List of survivors of Sobibór
This is a list of survivors of the Sobibór extermination camp. The list is divided into two groups. The first group consists of the 58 known survivors of those selected to perform forced labour for the daily operation of the Sobibór camp. The second group consists of those who were deported to Sobibór but were selected there for forced labor in other camps. In contrast, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum states that at least 167,000 people were murdered in the Sobibór extermination camp. The Dutch Sobibor Foundation lists a calculated total of 170,165 people and cites the Höfle Telegram among its sources while noting that other estimates range up to 300,000.
Survivors among Sobibór's forced labourers
This list might be incomplete, but it is as complete as current records allow. There were 58 known Sobibór survivors: 48 male and 10 female. Except where noted, the survivors were Arbeitshäftlinge, inmates who performed slave-labour for the daily operation of the camp, who escaped during the camp-wide revolt on October 14, 1943. The vast majority of the people taken to Sobibór did not survive but were shot or gassed immediately upon arrival. Of the Arbeitshäftlinge forced to work as Sonderkommando in Lager III, the camp's extermination area where the gas chambers and most of the mass graves were located, no one survived.
|Bahir, MosheMoshe Bahir||Jul 19, 1927||Nov 2002||75||Polish||Jewish||May 24, 1942||Witness at the Eichmann trial. Changed name from Moshe Szklarek.|
|Bardach, AntoniusAntonius Bardach||May 16, 1909||Approx 1959||50||Polish||Jewish||Mar 30, 1943|
|Bialowitz, PhilipPhilip Bialowitz||Nov 25, 1929||Alive||Polish||Jewish||April 28, 1943||Brother of Symcha Bialowitz.|
|Bialowitz, SymchaSymcha Bialowitz||Dec 6, 1912||Feb 2014||101||Polish||Jewish||Apr 28, 1943||Brother of Philip Bialowitz.|
|Birnbaum, RachelRachel Birnbaum||1926||Mar 2013||87||Polish||Jewish||Hid in the forest after arriving at the camp by train.|
|Biskubicz, JakobJakob Biskubicz||Mar 17, 1926||Mar 2002||75 or 76||Polish||Jewish||Jun 1942||Joined the Parczew partisans.|
|Blatt, Thomas "Toivi"Thomas "Toivi" Blatt||Apr 15, 1927||Alive||87||Polish||Jewish||Apr 23, 1943||Among Oct 14 revolt's plotters. Duped SS-Scharführer Josef Wolf into going to the death-trap prepared for him. Escaped in revolt. While in hiding, shot in face by Polish farmer Bojarski's men—survived this by playing dead. Witness in post-war testimony against SS Staff Sergeant Karl Frenzel. Wrote Sobibor historical book From The Ashes of Sobibor and assisted with writing of Escape from Sobibor—therefore also a frequent target of hate mail from Holocaust-deniers.|
|Cukierman, HerschelHerschel Cukierman||Apr 15, 1893||July 1979||86||Polish||Jewish||May 1942||Father of Josef Cukierman.|
|Cukierman, JosefJosef Cukierman||May 26, 1930||Jun 15, 1963||33||Polish||Jewish||May 1942||Son of Herschel Cukierman|
|Duniec, JosefJosef Duniec||Dec 21, 1912||Dec 1, 1965||52||Polish||Jewish||March 30, 1943||Died of a heart attack one day before he was expected to testify at the Sobibor trial.|
|Cymiel, LeonLeon Cymiel||Feb 20, 1924||1997||73||Polish||Jewish||Also spelled Szymiel. Testimony available at ushmm.org|
|Elster, ShlomoShlomo Elster||Dec 1, 1908||1992||83||Polish||Jewish||Nov 1942|
|Engel, ChaimChaim Engel||Jan 10, 1916||Jul 4, 2003||87||Polish||Jewish||Nov 6, 1942||Killed SS-Oberscharführer (Staff Sergeant) Rudolf Beckmann during revolt. Escaped with Selma Wijnberg-Engel and survived the rest of the war in hiding. The two later married.|
|Engel-Wijnberg, SelmaSelma Engel-Wijnberg||May 15, 1922||Alive||92||Dutch||Jewish||April 9, 1943||Escaped with Chaim Engel during the revolt and they survived the rest of the war in hiding together. The two later married.|
|Feldhendler, LeonLeon Feldhendler||1910||Apr 6, 1945||34 or 35||Polish||Jewish||early 1943||One of the main organizers of the revolt. After fighting as a partisan, made his way back to Lublin, where he killed by local anti-Semites.|
|Freiberg, DovDov Freiberg||May 15, 1927||March 2008||80||Polish||Jewish||May 15, 1942||Witness at the Eichmann trial.|
|Gokkes, CatharinaCatharina Gokkes||Sep 1, 1923||Sep 20, 1944||21||Dutch||Jewish||Apr 9, 1943||Deported from Westerbork on April 6, 1943, together with Ursula Stern and Selma Wijnberg with whom she had become friends in Kamp Vught. Escaped Sobibor and fought with the Parczew partisans. Gokkes was fatally shot the day before hostilities in the region ceased. Sometimes listed under the nicknames "Kathy", "Katty" or "Kitty".[a]|
|Gerstenberg, HermanHerman Gerstenberg||Oct 8, 1909||Jun 8, 1987||77||Polish||Jewish||Mar 14, 1943||Changed his last name to Posner or Pozner.|
|Goldfarb, Mordechai "Moshe"Mordechai "Moshe" Goldfarb||Mar 15, 1920||Jun 8, 1984||64||Polish||Jewish||Nov 6, 1942||Joined the Parczew partisans.|
|Herszman, JosefJosef Herszman||1925||2005||80||Polish||Jewish||1942|
|Hochman, MosheMoshe Hochman||Polish||Jewish|
|Honigman, ZyndelZyndel Honigman||Apr 10, 1910||Jul 1989||79||Polish||Jewish||Nov 1942||Escaped from the camp—twice—neither time as part of the camp-wide revolt. Joined the Parczew partisans.|
|Kohn, AbramAbram Kohn||Jul 25, 1910||Jan 19, 1986||75||Polish||Jewish||May 1942|
|Kopp, JosefJosef Kopp||1944 or 1945||Polish||Jewish||1942||He and Shlomo Podchlebnik escaped by killing a Ukrainian guard on July 27, 1943 while on duties outside of the camp in the nearby village of Zlobek. Kopp (also spelled Kopf) was later killed after the camp's liberation.|
|Korenfeld, ChaimChaim Korenfeld||May 15, 1923||Aug 13, 2002||79||Polish||Jewish||Apr 28, 1943|
|Powroznik, ChaimChaim Powroznik||1911||unknown||Polish||Jewish||Testimony available.[b]|
|Leist, ChaimChaim Leist||Bet. 1906 & 1911||Oct 2005||Polish||Jewish||Apr 23, 1943|
|Lerer, SamuelSamuel Lerer||Oct 1, 1922||Alive||Polish||Jewish||May 1942||Identified gas chamber executioner Hermann Erich Bauer after the war in Berlin, leading to his arrest.|
|Lerner, JehudaJehuda Lerner||Jul 22, 1926||2007||81 years||Polish||Jewish||Sep 1943||He and Red Army P.O.W. Arkady Moishejwicz Wajspapir killed two guards, SS-Oberscharführer Siegfried Graetschus and Volksdeutscher Ivan Klatt, with axe blows during the revolt. Joined the Parczew partisans.|
|Lichtman, AdaAda Lichtman||Jan 1, 1915||unknown||Polish||Jewish||Jun 1943||Joined the Parczew partisans. Witness at the Eichmann trial. Married Jitschak Lichtman in 1950.|
|Lichtman, JitschakJitschak Lichtman||Dec 10, 1908||1992||83 or 84||Polish||Jewish||May 15, 1942||Joined the Parczew partisans. Married Ada Lichtman (Fischer) in 1950.|
|Litwinowski, YefimYefim Litwinowski||Soviet||Jewish||Sep 22, 1943||Red Army soldier.|
|Margulies, AbrahamAbraham Margulies||Jan 25, 1921||1984||62 or 63||Polish||Jewish||late May 1942||Joined the Parczew partisans|
|Menche, ChaskielChaskiel Menche||Jan 7, 1910||1984||73 or 74||Polish||Jewish||Jun 1942|
|Merenstein, MojzeszMojzesz Merenstein||Jan 15, 1899||Dec 1985||86||Polish||Jewish|
|Metz, ZeldaZelda Metz||May 1, 1925||1980||54 or 55||Polish||Jewish||Dec 20, 1942||Pretended to be Catholic after the escape|
|Pechersky, Alexander "Sasha"Alexander "Sasha" Pechersky||Feb 22, 1909||Jan 19, 1990||80||Ukrainian||Jewish||September 22, 1943||Chief organizer and leader of the revolt. Red Army soldier. Joined the Parczew partisans.|
|Platnitzky, Nachum "Niam"Nachum "Niam" Platnitzky||1913||unknown||Belorussian||Jewish||Surname also listed as Plotnikow. Was living in Pinsk, Belarus after the war.|
|Podchlebnik, ShlomoShlomo Podchlebnik||Feb 15, 1907||Feb 1973||66||Polish||Jewish||Apr 28, 1943||He and Josef Kopp escaped by killing a Ukrainian guard on July 27, 1943 while on duties outside of the camp in the nearby village of Zlobek.|
|Poppert–Schönborn, Gertrud "Luka"Gertrud "Luka" Poppert–Schönborn||June 29, 1914||c. Nov 30, 1943||29||German||Jewish||After a successful escape, she was never seen again; her fate remains unknown.|
|Raab, EstherEsther Raab||Jun 11, 1922||Alive||Polish||Jewish||Dec 20, 1942|
|Rosenfeld, SimjonSimjon Rosenfeld||1922||Alive||Soviet||Jewish||Sep 22, 1943||Israel|
|Rotenberg, AjzikAjzik Rotenberg||1925||1994||69||Polish||Jewish||May 12, 1943||Joined the Parczew partisans. Murdered in 1994 in Israel by two Palestinian terrorists.|
|Serchuk, JosephJoseph Serchuk||1919||Nov 6, 1993||74||Polish||Jewish||Surname also spelled Serczuk.|
|Serchuk, DavidDavid Serchuk||1948||Polish||Jewish||Surname also spelled Serczuk.|
|Shubayev, AlexanderAlexander Shubayev||1945||Belorussian||Jewish||Red Army soldier. Killed deputy commandant Johann Niemann with an axe to his head. Joined the Parczew partisans. Was later killed fighting the Germans. Surname also spelled Szubajew.|
|Stern, UrsulaUrsula Stern||Aug 28, 1926||1985||58 or 59||German||Jewish||Apr 9, 1943||Joined the Parczew partisans. Witness at Hagen trial. Changed name to Ilana Safran after the war.|
|Szmajzner, StanisławStanisław Szmajzner||Mar 13, 1927||Mar 3, 1989||61||Polish||Jewish||May 12, 1942||Joined the Parczew partisans.|
|Tabarinsky, BorisBoris Tabarinsky||1917||unknown||Belorussian||Jewish||Sep 22, 1943|
|Thomas, Kurt TichoKurt Ticho Thomas||Apr 11, 1914||Jun 8, 2009||95||Czech||Jewish||Nov 6, 1942||After the war, he brought charges against SS officers Hubert Gomerski and Johann Klier.|
|Trager, Israel (Shrulke)Israel (Shrulke) Trager||Mar 5, 1906||Aug 1, 1969||63||Polish||Jewish||Mar 1943|
|Waizen, AleksejAleksej Waizen||May 30, 1922||Alive||Ukrainian||Jewish||autumn 1943|
|Wajspapir, Arkady MoishejwiczArkady Moishejwicz Wajspapir||1921||Alive||Russian||Jewish||Sep 22, 1943||He and Jehuda Lerner killed two guards with axe blows, SS-Oberscharführer Siegfried Graetschus and Volksdeutscher Ivan Klatt, during the revolt. Red Army soldier. Joined the Parczew partisans.|
|Wang, AbrahamAbraham Wang||Jan 2, 1921||1978||57||Polish||Jewish||Apr 23, 1943||Escaped on Jul 27, 1943, along with four other prisoners.|
|Weiss, HellaHella Weiss||Nov 25, 1925||Dec 1988||63||Polish||Jewish||Dec 20, 1942||Joined the Parczew partisans. Later joined the Red Army.|
|Wewerik, KalmenKalmen Wewerik||Jun 25, 1906||unknown||Polish||Jewish||Nov 1942||He fought with the partisans after the revolt.|
|Zielinsky, ReginaRegina Zielinsky||Sep 2, 1924||Sep 2014||Polish||Jewish||Dec 20, 1942|
|Ziss, MeierMeier Ziss||Nov 15, 1927||Alive||Polish||Jewish||May 1942|
Survivors among those selected at Sobibór for forced labour in other camps
Selections sometimes took place at the point of departure, often well before people were forced to board the trains, but there are also reports of selections from trains already en route to the camps. In his June 20, 1942 report, Revier-Leutnant der Schutzpolizei Josef Frischmann, in charge of the guard unit on the train, wrote that "51 Jews capable of work" were removed from the transport at Lublin station. The train had departed Vienna on June 14, 1942, ostensibly for Izbica but the remaining 949 people on board were delivered to their final destination in Sobibór.[c]
The precise number of those spared upon arrival in the Sobibor extermination camp is not known but there were occasional selections there, for forced labour in other camps and factories, amounting to a total of several thousand people. Many of those selected subsequently perished due to harsh conditions in the slave-labour details. A number of them were murdered after internal selections following transfers to Majdanek and Auschwitz where people were also routinely murdered by hanging or shooting for arbitrary offences. Thousands of Jews initially selected for slave-labour were among those killed in the Lublin district during Aktion Erntefest and many were shot or succumbed on the death marches in the closing stages of the Nazi regime but some of the people selected at Sobibor ultimately survived beyond the total defeat and unconditional surrender of the Nazis in May 1945.
On August 17, 1943 a survivor from Sabinov in Slovakia, who has remained anonymous, wrote a report in which he described his selection in Sobibór, together with approximately one hundred men and fifty women, upon arrival. For slave-labour in the drainage works in the vicinity of Sobibor they were taken to Krychów. He had arrived following the violent clearance, of deported Slovakian Jews and the few remaining Polish Jews, from the Rejowiec ghetto on August 9, 1942. He described that a few additional skilled workers, technicians, black smiths and watch makers were separated upon arrival in Sobibor as well. He further wrote that fire was visible in the night sky in the vicinity of Sobibor and that the stench of burning hair permeated the air.[d]
Approximately one thousand people were selected from the 34,313 named deportees who had been deported from the Netherlands via Westerbork to Sobibor between March 2 and July 20, 1943. Only sixteen of them, thirteen women and three men survived.[e] From the group of approximately thirty women selected from the train which left Westerbork with one thousand and fifteen people on March 10, 1943, thirteen survived the various camps.[f] Although they were split up after arrival in Lublin and returned to the Netherlands via different camps and routes, this was the largest single group of survivors from any one of the nineteen trains which departed the Netherlands. Upon arrival they were separated from the other deportees and shortly afterwards taken by train to Lublin, where they spent the next months in various work details divided over Majdanek and the Alter Flugplatz camp, on the site of an airfield. Eventually Eleven of the women were transferred to Milejów where they worked for a brief period in a Wehrmacht operated provisions factory, but were soon taken to Trawniki, with a larger group of men and women of mixed nationality, in the immediate aftermath of Aktion Erntefest in November 1943. Here their first assignment was assisting in body disposal and sorting the looted possessions of those murdered at the Trawniki camp. After body disposal had nearly been completed the remaining men were murdered as well. Elias Isak Alex Cohen was the only survivor of the March 17, 1943 transport. He was taken to Majdanek with a group of approximately 35 people selected based on profession. His experiences include a period operating machinery in the ammunition factory in Skarżysko-Kamienna where the poisonous materials and lack of protections decimated the forced-labourers. Jozef Wins was the only one to return to the Netherlands from the May 11 transport. He was among a group of eighty men taken to Dorohucza. Jules Schelvis was the sole survivor of the three thousand and six people on the deportation train of June 1, 1943, He too was taken to Dorohucza, with a group of eighty other men. From the remaining fourteen trains people were also selected but no one survived the Holocaust.
With few exceptions the survivors lost immediate family and relatives who were murdered in the camp. They returned to their native towns and countries to find little comfort. Several of the survivors almost immediately gave statements about their experiences. They have written about their personal experiences and published researched monographs on the history of the camp. These statements and publications continue to be used in historical research and were used in court cases against perpetrators. The survivors themselves also testified at trials such as the Sobibor Trial in Hagen and participated in the prosecution in the capacity of Nebenkläger, co-claimant, under the German criminal law system. A right of which descendants of people murdered in Sobibór also availed themselves in the 2009 trial of Trawniki Wachmann Ivan Demjanjuk.
Victims of Sobibór
In contrast to this short lists of survivors, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum states that at least 167,000 people were murdered in the Sobibór extermination camp. The Dutch Sobibor Foundation lists a calculated total of 170,165 people and cites the Höfle Telegram among its sources, while noting that other estimates range up to 300,000. For practical reasons it is not possible to list all the thousands of people murdered at the camp. The operatives of the Nazi regime not only robbed Jews of their earthly possessions and their lives but attempted to eradicate all traces of their existence as they engaged in the genocidal policies of the Final Solution.
- Ursula Stern, as cited in Jules Schelvis Vernietigingskamp Sobibor, page 337, statement November 8, 1965 (Hagen) StA.Do-XI'65-513, facsimile of the statement in NIOD 804, Inv. 18, p. 282ff.
- The statement in French is available in PDF in NIOD Toegang 804, Inventaris 18, page 56ff.
- A facsimile of Frischmann's Erfahrungsbericht can be found in NIOD Toegang 804, Inventaris 54, page 175. A description of this transport, including a list of names of the deportees, can be found at Yad Vashem.
- A German and English transcript of the statement is available in PDF in NIOD Toegang 804, Inventaris 54, page 148ff.
- Including Selma Wijnberg and Ursula Stern, who remained in the camp until their successful escape during the revolt, there are 18 known survivors from the transports out of Westerbork to Sobibor who were alive after May 8, 1945: Elias Isak Alex Cohen, Judith Eliasar, Bertha Ensel, Celina Ensel, Sophia Huisman, Mirjam Penha née Blits, Cato Polak, Surry Polak, Suzanne Polak, Bertha van Praag, Debora van Praag, Jules Schelvis, Sophia Verduin, Jetje Veterman, Sientje Veterman and Jozef Wins. In early reports Jeannette de Vries née Blitz is included among the survivors, bringing the preliminary total to nineteen, a number repeated in some later publications. Jeannette de Vries-Blitz was not deported to Sobibor, however. She was deported to Auschwitz on May 19, 1944. From here her path through various camps paralleled that of Mirjam Penha-Blits and Judith Eliasar. They were liberated in the Neuengamme sub camp in Salzwedel.
- Among those who were selected at Sobibor from the March 30, 1943 transport, but perished before May 8, 1945 are: Henderiene den Arend-van der Reis, Auguste Berliner, Flora Blok, Hilde Beate Blumendal, Marga Cohen, Sophia Cohen, Hester Fresco, Klaartje Gompertz, Fanny Landesmann, Naatje Roodveldt-Moffie, Lotje Stad, Judith Swaab, Annie Troostwijk-Hijmans, Lena Verduin, and Charlotte Zeehandelaar-Andriesse.
- Sobibor: Chronology at the USHMM
- History Sobibor at the Dutch Sobibor Foundation.
- Sobibor Interviews: Survivors of the revolt
- Escape from Sobibor (1987).
- Rachel Brinbaum in the Holocaust Survivors and Victims of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
- BBC History of World War II. Auschwitz; Inside the Nazi State. Part 4, Corruption.
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Selma Wijnberg
- Ad van Liempt, Selma (2010)
- Catharina Gokkes in Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Jules Schelvis, Vernietigingskamp Sobibor (5th Ed. 2004), pages 76, 237, 257, 260, 342
- NIOD Toegang 804, Inventaris 18
- Miriam Novitch, Sobibor: Martyrdom and Revolt (Paperback 1980), pages 86, 88
- Loe de Jong, The Kingdom of the Netherlands During World War II, Part 8b, page 883
- From Chelm to Sobibor . . . statement by Chaim Powroznik, in Chelm on January 10, 1944, referenced by USHMM
- Gertrud Poppert, née Schönborn in the German Federal Archives Memorial Book.
- Toivi Blatt interviews Sasha Pechersky about "Luka" in 1980 Retrieved on 2009-05-08
- Arad, Yitzhak. Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps. Indiana University Press. 1987.
- NIOD Toegang 804, Inventaris 54
- Vienna to Sobibor train, June 14, 1942
- Afwikkelingsbureau Concentratiekampen Sobibor (1946)
- Sobibor Interviews: Dutch Survivors.
- Memorial Center Camp Westerbork
- Henderiene den Arend-van der Reis in Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Auguste Berliner in Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Flora Blok in Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Hilde Beate Blumendal in Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Marga Cohen in Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Sophia Cohen in Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Hester Fresco in Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Klaartje Gompertz in Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Fanny Landesmann in Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Naatje Roodveldt-Moffie in Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Lotje Stad in Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Judith Swaab in Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Annie Troostwijk-Hijmans in Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Lena Verduin in Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Charlotte Zeehandelaar-Andriesse in Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands
- Elia Aron Cohen, De Negentien Treinen naar Sobibor
- Thomas Blatt, The Forgotten Revolt
- Jules Schelvis, De Transportlijsten
- Jules Schelvis, Binnen de Poorten
- Mirjam Blits, Auschwitz 13917
- Dutch Red Cross Sobibor (1947) (PDF)
- Onderzoek - Vernietigingskamp Sobibor NIOD Toegang 804
- Elie Aron Cohen,Human Behaviour in the Concentration Camp
- Martin Bossenbroek, De Meelstreep (2001)
- The Long Shadow of Sobibor
- Nebenklage Sobibor
- Sobibor: The Forgotten Revolt Tomas Blatt's website about the Sobibor Extermination camp.
- Index of early survivor records maintained by the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research.
- Moreshet Archive