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:
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!"
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
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.
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:
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
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 ..
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 ..
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.
the summer of 1943 Eliezer Karstatt was a witness to
the arrival of a transport of Jews:
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 ..
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 ..
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 ):
can talk about one of the many days that passed.
We were then working in the sorting camp in
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.
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
appealed to Paul, and he went and called other Germans.
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
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
Germans roared with laughter ..
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:
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 ..
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 ..
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 ..