Because during the summer of the year of 1943 the number of arriving transports from all across Europe decreased, fear arose in the minds of the prisoners of Lager I and Lager II that the end of the existence of the camp was nearing which meant the end of their lifes they fought so hard for every single day in the camp. Birkenau's capacities grew to a monster during 1943 with its four huge crematoria which made Sobibors killing machine just a tiny thing compared to that. Sobibor and the other exterminationcamps were no longer needed. Belzec was already torn down in the spring of 1943 and Treblinka and Sobibor were to follow that example. Or Sobibor maybe not? That was the question. On the north site of the camp a new part was established better known as Lager IV or Nordlager which was meant for cleaning captured Russian weapons and ammonition for re-use by the Germans. The Nazis were in desperate need due to the bad situation on the eastern front, North-Africa and the bombings on German cities by the Allied. When Russian POWs (prisoners of war) entered the camp a whole new situation emerged. Most POWs were directly sent to the gaschambers but a group of 70 not. It late appeared a major mistake by the camp chief of staff to let them live. At the time the POWs came into the camp in September the number of workers in Lager III was already brought back from 150 to 50: the others were no longer needed and therefore killed.

Among the civil prisoners a movement for an escape already had come into existance under the authority of Leon Felhendler, a charismatic person trusted by everyone. This group had to be small because not everyone in Sobibor could be trusted and there were disloyal people and collaborators with the Germans (to save their own lives) among the prisoners who could easily betray the members of the group. But this group was not able to come up with something realistic and didn't have to powers to put an escape or revolt into a reality. With the arrival of the POWs this changed. Their leader Alexander Petjerski, named Sacha, was an officer in the Russian army who began immediatly after arriving building plans for an escape, first for him and his fellow soldiers alone, later together with the group of Felhendler. The only solution was a mass revolt and escape. No one was to be left behind because it surely meant their deaths. Death caused by escape was prefered above death by gaschamber.

Such a mass revolt and escape became organized a few weeks after arrival of the POWs. First the newcomers had to be checked out by Felhendler and his men if they were to be trusted and were willing to cooperate with his group. In the beginning they were not ready willing to cooperate but, after Sacha and his men knew what was happening in the camp, the situation changed. A misleading operation was put up to keep the Germans and their companions, the Ukrainian guards, unknown of what was going on. They came to know that the guards only had 10 bullets for their guns when they were on duty and none when they were off duty. To have a succesful revolt and escape some guns and ammonition were needed. Also it was important to mislead Wagner and to escape when he was not in the camp because he was the smartest German of all and he could have noticed that something was being organized by the prisoners. When the commitee came to know that Wagner and his staff would be absent from the camp the date was set: 13 october 1943. Beforehand, Kapo Berliner had to be killed because he was a wellknown collaborator.

When the day came, most of the prisoners already knew what was going to happen, except some groups were left out of it. These were mostly Dutch and German Jews, the reason why only one Dutch Jew survived. A short while before the uprising would have begun, a company of SS soldiers taking a break from the front appeared in the canteen barraks of the camp, a big disappointment for the prisoners, making them to postpone the outbreak till a day later, the 14th. That day became famous throughout the history of the camp and of the shoa. Revolting later would have been unpossible because Wagner and his men would have been back on the 15th.

On the 14th, the ultimate day of the escape, the prisoners killed one by one the most important Nazis of the camp by luring them into a trap and then stabbing them to death with knifes and axes. This way they killed 12 of the 17 present Germans (and a couple of Ukrainians) and captured there weaponary. No single SS-men had a clue what was happening. When gasmeister Bauer discovered a dead guard just short for the eveningcall, his shooting alarmed the prisoners and on a command of Sacha the revolt began.

Not every prisoner decided to take part in the revolt and the escape but only a 365 of the total amount tried to find their way outside. The minefields and the machineguns on the towers killed many of the escapees sothat prisoners had to run over the death bodies of their fellow comrades. 158 were killed by mines and machinegun fire. The others arrived savely in the woods surrounding the camp. The revolt was successful and brought the Germans their earned defeat. No Jews would be gassed after this event, only the men who stayed behind and the ones that had to break down the camp would the last to be killed.

What happened to the ones that succeeded to manage to enter the woods? Knowing that only 47 survived the war (of which 5 of earlier escapes), the others must have been captured or killed. We know that the Germans caught 107 men and women and that 53 were killed by the Polish resistance, among them Leon Felhendler and Kitty Gokkes on the last day of the war.

This was the story of the Sobibor Deathcamp in short.

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