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the Final Solution & the Massacres of the Jews

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Sarah
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« on: February 09, 2007, 10:45:24 pm »

Sobibór extermination camp

Sobibór was a Nazi extermination camp that was part of Operation Reinhard. It is also the name of the village outside which the camp was built, which is now part of Lublin Voivodship in Poland. Jews, mostly Jewish Soviet POWs, and possibly Gypsies were transported to Sobibór by rail, and suffocated in gas chambers that were fed with the exhaust of a petrol engine. At least 250,000 people were killed in Sobibór.

The camp


In May of 1942, Sobibor began gassing operations. Trains entered the railway station, and the Jews onboard were told they were in a transit camp, and were forced to undress and hand over their valuables. They were then led into the "Road to Heaven" which led to the gas chambers, where they were killed using the carbon monoxide released from the exhaust pipes of tanks.

SS-Oberscharführer Kurt Bolender described the way the gassing operations ran during his trial:

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 Ukrainian 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.

The victims were mostly Jews, from Poland (especially Lublin and eastern Galitzia) (145,000-150,000 Jews), the Czech Republic and Slovakia (31,000), Germany and Austria (10,000), France (4,000), Lithuania (14,000), and the Netherlands (34,313). Although official estimates put the number of dead around 250,000, survivors from the camps like Esther Rabb (whose life is dramatized in Richard Raschke's play, "Dear Esther) recall the Nazi celebration for the death of the millionth Sobibor Jew.

The rebellion

Sobibór was the site of one of three successful rebellions by Jewish prisoners in a Nazi extermination camp — there was a similar revolt at Treblinka, and at Auschwitz one of the crematoria was blown up during an attempted revolt. On 1943-10-14, members of the Sobibór underground, led by Alexander Pechersky, succeeded in covertly killing 11 of their SS guards and a number of Ukrainian 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 half of the 600 inmates in the camp escaped. Most of them were either killed by the mines surrounding the site or recaptured and shot in the next few days, but about 50 escapees survived the war. The Nazis closed and dismantled the camp, and planted a forest at the site, in an effort to hide what they had done.

The revolt was dramatized in the 1987 TV movie Escape from Sobibor, directed by Jack Gold, based on the book of the same name written by Richard Rashke.

An award-winning documentary about the escape was made by Claude Lanzmann, entitled Sobibor, 14 octobre 1943, 16 heures. (The English title was Sobibor, Oct. 14, 1943, 4 p.m.)

A memorial and museum are at the site today.


 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sobib%C3%B3r_extermination_camp
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