Archive/File: holocaust/poland/reinhard/sobibor ap.101593 Last-Modified: 1994/07/19 Survivors Mourn 250,000 Jews killed in Nazi Death Camp SOBIBOR, oct 15 (AP) - Fifty years after inmates of the Nazi death camp in Sobibor escaped in a prisoner revolt, the few remaining survivors of the camp honored some 250,000 Jews murdered in its gas chambers. "Now comes a moment for which I waited many years," Thomas "Toivi" Blatt, 66, said through tears Thursday as he and five other survivors unveiled metal tablets recalling the deaths in five languages. It was a culmination of 30 years' effort by Blatt, founder and chairman of the Holocaust Sites Preservation Committee, to replace Communist-era memorials that list Soviet prisoners as the camp's main victims. Blatt, who lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., said they only "casually" mentioned the Jews killed. The Nazis brought thousands of Jews from all over Europe to this small town a few miles (kilometers) from Poland's eastern border between April 1942 and October 1943. Most were killed within hours of arriving. Then on Oct. 14, 1943, some 300 inmates staged a revolt led by Sasha Pechursky, a Russian Jew. They killed 23 German officers and guards. Although only 52 inmates survived the escape, it is considered the largest and most successful prisoner0revolt in a Nazi death camp during World War II. The Germans dismantled the death camp after the escape. "We had nothing to lose. We had our death sentences in our pockets," said former inmate Esther Raab, 71, who lives in Vineland, New Jersey. Except for one brother, her entire family died in the Sobibor camp. On Thursday, a rabbi and a Polish army priest prayed under sunny skies as a huge torch burned in a wooded area where the camp once stood. Wreaths of white, violet and red flowers were laid at the mound of ashes of the murdered. Several hundred Poles and Jews attended the three-hour ceremony. Only 14 prisoners who survived the escape are still alive, and nearly all were too old to make the trip to Thursday's ceremony. President Lech Walesa and Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka sent letters praising the moral victory of the Sobibor insurgents, saying they chose death in a dignified struggle instead of by poison gas. The Israeli, U.S. and German embassies sent representatives to the ceremony. The uprising was portrayed on film in "Escape from Sobibor" made by CBS-TV of the United States in the 1980s with Blatt and Raab as consultants. At the ceremony, Raab presented Jan Marcyniuk, 67, whose family hid Raab, her brother and two other escapees for 14 months after the uprising. "They are my family," Raab said.
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