Still no one can imagine the horror of Lager III. But what about the people, the workforce prisoners, that worked in Lager I and Lager II, the places where they were put to work, sorting, storing or repairing and washing the goods of the gassed ones for the Germans and their Ukranian colloborators, the guards of the camp? While Sobibor's hell grew bigger and bigger, a growing number of workforce Jews was needed. According to some survivors a continues workforce of about 600 men and women lived and worked in the camp. Not quite sure is if this number is the total workforce of the camp included those of Lager III or not.

memorial plate at sobiborThe workforce men and women (mostly men) that had to work in Lager I and II, and on the station when new transports came in, were selected from the arriving transports. If no one was needed, simply everyone went to the gaschambers directly without hesitation, straight towards their own death. Sometimes slaves were needed for some of the Aussenkommandos of Lublin, camps like Dorohucza and others. These men and women that were sent to those camps, not healthy camps with a very high deathrate, usually didn't came into the real camp of Sobibor but were moved immediatly to the Aussenstellen after care was taken of the rest of the transport. The few 'lucky' ones that 'escaped' immediate death in the gaschambers but had to work in other parts of the camp were mainly shoemakers, blacksmiths, seamstresses, people who where needed by the Germans, or people who had to cut trees and chop wood in the Waldkommando for the burning of the dead bodies at the graves of Lager III.

Where these people that worked in Sobibor really 'lucky"? It is a fact that they were allowed to live a little longer although they were present in an exterminationcamp. With death so close they had to live, work and even love day after day under hard circumstances and the Nazis oppression, beatings and terror, with the knowledge that each single moment could be the last of their lives, their lives returned to being almost nothing or even worse. They had to stay alert at the all time, watching carefully around if no one of the German staff or the Ukrainian guards was in a bad mood, fulfilling all the wishes, commands and orders they were given or.....if not.......death came. Some German staff members were absolute monsters, like Wagner and Frenzel, ready to strike with their whips, sticks or their pistols. Life meant nothing in Sobibor and everyone could easily be replaced by newcomers of a transport. The Jews coming from the Netherlands that were selected to work in Lager I or II became the main victim of violence against the workforce prisoners. They were complete strangers in this world, could not speak Polish or Yiddish and were not accustomed to hard life under these special circumstances, always did 'it' wrong and became the victim of that.

arriving at sobibor - here came the trainsBut the earth kept on turning for the prisoners, their lives still went further, hoping the best but expecting the worst, their lives in continues threat but still with the wish to survive. It is know that they tried to live a life as normal as possible, love stories included. This may sound incredible, falling in love on a place where death was all around and so close, but it happened. In the prisoners lives egoism played an important role in their will to survive and sometimes staying alive just happened. long as trains were coming to Sobibor, they had a little chance.....but only when they could escape. That would be difficult because the camp was surrounded by minefields, double fences with barbed wire, each part of the camp surrounded by fences with barbed wire, watchtowers equiped with machineguns and guards, about a 125 Ukrainian guards and 20 SS men and dogs. Meanwhile, the outside world was dangerous too with the Nationalistic Polish partizans and collaborators. According to the survivors, the Polish were as dangerous as the Nazis and could not be trusted. When outside the camp, they could only rely on themselves.

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