Sunday, February 20, 2011

Reports on Sobibor

Source: Richard Rashke: Escape From Sobibor pages 1 and 373-374 [he gives other sources]

Comment: Part of an effort to bring together all Sobibor related material for assessment.  Useful discussion is found here

Thomas Blatt interviewd the stationmaster of Sobibor after the war.  The stationmaster recalled Karl Frenzel sending a telegraphed message to Lublin shortly after the revolt, describing the escape and asking for help.  That stationmaster did not recall the exact time of the telegram, but he did remember the reason Frenzel sent it was the telephone wires had been cut.  The telegram has never been found [actually if this was a radio telegram it was intercepted by the British - see link above].

The October 14, 1943, report, entitled "Report of the Order Police in the District of Lublin can be found in Novitch and in Documents of Destruction ed., Raul Hilberg, Chicago: Quadrangle, 1971.  There is a longer and more complete report, written on March 17, 1944, by the commander of Chelm.  The latter report erroneously fixes the date of the uprising as October 15 instead of October 14.  I quote the report in full from Novitch's appendix, which has the original German and an English translation.

Re: Struggle against bands
Event:  Commander's Order No. 11 of March 11 1944, Abs. 105
Enclosure: None

In the afternoon hours of October 15, 1944, about 300 prisoners of the Special Lager, Sobibor undertook - after having disarmed a part of the guards and killed an SS Fuehrer (officer) and 10 Unterfuehrer (noncoms) - an escape which partly succeeded.
From the Border Police Post Chelm an Einsatzkommando was dispatched including the following SS men:
SS Untersturmfuehrer      Benda, Aldabert,
SS Hauptscharfuehrer     Pruckner, Ludwig,
SS Hauptscharfuehrer     Benzler, Hermann,
SS Oberscharfuehrer      Scholz, Erich,
SS Oberscharfuehrer      Theimer, Rudolf,
SS Oberscharfuehrer      Schloegl, Konrad, and
SS Rottenfuehrer            Reinart, Adolf.
In addition to this were also alerted the Wehrmacht and the police.  In view of the nature of the Special Lager and its prisoners, the Wehrmacht was ordered to organize an immediate posse after the fugitives, and the Police to secure the safety of the Lgaer outside its fences.
The Einsatzkommando sent from the Border Police Commissariat in Chelm conducted the moppin-up of the inner camps of the Lager.  Our men were fired at many times by the prisoners caught in the camp, in the night of Octoer 15, 1943, and in the early hours of October 16, 1943.  During the mopping up of the camp itself, our men had to use arms because the prisoners resisted arrest.  A great number of prisoners were shot; 159 prisoners were treated according to order.
All the men of the Einsatzkommando were equal to their taks.
Evidence: Report to the Commandant of the Sipo/Security Police and the SD for the District of Lublin, of October 16, 1943. - Greko Chelm - B. No. 283/43
Signed: Benda SS Untersturmfuehrer
For accuracy - [signature illegible], Ss Hauptsturmfuehrer and Crim. Pol. Comm. L.S.


For the question of was the armoury captured, here is Raschke's text, page 230

Almost at the same time as Bauer fired,a Jew shouted, "hurrah! Hurrah!" and a tornado hit the yard.  Jews ran in all directions.  One group, including Esther, Mordechai, Hella, Zelda,Eda and Abraham, headed for the fence behind the carpenter shop.  Like Crusaders attacking a castle wall, they threw up the ladder the carpenters had left in the weeds, and began to stream over the fence.
Several hundred others surged for the main gate, yelling, screaming, shooting into the air, clubs raised.  They ran straight into Albert Kaiser, a Ukrainian guard on a bicycle who was pedaling toward the Camp I gate and shouting something that sounded like "Hey, you sons of bitches.  Didn't you hear the whistle?"
The first to mee Kaiser knocked him off his bike and slashed him with knives.  One of the Jews close to Toivi cut off the guard's belt and took his pistol.
By the time the mob reached the Officer's compound, the mines began to explode in the south field behind the carpenter shop.  Then the Ukrainians opened fire.  One of them shot Esther, who had already crossed the  minefield and was fighting, half out of breath, to run a few hundred feet more to the forest of the owls.
Russians armed with pistols and two rifles assaulted the armory, but Frenzel who was hiding behind a barracks, opened fire on them with a machine gun.  The Russians retreated and tried a second time, but Frenzel held them off.  They headed for the fence.
The rest of the Jews, a crazed mass by this time, a body without a mind, rushed the main gate.  A German with a machine gun opened fire on them, too.  Those up front wnated to turn back.  Those in the rear kept pressing forward, afraid they would get shot in the back.   The fences began to fall under the weight of the Jews, who could almost taste freedom.  Toivi was in the crowd, close to the front.  As the Jews behind him pushed, he fell, pinned to the barbed wire.

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