Sobibor is a village in the East of Poland. At the railway station there is little that is reminiscent of the monstrous crimes, the 1942/43 in this place. Because in Sobibor one of the three murder factories of the action Reinhardt, the programme of the SS to murder especially of Jews in the General government but also of other European Jews. Around 180,000 people have been poisoned within 18 months, with carbon monoxide.
one of the best connoisseurs of the action Reinhardt, the historian Stephan Lehnstaedt. The 38-Year-old teaches at the Berlin Touro College Holocaust Studies. He is reminiscent of the end of Sobibor in front of a three quarters of a century.
the WORLD: What exactly happened on 14. October 1943, in Sobibor?
Stephan Lehnstaedt: The prisoners dared to revolt. Resistance actions had given it earlier, but this time it was a military Rebellion. A few days earlier, Jewish soldiers of the Red army were deported to the camp. Their leader, the Lieutenant Aleksandr Pechersky, took over together with the Polish Jew, Leon Feldhendler, the command. They planned to kill within an hour as many guards as possible and then begin a mass Exodus. 14. October seemed to be favorable, because this Thursday, several Germans, including the commander, Franz rich Leitner, should be on holiday.
the WORLD: Wasn’t that a sky travel command unarmed prisoners against the SS men?
Lehnstaedt: of Course, this was a big Venture. But there were not even 20 German guards. It was hoped that the volunteers, well over 100 so-called foreign national Trawnikis, would be passive behavior. The prisoners attracted so first of all, some of the Germans in their barracks and killed them. So they came to a pair of weapons. At first, everything went according to Plan, but at some point, the guardians have understood what is going on – and then shoot started. It’s an incredible mess it was, because, of course, only the least of the occupants of each had guns and could shoot.
the WORLD: But still, some of them managed to escape …
Lehnstaedt: … Yes, some have managed to overcome the stock fence and the mine field. And they have actually killed twelve SS men and ten are Visible. But of the 800 prisoners have been killed over 300 in stock, many more were caught on the run. It’s not like that outside the same, the Red army waited; until the liberation of the German occupation of this part had to wait in Poland for almost a year. In fact, only 54 men and eight women from Sobibor, have experienced the end of the war. After all, you have to say. Without the rebellion, you would have been gassed in the camp.
the WORLD: In Treblinka, the prisoners knew in the summer of 1943, that they would soon be murdered, because of the power of the victim declined. Therefore, they dared the riot. How was that in Sobibor?
Lehnstaedt: Very similar. In fact, the Sobibor inmates even knew what was happening in Treblinka. And you knew that nobody would help them. You had to fight, that was their only Chance. A few Dutch Jews had tried to dig an escape tunnel out of the camp, but she flew, and the SS shot them all. And even if it would have worked: Through a Tunnel, it can never escape 800 people undetected. You have to be very clear: This rebellion was a real feat.
the WORLD: What is the role of Sobibor, in terms of the number of victims to Treblinka and Belzec smallest of the murder camps of action Reinhardt played, actually, for the Holocaust?
Lehnstaedt: “Small” is very relative. Or in other words: The action Reinhardt was the largest extermination action in the Holocaust, with a total of about 1.8 million dead. Sobibor is a step of development. First, Belzec came, but the SS was too small. Sobibor was, ultimately, too big, Treblinka had the “perfect” size. It was about to murder with as little staff as many people as possible in a short period of time. In Sobibor, many of the victims were not murdered, the were from Poland, for example, about 19,000 German or 34,000 in the low countries.
the WORLD: What became of Sobibor after the 14. October 1943?
Lehnstaedt: The SS ordered the camp demolished. The Polish Jews were all murdered, and for those from Western Europe and Hungary deported people there were Auschwitz-Birkenau, which was a much better guard. The Germans then tried to disguise the camp as a farm. This of course didn’t work, because it was already known what was happening there before. In recent years, archaeologists have not found in Sobibor, only more than 20,000 objects, but also the foundations of the gas chambers.
the WORLD: And what is the status today?
Lehnstaedt: Just the memorial, and a Museum built, this looks pretty good. Both is urgently needed, because the previous memorial had the Communist Look, and the Mini-Museum was closed due to lack of funds. Unfortunately, Germany had still no money. In 2015, the Bundestag wanted to grant 2.5 million, but the Union has rejected in the Finance Committee a proposal of your own. Then it was: 900.000 Euro, but Poland has not worked out a resolution on a Foundation of what.
you finally decided to pay the money in a different way. But this decision has yet to by the Finance Committee. Other funding has been rejected, more than five euros per victim was not. It is no wonder, then, if the memorial in Sobibor only 25,000 visitors a year.
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