The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Life and Fall of Wlodowa

The Memorial Book of Wlodawa

Nearly a legend
Misha Lew

We the organisation of the survivors of Wlodlowa in Israel, together with the survivors of the death camp Sobibor, declare herewith our recognition and our thankfulness to the Jewish Russian officer Alexander Zerski the courageous hero, the organizer of the revolt in Sobibor, and his three friends of the mutiny survived: Arkadi Weispapir, Simion Rosenfeld and Ipis Litbonowski. God bless also the memory of those who fell in the battle during the revolt!

In this death camp, 6-8 km away from Wlodowa, all the Jews of the town and its surroundings were suffocated and burnt. Thank<s> to the heroism of the organizer and participants of the revolt the honour of the Jews was saved and their revolt against the forces of their torturers marks the courage and heroism of the Jews. May the shortened fragments of the essay of Misha Lew about the four heroes and the description of the course of the battle, that we bring on our memory book, be a document for the generations of the Jewish history.

Alexander Kazarski, Lieutenant of the Soviet army, captured by the German army near Viasma in the year 1941.

Arkadi Weispapir, was imprisoned near Lazernigow.

Simion Rosenfeld, not yet l9 years old bombed together with Soviet soldiers vans loaded with weapons, he was wounded and was imprisoned near the border.

Ipis Litwinowski was also wounded and captured.

For two years they were dragged from one camp to the other until they arrived to Minsk. There they were shut up in a cellar together with the other Jewish prisoners. Every day corpses were taken out of the cellar and the guard would ask: "Do we have still to wait a long until all of you die?" and a voice always answered: "Yes you will have to wait a long time!"

Together with them was a Jewish Communist from Poland, Shlomo Leitmann and someone from Sowjet Union, Boris Zibolski.

On September l9, all those were taken away from Minsk who declared that they were craftsmen, carpenters, constructors and others. They were loaded on 25 wagons, always 70 in a wagon. For 4 days and nights the train crawled to Sobibor. During this time they did not taste a slice of bread or a drop of water.

The Oberscharfu"hrer ordered the craftsmen without family to leave. Among those Pazarski Leitmann, Rosenfeld, Weispapir, Litwinowski, Schubejew and others descended. They were led to a enclosed area with barbed wire, where the people of the camp were arranging logs of wood. Suddenly it became so difficult so breathe that one nearly could suffocate. In the area of about half a kilometer a dense smoke dispersed and you could see flames of fire and a terrible noise was heard: Hundreds of geese were making noise. When they were already in the barrack someone entered and told them to stand with their backs to the train. He asked: "From where are the Jews coming?" "From Minsk". He was answered and was also asked why nobody had answered their greeting. "This is an order because not all the people of our train have been burnt yet. You were left to finish the northern camp".

That same evening they learnt that the camp was built according to the order of Himmler. this plan was worked out by the SS-engineer Tomol. The supervision of the construction was in the hands of the chief supervisor of the death camp Holdheimer and the engineer Maser. Himmler himself visited the camp in July 1943, and after his visit they started to burn 15,000 Jews per day.

Sobibor consisted of three camps actually. In the first the workshops of the shoemakers, tailors, carpenters and two officer domiciles were situated.

From there was a passageway to the second camp, there the belongings of those who were moved over to the third camp through the "Himmelsstrasse" (sky street) were classified and packed. There already half a million Jews were exterminated. 1500-20000 Jews a day arrived to Sobibor from Poland, Czechoslowakia, Holland, France, Austria and others countries. From the Sovjet Union this was the first train.

Baruch who had already been in the camp for a year and a half told us: "In the spring a couple tried to escape. They were seized and killed together with another 150 people. Two communists who worked with some of the camp inhabitants in town, suffocated the guard and escaped, the others were brought back and shot, But Pazarski acted towards him with suspicion.

In the northern camp there was work for a month only. On the same day 25 men who had approached were beaten. They were beaten with a whip coated with rubber and the one being hit had to count in a loud voice and if he made a mistake the beating started from the beginning again. The next day 25 others were beaten.

On the third day Franz, the camp leader shot the cook because he did not succeed in distributing the water soup within the time alotted to him, 10 minutes.

On the fourth day Pazarski was lucky and escaped from sure death. He stood with other camp inhabitants and was cutting woodblocks with an unsharpened axe. His working partner a Dutch notary, was cleaning his glasses and was contemplating how to cut the block Franz approached him and with all his strength struck his head. The glasses of the Dutchman fell down and broke into thousand pieces, strewn with blood he started hacking with his axe on the tree and Franz was hacking on his head with his stick until he collapsed on the earth drawning in his blood.

Pazarski stood looking on both until his glance met with the glance of the murderer and this one shouted: "Russ, komm her (Russian come here!)" Baserski, the Kapo told him that the Oberscharfu"hrer gave him 5 minutes to cut the piece of wood and he would get a pack of cigarettes and if not, he would be beaten until death. Alexander spread out his legs rubbed his hands, lifted the axe and turned his head towards the German, who had drawn his gun and quickly put it back.

After four and a half minutes the block was cut.

When he gave him the cigarette he refused to accept them: "I do not smoke" -- he said. Franz said something to the Kapo and he went and returned with bread and a package of margarine. This Pazarski refused to accept: "I am not hungry", he said.

And, oh, wonder, the Oberscharfu"hrer put his gun back into his case and went away. In the course of the time Baruch gained the trust of Pazarski and one day he told Baruch about the underground group existing in the camp to which the following belonged.

Leon Feldhendler, who worked together with Baruch in the second camp, the manager of the tailor workshops, Jusek the shoemaker Jacob and the carpenter Janek.

"Do you know in which places the field is mined?" Alexander asked him. "Yes", answered Baruch, "it is like a chessboard for me, I myself dug the holes for the mines." Afterwards Baruch was brought to the women's camp where he was introduced to some girls and one of them Lioka who was breeding rabbits told him that from her place of work she could see through cracks in the wood, how about 300 geese where moved to the third camp and behind the geese followed for hours black naked people. They were driven to the brick structure then passed through the metal gate, then the Disel was operated, infusing the poison into the cells.

Pazarski and Leitmann came frequently to the locksmiths and the smith. Once they met Basatzki there. Leitmann pulled Alexander away: "let's go! "go alone", said the Kapo, "I have to clear something up with Sasha". After Leitmann had gone Basatzki said: "You are not careful at all. The event with Franz, your frequent visits in the women's camp. You think I do not understand that Loika is nothing but an excuse. Your right hand is Leitmann. I only want to tell you, if I were a dog I would have handed you over long since, but I understand that I too will be burnt, they don't want to leave witnesses."

"It's good that you understand. But why do you tell me all this? Sasha why should we loose time in vain? remember that together with us you can gain a lot. Let us join you: Me and the Kapo Zapik from the train headquarters, of the Kapo Schmidt I myself am afraid. Think it over and the sooner the better for all of us."

On October 12th in the evening not only the Fashists but also the Russian prisoners were standing on guard: Arkadi Weispapir inspected the ground and Simion Rosenfeld did not stop watching the gate. They had received the order to announce immediately if they had seen something suspicious.

But they did not know that when the guard beat 9 times with his ironstick on the railway. nine people gathered in the carpenterworkship to discuss whether to invite a tenth man or not. What would have Arkadi Weispapir said if he had known that this tenth was the Kapo Basetzki.

Sasha sent for Basetzki and when he appeared he said: "We are starting with consultations. "What, Sasha, you want to try me or to warn me?"

"There is no time for reproaches now, you are really ought to be judged and nevertheless we are entrusting you with lives of 600 Jews, and why should we warn you? You know yourself quite well what is expecting you if you betray us."

The next morning Basetzki came to the carpentery workshop and shouted at Janek that the doors in Kasrektin do not close and open as they should. "How should I know this?" Janek replied, "I never go there". "You always have an excuse ready. Give me someone from the workers and I will bring him there".

The labourer who took the tool-box was naturally Pazarski, He acted as if he tried out the locks in the empty rooms of Kasrektin, closed the doors and quickly opened the closets and saw for himself that the gun magazines and the girdles were empty. In the afternoon he and Shlomo ascended up the loft observing for a long time the forest to the right of the gate.

They decided to cut the barbed wire next to the officer's house, they knew that the mines around it were only warning mines and it was possible to explode them with stones they had long since prepared... Ready was also the dry sand to throw into the eyes of the guards.

On the loft it was also finally decided what everyone had to do the next day, Thursday, October 14th, at 4.00 o'clock in the afternoon when the officers would come to try on their suits. Everything had to be ready until 5.00 o'clock, the hour of the roll-call. Tonight 70 men had to be equipped with arms, sharp knives and axes that the locksmiths and smiths had secretly prepared for them.

"Rest a little bit, Sasha," "Immediately, but I am contemplating the advise I am going to propose to Finkewitz, who will lead the line, after all he is a lieutenant in the army and experienced." "Don't dare, he is frightened". A few days ago I hinted to him that he has to do something -- he answered that he would not participate in adventures". "Perhaps he does not trust you?"

"Nonsense, in Minsk he had already said: "Under Pilsudski it was still possible to be a Communist but under Hitler it is impossible". Very rarely has this region experienced in October such a warm and beautiful day. Basetzki burst out coarsely and let to the rubber hose run freely in his hands. The supervisor Greischutz called him and gave him a package of cigarettes for his nice work.

Basarski went with 7 men to the little carpentery workshop. From there you could look at the first camp hand as if it were on the palm of your hand. The head of the great workshop was Lettmann that day and not Janek. With him there were 20 men of the Red Army and under their shirts there were hammers and knives.

At 3.30 o'clock Basetzki had to lead Zibolski and two others to the second camp and to kill the four Faschists there. But at 2.00 o'clock an SS-man came and ordered Basetzki and three others to come with him. Bazarski's face was bathed in cold sweat... He went to the great workshop of the carpenters and told Janek and the Kapo Zepik to go and see where they were being led. They were only taken to arrange the wood logs in the northern camp.

Bazarski called Zibulski and told him: "Zapek will bring you to the second camp". "This does not come into account!" Shouted Sapek, "without a permit I am not allowed to go there. We have to postpone everything to tomorrow".

"What, you refuse?" Zibulski answered: "Everything will be alright".

The Germans officers were told to come at a fixed time for the try-on of the suits or boots. The executioner Neumann had to be the first to come to the workshop of the tailors. At 4.00 o'clock.

He came ridding 20 minutes before the time. The main tailor Jusek and the "Tailors" Shubajew and Rosenfeld asked him to take off the coat. He took off the coat together with the girdle and the gun and put it on the table.

"Please" gave him Jusek a new coat, please turn to the light."

At the same moment Rosenfeld seized the weapon of Neumann Schubajew took I he axe which was hidden near to the table...

The corpse they covered with rags and the blood stains with sand they disper<s>ed on them. Schubajew went to Bazarski to tell him the news. At 4.05 o'clock came to take his boots the responsible for the "Himmelstrasse" the Vicehead of the camp, Go"ttinger. He was killed by Arkadi Weispapir.

At 4.10 o'clock the head of the Police Greischutz opened the door, he opened and fell down on the earth... he was killed by Simion.

From far the SS-man Gaulstick was seen going to the second camp, of which Bazarski did not know what was going on. Leitmann came towards him: "Mister officer, we were ordered to finish the bed planks and we don't have exact instructions, the carpenters don't do anything, perhaps you come in for a moment". Shlomo made the way free for him to the beds and from the first hit he was dead.

At 4.20 Zibulski came to Bazarski and told him: "The four officers are dead their weapons taken, the telephone connection cut. The leaders Or the second camp are now Lion and Baruch." To the courtyard came some tinsmiths with zinc cones in their hands and brought 6 German guns with bullets.

At 4.30 Basetzki returned with his group and told that the smith from Lodz Henrik Hengel had killed on the lamp shade with an iron bar the Unterscharfu"hrer Beckman and had taken his machine gun.

It was time to give the sign for the general action but Bazarski is waiting. Franz the supervisor of the camps is still living. It was promised that he would come to the little carpenter workshop to see the new closets. Why did not he come? Nevertheless they had to start. Bazarski told Basetski to give the sign and to stand them all in a line. In the first line stood 70 war prisoners of the Russian war who had to attack the weapon storehouse. Lion brought from the second camp 150 men. It became noisy, crowded and everyone guessed that something was going on and wanted to be near to the gate.

At the same moment appeared like from the earth the supervisor of the guards. He did not understand what this noise meant before the roll-on and his whip started to work at its right and at its left. He succeeded in standing up all in lines of 5. And he turned around and saw that not only Basetzki as usual was going after him but also other camp inhabitants.

"Look Kapo that they should stand immediately." He shouted and drew out his gun. Rosenfeld and some others drew their axes. It was now impossible to stop the mass. And suddenly Bazarski's order was heard: "Friends to the house of the officers to cut off the wires!"

Now those in the watch towers understood that there is something going on and opened the fire. Pinkewitz and others werc running to the main gate. But they did not reach the forest, they were bombed on the mines. The Russian prisoners with Bazarski ran to the weaponmagazine, but the fireshots laid them down on the ground. Also the Faschists set off for the storehouse. The uprising had only a few rifles and guns, but nevertheless they were enough to force the Germans to creep on four, but not enough to conquer a weapon storehouse.

Bazarski saw Franz arriving almost at the gate of the storehouse and when he tried to get up, he shot him.

"One after one to the house of the officers". Bazarski ordered, "Tear the wires and quickly to the forest". He himself would remain with some men with arms in order to prevent the enemy from pursuing the unarmed rebels.

"Commander" someone addressed him, "it is time to withdraw".

"Commander" his heart fluttered, it was the first time in 2 years he was thus addressed, although he was still in the death camp he was no longer its inhabitant.

He stood at the edge of the forest to get a breath of fresh air and he saw some more people running. Bullets whistling, fell one here, another tread on a mine, and there fell a woman who was already near to the forest.

They were going one after the other, at the head Bazarski, after him Zibulski and the last Weispapir.

To leave the forst was like to abandon a fortress, behind which was on open field with a moat full of water.

Weispapir had heard something and one transmitted to the next -- "Beware". There is still someone here. They heard Kaukasian -- it was Schubejew with his group. All had already passed to the second bank of the moat and again the forest is spread out before them only Bazarski is sad. Schubejew had told kin that Leitmann is seriously wounded. Schlomo, Leon and Baruch had to find the Polish partisans, now he was Iying on the stretcher seriously wounded. Who could tell if he'd live until the morning.

Pazarski was walking and thinking of those days when he had been together with Leitmann and he had never realized how he loved him. It was enough that Leitmann would lay down his head and Bazarski would know that he could not live without him. Shlomo sent his last farewell and thanks with Schubejew... whom had he to thank first if not Shlomo that they were free now. Bazarski would never forget him.

But to further entertain sentimental thoughts he was not allowed he had to take care of 60 men following him. He knew that it would be difficult to hide with such a great group and impossible to escape without it being realized.

A rustle -- and all held their breaths, again silence. Good that it had been a false alarm. They continued and there a women was crying: "Moishe, wo bist du?" (Moshe where are you). True no one heard Moshe's answer, but it seem- ed as if her voice did not spread only in the forest, but "Moishe, wo bist du?" she cried again.

What were they to do? To send her away? Shlomo would have shaken his head: "No!" The scouts went, returned announcing: "Sparse woods, field, railway. What should we do? Should we stay in the forest? Here they would certainly look for us. They crept to the railway and hid between the bushes. Lucky for them, the wind did not disperse the clouds and a dull thin drizzle trickled since the morning.

Only in the afternoon some planes were to be seen. And from the surrounding forests shots and the barking of dogs were heard, the Germans and the police were searching there. At night they crept across the railway and they continued.

In the forest they met other escapers from Sobibor.

"Are you going to the Bug?", Return, it is full of Germans there".

Bazarski and 8 others decided not to deviate from their course. In a little cave in the forest all gathered for the last time. Bazarski said: "Friends, we will divide into 6 groups, I wish you all a good journey succeed and revenge~"

They hugged him, kissed him and whispered: "Many thanks to you, Sasha, we will never forget you."

After 4 days 9 men sneaked into a yard of a farm and they waited some hours until the evening.

Alexander knocked at the window. Someone moved the curtain and the door was opened. Bazarski, Zibulski, Schubejew and Weispapir entered. The rest stood outside guarding. Here in thc farm far from the border of Poland and White Russia you heard that there in Chelm or Maidanek a miracle had taken place.

"They say" -- said the farmer -- "that from the ovens where the Fashists were burning people, the dead-living had suddenly started to jump seizing the Germans at their necks, suffocating them. They say that not far was situated a division of Germans who at first grabbed their guns and then threw them away from fear and escaped."

"Help us to cross the Bug", whispered Bazarski. The owner adjusted the wick of the burner covered the window with a coverr and said: God himself helps you, how can I refuse?" addressed his children: "Adja, serve to eat and you Tadek, slip into your boots and prepare for the journey".

In the night of October 20th, they already stepped on earth of White Russia. And after 2 days not far from Brisk they met the first partisans. 8 men were accepted in the Kotowski division. Bazarski went to another camp called Shazar, because there he was promised to be put with a group of saboteurs who were due to bomb a train.

Boris Zibulski and Alexander Schubejew fell as heroes.

Alexander Bazarski and Arkadi Weispapir succeeded in joining the Red Army. The red ribbons on their hats were changed into stars and again battles.

At the end of August Bazarski was seriously wounded and Waispapir rushed to the West. Bazarski did not cease to inquire of the fate of his friends the rebels, during the 4 months that he stayed in the division hospital and later as a citizen in Rostow.

He learnt that on the same evening they escaped, the Germans sounded the alarm. And on October 16, a special division of excavators arrived and exploded down all the buildings and guard towers. They pulled out the pillars of the barbed wire loaded them on vans and together with the bulldozers that had excavated the pits for the ashes of the burnt, took them away. They also took the transport of wagons on which there were still corpses and the disel-engines that had operated the flow of the nitrogen. They even killed the geese and the rabbits.

Many of the escapers were captured, others escaped to the partisans. Jaftim, Litwinowski was at the first in the division of a Polish partisan division. Afterwards he met in the woods of Skoporodniza a group of Russian soldiers, who also had escaped from German camps. Their leader was Fiodor Kawakiow. Together they joined the famous partisan union under the leadership of Fiodorow, a hero who had distinguished himself twice in the Sowjet Union.

Simion Rosenfeld felt sharp pains in his right leg, an hour after they had escaped from the camp. He and two young boys, the brothers Monik and Jusek, left the group and went southward to the woods of Sawin. They were told that there too a partisan camp existed. They wandered for two weeks in the forest until, near the Janow farm, they found an extinguished fire on which stood a big rounded pot covered with leaves in which were found boiled peas. Obviously someone was there. 100 meters away they found an excavation where 5 people lived who had come 10 days before from Sobibor, and 3 Jews from Czechoslowakia (Schnabel, Karnischauer, Silbermann) who had escaped from another camp.

At the end of December the first snow fell.

With the snow there came an armed group of "AKA" of 6 men who did not succeed in entering the ditch in time, 5 were killed (one escaped). from the grenade which was thrown into the ditch another one was killed and they started pulling the boards of the ditch.

Rosenfeld tied up the 3 gun bullets he had in his pocket and laid them on a board under them he put a burning candle, the bullets exploded and caused the murderer to flee.

4 people remained in the ditch. They had heen hiding for 7 weeks and then they moved to farm of friends between Lublin and Chelm. In the second half of July 1944, the Red Army liberated Chelm. The wound of Rosenfeld had not yet healed but he went to the Sovjet General and demanded: "Sent me immediately to the front".

In the region of Lodz -- a soldier, at Posen -- a sergeant and again wounded in his right leg and in his right hand, and back to Lodz in the hospital. But this time not for long. When the Reichstag was burning enclosed by smoke, stood man, like thousands others, at the walls and moved for a moment the machine gun to his left hand. This was Simion Rosenfeld not yet 23 years old who had already white hair and a wrinkled forehead. In a splitter he inscribed -- Baranowitz--Sobibor--Berlin.

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