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Holocaust History: Concentration Camps

This LibGuide is a starting point for general research on the concentration camps, with resources on genocide, survivor memoirs, and primary sources.

Brief Information

Sobibor extermination camp was established in 1942, located in a forest near the village of Sobibor in the present-day Polish province of Lublin. It was the second killing center of Operation Reinhard, the plan implemented by the SS to murder Jews in the General Government

of Poland, the area not annexed to Germany. German officials conducted deportations to Sobibor from May 1942 to the fall of 1943. Jews were sent there from Poland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, France, and the Netherlands, with the majority coming from the Lublin district. Unlike Auschwitz, there was virtually no selection of prisoners when they arrived at the camp. Only a few ‘lucky’ prisoners were spared to work, but essentially, arrival at Sobibor meant death.

Sobibor was divided into three parts: the administrative area, a railway platform with space for twenty railway trucks, and accommodation for German staff. The reception area was where the deportees had to strip, have their haircut off, and give up any valuables. In the third area were the gas chambers, mass graves, and accommodation for the few Jewish prisoners selected to work there.

On October 14, 1943, knowing that they too would soon be sent to their deaths, approximately 600 prisoner workers in the camp rose in revolt under the leadership of Leon Feldhendler and Jewish Soviet prisoner-of-war, Alexander Pechersky The prisoners succeeded in killing several guards. Around 300 prisoners broke out of Sobibor, but many were shot or killed in the minefields outside of the camp. All who remained were executed the following day. Some 50 of those who escaped survived the war. The Sobibor escape was nonetheless the most successful revolt to occur in any of the camps. After the revolt, Sobibor was dismantled and planted with trees in an effort to hide the murders of at least 175,000 Jews, perhaps as many as 200,000, that had occurred there.


The following summary derived information from the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust.

Sala and Aron Samueli Holocaust Memorial Library

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