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Sobibor Death Camp
Transcript of Sobibor Death Camp
-SS-Obersturmführer Richard Thomalla, head of the Central Building Administration in Lublin, was in charge of its construction.
-The workers employed for this purpose were local people from the neighborhood. -Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler appointed SS-Obersturmführer Franz Stangl as the first commandant of Sobibor. Stangl was Sobibor's commandant from April 28 to the end of August 1942.
-John Demjanjuk, a former Soviet POW, allegedly worked as a watchguard at Sobibor. On May 12, 2011, Demjanjuk, then 91 years old, was convicted by a German court of complicity in the murder of over 28,000 Jews whilst serving at Sobibor, and was sentenced to 5 years in jail. [We have survivor testimonies against him to present later]. He died on March 17, 2012, while in a German nursing home awaiting appeal. As a result of his death prior to the appeal trial, he was declared "presumed innocent," with his previous conviction invalidated.
-Franz Stangl, chief commandant of Sobibor and later of Treblinka, fled to Syria.
-Gustav Wagner, the deputy Sobibor commander.
Erich Bauer, commander of Camp III and gas chamber executioner. -Rachel Birnbaum Polish -Hid in the forest after arriving at the camp by train.
-Selma Engel-Wijnberg, 1943 Escaped with Chaim Engel during the revolt. The two later married.
-Kurt Ticho Thomas, 1942-After the war, he brought charges against SS officers Hubert Gomerski and Johann Klier.
-Josef Kopp 1944 or 1945 Polish 01942-01-011942: He and Schlomo Podchlebnik escaped by killing a Ukrainian guard on 01943-07-27July 27, 1943 while on duties outside of the camp in the nearby village of Zlobek. Kopp was later killed after the camp's liberation.
-Elka de Levie 01905-11-21November 21, 1905 01979-12-12December 12, 1979 700174000000000000074 years, 700121000000000000021 days Dutch Jewish Gymnast. Gold medalist at 1928 Summer Olympics. Only Jewess of the 1928 Dutch Olympic gymnastics team to survive the Holocaust. -Killed est. min. 200,000–250,000
-Number of inmates est. 600–650 at any given time
-Inmates Jews (maybe other POWs)
-About 15,000 to 25,000 Jews were deported from Lvov and the other ghettos in the District of Galicia to Sobibor in the period ... after Belzec was closed. -More than any other officer at Sobibor, Wagner was responsible for the daily interactions with prisoners.
-Wagner supervised the routine and daily life at Sobibor, and he was one of the most brutal SS officers.
-Survivors of the camp described him as a cold-blooded sadist. Wagner was known to beat and thrash camp inmates on a regular basis, and to kill Jews without reason or restraint.
-One of the Sobibor prisoners improvised a song which ironically described camp life (quite the opposite was the truth):
How fun is our life there,
They give us food to eat that's fair,
What fun it is in the green wood,
Where I am stood.
Wagner enjoyed this song and he forced the prisoners to sing it
frequently. -Sobibor's gas chambers killed an approximate total of 260,000 Jews.
-Each gas chamber was entered through a small door, leading from a veranda which ran along the length of the building. After gassing the bodies were removed through a 2 x 2 m folding door, opposite to the entrance, and placed on a second veranda. Outside the building was an annex in which a motor produced the deadly carbon monoxide gas. Water pipes conducted the gas to the gas chambers.
-One Sobibor witness even claimed the Jews were killed with electricity.
-The first experimental killings were carried out in Sobibor in the middle of April 1942. About 250 Jews were brought from the Krychow labor camp for this purpose.
-On 23 November 1943 Wagner announced the execution of the last remaining thirty Jews.The Jews were then executed in batches of five by a bullet in the neck. -They pushed Jews with umbrellas off roofs to assemble parachuting.
-Others sewed up prisoners' trousers after throwing rats inside.
-Babies were thrown directly into garbage pits or were torn apart down the middle by their legs. -Soviet POWs, primarily from Ukraine.
-Before they were sent as guards to the concentration camps, most of the Soviet POWs underwent special training in Trawniki.
-The Stroop Report listed a Trawniki Guard Battalion assisting in the suppression of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
-To kill and torture.
-Those that were selected to work were taken to Lager I were registered and placed in barracks. Most of these prisoners still did
not realize that they were in a death camp, thus many asked other prisoners when they would again be able to see their family members.
-Approximately 600 inmates worked in the Vorlager, Lager I, and Lager II, while approximately 200 worked in the segregated Lager III. The two sets of prisoners never met, for they lived and worked apart.
-Workers in the Vorlager, Lager I, and Lager II
The prisoners that worked outside Lager III: Some worked
specifically for the SS. Others worked at jobs dealing with the
-No prisoners from Lager III survived.
-The prisoners who worked in Lager III worked amidst the
Bibliography: Escapes: -Leon Feldhendler – The former head of the Lublin Judenrat, retrieved hidden notes from executed Belzec prisoners who had been transferred to Sobibor in the spring of 1943.
-"We worked for a year in Belzec. I don't know where they are taking us now. They say to Germany. In the freight cars there are dining tables. We received bread for three days, and tins and liquor. If all this is a lie, then know death awaits you, too. Don't trust the Germans. Avenge our blood!"
-Feldhendler began conspiring to escape via tunnels, but this did not work out.
-Soviet-Jewish POW General Alexander Pechersky arrived in September of 1943 and inspired bravery among the 600 prisoners. Feldhendler then met with Pechersky to plan their mass escape.
- They ordered the workshop prisoners to construct axes and knives that fall. On October 14, 1943, these organized prisoners lured 11 SS officers and several Ukrainian camp guards to various locations throughout Sobibor.
-Lasting from 4:00 to 5:00 PM, The specially selected prisoners quietly assassinated them and hid their bodies. They also cut the telephone and telegraph wires at the camp headquarters so that no outside Nazi help could intervene. At the 5:30 roll call, Pechersky whistled for all the prisoners to meet and storm the gates.
-However, shooters in the guard towers and land mines surrounding the camp stopped many who tried to flee. - half of the 600 prisoners made it into the nearby forest, but only 250 of the 300 escapees who made it to the forest , including Feldlhendler, were murdered by Poles and SS officers. He few prisoners who did not agree to participate in the revolt were killed as well.
- 48 escapees survived the war.
- Individual escapes include the July 27, 1942 killing of an SS officer by inmates Joseph Kopp and Schlomo Podchlebnik while working in a nearby village. Resistance: - The most successful camp revolt occurred at Sobibor in October of 1943, forcing the closure of the camp and freeing 47 prisoners.
- Individual tales of resistance include refusal to eat the German’s food after performing tasks/ dares from the SS officers.
- At the opening of the camp, the initial prisoners were led by a rabbi to hold a fast in protest of the camp’s construction.
-Because of this, they were executed. Humanitarian Help: -There were not many attempts of helping the prisoners of Sobibor on the Polish villagers’ part; in fact many of them helped build the camp and helped locateand kill those who escaped after the revolt.
- However Soviet partisan groups did support the few who escaped into the forest.
- The camp was strategically placed in an unpopulated area of Poland, and largely kept secret. A group of survivors of the Sobibor death camp who took part in the revolt at Sobibor on October 14, 1943. Knowledge by the Allies: Liberation: Interesting Information: -prisoners at Sobibor organized a resistance group in the late spring of 1943.
After considering several options for escape and augmented in numbers and military training skills by the arrival of a number of former Soviet-Jewish prisoners of war from the Minsk ghetto in late September, the prisoners opted for an uprising, following the liquidation of key German camp officials.
-On October 14, 1943, with approximately 600 prisoners left in the camp, those who knew the plan for the uprising initiated the operation. The prisoners succeeded in killing nearly a dozen German personnel and Trawniki-trained guards. Around 300 prisoners succeeded in breaking out of the killing center that day; around 100 were caught in the dragnet that following and more than half of the remaining survivors did not live to see the end of the war.
-After the revolt, the Germans and the Trawniki-trained guards dismantled the killing center and shot the Jewish prisoners who had not escaped during the uprising.
-There is no information of the camp ever holding anymore prisoners after
the last killing of the Jews. A small Trawniki-trained guards remained
at the camp till the end of March 1944. -German SS and Police officials deported Jews to Sobibor primarily from the ghettos of the northern and eastern regions of Lublin District in the Government General. The Germans also deported Jews to Sobibor from German-occupied Soviet territory.
-In all, the Germans and their auxiliaries killed at least 167,000 people at Sobibor.
-During World War II, and for years afterward, the Sobibor camp was virtually unknown. http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/this_month/october/10.asp
Sobibor_extermination_camp Survivor Testimonies: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/video_and_audio/8046644.stm Former Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk, sentenced to five years in a German prison last year in one of the last major trials of its kind, has died at the age of 91. -Thomas Blatt.
-Elka de Levie.
-Gymnast. Gold medalist at 1928 Summer Olympics. Only Jewess of the 1928 Dutch Olympic gymnastics team to survive the Holocaust.
-There is now a memorial built.
-There was a large grant given for the Dutch to even improve the cite.