Chelm, located near the river Bug which was the eastern border
of Poland, was a center of Jewish life, immortalized in much
of the Shtetl folklore. Sobibor, located about 25 miles north
of Chelm, was an extermination camp. More than a quarter million
Jews were killed there between May 1942 and October 14, 1943
when the largest escape from any camp took place here. Most
of the escapees were either killed during the outbreak or rounded
up and killed afterwards. A few survived by hiding in the forest
or with Polish farmers. Immediately afterwards the Germans destroyed
the camp in order to remove all evidence of what happened there.
number of survivors of the Sobibor death camp is variously reported
as 50-70 persons (Arad, p. 364) or 58 persons at the time of
liberation (Blatt, p. 233), or more than 30 persons who were
liberated by the advancing Russian troops (Rückerl, p.
196). Rashke, in a carefully researched book based on eighteen
interviews with survivors (p.viii), compiled a list of 46 names
of Jewish camp inmates who survived the war; this list "was
compiled with the help of the survivors still alive....Besides
these survivors, there is one who lives in Canada. His
name could not be verified." (p. 374) This document is
the testimony of that survivor in Canada.
document describes the suffering of the Jews at the hands of
the Germans, their Ukrainian helpers, and the Poles. It explains
the source of the strength he found to survive, against all
odds. But it also documents the help he received from ordinary
Poles, in spite of the reprisals that the Germans carried out
if they were caught. Most importantly, it is a rare eyewitness
account from a survivor of the Sobibor revolt.
Arad, Yitzhak. Belzec,
Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps. (Bloomington
and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1987).
Blatt, Thomas Toivi.
From the Ashes of Sobibor: A Story of Survival. With a Foreword
by Christopher R. Browning. (Evanston, Illinois:Northwestern University
Rashke, Richard. Escape
from Sobibor.(Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press,
ed. Nationalsozialistische Vernichtungslager im Spiegel deutscher
Strafprozesse: Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Chelmo. (Nazi extermination
camps as reflected in German legal prosecutions.) With a
Preface by Martin Broszat. (München: Deutscher Taschenbuch