Judge Halevi: You worked at Camp 3?
Witness Biskowitz: No, in Camp 1. There were a number of
camps there. I was in Camp 1, where we used to sleep and
where there were artisans, such as shoemakers, carpenters,
tailors, a goldsmith, and a barber; there was a bakery, a
clinic – all these were in Camp 1. SS men were living just
outside the gate, together with the Ukrainians. Camp 2 was
the “Schweinestall” (pigsty), the place which people entered
before their death – a courtyard enclosed on all four sides
by boards two metres high.
Presiding Judge: What does the word “Schweinestall” mean?
Witness Biskowitz: There were a number of buildings there.
For example, there was a courtyard surrounded by four walls
of boards two metres high, and here there was a building in
which they reared pigs. On the other side, there stood a
kind of building in which there was the bank, so to speak,
where the possessions of the Jews were counted.
Q. Was it actually a pigsty?
A. No – there were some pigs which were reared for the SS
Attorney General: May I show this to the witness, Your
Honour? With the Court’s permission, I should like to
approach him. [Shows the witness a sketch of the camp])
Presiding Judge: Yes.
Attorney General: Did you prepare this sketch?
Witness Biskowitz: Yes.
Q. Perhaps you would now describe this sketch to us. In the
top corner, above, it says, “Railway tracks into the camp.”
What is that?
A. There were railway tracks that went right into the camp.
Q. Underneath this inscription there are some buildings.
What are they?
A. These are the buildings of the SS; to the left of these
were the buildings of the Ukrainians.
Q. What is this?
A. That is the Ukrainians’ mess.
Q. Below this block but still in the middle of the sheet, on
the right-hand side, you have drawn a number of buildings.
What are they?
A. This is Camp 1, where we lived.
Q. And there you wrote “Camp 1”?
Q. When I move to the left of Camp 1, there is something
enclosed – what is that?
A. Here was the yard where they kept the kitchen utensils.
There was a large heap there, five to six metres high and
occupying an area of about 150 square metres, kitchen
utensils and all kinds of other utensils.
Q. What is that in the centre of the sketch?
A. That is the courtyard which I spoke of a few minutes ago,
where people undressed before going to their death. And the
pigsty I spoke about – that is the building.
Q. Is this the pigsty?
Q. Please write down here “Pigsty.”
A. [The witness writes.]
Q. What is this “Speaker’s Platform”?
A. The “Speaker’s Platform” was a place which was mounted by
an SS man named Hermann Michel, who addressed the people who
had entered the yard and undressed. He told them that they
were now going to the showers, that they should hand over
all their possessions for which they would be given
receipts, and when they returned from the showers they would
get their belongings back. Here I have indicated with a red
mark that there was a cash desk here, right in front of the
passageway, in front of the path that led to the gas
Q. Here you have marked “Way to the Gas Chambers” with
fences on both sides. What were these fences?
A. They were barbed-wire fences camouflaged by branches of
greenery which we had brought from a few kilometres away, as
I described earlier; they covered up the fences on both
sides, so that they should not be visible.
Q. Here, on the left, there is an area which you have marked
“Camp 2.” What is that?
A. That was a large roof, about the size of the roof of this
building, perhaps even bigger, to which they brought the
personal effects. Here I have marked two gates – one
hundred people were employed there on the bundles. They
took the belongings of those people who had entered the gas
chambers. Their clothing had been left there, and these
hundred people had to come in quickly and collect the
clothing of the persons who had been taken into the gas
chambers. And here was the storeroom where they sorted the
clothing and made separate parcels of coats, shirts,
trousers, etc. and sent them off to Germany.
Q. Mr. Biskowitz, there are two pits there marked
“Lazarette” – is that the “Lazarette” you spoke of?
A. This is the Lazarette where they killed elderly people,
sick people, and those who were brought directly from the
transports and who were unable to walk, who were conveyed in
these little vans of a small train which was used for
carrying coal. People who arrived on the transports and who
could not run fast were thrown into these little vans,
together with little children, and brought to the
“Lazarette,” which was in a small wood.
Q. Below, on the left, there are the gas chambers, and on
the extreme left you wrote “Fire Pit.” What is that?
A. Yes, that is the fire pit in which the victims who were
brought out of the gas chambers were burned. After some
time, a buzzing sound would be heard, the floor opened up,
and the victims fell into the deep hollow below and were
conveyed in this little train into the pit where the eighty
men of Camp 3 were working, and they burned the bodies. The
fire that was ablaze in Sobibor could be seen many
kilometres away. The flames rose very high and could be
seen, without exaggeration, from a distance of twenty
Q. Here you have marked an army camp; what was this army
A. I saw that afterwards. I am not sure whether it was the
Wehrmacht or the Ukrainians who were there. I saw a road
there which passed next to the large tower which stood close
to Camp 1. I saw a path which led into the camp; since I
was working there as a carpenter – “Der kleine Tischler”
(the little carpenter) – I also went outside and walked
around. I was also engaged in constructing the camp, and I
noticed that nearby they were preparing a site as a landing
ground for a plane, in expectation of Himmler’s arrival on a
visit. I was near the camp, and I saw a number of huts and
soldiers, Ukrainians as well. And it was here, too, that an
SS man was killed while walking past, by chance, on the eve
of the revolt; he passed by this place and was killed there.
Q. We shall talk about the revolt later. Here it says “High
Tower” – is that the tower?
Attorney General: Alloww me just to correct a slight
spelling error. [He corrects it.] I submit the sketch to
Judge Halevi: You said they made some preparations for
Himmler’s visit. What was that?
Witness Biskowitz: They were preparing a site for a plane
Presiding Judge: The sketch will be marked T/1292.
Attorney General: One of your comrades who was engaged in
the burning of the bodies, brought you certain pictures one
Witness Biskowitz: I should like to correct a slight
error. He was engaged in burning personal belongings and
Q. Did he bring photographs to you?
A. That is correct.
Q. Photographs of whom?
A. Photographs of my family. He came from my town and was
the same age; we were friends from home, and when he was
burning papers he recognized the photographs and brought
them to me.
Q. Do you have the photographs with you?
Q. Please show them to the Court.
A. [He takes the photographs from his pocket and hands them
to the Presiding Judge.]
Q. These are photographs of members of your family, which
were brought to you by one of the men with you at Sobibor
from amongst the belongings he was burning?
A. Yes – when he was burning papers together with personal
effects and documents.
Q. Did they burn documents?
Presiding Judge: Did he know you and your family?
Witness Biskowitz: He was my age, he is now in Italy; he
lived in Israel at one time, and we were friends from
Attorney General: I would ask for the photographs to be
returned to the witness – I merely wanted to show them to
Presiding Judge: Yes, certainly.
Attorney General: It is one of the few souvenirs he still
Presiding Judge: Yes – that can be taken for granted.
Judge Halevi: Did he also see members of your family, or
only the photographs?
Witness Biskowitz: The two of us arrived at Sobibor
together on the same transport – he was also selected for
work. We were the same age, and he was also working on the
bundles as a young boy. Thus he, too, managed to escape.
He brought me the photographs while burning the personal
belongings, immediately after the members of my family had
been burned together with the rest.
Attorney General: What happened to your father?
Witness Biskowitz: He worked there for several months.
Q. And after that?
A. When he fell ill I tried to take him to work; I used to
carry him to work, day after day, while he was suffering
from typhus. We were then working in the Ukrainians’ mess;
he sat in a corner and I did his work for him. I tried as
best I could, but the time came when I could no longer carry
him. And on that very day two SS men, Wagner and Fraenzel,
came and took him out of the hut and brought him to the
Lazarette with blows and shouts, and they shot him there in
front of me. I wanted to run after him, but the men who
worked with me held me back.
Judge Raveh: Who wrote “18 Sivan” on these photographs?
Witness Biskowitz: I wrote it later – that was the day
they were killed.
Attorney General: Is that the day that you now observe as
the anniversary of the death of your parents?
Witness Biskowitz: Yes.
Q. Do you remember that two Jews once escaped from the camp
– one a builder and the other a carpenter?
Q. How did the SS men react to the escape?
A. I remember the occasion – it was pouring with rain.
Inside the hut there were beds like bunks. Rain was coming
in from the top, and one of the builders who worked together
with me, asked me if he could come and sleep in my bunk. I
consented. That night it was raining. That day, by chance,
he had been working, and he made an opening in a place where
one did not have to pass through mines. And they left me
and fled by night, one who slept to the right of me and the
other to the left, and I remained in the middle.
Q. What did the Germans do after that?
A. The next morning, they held a roll-call. I should have
been killed, but I was lucky, for they counted “One, two –
raus! (out!), one two – raus!” Thus they shot every third
man. They took twenty men and killed them on the spot. I
was saved because I was number one.
Q. Now tell us about the uprising in Sobibor, but in brief.
A. The uprising began at a time when transports were already
arriving from Russia. That was already after they had
killed the eighty men in Camp 3 who had dug a tunnel in an
attempt to escape. Then twenty men out of a total of sixty
who were selected for work from the Russian transport, were
chosen from Camp 1.
Q. What was Sasha’s role in organizing the revolt?
A. Sasha organized the revolt after the twenty men were
taken to Camp 3, and he said that something had to be done.
Q. Was Sasha a prisoner of war?
A. He was a prisoner of war and an officer.
Q. A Jew?
A. Yes. He began organizing the men who were close to him –
about twenty to twenty-five men – and they drew up plans.
But they were most afraid, since they knew that if the SS
men noticed that anyone was behaving suspiciously, he would
be taken to the Lazarette and killed. On the Day of
Atonement, we were given permission to pray in a hut in Camp
1. All six hundred of us who were in Sobibor gathered
together in this hut and prayed. I would like to point out
that one third of them were girls only fifteen to sixteen
years old, and there were also boys of the same age, apart
from the artisans who were older, and the boys whom they had
brought from Russia were also almost of military age.
I saw that in one corner there was a group talking in
whispers. I, as a young lad, noticed this; I went closer
and I listened, I simply had my suspicions. A day or two
later I got to know about the uprising. I was supposed to
have escaped three days before that.
Q. What do you mean when you say that you were supposed to
escape – I don’t understand.
A. I planned an escape.
Q. You planned an escape on your own?
A. Yes. But when I got to know of the revolt, I did not
want to spoil matters. I decided to wait for the revolt.
They fixed the revolt for 14 October. I believe that was a
Thursday; from 3.30 until the roll-call at 4:00 or 4.15, we
were supposed to escape, kill every German possible, and
Q. Where did you get arms?
A. We had no arms, apart from several of the girls and boys
who worked for the SS men; they had to polish their boots,
wash the floors, and do various jobs for the SS. At the
last moment they stole a number of grenades, a rifle, a
submachine gun and several pistols, and brought them into
By chance, I had to repair the main gate of Camp 1. I was
working there with another comrade, named David. Twenty
men stood underneath the tool shed. We removed all the
tools from the store room. We put two young men with axes
into each workshop. The Germans had ordered all kinds of
luxury goods to send home. The man in charge of the
workshop sent a message to the SS that the goods were now
ready. The first to enter was Untersturmfuehrer Neumann –
on a white horse. He came into the carpentry shop,
shouting. There was a young chap there who took hold of the
horse and put it into an old hut. Neumann entered the
carpentry shop and never came out again. He was camp
commandant at the time. He was killed on the spot. I saw
an SS man going into the shoemaker’s shop of the Ukrainians,
and he was killed there. After that, one of the Ukrainians
entered on his bicycle – he was killed in the same