Research project - The escape from Sobibor.

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Michael Falotico                                                                                           12/00

History- Mr. Conrad                                                                              Poly Prep

Research Project: The Escape from Sobibor

        During the Holocaust, there were many concentration and death camps.  Some were used for labor, others for the sole purpose of eliminating the Jews.  Some of the death camps were very well know like Auschwitz.  Others were very small but were there for the same purpose.  Sobibor was a very small death camp outside of the small town of Sobibor, in Poland.  Nothing was very special about this camp;  It was small, the living conditions were terrible, a lot of people were infected with disease, some people worked, most people died.  It was a typical death camp.  The only difference was that the Jews in this camp led a revolt, and won.  Using the help of Russian POWs and good team work, they were able to escape the inevitable death that awaited them.  I believe that the escape from Sobibor Death Camp was only possible do to excellent team work, careful planning, communication, cooperation, and trust.

        From the time of its creation in June of 1942 to the time of the revolt on October 14, 1943, Sobibor was responsible for the deaths of over 260,000 Jews (not to mention gypsies, POWs, and other “inferior” races).  If you were sent to Sobibor, rest-assure you were going to die unless you had some sort of working skill which was essential to the German’s needs.  

        Jewish prisoners were brought to Sobibor on large cargo trains.  They would pull up to the stations to the sounds of symphony orchestras playing.  Some times Jews were brought to Sobibor in luxury trains so that they wouldn’t panic while being transported to the camp.  These two things were done to fool the Jews into thinking that nothing bad was going to happen to them.  None of the Jews had a clue as to what it going to happen to them.  The Jews would exit the trains and all of their belongings would be stripped away from them.  Families were torn apart and forced into lines of women and men.  The SS officers would walk up and down the rows of people asking if anyone had different working skills.  Those people were taken separately into the main grounds of the camp and were immediately put to work.  The people not taken to work were immediately gassed and cremated.  No one that worked in the camp realized what the camp was really for.  They believed it was a labor camp and when they were put to work, they thought that the rest of their family was put to work in another part of the camp.  In actuality, the worker’s family members who did not ask for jobs were probably already dead and cremated.  

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        The thought of a mass revolt was barely even mentioned in between the prisoners until the Russian POWs arrived.  Alexander Petjerski, who was renamed Sasha by the Jews, was the leader of these 70 soldiers.  He was a man of great pride who one day at Sobibor he was challenged by an SS to complete a task so as to not be whipped; when he won, he refused two prizes that the SS offered.  All POWs sent to death camps were usually killed as soon as they were sent there.  The only reason these 70 men were still alive was ...

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