The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Yad Vashem Studies XVI:  Operation Reinhard (7/11)
Summary: Sobibor - from May to July 1942
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Nizkor Project, Vancouver Island, CANADA
Keywords: Yad Vashem,belzec,sobibor,treblinka
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Archive/File: orgs/israeli/yad-vashem/yvs16.02
Last-modified: 1993/03/29
XRef: yad_vashem index

                       YAD VASHEM STUDIES
                              XVI
                     Edited by Aharon Weiss

                          YAD VASHEM
           MARTYR'S AND HEROES' REMEMBRANCE AUTHORITY
                        JERUSALEM 1984

                    "Operation Reinhard": 
       Extermination Camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka

                       Yitzhak Arad 

              Sobibor -- from May to July 1942 

   The extermination installations in Sobibor had been tested in April
   1942, and mass exterminations began during the first days of May.
   Commandant Stangl introduced into his camp the extermination
   techniques employed in Belzec.  He received additional advice and
   guidance when Wirth visited Sobibor.  (Sereny, pp.  110,113.) 

   Ada Lichtmann, a survivor from Sobibor, reported how the arrivals
   were "greeted": 

      We heard word for word how SS-Oberscharfuehrer 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 work.  The speech inspired
      confidence and enthusiasm among the people.  They applauded
      spontaneously and occasionally they even danced and sang.  (Yad
      Vashem Archives 0-3/1291, p. 18.) 

   Older 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.  (StA Dortmund
   AZ: 45Js 27/61 )

   During the first weeks the arrivals had to undress in the open square
   in Camp Il.  Later, a hut was erected for this purpose.  (See plan of
   Sobibor in the appendix provided with the printed material) There
   were signs pointing toward the "Cash Office" and the "Baths." At the
   "Cash Office" the Jews had to deposit their money and valuables.  It
   was located in the former forester's house, on the route along which
   the naked people had to walk on their way to the "tube" and eke gas
   chambers.  The victims handed over their money and valuables through
   the window of this room.  They had been warned that those trying to
   hide something would be shot.  When time permitted, the Jews were
   given numbers as receipts for the items handed over, so as to lull
   them into a sense of security that afterwards everything would be
   returned to them. (Verdict of LG Hagen AZ: 11 Ks 1/64, p. 243 ) 

   Transports which arrived in the evening or at night were unloaded and
   kept under guard in Camp II until the morning, when the people were
   taken to the undressing huts and then led into the gas chambers.
   (Yad Vashem Archives M-2/236, p. 2.) Extermination operations did
   not normally take place at night.

   Frequently, the entire procedure, from the unloading to entry into
   the gas chambers, was accompanied by beatings and other acts of
   cruelty on the part of the Germans and the Ukrainians.  There was a
   dog called Barry whom the SS-men had trained to bite Jews upon being
   called to do so, especially when they were naked.  The beatings,
   Barry's bites, and the shouting and scream- ing by the guards made
   the Jews run through the "tube" and of their own accord push on into
   the "baths" -- in the hope of escaping from the hell around them.

   Occasionally, a restricted number of skilled workers were selected
   from some transports.  These included carpenters, tailors, and
   shoemakers, as well as a few dozen strong young men and women. They
   had to do all the physical work.  For months on end, the
   extermination machinery in Sobibor operated smoothly and
   uninterruptedly.  It should be recalled that fewer transports came to
   Sobibor than to Belzec, and generally with fewer deportees per train.
   Usually only one deportation train arrived each day; there were also
   days without a transport.  The size of a transport rarely exceeded 20
   freight cars, conveying 2,000 - 2,500 persons.

   Stangl, the leading figure, supervised operations.  His personality
   and experience of many years as a police officer in the "Euthanasia"
   program made him a very suitable camp commandant.

   The first phase of operations in Sobibor lasted from May until the
   end of July 1942.  During this period the Jews from the ghettoes of
   Lublin district were taken there.  Among these were also Czech and
   Austrian Jews who had first been deported to these Polish ghettoes.
   Altogether, 61,330 Jews from Bezirk Lublin were taken to Sobibor.
   Simultaneously, transports arrived with 10,000 Jews from Austria,
   6,000 from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and part of the
   24,378 Slovak Jews who were murdered in this camp by the end of 1942.
   The first wave of extermination in Sobibor lasted three months,
   claiming at least 77,000 Jewish victims, excluding those deported
   from Slovakia.

   At the end of July 1942 the large deportations to Sobibor were halted
   due to repair work on the railway line between Lublin and Chelm.  At
   the beginning of August several transports reached the camp from the
   ghettoes in the neighborhood; they travel led along the eastern
   sector of the line which was again open to traffic.  


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