but nonetheless several killings had not gone as intended 228 In particular while his plan had required that the SS men be killed discreetly an impulsive prisoner had killed Unterscharfuhrer Walter Ryba in the outdoor Vorlager garage 212 Pechersky considered beginning the breakout early but was reluctant to do so while SS Oberscharfuhrer Karl Frenzel was still alive Frenzel regarded as one of the most dangerous officers in the camp had dallied in the shower and was late for his appointment in the carpenter s shop 229 230 Close to 5 00 pm Pechersky and Leitman finally decided to give up on Frenzel and sent the bugler Judah to climb the forester s tower and blow the bugle announcing the end of the workday 231 232 At this point many prisoners in Lager I had already left their jobs and were standing around in the roll call yard or hiding in the adjacent buildings 231 233 In Lager II the prisoners were confused by the early bugle call and gathered haphazardly for the march back to Lager I Feldhendler was concerned that their unusual and disorderly lineup would attract attention from the guards so he decided to lead the march on his own He lined them up and they marched singing the German sentimental tune Es war ein Edelweiss 234 As the prisoners gathered in the roll call yard rumours about the revolt began to spread among them 233 When a watchman prodded them to line up faster a group of prisoners shouted don t you know the war is over and killed him out in the open to the shock of many others 231 Realizing that the yard had become a powder keg Pechersky attempted to inform the group of what was going on Blatt recalled Pechersky s speech as follows 235 Our day has come Most of the Germans are dead Let s die with honor Remember if anyone survives he must tell the world what has happened here 235 As the prisoners began to disperse they heard shots from Lager II These shots were fired by SS Oberscharfuhrer Erich Bauer who had returned from Chelm with a truck full of vodka Just before the bugle sounded Bauer had ordered two child prisoners to unload the vodka and carry it into the storeroom in the administration building where Beckmann had been killed At approximately the moment when Pechersky was making his speech in Lager I a watchman ran over to Bauer shouting Ein deutsch kaput Thinking that the children were responsible Bauer fired his pistol killing one of the children but missing the other 235 When the prisoners in Lager I heard these shots they ran in every direction 235 A group of them dragged a watchman off his bicycle and killed him 231 Many prisoners had to make a split second decision without knowing exactly what was going on 236 237 The plan had been kept on a need to know basis so even those who were aware of the revolt knew few details 231 Pechersky and Feldhendler ran around the yard trying to shepherd prisoners out but around 175 nonetheless stayed back 236 As the crowd surged forward there was a moment of confusion in which the watchmen in the towers did not react 238 Itzhak Lichtman reported seeing some of the remaining SS men hiding perhaps thinking that the camp was being attacked by partisans 238 After a moment the watchmen began shooting into the crowd 238 and some of the prisoners shot with the rifles procured by Szmajzner and with pistols taken from dead SS officers 221 Szmajzner hit a watchman in a tower later recalling I did not do that God did 238 239 The main gate as it appeared in March 1943 The fence was thatched with pine branches in order to block the view inside 32 One group of prisoners ran behind the carpenters shop The carpenters had left ladders pliers and axes lying in the weeds next to the south fence as a backup plan in case the main gate in the Vorlager proved inaccessible 240 241 These prisoners scaled the fence traversed the ditch and began running through the minefield towards the forest As they ran the mines exploded killing some of the escapees and attracting the attention of the watchmen in the towers who began shooting 242 Esther Raab felt a bullet graze her head above her right ear She kept running but felt herself losing strength She reached out to hold onto a woman running next to her but the woman pushed her off and shouted leave me alone 243 A larger group of prisoners headed for the Vorlager 238 These prisoners tried to escape through the main gate or over the south fence while a group of Soviet prisoners attempted to raid the armoury 238 244 245 There they were met with Frenzel who at this point had gotten out of the shower and was getting himself a pre roll call drink in the canteen Attracted by the commotion Frenzel had grabbed a machine gun and run outside Seeing the crowd of prisoners heading to the main gate he opened fire spraying the crowd of prisoners 240 Pechersky fired at Frenzel using Vallaster s pistol but missed 240 246 A group of prisoners attempted to rush the main gate but were met with another SS officer there shooting into the crowd Some scattered but others were pushed forward by the force of those behind them They trampled the main gate and flooded out 240 Others in the Vorlager tried to escape over the barbed wire behind the SS officers barracks correctly guessing that there would be fewer mines there Many prisoners who attempted to get out this way got stuck on the barbed wire 247 242 Among these prisoners was Thomas Blatt who survived because the fence collapsed on top of him As he lay on the ground he saw the prisoners in front of him blown up as they crossed the minefield 247 242 Blatt freed himself by slipping out of his coat which was stuck on the barbed wire and running across the exploded mines and into the forest 240 248 Roughly 300 prisoners escaped to the forest 249 250 Aftermath Immediately after the escape in the forest a group of fifty prisoners followed Pechersky After a few days Pechersky and seven other Russian POWs left claiming that they would return with food However they instead left to cross the Bug River and make contact with the partisans After Pechersky did not return the remaining prisoners split into smaller groups and sought separate ways 251 In 1980 Blatt asked Pechersky why he abandoned the other survivors Pechersky answered My job was done You were Polish Jews in your own terrain I belonged in the Soviet Union and still considered myself a soldier In my opinion the chances for survival were better in smaller units To tell the people straight forward we must part would not have worked You have seen they followed every step of mine we all would perish what can I say You were there We were only people The basic instincts came into play It was still a fight for survival This is the first time I hear about money collection It was a turmoil it was difficult to control everything I admit I have seen the imbalance in the distribution of the weaponry but you must understand they would rather die than to give up their arms Pechersky 252 Dutch historian and Sobibor survivor Jules Schelvis estimates that 158 inmates perished in the Sobibor revolt killed by the guards or in the minefield surrounding the camp A further 107 were killed either by the SS Wehrmacht or Orpo police units pursuing them Some 53 insurgents died of other causes between the day of the revolt and 8 May 1945 There were 58 known survivors 48 male and 10 female from among the Arbeitshaftlinge prisoners performing slave labour for the daily operation of Sobibor Their time in the camp ranged from several weeks to almost two years 253 page needed Liquidation and demolition Once the shooting stopped the surviving SS secured the camp They held the remaining prisoners in Lager I at gunpoint 254 and executed those found hiding in other areas of the camp 238 They searched for Niemann who had been left in charge of the camp while Commandant Reichleitner was on holiday 254 After the sun set the search continued in the dark since the prisoners had cut the powerlines 254 Sobibor train station where Frenzel called for backup after the revolt Around 8 00 pm Niemann s corpse was found in the tailor s barracks and Frenzel assumed command His first undertaking was to summon reinforcements thinking that the remaining prisoners would resist and worried that the escapees might launch a second attack 254 After discovering that the prisoners had cut the phone lines he went to use the phone at the Sobibor train station located a few metres outside the camp 254 255 He called multiple SS outposts in Lublin and Chelm as well as a nearby battalion of Wehrmacht soldiers 256 Reinforcements were delayed by bureaucratic confusion as well as the railway lines having been blown up by partisans 257 However a group of SS officials arrived later that night including Gottlieb Hering and Christian Wirth 258 Wirth ordered Erich Bauer to go to summon the Sicherheitspolizei from Chelm in person since Frenzel had been unable to reach them by phone Bauer balked afraid that he would be attacked on the way 259 During the night the SS combed the camp for hiding prisoners Many were armed and fought back 250 Jakub Biskubicz the putzer who Bauer had shot at during the revolt witnessed this part of the search before escaping Until midnight I lay on the earth I could hear shouts and screams from all directions At midnight I heard shooting close to me and the voices of Germans say Nobody is here They left I reached Lager IV I saw the open door of a watchtower Nobody was around I climbed the ladder of the tower and jumped outside over the fences and mines I fell on the railway and escaped to the forest 260 Early the next day 15 October the Sobibor SS were joined by numerous SS including Hermann Hofle 258 as well as eighty Wehrmacht soldiers 261 They marched the remaining 159 prisoners to Lager III and shot them 262 263 The Nazis launched a manhunt worried that the advancing Red Army would find the Polish countryside scattered with witnesses to their crimes 264 SS officers Wehrmacht soldiers and Luftwaffe airplanes swept the surrounding area 264 265 while locals were offered bounties for assisting 264 Several SS officers involved in the manhunt were put up for medals for their incisive action 266 Surviving German documents show that 59 escapees were caught in the nearby villages of Sobibor and Rozanka on 17 and 18 October The Germans recovered weapons from them including a hand grenade 267 A few days later on 21 October another five Jews were killed by Wehrmacht soldiers near Adampol and an additional eight in Sawin 267 In all records indicate that at least 107 escapees were killed specifically by the Germans while another 23 are known to have been killed by non Germans Jules Schelvis estimates that roughly 30 died in other ways before the end of the war 268 On 19 October SS chief Himmler ordered that the camp be closed 249 262 Jewish slave labourers were sent to Sobibor from Treblinka in order to dismantle the camp 269 They demolished the gas chambers and most of the camp buildings but left behind several barracks for future use by Baudienst 270 The work was finished by the end of the October and all of the Jews brought from Treblinka were shot between 1 November and 10 November 271 1 AftermathSurvivors Further information List of survivors of Sobibor Several thousand deportees to Sobibor were spared the gas chambers because they were transferred to slave labour camps in the Lublin reservation upon arriving at Sobibor These people spent several hours at Sobibor and were transferred almost immediately to slave labour projects including Majdanek and the Lublin airfield camp where materials looted from the gassed victims were prepared for shipment to Germany Other forced labour camps included Krychow Dorohucza and Trawniki Most of these prisoners were killed in the November 1943 massacre Operation Harvest Festival or perished in other ways before the end of the war 253 page needed Of the 34 313 Jews deported to Sobibor from the Netherlands according to train schedules 18 are known to have survived the war 272 In June 2019 the last known survivor of the revolt Simjon Rosenfeld who was born in Ukraine died at a retirement home near Tel Aviv Israel aged 96 273 Trials Further information Sobibor trial Most perpetrators of Operation Reinhard were never brought to trial However there were several Sobibor trials after the war 274 SS Oberscharfuhrer Erich Bauer was the first SS officer from Sobibor to be tried Bauer was arrested in 1946 when two former Jewish prisoners from Sobibor Samuel Lerer and Esther Terner recognized him at a fairground in the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin On 8 May 1950 Bauer was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity though his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment 275 276 277 Terner testified against Bauer and later recalled thinking This nothing had such power 278 The second Sobibor trials occurred shortly after against Hubert Gomerski and Johann Klier Gomerski was given a life sentence while Johann Klier was acquitted in part due to favorable testimony from Terner 279 278 The third Sobibor trials were the Hagen Trials which took place in West Germany The twelve defendants included Karl Frenzel and Kurt Bolender Frenzel was sentenced to life imprisonment for personally killing 6 Jews and participating in the mass murder of an additional 150 000 Bolender committed suicide before sentencing Five other defendants were given sentences of less than eight years and the rest were acquitted 274 In the 1970s and 1980s several SS men were retried Gomerski was ultimately freed on procedural grounds since he was deemed too ill to participate in the proceedings Subsequently Frenzel s life sentence was upheld after a retrial in which Gomerski testified 280 Shlomo Szmajzner left confronts Gustav Wagner right at a Brazilian police station in 1978 In the Soviet Union there were several rounds of trials against Soviet citizens who had served at Sobibor as watchmen In April 1963 a court in Kiev convicted eleven former watchmen sentencing ten to death and one to 15 years in prison In June 1965 more watchmen from Sobibor were convicted in Kiev 274 Another six were put to death in Krasnodar 18 In May 2011 John Demjanjuk was convicted for being an accessory to the murder of 28 060 Jews while serving as a watchman at Sobibor 281 page needed He was sentenced to five years in prison but was released pending appeal He died in a German nursing home on 17 March 2012 aged 91 while awaiting the hearing 282 The site Further information Sobibor Museum Statue of a mother and her child by Mieczyslaw Welter pl near the former site of the gas chambers The Germans were driven out of the area in July 1944 283 In August Lieutenant Colonel Semion Volsky of the Red Army photographed the site and prepared a report which is on file in the Central Archives of the Russian Ministry of Defence 284 After the end of the German occupation the camp s remaining barracks were briefly used to house Ukrainian civilians waiting to be resettled These deportees dismantled several remaining buildings for use as firewood 270 283 Parts of the Vorlager were subsequently sold to private individuals though most of the camp site was returned to the Polish forestry administration 283 A September 1945 report by Polish authorities noted that locals had dismantled most of the remaining camp buildings reusing parts of them in their own houses This report was corroborated in 2010 when a resident of nearby Zlobek Duzy discovered unusual woodwork during a renovation project Knowing that the previous owner of the house had worked near the camp they alerted researchers from the Sobibor Museum who concluded that the woodwork was taken from the exterior of a camp barracks 270 The site was also a target for grave diggers who scoured the site for valuables left by the camp s victims 269 285 When the Chief Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation studied the site in 1945 they found trenches dug by treasure seekers who had left the surface strewn with ashes and human remains 283 Grave digging continued in the area despite several prosecutions in the 1960s 286 In the first twenty years after the war the site of the camp was practically deserted 287 A journalist visiting the site in the early 1950s reported there is nothing left in Sobibor 288 When Gitta Sereny visited the site in March 1972 she initially drove past it without realizing 289 She later commented that she was struck by the quiet the loneliness above all the vastness of the place which left everything to the imagination 290 The first monuments to Sobibor victims were erected on the site in 1965 Installed by the Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites these consisted of a memorial wall an obelisk symbolizing the gas chambers a sculpture of a mother and her child and a mausoleum called the Memory Mound 288 286 The memorial wall originally listed Jews as just one of the groups persecuted at Sobibor but the plaque was revised in 1993 to reflect the general historical consensus that all or nearly all victims of Sobibor were Jews 291 286 In 1993 the Wlodawa Museum took over the memorial from the forestry administration They established the Sobibor Museum which opened on 14 October 1993 the 50th anniversary of the revolt 292 The museum was housed in a post war building within the former site of Lager II which had previously served as a kindergarten 293 294 In 2012 the memorial changed hands once again this time falling under the control of the Majdanek State Museum who held a design competition sponsored by the governments of Poland Israel the Netherlands and Slovakia 295 The site of the Vorlager pictured in 2012 The green house is the only remaining building that was part of the camp Today it is a private residence 296 297 In 2018 the mass graves in the former area of Lager III were covered with white stones and construction began on a new museum building 293 However most of the area of the site is still either privately owned or under the control of the forestry administration and the camp s arrival ramp was used for loading lumber as recently as 2015 297 293 Since the forestry tower was demolished in 2004 after decaying nearly to the point of collapse 15 the only remaining building from the camp is the green post office This building is privately owned 297 293 Research In the immediate aftermath of the war several investigations were carried out Starting in 1945 the Chief Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation and Central Committee of Polish Jews investigated Sobibor interviewing witnesses and surveying the site 270 In 1946 Nachman Blumental published a study entitled The Death Camp Sobibor in 1946 which drew on work by the other investigations and information about Sobibor was gathered for The Black Book of Polish Jewry 270 Until the 1990s little was known about the physical site of the camp beyond what survivors and perpetrators could recall Archaeological investigations at Sobibor began in the 1990s 272 In 2001 a team led by Andrzej Kola from Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun investigated the former area of Lager III finding seven pits with a total volume of roughly 19 000 cubic meters While some of these pits appear to have been mass graves others may have been used for open air cremation 298 The team also found pieces of barbed wire embedded in trees which they identified as remnants of the camp s perimeter fence Thus they were able to partially map out the perimeter of the former camp site which had not previously been known 299 Archaeological excavations in the former area of the camp pictured in 2014 In 2007 two archaeologists named Wojciech Mazurek and Yoram Haimi began to conduct small scale investigations Since 2013 the camp has been excavated by a joint team of Polish Israeli Slovak and Dutch archeologists led by Mazurek Haimi and Ivar Schute In accordance with Jewish law these excavations avoided mass graves and were supervised by Polish rabbis Their discovery of the foundations of the gas chambers in 2014 attracted worldwide media attention Between 2011 and 2015 thousands of personal items belonging to victims were uncovered by the teams At the ramp large dumps of household items including glasses combs cutlery plates watches coins razors thimbles scissors toothpaste were found but few valuables Schute suggests that these items are indicative of victims hopes to survive as forced labourers In Lager III the extermination area household items were not found but gold fillings dentures pendants earrings and a gold ring were Schute notes that such objects could have been concealed by naked individuals and argues that it is evidence for the processing of bodies at this location 272 In 2020 the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum acquired a collection of photographs and documents from the descendants of Johann Niemann These photos show daily life amongst the camp staff Many show the perpetrators drinking playing music and playing chess with one another These photos are significant because there had previously only been two known photographs of Sobibor during its operation These materials have been published in a German language book and ebook by Metropol Verlag entitled Fotos aus Sobibor The photos received voluminous press coverage because two of them appear to show John Demjanjuk in the camp 300 301 302 Dramatisations Sasha Pechersky was portrayed by Rutger Hauer in Escape from Sobibor The mechanics of Sobibor death camp were the subject of interviews filmed on location for the 1985 documentary film Shoah by Claude Lanzmann In 2001 Lanzmann combined unused interviews with survivor Yehuda Lerner shot during the making of Shoah along with new footage of Lerner to tell the story of the revolt and escape in his followup documentary Sobibor October 14 1943 4 p m 303 A highly fictionalized version of the Sobibor revolt was depicted in the 1978 American TV miniseries Holocaust The revolt was dramatized in the 1987 British TV film Escape from Sobibor directed by Jack Gold and adapted from the book by Richard Rashke The film s consultants included survivors Thomas Blatt Shlomo Szmajzner and Esther Raab More recently the revolt was depicted in the 2018 Russian movie Sobibor directed by Konstantin Khabensky The movie presents Sasha Pechersky as a Russian patriotic figure a depiction criticized by Garry Kasparov among others 284 Notes a b Arad 1987 pp 373 374 Schelvis 2007 pp 13 14 Arad 1987 pp 32 33 a b Leni Yahil Ina Friedman Ḥayah Galai The Holocaust the fate of European Jewry 1932 1945 Oxford University Press US 1991 pp 160 161 204 ISBN 0 19 504523 8 Nicosia and Niewyk The Columbian Guide to the Holocaust 154 Silberklang 2013 pp 364 365 sfn error no target CITEREFSilberklang2013 help Schelvis 2007 p 13 Bem 2015 p 46 Schelvis 2007 p 23 Bem 2015 pp 48 50 Schelvis 2007 pp 26 27 Schelvis 2007 p 26 Schelvis 2007 pp 27 28 a b Schelvis 2007 p 28 a b c d Schelvis 2007 p 29 Cuppers et al 2020 pp 136 137 a b Cuppers et al 2020 p 134 a b c Schelvis 2007 p 36 Bem 2015 p 54 Schelvis 2007 p 27 a b c Bem 2015 p 56 Arad 1987 pp 30 31 Schelvis 2014 p 100 Schelvis 2014 pp 100 101 Arad 1987 p 184 a b Schelvis 2007 p 38 Cuppers et al 2020 p 132 Webb 2017 p 39 a b Schelvis 2007 p 103 Bem 2015 pp 73 74 Bem 2015 pp 74 76 a b Cuppers et al 2020 p 152 Schelvis 2007 p 37 Schelvis 2007 pp 69 76 a b c d Cuppers et al 2020 p 136 Bem 2015 p 70 Bem 2015 pp 71 73 Bem 2015 p 73 Schelvis 2007 p 77 Cuppers et al 2020 p 136 143 a b Webb 2017 p 37 a b Webb 2017 pp 313 314 a b Cuppers et al 2020 p 136 138 Bem 2015 pp 67 68 Cuppers et al 2020 pp 134 135 Bem 2015 pp 52 65 73 a b Bem 2015 p 211 Cuppers et al 2020 p 130 Schelvis 2007 pp 29 37 a b Cuppers et al 2020 p 139 Schelvis 2007 pp 34 66 Bem 2007 p 192 sfn error no target CITEREFBem2007 help Webb 2017 p 40 Bem 2015 p 74 Schelvis 2007 p 147 Cuppers et al 2020 p 140 Bem 2015 p 7 Rashke 2013 p 34 a b Arad 1987 pp 257 258 Bem 2015 p 72 a b Arad 1987 p 249 Rashke 2013 pp 96 98 Bem 2015 pp 188 119 Bem 2015 p 69 a b Rashke 2013 p 168 Schelvis 2007 p 88 a b Bem 2015 p 186 a b Bem 2015 p 185 Bem 2015 p 212 Bem 2015 pp 189 190 192 356 Schelvis 2007 p 11 Arad 1987 p 274 a b Bem 2015 p 245 Bem 2015 p 201 Rashke 2013 p 159 Rashke 2013 p 433 a b c Bem 2015 p 188 Rashke 2013 p 162 See also endnote a b Schelvis 2007 p 150 Rashke 2013 p 163 a b Schelvis 2007 pp 150 151 a b Bem 2015 p 187 Bem 2015 pp 199 201 Arad 1987 p 278 a b c Bem 2015 pp 186 188 Arad 1987 p 277 Arad 1987 pp 275 279 a b Schelvis 2007 p 91 Bem 2015 pp 196 197 Bem 2015 pp 197 198 Bem 2015 pp 198 199 a b Bem 2015 p 237 Arad 1987 p 272 Bem 2015 p 68 a b Schelvis 2007 p 87 Bem 2015 p 238 Rashke 2013 p 243 a b Schelvis 2007 p 86 Bem 2015 p 183 Arad 1987 p 271 Bem 2015 pp 183 184 Arad 1987 p 252 a b Schelvis 2007 p 84 Bem 2015 pp 188 189 Arad 1987 p 251 Arad 1987 p 269 Rather than wearing striped uniforms as was common in concentration camps Sobibor prisoners wore ordinary clothing Cuppers et al 2020 p 181 Arad 1987 p 153 a b Schelvis 2007 pp 33 36 Schelvis 2007 p 245 a b Bem 2015 p 116 Schelvis 2007 pp 29 31 Bem 2015 p 110 Schelvis 2014 p 33 Bem 2015 p 109 Arad 1987 pp 117 118 141 143 Webb 2017 p 314 Sereny 1974 p 131 Bem 2015 pp 114 115 Schelvis 2007 p 260 Bem 2015 p 48 Schelvis 2007 p 259 Cuppers et al 2020 p 175 Schelvis 2007 p 264 Bem 2015 p 115 Bem 2015 p 372 Schelvis 2007 pp 112 255 Bem 2015 p 308 Schelvis 2007 pp 263 264 Bem 2015 pp 112 113 Bem 2015 p 111 a b Schelvis 2007 pp 245 246 Schelvis 2007 pp 84 85 245 Schelvis 2007 p 247 Cuppers et al 2020 p 191 a b Bem 2015 p 122 a b c Schelvis 2007 p 34 Bem 2015 pp 120 121 Schelvis 2007 pp 63 66 Bem 2015 p 125 Schelvis 2007 p 35 Bem 2015 p 130 Bem 2015 p 124 Schelvis 2007 pp 181 249 250 Bem 2015 p 220 a b Schelvis 2007 pp 83 84 Schelvis 2007 p 89 Bem 2015 p 194 Bem 2015 pp 195 196 Schelvis 2007 p 92 Bem 2015 p 195 Rashke 2013 p 188 Bem 2015 pp 199 200 Rashke 2013 p 144 Arad 1987 pp 152 153 Schelvis 2007 p 258 Bem 2015 pp 386 388 Rashke 1982 p 438 Bem 2015 p 123 Bem 2015 pp 255 256 Schelvis 2007 pp 136 137 Schelvis 2007 p 83 Bem 2015 p 200 a b Rashke 2013 p 162 Rashke 2013 pp 161 162 Rashke 2013 pp 273 274 Schelvis 2007 p 69 Schelvis 2007 pp 252 253 Sereny 1974 pp 252 253 Schelvis 2014 pp 71 72 Schelvis 2007 p 100 Testimony ofSS ScharfuhrerErich Fuchsabout his own installation of the at least 200 HP V shaped 8 cylinder water cooled petrol engine at Sobibor Arad 1987 p 76 Sobibor The Holocaust Explained Jewish Cultural Centre London Archived from the original on 19 September 2015 Retrieved 20 September 2015 via Internet Archive As part of the concealment of the camp s purpose some Dutch Jews dislodging at the ramp were ordered to write calming letters to their relatives in the Netherlands with made up details about the welcome and living conditions Immediately after that they were taken to the gas chambers CS1 maint unfit URL link Michel Velleman Sobibor 2 juli 1943 Digitaal Monument Joodse Gemeenschap in Nederland Joods Monument 2013 Retrieved 17 May 2013 Matt Lebovic 70 years after revolt Sobibor secrets are yet to be unearthed Times of Israel 14 October 2013 Retrieved 15 June 2017 Chris Webb Carmelo Lisciotto Victor Smart 2009 Sobibor Death Camp HolocaustResearchProject org Holocaust Education amp Archive Research Team CS1 maint uses authors parameter link Eberhardt 2015 p 124 Schelvis 2007 p 198 Bem 2015 p 161 Schelvis 2007 p 197 Bem 2015 pp 219 275 Schelvis 2007 pp 197 198 Schelvis 2007 p 199 Bem 2015 p 165 Schelvis 2007 p 224 a b Bem 2015 p 178 Schelvis 2007 p 4 Bem 2015 pp 162 164 Bem 2015 pp 165 166 Bem 2015 p 117 Bem 2015 p 182 Klee et al 1991 p 232 Lower 2011 pp 156 157 Arad 1987 pp 219 275 a b Schelvis 2007 pp 144 145 Rashke 1982 p 200 a b Schelvis 2007 pp 147 148 Schelvis 2007 pp 149 150 Rashke 1982 pp 210 214 215 Rashke 1982 pp 218 226 Rashke 1982 pp 236 241 Rashke 1982 p 236 a b c Schelvis 2007 p 152 Rashke 1982 pp 245 252 253 Schelvis 2007 identifies Luka as Gertrude Poppert Schoenborn a German Jew who had fled to Amsterdam with her husband Rashke 1982 p 243 a b Schelvis 2007 p 153 Schelvis 2007 pp 160 161 a b Rashke 1982 p 299 Schelvis 2007 p 161 Schelvis 2007 p 160 a b c d e Schelvis 2007 p 162 Rashke 1982 p 300 Erenburg Grossman Black Book Uprising in Sobibor in Russian Archived 14 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 2009 04 21 Blatt Thomas 1998 Sobibor the Forgotten Revolt Holocaust Education Project p 78 Schelvis 2007 pp 163 164 Schelvis 2007 p 175 1 See Rashke pp 546 547 for discussion of evidence regarding deaths of Niemann Vallaster Graetschus Beckmann and Wolf 2 See Schelvis p 169 Note 1 for discussion of evidence regarding the revolt in general 3 See p 171 Note 41 for discussion of evidence regarding Graetschus s death 4 See Rashke pp 303 304 and Schelvis p 163 for accounts of the killing of Graetschus and Klatt 5 See Rashke pp 300 301 for an account of the killing of Konrad and Vallaster 6 See Rashke pp 305 306 for an account of Gaulstich s death 7 See Rashke pp 307 308 for an account of Beckmann s death 8 See Rashke p 295 for an account of Wolf s killing 9 See Schelvis pp 163 164 for an account of Ryba s death 10 Note that some officers names have been misspelled in some sources e g Schelvis p 263 notes that at the Sobibor trial Vallaster s name was incorrectly spelled Fallaster or Fallaste see Schelvis 263 Rashke 1982 pp 295 296 Rashke 1982 p 298 a b Schelvis 2007 p 163 Rashke 1982 p 307 Rashke 1982 pp 283 284 Rashke 1982 p 303 Rashke 1982 pp 304 305 Rashke 1982 pp 309 310 Rashke 1982 p 311 Rashke 1982 pp 312 313 Schelvis 2007 pp 162 163 Rashke 1982 p 292 a b c d e Schelvis 2007 p 164 Rashke 1982 pp 308 309 a b Rashke 1982 p 312 Rashke 1982 p 309 a b c d Rashke 1982 p 313 a b Schelvis 2007 pp 173 174 Rashke 1982 p 257 a b c d e f g Schelvis 2007 p 165 Rashke 1982 pp 320 330 a b c d e Schelvis 2007 p 166 Rashke 1982 pp 313 343 a b c Rashke 1982 p 314 Rashke 1982 pp 343 344 Rashke 1982 pp 314 549 It is unknown whether or not the attack on the armoury succeeded Rashke 1982 described it as a confusing issue What is known for certain is that the attack took place and that SS Oberscharfuhrer Werner Dubois was severely injured after being struck with an ax or a club A number of accounts suggest that the attack succeeded as does a German report from the following day Pechersky himself reported that the attack failed though he allowed that another group might have succeeded Rashke doubts that the attack succeeded since he suspects that the prisoners who escaped would have been better armed if they had raided the armoury He suggests that the German report can be explained away as a face saving invention Rashke 1982 p 319 a b Schelvis 2007 pp 165 166 Rashke 1982 pp 330 331 a b Schelvis 2007 p 168 a b Rashke 1982 p 4 Jules Schelvis 2003 Vernichtungslager Sobibor UNRAST Verlag Hamburg Munster p 212ff Toivi Blatt interviews Sasha Pechersky about Luka in 1980 Retrieved on 2009 05 08 a b Schelvis Jules 2004 Vernietigingskamp Sobibor De Bataafsche Leeuw ISBN 978 9067076296 Uitgeverij Van Soeren amp Co booksellers a b c d e Schelvis 2007 p 174 Rashke 1982 p 3 Schelvis 2007 pp 175 179 Schelvis 2007 pp 176 177 179 a b Schelvis 2007 p 173 Schelvis 2007 pp 178 179 Arad 1987 p 386 Schelvis 2007 p 177 a b Rashke 2013 p 4 Schelvis 2007 p 188 a b c Schelvis 2007 pp 180 181 Rashke 2013 p 3 Schelvis 2007 p 179 a b Schelvis 2007 p 180 Schelvis 2007 p 182 a b Schelvis 2007 p 191 a b c d e Bem Marek Mazurek Wojciech 2012 Sobibor Archaelogical Research Conducted on the Site of the Former German Extermination Centre in Sobibor 2000 2011 Foundation for Polish German Reconciliation Schelvis 2007 p 190 a b c Schute 2018 The Case of Sobibor A German Extermination Camp in Eastern Poland Last survivor of Sobibor death camp uprising dies BBC News 4 June 2019 Retrieved 4 June 2019 a b c Arad Yitzhak 2018 Appendix B The Fate of the Perpetrators of Operation Reinhard The Operation Reinhard Death Camps Revised and Expanded Edition Belzec Sobibor Treblinka Indiana University Press pp 399 400 ISBN 978 0 253 03447 2 Schelvis 2007 pp 2 247 Dick de Mildt In the Name of the People Perpetrators of Genocide pp 381 383 Brill 1996 Klee Ernst Dressen Willi Riess Volker The Good Old Days The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders ISBN 1 56852 133 2 a b Rashke 2013 p 438 Schelvis 2007 p 2 Schelvis 2007 pp 254 255 Douglas 2016 pp 2 252 Douglas 2016 pp 253 257 a b c d Cuppers et al 2020 p 273 a b Bezmozgis David 14 October 2020 The Afterlife Tablet Magazine Retrieved 28 February 2021 Bem 2015 pp 292 293 a b c Cuppers et al 2020 p 274 Bem 2015 p 340 a b Bem 2015 pp 340 342 Sereny 1974 p 114 Sereny 1974 p 145 Rashke 2013 pp 493 512 Bem 2015 pp 11 337 353 a b c d Cuppers et al 2020 p 275 Bem 2015 p 352 Bem 2015 p 353 Cuppers et al 2020 pp 137 275 a b c Bem 2015 p 360 Bem 2015 pp 220 221 Bem 2015 pp 106 107 Sopke Kerstin Moulson Geir 28 January 2020 Berlin museum unveils photos possibly featuring Demjanjuk at Sobibor death camp Times of Israel Retrieved 5 June 2020 Lebovic Matt 3 February 2020 Sobibor photo album remaps Nazi death camp famous for 1943 prisoner revolt Times of Israel Retrieved 5 June 2020 Cuppers et al 2020 Weissman 2020 p 139 ReferencesArad Yitzhak 1987 Belzec Sobibor Treblinka The Operation Reinhard Death Camps Indiana University Press ISBN 0253213053 Bem Marek 2015 Sobibor Extermination Camp 1942 1943 PDF Translated by Karpinski Tomasz Sarzynska Wojtowicz Natalia Stichting Sobibor ISBN 978 83 937927 2 6 Blatt Thomas 1997 From the Ashes of Sobibor Northwestern University Press ISBN 0810113023 Chmielewski Jakub 2014 Oboz zaglady w Sobiborze Death camp in Sobibor in Polish Lublin Osrodek Brama Grodzka Retrieved 25 September 2014 Cuppers Martin Gerhardt Annett Graf Karin Hanschen Steffen Kahrs Andreas Lepper Anne Ross Florian 2020 Fotos aus Sobibor in German Metropol Verlag ISBN 978 3 86331 506 1 Douglas Lawrence 2016 The Right Wrong Man John Demjanjuk and the Last Great Nazi War Crimes Trial Princeton University Press ISBN 978 1 4008 7315 9 Eberhardt Piotr 2015 Estimated Numbers of Victims of the Nazi Extermination Camps Ethnic Groups and Population Changes in Twentieth Century Eastern Europe Routledge ISBN 978 1317470960 Gilead Isaac Haimi Yoram Mazurek Wojciech 2010 Excavating Nazi Extermination Centres Present Pasts 1 doi 10 5334 pp 12 Gross Jan Tomasz 2012 Golden Harvest Events at the Periphery of the Holocaust Oxford University Press ISBN 978 0199939312 Klee Ernst Dressen Willi Riess Volker 1991 The Good Old Days The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders Konecky Konecky ISBN 978 1 56852 133 6 Rashke Richard 2013 1982 Escape from Sobibor Open Road Integrated Media Incorporated ISBN 978 1 4804 5851 2 Rashke Richard L 1982 Escape from Sobibor Houghton Mifflin ISBN 978 0 395 31831 7 Schelvis Jules 2007 Sobibor A History of a Nazi Death Camp Berg Oxford amp New Cork ISBN 978 1 84520 419 8 Schelvis Jules 2014 2007 Sobibor A History of a Nazi Death Camp Translated by Dixon Karin Bloomsbury Publishing ISBN 978 1472589064 Schute Ivar 2018 Collecting Artifacts on Holocaust Sites A Critical review of Archaeological Research in Ybenheer Westerbork and Sobibor International Journal of Historical Archaeology 22 3 593 613 doi 10 1007 s10761 017 0437 y S2CID 149183058 Sereny Gitta 1974 Into That Darkness from Mercy Killing to Mass Murder McGraw Hill ISBN 0 07 056290 3 Sobibor Museum 2014 2006 Historia obozu Camp history Dr Krzysztof Skwirowski Majdanek State Museum Branch in Sobibor Panstwowe Muzeum na Majdanku Oddzial Muzeum Bylego Obozu Zaglady w Sobiborze archived from the original on 7 May 2013 retrieved 25 September 2014 Webb Chris 2017 Sobibor Death Camp History Biographies Remembrance Columbia University Press ISBN 978 3 8382 6966 5 Weissman Gary 2020 Yehuda Lerner s Living Words Translation and Transcription in Sobibor October 14 1943 4 p m In McGlothlin Erin Prager Brad eds The Construction of Testimony Claude Lanzmann s Shoah and Its Outtakes Wayne State University Press ISBN 978 0 8143 4735 5 Further readingBialowitz Philip Bialowitz Joseph 2010 A Promise at Sobibor University of Wisconsin Press ISBN 978 0 299 24800 0 Blatt Thomas 1997 From the Ashes of Sobibor A Story of Survival Northwestern University Press ISBN 978 0 8101 1302 2 Freiberg Dov 2007 To Survive Sobibor Gefen Publishing House ISBN 978 965 229 388 6 Lower Wendy 2011 The Diary of Samuel Golfard and the Holocaust in Galicia Rowman Altamira ISBN 978 0 75912 078 5 Novitch Miriam 1980 Sobibor Martyrdom and Revolt Documents and Testimonies Holocaust Library ISBN 0 89604 016 X Ticho Kurt 2008 My Legacy Holocaust History and the Unfinished Task of Pope John Paul II Muzeum Pojezierza Leczynsko Wlodawskiego ISBN 978 8361393207 Zielinski Andrew 2003 Conversations with Regina Hyde Park Press ISBN 0 9750766 0 4 Walsh Ann Markham 2016 Dancing Through Darkness Cable Publishing ISBN 978 1 934980 07 1 Wewryk Kalmen 2008 To Sobibor and Back An Eyewitness Account Muzeum Pojezierza Leczynsko Wlodawskiego ISBN 978 8361393160 External linksWikimedia Commons has media related to Sobibor extermination camp Stichting Sobibor the Dutch Sobibor Foundation Collection of interviews from NIOD Sobibor Museum Nooit Voltooid Verleden Archaeological and testimonial documents Sobibor entry at the Holocaust Research Project Kurt Ticho testimony Toivi Blatt testimony Esther Raab testimony Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Sobibor extermination camp amp oldid 1052283447, wikipedia, wiki, book,

books

, library,

article

, read, download, free, free download, mp3, video, mp4, 3gp, jpg, jpeg, gif, png, picture, music, song, movie, book, game, games.