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Editors' Introduction

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.

The 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.

This 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 Press, 1997).
        Rashke, Richard. Escape from Sobibor.(Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1982, 1995).
        Rückerl, Adalbert, 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 Verlag, 1977).

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