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      Accounts - Sobibor Survivors  

On April 7, 1942, the Nazis brought in 2,500 Jews from the medieval Polish town of Zamosc, killing 2,499. The sole survivor, 14-years-old Moshe Shklarek, was put on the Corpse Commando. He miraculously survived and later recalled one of the SS men of Sobibor, SS Unterscharfuehrer Paul Grot:

Grot had a trusted assistant in this work: his dog, Barry, a wild beast the size of a pony, well trained and obedient to the short, brutal orders of his master. When he heard Grot cry 'Jude', the dog would attack his victim and bite him on his testicles. The bitten man was, of course, no longer able to continue his work, and then Grot would take him aside and ask him in a sympathetic voice,"Poor fellow, what happened to you? Who did such a thing to you? .. Come with me, I'll go with you to the clinic!"

And, sure enough, Grot accompanied him, as he accompanied scores of workers every day, to the Lazaret, to the giant grave behind the worn-out hut, where armed Ukrainian bandagers greeted the sick and bitten men. 

In most cases, these men would place buckets on the heads of the victims, after they made them get into the pit, and would practise shooting, along with Grot, who was, of course, always the most outstanding shot.

Among the transport of 7,000 men with whom Ada Lichtmann arrived in the year 1942 and who went on the same day to the gas chambers only three women survived chosen to work in the laundry. The SS-officer took her out of the line and asked for her profession. When she answered that she was a teacher he broke out in laughter: "We will teach you to be a laundress .. Choose two other girls." Her closest friends Bela Sobol and Sarka Katz were already beyond the gate on the way to the gas chambers, but she managed to get them out of the line:

We heard word for word how SS-Oberscharführer Michel, standing on a small table, convincingly calmed the people; he promised them that after the bath they would get back all their possessions, and said that the time had come for Jews to become productive members of society. They would presently all be sent to the Ukraine where they would be able to live and work. 

Older people, the sick and invalids, and those unable to walk were told that they would enter an infirmary for medical treatment. In reality, they were taken on carts, pulled by men or horses, into Camp II, straight to the open ditches where they were shot ..

Generally the transports arrived during the day. Once on a hot summerday a transport arrived with thursty people as it had been for several days since they had tasted a drop of water. The SS-officer allowed some to go and fetch water, but there the SS-Oberscharführer Michel was already waiting for them and he made them run to a dug uphole which served as a privy and forced them to smear their body and face with the excrement. And thus he brought them back to the thursty people of the transport .. 

From another transport young men were forced to beat each other to death. The last one remaining from this terrible battle was shot by the Germans.

By the summer of 1943 Eliezer Karstatt was a witness to the arrival of a transport of Jews:

They were human skeletons really. On that day there was some kind of a malfunction apparently in the gas-chamber and they spent the night with us outside in the open courtyard. These people didn't care about anything. They were beaten, they just sighed. They could not even speak .. 

On the next morning they were taken to the gas-chambers and in the courtyard where they had been during the night were several hundred dead ..

The Sobibor survivors told of endless tortures, such as marksmanship competitions among SS men, using live men as targets.  Dov Freiberg told at the trial of Adolt Eichmann (Session 64, Vol. III, p. 1171-1172 ): 

I can talk about one of the many days that passed. We were then working in the sorting camp in Sobibor. We began sorting out the piles that had been heaped up in the course of time. We finished taking out personal belongings from one of the sheds. Paul was then our commander. It so happened that, between the rafters and the roof, a torn umbrella had been left behind. 

Paul sent one of our boys to climb up and bring the umbrella down. It was seven to eight metres high - these were large sheds. The lad climbed up though the rafters, moving along on his hands. He was not agile enough, fell down and broke his limbs. For falling down, he received twenty-five strokes of the whip and Barry [Paul's dog] dealt with him. This appealed to Paul, and he went and called other Germans. 

I remember Oberscharfuehrer Michel, Schteufel.  He called out to them:`I have discovered parachutists amongst the Jews. Do you want to see?'  They burst out laughing, and he began sending people up, one after the other, to go on to the rafters. I went over it twice - I was fairly agile; and whoever fell from fear fell to the ground. When they fell to the ground, they were given murderous blows, and the dog bit them incessantly .. 

After that someone invented something else .. When the personal effects were piled up, there were a lot of mice. The order was given:`Five men were to go outside, the others were to catch the mice. Everyone had to catch two mice; whoever failed to do so would be put to death' .. They tied up the bottoms of the trousers of five men and we had to fill them with mice. The men were ordered to stand at attention. They could not stand that. They wriggled this way and that, and were given murderous blows. 

The Germans roared with laughter ..

On September 18, 1943, a transport with 2,000 Jews left Minsk for Sobibor. First Lieutenant Alexander "Sasha" Pechorsky, a prisoner of war who was with this transport and one of the leaders of the revolt, later recalled in his Memoir The Uprising in Sobibor:

The women and children were taken to the station in trucks, the men by foot .. We were pushed .. seventy people in a freight car .. On the fifth day of travelling, we arrived in the evening at an isolated station. A white sign bore the name: Sobibor .. We were kept in the closed freight cards overnight. On September 23, in the morning, a locomotive pushed the train into the camp .. 

Tired and hungry we left the cars. Oberscharfuehrer Gomerski shouted: Cabinetmakers and carpenters without families, forward. Eighty men, most of them war prisoners, reported. We were rushed into a fenced yard inside a barrack .. 

A Jew from the camp who returned from some work approached up. During the conversation I noticed grey smoke rising in the northwest direction and a sharp smell of burning hovering in the air. I asked: `What is burning there?' `They are burning the bodies of your friends who arrived with you,' the Jew answered. I was shocked .. 

Louis Bülow  Privacy  ©2011-13
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