The Death Camp in Sobibór (SS-Sonderkommando Sobibor). - Camps -

German death camps and concentration camps in Nazi occupied Poland 1939-45


The Death Camp in Sobibór (SS-Sonderkommando Sobibor).

During the occupation, Sobibór was in the Chełm Kreishauptmannschaft in the Lublin District (Distrikt Lublin) of the General Government (Generalgouvernement) near the Chełm–Włodawa railway.

The camp functioned under the name of SS-Sonderkommando Sobibor from the beginning of May 1942 until mid-October 1943 as one of three death camps connected with Operation “Reinhardt” (Aktion Reinhardt) — the extermination of Jews in the General Government. It was administered by the SS and Police Leader in the Lublin District, Odilo Globocnik, who was in charge of Operation “Reinhardt”. Sobibór was planned as the site of extermination of Jews from the Lublin District of the GG. The transports of Jews from the Lublin region were sent to the camp from May to October 1942. From November 1942 to October 1943 Sobibór received transports of Jews from Holland, France, and Belgium, and from September 1943 from the USSR. The Jews were killed in four gas chambers using exhaust fumes from diesel engines. The corpses of the victims were buried in mass graves (“Death Pits”). Cremation of the bodies (both of the newly arrived and the bodies that had already been buried in the “Death Pits”)began in October and lasted until the autumn of 1943.

In chronological order, the commandants of the Sobibór camp were: SS-Hauptsturmführer Franz Stangl and SS-Hauptsturmführer Franz Reichleitner. The personnel consisted of SS-men and guards from the SS training camp in Trawniki.

As per Heinrich Himmler’s order of July 5, 1943, the death camp was to be transformed into aconcentration camp (Konzentrationslager Sobibor) whose prisoners were to work in ammunition and arms repair workshops. On 14 October 1943 the camp in Sobibór was the site of a revolt of the prisoners. About 300 of them escaped. Many died during the pursuit. The revolt sped up the decision to close the camp. The Germans assigned prisoners from the closed death camp in Treblinka to dismantle the camp facilities and to cover up all traces of it.

The number the camp’s Jewish victims totaled to ca. 250,000.

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