Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Nazi Death Chambers

"The discovery of the gas chambers at Sobibor is a very important finding in Holocaust research. It is important to understand that there were no survivors from among the Jews who worked in the area of the gas chambers."
"Therefore, these findings are all that is left of those murdered there, and they open a window onto the day-to-day suffering of these people."
"The discovery of the exact location of the gas chambers at the Sobibior Camp is a discovery of the utmost importance in Holocaust research."
"Finding the exact size of the gas chambers will enable us to understand what their capacity was and from there we can determine a more precise estimation of the number of people killed at the Sobibor Camp."
Dr. David Silberklang, historian, senior researcher, Yad Vashem International Institute for Holocaust research
Sobibor death camp
Sobibor death camp. (photo credit:REUTERS)

"We found earrings, gold wedding rings and a ring with the inscription, 'with this ring you are consecrated to me', in Hebrew letters."
"We also found a large Magen David [Star of David] and a coin dated 1927 from Palestine."
Yoram Haimi, archaeologist

"He used to wear a white coat to give the impression he was a physician."
"[He] announced to the Jews that they would be sent to work. But before this they would have to take baths and undergo disinfection ... After the Jews had entered the gas chambers, the Ukrainians closed the doors, the motor was switched on ... and after the gassing, the doors were opened and the corpses were removed."
former German officer giving testimony

"The extermination of people took place there; murder by smoke from an engine that killed everyone within 15 minutes in these gas chambers, in torment, shouting." 
"[Nazis bred geese there to drown out the cries from the gas chambers.]"
Polish archaeologist Wojciech Mazurek, involved in the excavation of Sobibor

Sobibor death camp was established by the Nazis during World War Two close to the village of Sobibor and its railway station in the eastern part of Poland, close by the Chelm-Wlodawa railway line, one of 16 forced labour camps established in the Lublin district; its purpose was to 'process' Jews. The camp was comprised of three integral portions: administration, barracks and gas chambers.

The chambers were brick buildings where carbon monoxide gas was released from fixtures in the ceiling to asphyxiate anyone who entered them, and many did. It is estimated that a quarter-million Jews were murdered at Sobibor. Not quite as efficient an operation as the more famous Auschwitz with its use of Zyklon B, but amazingly efficient, given that in little more than a space of a year a quarter-million Jews were killed there.
  • Sobibor Holocaust camp-main
    An eight-year archaeological dig has recently revealed the location of gas chambers under a road 
    at the Sobibor death camp, the Yad Vashem International Institute for Holocaust research said this week. The Nazis forced Jewish slave laborers to build the camp, and then shot them dead when it was complete.  
When Jews arrived at the camp, they were greeted with the presence of a man wearing a white coat, according to the Holocaust Education and Archive Research Team relying on the testimony of a former Nazi German officer. A road that was mordantly named Himmelfahrsstrasse, [Road to Heaven], led to the gas chambers. People were persuaded that they were meant to enter the brick chambers for completely innocuous reasons, to shower. The shower heads they saw above in the ceilings emitted deadly gas, not cleansing water.

A quarter of a million men, women and children, were cleansed of life. The camp itself was not a large one, meant for transit dispatch; from life to death. Seventy years after its last use, the camp has been found, buried under an asphalt road. Beneath that road was discovered well-preserved gas chamber walls. The brick rows, stacked four-deep represented the exoskeleton of the four gas chambers promising a solution to the Nazi dilemma of slaughtering all the Jews they could round up, in occupied Europe.

An uprising on October 14, 1943, devised by a Jewish Soviet prisoner of war, Alexander Pechersky was mounted, with a plan to exact whatever vengeance escaping prisoners could manage: to kill as many Nazi guards as they possibly could, while in the process of escape. Several guards were killed, and hundreds of prisoners fled into the nearby woods, many tracked down and killed, but some managed to escape. The incident, however, led to the closing of the camp.

Of the 600 prisoners who made the attempt to escape their terrible fate at the hands of the Nazis, between one hundred and one-hundred and twenty survived. Of that number 60 survived the war. After the revolt in the camp, SS chief Henrich Himmler ordered that the camp be closed, and the Nazis made an effort to extinguish any sign that the camp had ever existed. The grounds were covered over, a farm put in place, trees and asphalt covering its former presence.

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