Attorney General: A Jew?
Witness Freiberg: A Jew. He headed the organization for
revolt. And, at that time, there were some individuals
amongst the Ukrainians whom we thought it was possible to
talk to. They related all kinds of stories about partisans,
and a conspiracy was established between him and the
Ukrainians to organize a revolt. One of the Ukrainians
apparently disclosed this; at a roll-call in the evening,
they took him out and began to interrogate him as to who
were the organizers of the planned escape. This man
withstood beatings and endless tortures and maintained: “I
was the only one who wanted to escape.” He did not reveal
anything. The Germans said that if he would not tell them,
they would take all the people of the block – I don’t
remember how many there were in the block to which he
belonged – they would take them to Camp 3, and there they
would cut off the heads of all of them in front of him, and
he would be the last to be killed. He said: “In any case,
you do as you like – from me you will not learn anything.”
Then an order was given to the entire block to move to Camp
3 – the block numbered eighty persons. The next day, we
learned that the Germans kept their word, and all the people
were beheaded. And, after the War, there was evidence from
a young man who is now overseas, that he caught the German
who was responsible, Novak – he was in the Russian zone –
they searched his home and found all kinds of photographs;
amongst the photographs they found was a picture of the
Q. Later on, Jews arrived who were Russian prisoners of war,
and they told you that it was possible to kill Germans?
Q. This again revived amongst you the plans for revolt and
A. As a matter of fact, despite failures, there were still
attempts. I gave only a few examples, but all our thoughts,
whenever we had a free moment, were concentrated on
escaping. We were ready to do it, there was no fear, but
simply we did not know the technique.
Q. I am going to ask another witness to describe the actual
revolt, but perhaps you would tell us when the revolt took
place, and when you escaped?
A. The revolt took place on 14 October.
Q. In what year?
A. In 1943.
Q. How many people escaped?
A. It is impossible to know exactly, for they fled in all
directions, but according to an estimate, about three
hundred people escaped. There were then six to seven
hundred of us in the camp. Half of them managed to escape,
and approximately half were killed during the revolt.
Q. Did they search for you?
Presiding Judge: Were you one of those who fled?
Witness Freiberg: Yes. The Germans searched – I think that
they mobilized the entire surroundings. They searched, they
used aircraft; for weeks, when I was still wandering in the
forests, the Germans were still searching the whole
Attorney General: After that, you hid in the forests?
Witness Freiberg: After that, I remained in the forests for
Q. We won’t talk about that. In this way, you were saved.
How many remained alive after the War of the three hundred
A. We met after the War in Lublin, all those who fled, and
all of them were in the district – there were some thirty
Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions to
Dr. Servatius: Witness, how long were you in Sobibor, from
when to when?
Witness Freiberg: I was there for seventeen months, from
May 1942 until October 1943, 14 October 1943.
Q. Are you able to say how many people were exterminated
there during this period, in your estimation, as far as you
A. I would like to say, I cannot estimate; I saw before my
eyes, every day, hundreds and thousands of people. But,
according to what people said at our meetings after the War,
and what was said inside the camp, the number of one million
Presiding Judge: During the period you were there?
Witness Freiberg: During that period, which was, in
reality, the whole period of the camp’s existence, because
afterwards the Germans liquidated the whole camp, after we
had carried out the revolt.
Judge Halevi: But that is not your estimate – you did not
estimate it thus?
Witness Freiberg: No. I cannot make an estimation.
Dr. Servatius: Can’t you even mention a tentative number?
Did you say a million or one hundred thousand?
Presiding Judge: He said that he heard from others, about
one million; he himself did not know.
Witness Freiberg: It was impossible when one saw it, I did
not think about counting people.
Dr. Servatius: I have no further questions.
Judge Halevi: Was this only an extermination camp?
Witness Freiberg: Yes. There were a number of single cases
when, apparently on special instructions, they removed some
carloads from some transport, they removed some carloads to
labour camps – very few cases.
Q. But, apart from single cases, all the transports came to
A. Yes, on the same day.
Q. You said earlier that all the women and children were
Q. And the men, did they choose the fit ones amongst them
A. In most of the transports, all the men went off as well,
either before or after that. But there were cases, each
time they used to remove men for work, for, in the meantime,
our number was getting smaller – only a few people stayed on
for a longer period. The men were there only for a month,
sometimes only for two weeks.
Q. The work was only of the kind that was essential to
maintaining the camp and the auxiliary work for the
Q. That is to say, apart from extermination, they did not do
anything concrete there?
A. Nothing else.
Q. That is to say, they left alive only the work crew?
A. Yes; in practice, it was replaced all the time.
Q. The composition of the work crew was changed?
A. It was changed constantly, but there were always some
individuals who remained for a longer time, generally
speaking, because they were given some additional work.
Q. The work crew was systematically replaced; were members
of the crew liquidated deliberately or in a natural way?
A. This I don’t know; I only know that every time they
killed some of them – they used to come and take some of
them out to be shot.
Q. Was the crew relatively small?
A. At the beginning, apart from skilled people, the whole
crew amounted to about one hundred persons; but all the time
it grew, as more huts were erected. The number grew also,
because they began exploiting whatever they could, they
began sorting out every single thing – which they did not do
Q. What was the largest number?
A. Six to seven hundred, at the time of the revolt.
Q. Prior to that, it was smaller?
A. Yes. I wanted to add…
Presiding Judge: One moment. When did you become aware,
when did it become clear to you for the first time, that
these were not shower rooms, but gas chambers?
Witness Freiberg: In the first days. There were some
doubts, but it was known.
Q. They did not allow you to go near there?
A. No. No one from Camps 1 and 2 went into Camp 3, and if
he went in, then he did not come out.
Q. Could one see Camp 3 from there?
Q. There were also crematoria, is that not so?
A. For a certain time, they used to keep the bodies in pits.
Then, some kind of derrick, a crane, was brought there, and
it was engaged for months in removing the bodies from the
pits and burning them in piles.
Q. Was it possible to see Camp 3 from Camp 1?
A. Camp 3 was inside a forest.
Q. One thing I did not understand. You told us how the
Germans tried to mislead the victims right up to the last
moment. On the other hand, you told us that they used to
Q. You spoke earlier about this preacher?
Q. How can all these matters be reconciled with one another?
A. Apparently, the order was, in fact, to deceive people up
to the last minute, so that there should be no problems.
But the Germans wanted to maltreat people a little, so they
found ways of doing so. For example, there were transports
to whom they gave food and drink when they arrived, and they
gave them writing paper and envelopes, in order to send
letters home, and then they entered the yard, where they
were undressed, and after Michel spoke, there would be
applause. And it happened, on more that one occasion –
there were many cases when people applauded the speech.
But, with certain transports, they preferred to maltreat
people, so that the process would not be so smooth.
Q. Did the Germans drink to the point of intoxication?
Q. A lot?
A. Yes, they used to drink – at any rate, as far as I know,
they drank – and this Paul was always drunk.
Q. Did you want to add something? If it is something
A. Yes, I wanted to describe a transport from Majdanek.
This was something special.
Attorney General: This was a transport that reached the
camp, all of them virtually skeletons. If the Court will
allow the witness, it should only take a minute.
Presiding Judge: Very well, you may add this.
Witness Freiberg: Once a transport arrived from Majdanek.
They were human skeletons, dressed in striped clothes. On
that day, there had apparently been some breakdown in the
gas chambers, and they spent the night with us, sleeping in
the yard. They were people to whom nothing mattered at all.
When they were struck – they did not shout, they merely
moaned. We received an order to distribute food to them.
We went to give them food, and then they expended their last
ounce of energy. They were lying, one on top of the other,
they rose up together, whoever was able to, they trod on
each other, in order to obtain their piece of bread, and it
became almost impossible to distribute the food to them.
The next morning, they were taken to the gas chambers. And
in the yard, where they had been, several hundred dead were
left behind during the night. There were even some who were
not dead, and some who were dragged along. Then
Untersturmfuehrer Fraenzel came and selected twenty men – I
was one of them – and said to us: “Don’t be afraid – you
have to undress completely and carry the bodies that have
remained in the yard to the carts.” This was a distance of
150-200 metres. It is hard to describe what feelings this
evoked to carry the corpses on our naked bodies. The
Germans urged us on all the time with blows. Everything was
done at the double. We could not hold a man. We had to
drag him by the legs.
Halfway along the path, when for a moment I noticed that no
one was there – it was a very hot day – I let go of the body
and stood there to rest. Then the dead man – whom I
believed to be dead – sat up and asked me: “Is it still far
to go?” This was in a weak voice, apparently with a supreme
effort. I could not drag him along any more. I raised him
up, I put his arm around my neck, and I began walking with
him. I myself was very weak, I could not walk far, but, at
a certain moment, I felt lashes on my back. It was
Fraenzel. He struck me all over my body. Of course, I
threw the body down and again dragged this man and brought
him to the carts.
Attorney General: My last question, if the Court will permit
me, actually I should have done this before.
[To the witness] Can you identify the man who is in this
Q. Who is he?
A. He was the first camp commandant.
Q. What was his name?
A. Wirth. He always used to ride a horse – he also had a
cloak. He generally went around on horseback. He had
hardly any contact with us – he never came near us, I might
say. He always used to gallop to Camp 3 and return at the
time of the transports. He was there for a short time, and
was followed by camp Hauptmann Reichsleitner, that is what
he was called.
Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1291.
Dr. Servatius, do you have any further questions in
connection with the witness’ concluding remarks?
Dr. Servatius: No, I have no more questions.
Presiding Judge: Thank you very much, Mr. Freiberg, you have
concluded your testimony.
We shall adjourn now. The next Session will be this
afternoon, at 3.30 p.m.