Sobibór extermination camp
|Other names||SS-Sonderkommando Sobibór|
|Known for||Genocide during the Holocaust|
|Location||Near Sobibór, General Government (occupied Poland)|
|Original use||Extermination camp|
|First built||March 1942 – May 1942|
|Operational||16 May 1942 – 17 October 1943|
|Number of gas chambers||3 (expanded to 6)|
|Inmates||Jews (also Soviet POWs)|
|Number of inmates||Est. 600–650 at any given time|
|Killed||Est. min. 200,000–250,000|
|Liberated by||Closed before end of war|
|Notable inmates||Thomas Blatt, Leon Feldhendler, Alexander Pechersky|
|Notable books||From the Ashes of Sobibor|
Sobibór (pronounced [sɔˈbibur]) was a Nazi German extermination camp located on the outskirts of the village of Sobibór in occupied Poland within the semi-colonial territory of General Government in World War II. The camp was part of the secretive Operation Reinhard which marked the deadliest phase of the Holocaust in German-occupied Poland. The camp was situated near the rural county's only major town of Włodawa (called Wolzek by the Germans), 85 km south of provincial capital Brest-on-the-Bug (Brześć nad Bugiem in Polish). Its official German name was SS-Sonderkommando Sobibór. Jews from Poland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, as well as the Soviet prisoners of war, were transported to Sobibór by rail and suffocated in gas chambers fed by the exhaust of large petrol engine. Up to 200,000 people were murdered at Sobibór, and possibly more. During the postwar trial against the former SS personnel of Sobibór, held in Hagen, Professor Wolfgang Scheffler estimated the total number of murdered Jews at a minimum of 250,000.
During a revolt of 14 October 1943, about 600 prisoners tried to escape; about half succeeded in crossing the fence, of whom around 50 evaded capture. Shortly after the revolt, the Germans closed the camp, bulldozed the earth and planted it over with pine trees to conceal its location. The site is occupied by the Sobibór Museum, which displays a pyramid of ashes and crushed bones of the victims, collected from the cremation pits thereafter.
In 2014, excavators discovered a pendant inscribed with the word "Palestine" in Hebrew, English and Arabic dating from 1927, earrings, a wedding band bearing a Hebrew inscription and perfume bottles that belonged to the Jewish victims. The items were found in a cistern sealed off by the Germans during the liquidation of the camp. Remains of the gas chambers were unearthed under an asphalt road in September 2014.
Beginning in 1940, the Nazis established 16 forced labour camps in the new Lublin district of occupied Poland. The Lublin district was intended to become an agricultural centre in the East. Except for Krychów camp, these forced labour camps used existing structures – such as abandoned schools, factories or farms – to imprison the labourers. Krychów was the largest of the 16 camps and had been built before the Second World War as a detention camp for Polish prisoners.
Sobibór extermination camp was constructed in 1942 near the already existing forced labour camps of the Lublin reservation. A 40 km (25 mi) northeasterly railway branch line connected the area to the main railway line through the town of Chełm (Kulm in German). Camp construction began in March 1942, at the same time that the Bełżec camp became operational for extermination. Workers employed for building the camp were local people from neighbouring villages and towns, but the camp was primarily built by a Sonderkommando under the command of Richard Thomalla. The first Sonderkommando was a group of about eighty Jews from ghettos within the vicinity of the camp. A squad of Ukrainian Trawniki-Männer trained at the Trawniki concentration camp SS compound guarded the Sonderkommando. Upon completion of construction, these Jews were shot. In mid-April 1942, when the camp was nearly completed, experimental gassings took place. About twenty-five Jews from Krychów were brought there for this purpose. Christian Wirth, the commander of Bełżec and Inspector of Operation Reinhard, arrived in Sobibór to witness these gassings.
Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler appointed SS-Obersturmführer Franz Stangl as the first commandant of Sobibór. Stangl was Sobibór's commandant from 28 April to the end of August 1942. According to Stangl, Odilo Globocnik initially stated that Sobibór was merely a supply camp for the army, and that the true nature of the camp became known to Stangl only when he discovered a gas chamber hidden in the woods. Globocnik told him that if the Jews "were not working hard enough" he was fully permitted to kill them and that Globocnik would send "new ones".
Stangl first studied the camp operations and management of Bełżec, which had already commenced extermination activity. He then accelerated the completion of Sobibór. Erich Fuchs, who spent time at the three Reinhard death camps of Sobibór, Treblinka and Bełżec, explained how the gassing operations at Sobibór were developed:
Upon arriving in Sobibór I discovered a piece of open ground close to the station on which there was a concrete building and several other permanent buildings. The Sonderkommando at Sobibór was led by Thomalla. Amongst the SS personnel there were Floss, Bauer, Stangl, Schwarz, Barbl and others. We unloaded the motor. It was a heavy, Russian petrol engine (presumably a tank or tractor engine) of at least 200 HP (carburettor engine, eight-cylinder, water-cooled). We put the engine on a concrete plinth and attached a pipe to the exhaust outlet. Then we tried out the engine. At first it did not work. I repaired the ignition and the valve and suddenly the engine started. The chemist whom I already knew from Bełżec went into the gas chamber with a measuring device in order to measure the gas concentration.
After this a test gassing was carried out. I seem to remember that thirty to forty women were gassed in a gas chamber. The Jews had to undress in a clearing in the wood which had been roofed over, near the gas chamber. They were herded into the gas chamber by the above-mentioned SS members and Ukrainian volunteers. When the women had been shut up in the gas chamber I attended to the engine together with Bauer. The engine immediately started ticking over. We both stood next to the engine and switched it up to "release exhaust to chamber" so that the gases were channelled into the chamber. On the instigation of the chemist I revved up the engine, which meant that no extra gas had to be added later. After about ten minutes the thirty to forty women were dead. The chemist and the SS gave the signal to turn off the engine.
I packed up my tools and saw the bodies being taken away. A small wagon on rails was used to take them away from near the gas chamber to a stretch of ground some distance away. Sobibór was the only place where a wagon was used. — Erich Fuchs
The layout of the camp
The camp was split into four sections. The Garrison Area included the main entrance gate and the railway platform where the victims were taken off the Holocaust trains. The Commander's lodge was opposite the platform and was on the right side to the Guardhouse and on the left by the armoury.
The Camp I (German: Lager I) was built directly west and behind the Garrison Area. It was made escape proof by extra barbed wire fences and a deep trench filled with water. The only opening was a gate leading into the area. This camp was the living barracks for Jewish prisoners and included a prisoners' kitchen. Each prisoner was given about 12 square feet (1.1 square metres) of sleeping space.
The Camp II Vorlager was a larger section and included an assortment of vital services for both the killing process and the everyday operation of the camp. Some 400 Sonderkommando prisoners, including women worked there. Lager II contained the warehouses used for storing the items taken from the dead victims, including clothes, food articles, cut off hair, gold and all other valuables. This section also housed the main administration office. It was at Lager II that the Jews were prepared for their death. Here they undressed, women's hair was shaved, clothing searched and sorted, and documents destroyed in the nearby furnace. The victims' final steps were taken on a path surrounded by barbed wire. It was called the "Road to Heaven" or der Schlauch and led directly to the gas chambers.
The Camp III was where the victims were killed. Located in the north-western part of the camp, there were only two ways to enter the camp, from Lager II. The camp staff and personnel entered through a small plain gate. The entrance for the victims descended immediately into the gas chambers and was decorated with flowers and a Star of David above the entrance to the gas chambers.
In the Sobibór gas chambers 500 people were murdered at a time. Only recently, following an eight-year-long investigation, Polish and Israeli researchers have confirmed the exact location of the gas chambers at Sobibór. The discovery of the remains of the building's foundations unearthed in 2014 was confirmed by Tomasz Kranz, the director of Poland's Majdanek State Museum at Lublin. In May 2013 archaeologists conducting excavations near Camp III unearthed an escape tunnel, an open-air crematorium, human skeletal remains, as well as substance that appears to be blood, and the identification tag of a Jewish boy who was murdered in the camp. Dr. Kranz also commented that ‟the whole former camp is one huge crime scene” with traceable evidence of the Holocaust present everywhere in spite of the fact that the SS leader, Heinrich Himmler ordered the camp to be destroyed, and the area planted with trees.
On either 16 or 18 of May 1942, Sobibór became fully operational and began mass gassing operations. Trains entered the railway siding with the unloading platform, and the Jews onboard were told they were in a transit camp. They were forced to hand over their valuables, split between male and female and undress. The women and girls recoiling in shame of nudity, were met by the Sonderkommando who would chop off their hair in mere half a minute. Among the Friseur were Thomas Blatt (age 15), and Philip Bialowitz (age 13). 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, 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 a group of Jewish workers.
Local Jews were delivered in absolute terror, amongst screaming and pounding. Foreign Jews, on the other hand were treated with hypocritical politeness. Passengers from Westerbork, Netherlands had a comfortable journey. There were Jewish doctors and nurses attending them and no shortage of food and medical supplies on the train. Sobibór didn't seem like a genuine threat.
Victims included 18-year-old Helga Deen, whose diary was discovered in 2004; the writer Else Feldmann; gymnasts Helena Nordheim, Ans Polak and Jud Simons; Gym Coach Gerrit Kleerekoper; and magician Michel Velleman. Selected female prisoners were sexually exploited at drunken stag parties before being murdered. For instance, two women from Austria, who were film or theatre actresses, were gang raped by the SS men before being shot. Gasmeister Erich Bauer testified about this:
I was blamed for being responsible for the death of the Jewish girls Ruth and Gisela, who lived in the so-called forester house. As it is known, these two girls lived in the forester house, and they were visited frequently by the SS men. Orgies were conducted there. They were attended by Bolender, Gomerski, Karl Ludwig, Franz Stangl, Gustav Wagner and Steubel. I lived in the room above them and due to these celebrations could not fall asleep after coming back from a journey." — Erich Bauer.
The uprising 
Sobibór was the site of one of two successful uprisings by Jewish Sonderkommando prisoners in a Nazi extermination camp of Operation Reinhard. The revolt at Treblinka on 2 August 1943 resulted in up to 100 escapes. A revolt at Auschwitz-Birkenau on 7 October 1944 led to one of the crematoria being blown up, but nearly all the escapees were killed.
Rumours that the camp would be shut down started circulating among its inmates in spring of 1943 after a drop in the number of incoming prisoner transports. Notes carried by survivors of the Bełżec concentration camp, who had been transported to Sobibór only to be shot on the railway platform, hinted at what would happen if the camp were shut down. This then led Polish-Jewish prisoners to organise an underground committee aimed at escape from the camp. In September 1943, the Sobibór underground was unexpectedly reinforced by the arrival of Soviet-Jewish POWs from Minsk; some of them joined the underground and shared their military experience.
On 14 October 1943, members of the Sobibór underground, led by Polish-Jewish prisoner Leon Feldhendler and Soviet-Jewish POW Alexander Pechersky, covertly killed eleven German SS officers and a number of camp guards. Although their plan was to kill all the SS and walk out of the main gate of the camp, the killings were discovered and the inmates ran for their lives under fire. About 300 out of the 600 Sonderkommando prisoners in the camp escaped into the forests.
Out of the estimated number of 300 escapees, only around 50 survived the war, with most of the escapees captured by search squads within a few days of escaping. Some died on the mine fields surrounding the site. Others were recaptured in a dragnet as former members of the Soviet invading force, and executed by the Germans thereafter. Within days of the uprising, the SS chief Heinrich Himmler ordered the camp closed, dismantled and planted with trees. The gas chambers were demolished. Remnants of their foundations were covered with asphalt and made to look like a road. Four of the chambers were uncovered by archaeologists only in 2014 using modern technology.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum states that at least 167,000 people were murdered at Sobibór. Other estimates range up to 300,000. The Dutch Sobibor Foundation lists a calculated total of 170,165 people and cites the Höfle Telegram among its sources. For practical reasons it is not possible to list all the 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.
There were 58 known survivors, 48 male and 10 female, among those who were in the camp as Arbeitshäftlinge, deportees selected from arriving transports to perform slave-labour for the daily operation of the camp. Their time in the camp ranged from several weeks to almost two years. A handful of Arbeitshäftlinge managed to escape while assigned to the Waldkommando, inmate details assigned the task of felling and preparing trees for the body disposal pyres. The majority of the survivors among Sobibór's Arbeitshäftlinge survived as a result of their camp-wide revolt on 14 October 1943. Dutch historian Jules Schelvis estimated that 158 inmates perished in the revolt, killed by the guards and the minefield surrounding the camp, and that a further 107 were re-captured and murdered by the SS, Wehrmacht and police units tasked with pursuing the escapees. He estimates that another 53 escapees died of other causes between the day of the revolt and 8 May 1945. In the aftermath of the revolt, the remaining camp inmates were murdered and the camp was dismantled. Schelvis estimated that at the time of the escape there had been approximately 650 inmates in the camp.
Among the Sobibór survivors are also those who were spared the gas chambers in the camp as a result of transfer to slave-labour camps in the Lublin district, after selections upon arrival at Sobibór. These people spent several hours at Sobibór and were transferred almost immediately to slave-labour camps, including Majdanek and Alter Flugplatz in the city of Lublin, where materials looted from the gassed victims were prepared for shipment and distribution, and forced labour camps such as Krychów, Dorohucza and Trawniki. Estimates for the number of people selected in Sobibór range up to several thousand, of whom many perished in captivity before the end of the Nazi regime. The total number of survivors in this cohort includes 16 known survivors, 13 women and 3 men, from among the 34,313 people deported to Sobibór from the Netherlands.
The chief commandant of Sobibór, and later of Treblinka, was Hauptsturmführer Franz Stangl. He fled to Syria after the defeat of Germany. Following problems with his employer taking too much interest in his adolescent daughter, Stangl moved with his family to Brazil in the 1950s. He worked in a car factory (German manufacturer, Volkswagen) and was registered with the Austrian consulate under his own name. He was eventually caught, tried, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 1971 he died in prison in Düsseldorf, a few hours after concluding a series of interviews with the British historian Gitta Sereny.
The third in command at Sobibór, and the camp's Lager I commandant was Oberscharführer Karl Frenzel. Over twenty years after the war ended, he was put on trial, convicted of war crimes in 1966, and sentenced to life. He was released after sixteen years on appeal and because of his health. Blatt interviewed him in 1983 and taped it. Present at the camp from its inception to its closure Frenzel (a hostile commentator) said the following about the prisoners killed at Sobibór: "Poles were not killed there. Gypsies were not killed there. Russians were not killed there...only Jews, Russian Jews, Polish Jews, Dutch Jews, French Jews." Possibly due in part to Frenzel's testimony, followed by Blatt's inquiry, the Polish government from the Soviet era changed the memorial plaque at the site, which used to read: "Here the Nazis Killed 250,000 Russian Prisoners of War, Jews, Poles and Gypsies." The new memorial plaque reads, "At This Site, Between the Years 1942 and 1943, There Existed a Nazi Death Camp Where 250,000 Jews and Approximately 1,000 Poles Were Murdered." The plaque also commemorates the revolt of 14 October 1943 and the escape of Jews from the camp.
Gustav Wagner, the deputy Sobibór commander, was on leave on the day of uprising (survivors such as Thomas Blatt say that the revolt would not have succeeded had he been present). Wagner was arrested in 1978 in Brazil. He was identified by Stanisław Szmajzner, a Sobibór escapee, who greeted him with the words, "Hallo Gustl." Wagner replied that he remembered Szmajzner and that he had saved him and his three brothers. The court of first instance agreed to his extradition to Germany but on appeal, this extradition was overturned. In 1980, Wagner committed suicide, though the circumstances are controversial.
Erich Bauer, commander of Camp III and gas chamber executioner, explained the perpetrators' sense of teamwork in order to reach an atrocious result:
We were a band of "fellow conspirators" ("verschworener Haufen") in a foreign land, surrounded by Ukrainian volunteers whom we could not trust....The bond between us was so strong that Frenzel, Stangl and Wagner had had a ring with SS runes made from five-mark pieces for every member of the permanent staff. These rings were distributed to the camp staff as a sign so that the "conspirators" could be identified. In addition the tasks in the camp were shared. Each of us had at some point carried out every camp duty in Sobibór (station squad, undressing, and gassing).
I estimate that the number of Jews gassed at Sobibor was about 350,000. In the canteen at Sobibor I once overheard a conversation between Karl Frenzel, Franz Stangl and Gustav Wagner. They were discussing the number of victims in the extermination camps of Belzec, Treblinka and Sobibor and expressed their regret that Sobibor "came last" in the competition.
Before they were sent as guards to the concentration camps, most of the Soviet POWs underwent special training at Trawniki. This was originally a holding centre for Soviet POWs following Operation Barbarossa, whom the Sipo security police and the SD had designated either as potential collaborators or as dangerous persons. The Stroop Report listed the Trawnikis Sonderdienst Guard Battalion as one assisting in the suppression of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
John Demjanjuk, a former Soviet POW allegedly worked as a watchguard at Sobibór. He was temporarily convicted by a German lower court as an accessory to the murder of 28,060 Jews and sentenced to five years in prison on 12 May 2011. He was released pending appeal and died in a German nursing home on 17 March 2012, aged 91, while awaiting the hearing. As a result of his death before the German Appellate Court could try his case, the German Munich District Court declared that Demjanjuk was "presumed innocent," that the previous interim conviction was invalidated and that he had no criminal record.
Chain of Command table
Name Rank Function and Notes Citation Organisers of the camp (Germans and Austrians) Odilo Globocnik SS-Brigadeführer Captain and SS Police Chief (SS-Polizeiführer) at the time, Head of Operation Reinhard   Hermann Höfle SS-Hauptsturmführer Captain, Coordinator of Operation Reinhard  Richard Thomalla SS-Obersturmführer First Lieutenant, Head of death camp construction during Operation Reinhard   Erwin Lambert SS-Unterscharführer Corporal, Head of gas chamber construction during Operation Reinhard  Karl Steubl SS-Sturmbannführer Major, Commander of transportation units during Operation Reinhard   Christian Wirth SS-Hauptsturmführer Captain at the time, Inspector of Operation Reinhard  Commandants (Germans and Austrians) Franz Stangl SS-Obersturmführer First Lieutenant, April 28, 1942 – August 30, 1942 transferred to Commandant of Treblinka extermination camp    Franz Reichleitner SS-Obersturmführer First Lieutenant, September 1, 1942 – October 17, 1943; promoted to Captain (Hauptsturmführer) after Himmler's visit on February 12, 1943  Deputy commandants (Germans and Austrians) Gustav Wagner SS-Oberscharführer Staff Sergeant, Deputy commandant (Quartermaster, sergeant major of the camp)   Johann Niemann SS-Untersturmführer Second Lieutenant, Deputy commandant, killed in the revolt    Karl Frenzel SS-Oberscharführer Staff Sergeant, Commandant of Camp I (forced labor camp)    Hermann Michel SS-Oberscharführer Staff Sergeant, Deputy commandant, gave speeches to trick condemned prisoners into entering gas chambers    Gas chamber executioners (Germans and Austrians) Erich Bauer SS-Oberscharführer Staff Sergeant, operated gas chambers    Kurt Bolender SS-Oberscharführer Staff Sergeant, gas chambers' operator    Other staff officers (Germans and Austrians) Ernst Bauch committed suicide in December 1942 on vacation in Berlin from his Sobibor duty  Rudolf Beckmann SS-Oberscharführer Staff Sergeant, killed in revolt   Gerhardt Börner SS-Untersturmführer Second Lieutenant  Paul Bredow SS-Unterscharführer Corporal, managed the "Lazarett" killing station   Max Bree killed in the revolt  Arthur Dachsel police sergeant, transferred from Belzec in 1942, burning of corpses (Sonnenstein)   Werner Karl Dubois SS-Oberscharführer Staff Sergeant    Herbert Floss SS-Scharführer Sergeant   Erich Fuchs SS-Scharführer Sergeant    Friedrich Gaulstich SS-Scharführer Sergeant, killed in the revolt   Anton Getzinger  Hubert Gomerski SS-Unterscharführer Corporal   Siegfried Graetschus SS-Oberscharführer Staff Sergeant, Head of Ukrainian Guard (2/2), killed in the revolt    Ferdinand "Ferdl" Grömer Austrian cook, helped also with gassings  Paul Johannes Groth supervised sorting of clothes in Lager II  Lorenz Hackenholt SS-Hauptscharführer First Sergeant Josef Hirtreiter SS-Scharführer Sergeant, transferred from Treblinka in October 1943 for a short while  Franz Hödl   Jakob Alfred Ittner SS-Oberscharführer Staff Sergeant   Robert Emil Jührs SS-Unterscharführer Corporal  Aleks Kaizer  Rudolf "Rudi" Kamm  Johann Klier SS-Untersturmführer Second Lieutenant    Fritz Konrad SS-Scharführer Sergeant, killed in the revolt   Erich Lachmann SS-Scharführer Sergeant, Head of Ukrainian Guard (1/2)   Karl Emil Ludwig   Willi Mentz SS-Unterscharführer Corporal, transferred from Treblinka for a short time in December 1943  Adolf Müller  Walter Anton Nowak SS-Scharführer Sergeant, killed in the revolt    Wenzel Fritz Rehwald   Karl Richter  Paul Rost SS-Untersturmführer Second Lieutenant  Walter "Ryba" (real name: Hochberg) SS-Unterscharführer Corporal, killed in the revolt   Klaus Schreiber  Hans-Heinz Friedrich Karl Schütt SS-Scharführer Sergeant    Thomas Steffl SS-Scharführer Sergeant, killed in the revolt   Ernst Stengelin killed in revolt  Heinrich Unverhau SS-Unterscharführer Corporal   Josef Vallaster SS-Scharführer Sergeant, killed in the revolt   Otto Weiss commandant of the Bahnhof-kommando at Lager I before Frenzel  Wilhelm "Willie" Wendland   Franz Wolf SS-Oberscharführer Staff Sergeant, brother of Josef Wolf (below)    Josef Wolf SS-Scharführer Sergeant, killed in the revolt   Ernst Zierke SS-Unterscharführer Corporal  Heinrich Barbl SS-Rottenführer Private First Class, pipes for the gas chambers (from Action T4) 
- Ivan Klatt 
- Emanuel Schultz
- East European Volksdeutsche, and up to 200 Trawniki men (former Soviet prisoners-of-war of various ethnicities)
|Timeline of Sobibór, March 1942 – October 1943|
|March 1942||Under the supervision of Richard Thomalla, SS and police authorities construct Sobibór extermination camp in the spring of 1942 in an isolated area not far from the local Chelm-Wlodawa rail line.|
|April 1942||The first test subjects for the gas chambers at Sobibór: The SS deports 2,400 Jews from Rejowiec, Lublin Voivodeship in early April 1942, the first deportation to Sobibór, and murders almost all of them upon arrival.|
|28 April 1942||Franz Stangl arrives in Sobibór to take up the position of camp commandant. Stangl had been the deputy supervisor of the "euthanasia" institution at Hartheim, near Linz, Austria. As the purpose of the "euthanasia" operation was to murder institutionalised persons with physical and mental disabilities in gas chambers at facilities like Hartheim, Stangl was familiar with using carbon monoxide gas for killing large numbers of people.|
|3 May 1942||Regular transports to Sobibór begin. The first transport consists of 200 Jews from Zamość. The camp staff conducts gassing operations in three gas chambers located in one brick building. Some 400 prisoners are selected to survive, temporarily, to supply manual labour necessary to support the mass murder function of the killing centre. During this first phase of deportations, from early May until the end of July 1942, the Sobibór killing centre authorities kill at least 61,400 Jews. Many of them were deported from cities and towns in the north and east of Lublin District; the majority were Jews deported from the German Reich, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and Slovakia either directly or via the transit camp-ghetto in Izbica.|
|July/August 1942||The SS halts deportations to Sobibór in order to modernise the railway spur into the camp.|
|8 October 1942||Camp authorities resume mass murder operations in the gas chambers of Sobibór with the arrival of more than 24,000 Slovak Jews between 8 and 20 October from the transit camp-ghetto Izbica in the Lublin District of the General Government. The camp authorities kill virtually all of the deportees upon arrival in reconstructed and newly added gas chambers, completed during the two-month lull in transports to Sobibór. The improvements in capacity enable the camp authorities to kill up to 1,300 people at a time. Newly constructed as well was a narrow railway trolley from the reception platform to the burial pits in order to facilitate the transfer of the sick, the dead and those unable to walk directly to the open ovens. Those still alive after this journey are shot by the SS staff or the Trawniki-trained guards.|
|12 February 1943||Heinrich Himmler visits Sobibór to inspect operations. Several SS officers at the camp are promoted as a result.|
|5 March 1943||Deportations from the Netherlands. German SS and Police authorities begin deportations of Dutch Jews from transit camp Westerbork to Sobibór. In 19 transports from this date until July 1943, SS authorities in Westerbork deport over 34,000 Jews to Sobibór. Camp staff and guards kill almost all of them in the gas chambers or by shooting on arrival in the camp.|
|April 1943||Deportations from France. Two transports containing a total of 2,000 Jews from France arrive at Sobibór from the police transit camp Drancy, outside Paris. Deportations from France to camps in the east, primarily Auschwitz, began in March 1942 and continue until August 1944.|
|July/October 1943||Deportations from the Soviet Union. Following Himmler's order of July 1943 to liquidate the ghettos in Reichskommissariat Ostland, SS and police units liquidate ghettos in Minsk, Lida and Wilno (Vilnius, Vilne) and deport those who survived to Sobibór. The first transports from Minsk and Lida leave for Sobibór on 18 September. Included in the first deportation from Minsk (arrived 22 September) is Alexander "Sasha" Pechersky, a Soviet-Jewish prisoner of war, who, because of his military training, came to play a central role in the resistance movement in Sobibór. In September 1943 alone, SS and police authorities transported at least 13,700 Jews from ghettos in the occupied Soviet Union to Sobibór. The camp authorities gas or shoot most of them upon arrival.|
|14 October 1943
||Sobibór revolt. Prisoners carry out a revolt in Sobibór, killing close to a dozen German staff and Trawniki-trained guards. Of 600 prisoners left in Sobibór on this day, roughly 300 escape during the uprising. Among the survivors is Alexander Pechersky, the Soviet prisoner-of-war who played a key role in planning the revolt. Of those who escape, the SS and police personnel from Lublin district recapture and shoot some 140. Some of the prisoners selected for temporary survival in Sobibór organised an underground resistance organisation in early summer of 1943 as it became apparent that gassing operations at Sobibór were slowing. Once the gassing operations were finished, the SS planned to dismantle the killing centre and reconfigure the facility first as a holding pen for women and children deported from villages in Belarus, which had been destroyed in the course of so-called anti-partisan operations, and, later, as an ammunition depot. Though no further prisoners arrived after the killing centre was remodelled, the facility was guarded by a small Trawniki-trained detachment until at least the end of March 1944. During the year and a half in which the Sobibór killing centre operated, camp authorities and the Trawniki-trained guards murdered at least 167,000 people. Virtually all of the victims were Jews.|
|17 October 1943||Heinrich Himmler orders that Sobibór be closed and all evidence of the camp's existence be removed.|
The first monument to Sobibór victims was erected on the historic site in 1965. The Włodawa Museum, which was responsible for the monument, established a separate Sobibór branch on 14 October 1993, on the 50th anniversary of the armed uprising of Jewish prisoners there. Following the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the revolt in 2003, the grounds of the former death camp received a grant largely funded by the Dutch government to improve the exhibits. New walkways were introduced with signs indicating points of interest, but close to the burial pits, bone fragments still litter the area. In the forest outside the camp is a statue honoring the fighters of Sobibór.
Memorial at Sobibór Museum entrance
Dramatisations and recorded memories of the camp
The revolt was dramatised in the 1987 British TV film Escape from Sobibor, directed by Jack Gold. An award-winning documentary about the escape was made by Claude Lanzmann and released in 2001, entitled Sobibor, 14 Octobre 1943, 16 Heures (Sobibor, 14 Oct., 1943, 4 p.m.).
In the 1978 American TV mini-series Holocaust, one of the principal characters, Rudi Weiss, a German Jew, is captured by the Germans while taking part in a partisan attack upon a German convoy. Knocked unconscious, he wakes up in Sobibór, where he meets the Russian prisoners of war. They are initially suspicious of him as a possible German spy planted within their midst, but he wins their trust and becomes part of the group that kills German soldiers and officers as part of the uprising. Weiss and his new POW comrades successfully escape Sobibór during the mass break-out; near the film's end, the Russians head east to try and rejoin the Red Army, while Weiss bids them good-bye and heads west to try and find any remnants of his destroyed family.
- Sobibór Trial
- Extermination camp death toll
- Escape from Sobibor, a film about life in the camp based on the book of the same name, won the 1987 Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film
- Lest we forget (14 March 2004), "Extermination camp Sobibor" at the Wayback Machine (archived March 7, 2005) The Holocaust. Retrieved on 17 May 2013.
- William L. Shirer (1990). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (3 ed., 1960). Simon and Schuster. p. 968. ISBN 0671728687. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- Schelvis 2007, p. 100: Testimony of SS-Scharführer Erich Fuchs about his own installation of (at least) 200 HP, V-shaped, 8 cylinder, water-cooled petrol engine at Sobibor.
- Raul Hilberg. The Destruction of the European Jews. Yale University Press, 1985, p. 1219. ISBN 978-0-300-09557-9
- Sobibor − The Forgotten Revolt (Internet Archive). Webpage featuring first-person account of Holocaust survivor and Sonderkommando prisoner age 16, Thomas 'Toivi' Blatt.
- Peter Hayes, Dagmar Herzog (2006). Lessons and Legacies VII: The Holocaust in International Perspective. Northwestern University Press. p. 272. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
Between May 1942 and October 1943 some 200,000 to 250,000 Jews were killed at Sobibor according to the recently published Holocaust Encyclopedia edited by Judith Tydor Baumel.
- "Archaeologists make more historic finds at site of Sobibor gas chambers". Haaretz.com. 19 September 2014.
- Aktion Reinhard Camps. Sobibor Labour Camps. 15 June 2006. ARC Website.
- Yitzhak Arad (1987). Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, p. 30.
- Arad, Yitzhak: Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: the Operation Reinhard death camps. Bloomington: Indiana University Press 1987, p. 184.
- Christian Zentner, Friedemann Bedürftig. The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, p. 878. Macmillan, New York, 1991. ISBN 0-02-897502-2
- Klee, Ernst, Dressen, Willi, Riess, Volker (1991). The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders p. 231. Konecky Konecky, ISBN 1-56852-133-2. Also in: Jules Schelvis (2014), Sobibor: A History of a Nazi Death Camp p. 100. Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 1472589068.
- Justin Huggler, Berlin (18 Sep 2014). "Gas chambers discovered at Nazi death camp Sobibor". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- Archeologists find escape tunnel at Sobibor death camp. Haaretz.com.
- Schelvis (2014) . Sobibor: A History of a Nazi Death Camp. pp. 71–72. ISBN 1472589068.
- Bialowitz, Philip. A Promise at Sobibór. pp. ix–x. ISBN 0299248038.
- Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, p. 76. Indiana University Press, 1987.
- As part of the misrepresentations and concealment of the death camp horrors, when arriving to the camp, the Dutch Jews were ordered to write "calming letters" to their relatives in Netherlands, with false details about the "nice" welcoming and conditions. Right after that, they were taken to the gas chambers. "Sobibor". Muzeum Byłego Hitlerowskiego Obozu Zagłady w Sobiborze (in Polish). Museo.pl, Chełm. 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- "Michel Velleman (Sobibór, 2 juli 1943)". Digitaal Monument Joodse Gemeenschap in Nederland. Joods Monument. 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-17.
- Yitzhak Arad (1987). Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 116–117.
- Arad 1987, pp. 219–275.
- "Preparation - Sobibor Interviews". NIOD. 2009.
- Schelvis, Jules (2007). Sobibor: A History of a Nazi Death Camp. Berg, Oxford & New Cork. pp. 147–168. ISBN 978-1-84520-419-8. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
- Reuters, Archaeologists Uncover Buried Gas Chambers At Sobibor Death Camp. The Huffington Post, 18 September 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
- Terrence McCoy (September 19, 2014), Archaeologists unearth hidden death chambers used to kill a quarter-million Jews at notorious camp. Washington Post. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
- "Sobibor: Chronology". ushmm.org.
- History Sobibor at the Dutch Sobibor Foundation.
- Schelvis, Jules (2004). Vernietigingskamp Sobibor. De Bataafsche Leeuw. ISBN 9789067076296.
- "SOME SIGNIFICANT CASE - Franz Stangl". Simon Wiesenthal Archiv. Simon Wiesenthal Center. Retrieved 2009-11-30.
- "The Sobibor Trial – The Station Master at Treblinka www.HolocaustResearchProject.org". holocaustresearchproject.org.
- Frenzel interview, Sobibor: The Forgotten Revolt website (Internet Archive).
- Photo of new plaque at camp site, "More Documents," Sobibor: The Forgotten Revolt (Internet Archive).
- Jules Schelvis & Dunya Breur. "Biographies of SS-men - Sobibor Interviews". Sobiborinterviews.nl. NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
The core of this website consists of thirteen interviews with survivors of the uprising on 14 October 1943 in the Sobibor extermination camp, originally recorded in 1983 and 1984 forty years after the fact.
- Arad, Yitzhak: Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: the Operation Reinhard death camps, p. 192. Bloomington: Indiana University Press 1987.
- Klee, Ernst, Dressen, Willi, Riess, Volker The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders. ISBN 1-56852-133-2.
- Sobibor: The Forgotten Revolt by Thomas (Toivi) Blatt HEP Issaquah 1998.
- "Trawniki". Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved July 21, 2011.
- Mgr Stanisław Jabłoński (1927–2002). "Hitlerowski obóz w Trawnikach". The camp history (in Polish). Trawniki official website. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
- Matussek, Karin (12 May 2011). "Demjanjuk Convicted of Helping Nazis to Murder Jews During the Holocaust". Bloomberg. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
- "John Demjanjuk zu fünf Jahren Haft verurteilt". Die Welt. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
- "John Demjanjuk guilty of Nazi death camp murders". BBC News. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
- Aderet, Ofer. Haaretz, news article dated 23 March 2012. "Convicted Nazi criminal Demjanjuk deemed innocent in Germany over technicality", http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/convicted-nazi-criminal-demjanjuk-deemed-innocent-in-germany-over-technicality-1.420280
- "Nazi camp guard dead". The Age (Melbourne). 19 March 2012.
- "Sobibor Death Camp www.HolocaustResearchProject.org". holocaustresearchproject.org.
- Nizkor Web Site Retrieved on 2009-04-09
- "Belzec: Stepping Stone to Genocide - Chapter 6". jewishgen.org.
- "Survivors of the revolt - Sobibor Interviews". sobiborinterviews.nl.
- "Interrogation of Mikhail Affanaseivitch Razgonayev Sobibor Death Camp Wachman - www.HolocaustResearchProject.org". holocaustresearchproject.org.
- BBC News (12 May 2011). "John Demjanjuk guilty of Nazi death camp murders". Retrieved 12 May 2011.
- "Sobibor: Chronology". ushmm.org.
- E.S.R. (2013). "Museum of the Former Sobibór Death Camp". Information Portal to European Sites of Remembrance. Gedenkstattenportal zu Orten der Erinnerung in Europa. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- Virtual Shtetl (2013). "A discovery in the former Sobibór death camp". The extermination camp in Sobibór. Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
- Regina Zielinski with Phillip Adams'Escape from the Sobibor WW2 death camp,' Late Night Live Interview 29 October 2013
- Krzysztof Bielawski (2010), Obóz zagłady w Sobiborze [Death camp in Sobibor] (in Polish), Virtual Shtetl, Museum of the History of Polish Jews, retrieved 25 September 2014
- Jakub Chmielewski (2014), Obóz zagłady w Sobiborze [Death camp in Sobibor] (in Polish), Ośrodek Brama Grodzka, Lublin Pamięć Miejsca, retrieved 25 September 2014
- Sobibor Museum (2014), Historia obozu [Camp history], Państwowe Muzeum na Majdanku, Oddział: Muzeum Byłego Obozu Zagłady w Sobiborze, retrieved 25 September 2014
- Thomas Blatt (1997). From the Ashes of Sobibor (GOOGLE BOOKS PREVIEW). Northwestern University Press. ISBN 0810113023.
- Yitzhak Arad (1987). Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhard Death Camps. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253213053. Amazon Kindle, also in: Google Books, snippet view.
- Bialowitz, Philip with Joseph Bialowitz (2010). A Promise at Sobibor: A Jewish Boy's Story of Revolt and Survival in Nazi Occupied Poland. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0-299-24800-0. With Foreword by Władysław Bartoszewski.
- Freiberg, Dov (2007), To Survive Sobibor, Gefen Publishing House. ISBN 978-965-229-388-6
- Lev, Michael (2007), Sobibor, Gefen Publishing House. ISBN 978-965-229-408-1
- Novitch, Miriam (1980). Sobibor, Martyrdom and Revolt: Documents and Testimonies. ISBN 0-89604-016-X.
- Schelvis, Jules (2007). Sobibor: A History of a Nazi Death Camp. Berg Publishers. ISBN 978-1-84520-418-1. Google Books, preview.
- Sereny, Gitta (1974). Into That Darkness: from Mercy Killing to Mass Murder. ISBN 0-07-056290-3.
- Gilead, I., Y. Haimi and W. Mazurek (2009), Excavating Nazi Extermination Centres. Present Pasts, Vol 1. http://www.presentpasts.info/article/view/pp.12/2
- Zielinski, Andrew (2003), "Conversations with Regina", Zedartz - Hyde Park Press Adelaide. ISBN 0-9750766-0-4
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sobibór extermination camp.|
- Sobibor on the Yad Vashem website
- SOBIBOR at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- The Sobibor Death Camp at Holocaust Research Project.net
- Sobibor Archaeological Project at Israel Hayom
- Archaeological Excavations at Sobibór Extermination Site
- International archeological research in the area of the former German-Nazi extermination camp in Sobibór.
- Onderzoek - Vernietigingskamp Sobibor (records of testimonies, transportation lists and other documents, from the archives of the NIOD Instituut voor Oorlogs-, Holocaust- en Genocidestudies, Netherlands)