The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: places/poland/wlodawa/wlodawa.002


Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Life and Fall of Wlodowa: Sobibor        
Summary: from the Yizkor book of Wlodawa
Reply-To: kmcvay@nizkor.nizkor.org
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Nizkor Project, Vancouver Island, CANADA
Keywords: Sobibor,Wlodowa

Archive/File: places/poland/wlodawa/wlodawa.002
Last-modified: 1993/04/05

              The Life and Fall of Wlodawa and Surroundings
                   Translated by Shoshana Leszczynski
             (Transcribed by Ken McVay, kmcvay@nizkor.org)

        [Please refer to Wlodawa.001 for transcription comments]

                             Sobibor 
                           H. Nivjeska

The extermination camp Sobibor which the Germans began building
immediately after the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 was perhaps
the most unknown camp. 

The little railroad station of Sobibor was located in a forest about 12
km. from Wlodowa. Here two big buildings and a row of barracks were
built. Afterwards another building called the "Sanitation Center" was
added.

The ghetto was a 10 hectares wood, surrounded by 4 walls of barbed wire
and the area between the walls was mined. Armed guards stood at the rear
gate. From the high guard towers standing every few metres the whole
camp was watched day and night.

Ghetto Sobibor was divided into three areas. Two houses for the officers
were located in the first area. In addition there were workshops for
tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, and barracks for the labourers of the
camp.

The second area contained the workhouses for the classification and
assortment of the belongings of the corpses. Here was also the
beauty-parlour. It was forbidden at the risk of death for the labourers
of both areas to enter the third area.

The purpose of the extermination camp of Sobibor like the camp at
Treblinka was solely for the liquidation of Jews. This meant that they
were not mixed camps that included "Arians" too. It was not a free camp
like Oswiencim and Maidanek where you were allowed to write letters and
receive parcels and where news from outside could leak in. Here there
was not even a hospital besides a "Lazarett" consisting of a deep ditch,
where old and ill, no longer able to move unaided, were thrown in.

This camp was created for the sole purpose of conducting a quick mass
extermination of the Jews. The murdering of the masses had to be worked
out in such a way that no problems would arise for the executioners and
those responsible for maintaining secrecy. In addition, care had to be
taken not to leave any sign of what was done. The torture of the victims
was just a sadistic addition of the executioners. It was a free pleasure
without any danger, as all the possible witnesses were as well executed.

The German "service" in Sobibor was comparatively small. The system of
violence and torment of people simplified everything. The pitiful
victims were deceived by the Germans to the very last and ignorant of
their cruel fate could not possibly have expected it.

Even when the labourers revealed to the Jews that were being led to
their death, the Jews were more inclined to believe the Germans. The
warnings of their brothers seemed to them rather illusory.

Officially they were told that they would be sent for work to the
Ukraine, and that here in the "Sanitary Center" of Sobibor they had just
to go through the "Entlausung" -- a desinfectant  shower.

If not for this blind belief the people would never have gone to their
own death. They would have attacked their murderers with their bare
hands and teeth and would wildly run towards the electrified area in a
mad attempt to escape. Even the weak would have not surrendered with  any
attempt of defence but would have fallen down on the earth clinging to it
desperately and could only have been torn away with force. Thus bringing
about confusion and disorder in the precisely-run German death factory.
They would have forced the Germans to increase their numbers on this
front.

There existed many extermination camps and they could not afford such
allowances while World War was at its peak. In Sobibor there were only
twenty SS-men. The guards were taken from the "Blacks" as the Ukrainians
were known, Russian prisoners from Wlasow and a group of Letvians ,
formed altogether about 300 men. A group of guards stood outside the
camp in order to prevent the local population from approaching the
barbed wire fence.

Besides the entrance gate bore a sign announcing that everyone
approaching the gate would be shot.

In the beginning of 1941 sealed railroad cars started arriving from east
and west. These were vans with sealed doors and windows bringing Jews
from Poland and Russia, exhausted from starvation, thurst  and cold. Most
were near death and suffering from suffocation and others were already
dead. Luxury trains with first and 2nd class cars also arrived and the
passengers had only handlugagge  signifiying that the were rich Jews
coming from Western Europe -- France, Holland, Belgium, etc.

Doors were opened and the people entered the camp. They were immediately
devided  in groups of men and women. They were made to run and were
beaten and the dogs that had been set after them bit and tore their
flesh.

It is very difficult to describe the despair, wailing and howling of
people who had been sure they were going to work and who were suddenly
face to face with disaster.

One of the survivors of such a transport testified afterwards that the
Germans came to the camp for their "hobbyhorse-riding" in their uniforms
with white gloves. They watched bursting of  laughter, how these agonized
people were tormented and observed how the Ukrainians nearly beat to
death those trying to approach the well in order to get some water. The
most beautiful and most elegantly dressed girls were forced to clean the
privy springs with their bare hands.

After they had been counted they were brought in through a gate to the
first area. The healthy and strong were set aside for labour. The rest
were moved to the second area, where they had to strip off their
clothes.

In the beginning the personal belongings of the victims were removed to
several warehouses. Afterwards three barracks were constructed. In the
first barrack shoes were taken, in the second -- clothing and underwear,
and in the third hair was shorn for sanitary reasons.

They were ordered to throw money and jewels into big bowls.

After they had passed these three barracks they stood naked and ashamed,
surrounded by armed Ukrainian guards. Then they were divided into long
rows and were made to run by whipping them mercilessly. Chasty women who
covered their breasts with their hands were pulled out of the row and
their breast were cut off. Children were snatched from the arms of their
mothers and thrown on the earth and kicked to death with nailed boots.
The screaming of the wounded children and mothers maddened even those
who, by wonder, had not been struck.

The way to the "Sanitary Center" was stained with blood and squashed
brains of children.

Afterwards they were moved to the third area. Here again they were told
about their journey to work in the Ukraina. But before they had to take
a desinfectant  shower and after that they would receive clothing, a
uniform in order to prevent discrimination between poor and rich.
Everyone would have the same work.

Although the victims had just now suffered internal tortures they still
believed them. They passed obediently through the long and narrow path
between the barbed wire with green branches.

In the beginning, when "only" two or three transports arrived a day they
used gas. Two Russian tanks stood between the chambers and after the
chambers were filled with people the tanks were set to work and pressed
the gas in through the pipes. After about 20 minutes the doors were
opened and the corpses were removed. A lot were still dying. All were
thrown into deep pits pouring over them chloride of lime and covered
with ashes.

In the course of time the method of extermination was improved. A
special machine was installed creating the gassing routing through the
pipes directly into the chambers and "Sanitary Center". After a German
verified the death of the people by looking through a window in the roof
he ordered the gassing to stop, the floor opened and the corpses fell
down into a cellar. There the labourers loaded them on carriages
removing them to the pits.

The "labourers" themselves were shot after this service. The doors were
opened to let in fresh air, water pumps were turned on to clean the
"Sanitary Center". And everything started again.

When the number of transports increased to seven - eight a day and the
death machine of Sobibor was no longer capable of handling so many, the
Germans made the nearby situated Wlodowa an assembly center and sent to
it a part of the transports. The first once came from Kalish with about
4,000 people.

Since then more and more Jews were sent to this assembly center. On days
when the rate of transports arriving to Sobibor was small the missing
number of people was filled from the concentration camp.

At the end the turn of the Jews of Wlodowa themselves also came. The
SS-men acted here like on other places. First they ordered the
"Judenrat" to make a list of all the aged, sick, cripples and poor who
were a burden to them. Those were in the first transport from Wlodowa to
Sobibor. The second consisted of Jews from Kalish and the surrounding.
All were ordered to the market place surrounded by Ukrainian guards.
From there they had to run to the Wlodowa railway station Wlodowa -- Bug
from where they were brought to Sobibor by train. Anyone failing to run
the 5 km to the station was shot down.

On May 23, 1943 the last transport with Jews of Wlodowa left for
Sobibor. This transport included those few lucky ones needed in the camp
and those whom the Germans just plain liked and also the Jewish Militia
that had become superfluous.

Since the people of the last transport knew already where they were
being led, they smashed and broke the windows and doors of the cars,
jumped from the moving train and escaped into the forest in the midst of
a shower of shots. About 200 pepole got away into the forest this way.

In June 1943 a very strange transport arrived from Bialistok; cars full
of naked people packed like sardines. During the whole journey they did
not even receive a drop of water. In addition chloride of lime was
poured on them. The dead and living had become one clot which became
impossible to separate.

The labourers sorting the belongings of the corpses not once recognized
the clothes of dead relatives. The gravediggers removing the corpses
from the cellar under the "Sanitary Center" recognized the corpses of
their own fathers, mothers, wives and children. The robbed belongings
were sent to Germany. Objects of value like documents, reports and
photographs were immediately burnt. Women's hair was packed and shipped
to the workshops of carpenters for the use of upholstery.

The death camps worked at full capacity day and night without any
interruption. When the hideous screaming of the suffocating was heard
from the "Sanitary Center", the Germans let loose a herd of geese they
had especially bread for this purpose. The noise that the geese started
deafened the voices of the suffocating in the gas chambers.

The Germans desparately tried to keep all their doings in the utmost
secrecy. Nevertheless they could not conceal it from the eyes of the
public. The huge pits were filled quickly. The corpses, though the
chloride of lime was poured on them started rotting and the dangerous
stench of putrifaction was smelled for many kilometres in the
surrounding.

Afterwards the Germans reopened the graves with excavators and removed
the corpses to oven where they were burnt. Day and night dense black
smoke hang over the camp of Sobibor and over the tree-tops of the great
forest. The air was poisened by the stench of the human flesh and burnt
bones.

While the corpses were being burned, the Germans looked for new
amusements. Together with the Ukrainians they threw Jewish women and
children alive into the fire.

In March 1944 the corpses of the Jews of Wlodowa and Adampol were loaded
on vans and removed to the rural Christian cemetry of Olchowka near to
Wlodowa. There combustable material was poured over them and they were
burnt.

One transport included Russian prisoners of war and also a Jewish
officer named Pazarski. This officer persuaded the prisoners of the camp
to organise a revolt. They suddenly attacked the Germans and killed many
of them. Some of the rebels succeeded in passing the barbed wire and
escaping into the forest. But most of them were killed by mines and by
the shots. From those who escaped only a small part survived.

After this revolt the Germans destroyed the barracks and all the
facilities in the Sobibor camp. Thousands of poisoned, slaughtered, shot
and tortured by all kind of deathmethods. Justice rests as does the
conscience of the world.

-30-

Note: Extensive, well-documented material regarding Sobibor and Operation
Reinhard is available from listserv@oneb.almanac.bc.ca, in the REINHARD
and YAD_VASHEM sub-archives. Those interested in researching the subject
are invited to begin with our research guide, which contains a
recommended reading list and bibliography. To obtain the guide, and the
Yad Vashem Studies Operation Reinhard material, send the following
commands to listserv:

	get reinhard reinhard.faq1
	get reinhard reinhard.faq2
	index reinhard
	index Yad_Vashem

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