Sobibor Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

Sobibor Museum

Włodawa, Poland

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About Sobibor Museum

The Sobibor Museum, otherwise known as or the Museum of the Former Sobibór Nazi Death Camp, is a Polish state-owned museum devoted to memorializing the victims and atrocities committed at the former Sobibor extermination camp.

Sobibor Museum history

In March 1942, the Nazi German death camp at Sobibor was set up in occupied Poland as part of the Jewish extermination program known as the ‘Operation Reinhard’, which marked the most deadly phase of the Holocaust in Poland. The camp was run by the SS Sonderkommando Sobibor, initially commanded by Franz Stangl. The number of Jews from Poland and elsewhere who were gassed and cremated there between April 1942 and 14 October 1943 is estimated at 250,000.

Sobibor consisted of two camps which were divided into three parts: administration section; barracks and storage; and finally the extermination, burial, and cremation section. Initially, three gas chambers housed in a brick building using carbon monoxide and three more gas chambers were added later.

In July 1943, Himmler, who had visited the camp in February, ordered that it be converted into a concentration camp. This edict effectively served a death notice on the Jewish workers who then organized a resistance movement and worked out an escape plan. It was led by Leon Feldhendler.

He was subsequently assisted by Alexander Pechersky, a Jewish officer in a transport of Red Army POWs which arrived in the camp in September 1943. The uprising was launched on 14 October, 1943. In the fighting, 11 SS men and a number of Ukrainian guards were killed. 300 Jews escaped, but dozens were killed in the mine field around the camp and dozens more were hunted down over subsequent days.

Following the revolt, the camp was liquidated in October 1943 and the site demolished and disguised as a farm. The Nazis also planted hundred of trees over the area.

Sobibor Museum today

With 323-square metres of exhibition space, the Sobibor museum is larger than similar installations at Belzec and Treblinka, the other ‘Operation Reinhard’ death camps. A total of more than 1,500,000 Jews were murdered at the three killing facilities by the end of 1943.

The Sobibor site, including the museum, is stewarded by the State Museum at Majdanek. Before construction started in 2017, select parts of the former camp grounds were excavated by archeologists. 3 years ago, the field of mass graves was covered with geotextile and crushed marble.

Inside the museum, 16 thematic areas explain the history of Sobibor and the Holocaust in occupied Poland. Horizontal windows offer panoramic views of the grounds, including the area where prisoners killed the camp’s SS officers at the start of the revolt.

Getting to Sobibor Museum

The Museum of the Former Death Camp in Sobibor is located near Stacja Kolejowa Sobibór, 18 kilometres from Włodawa and roughly 100 kilometres north east of Lublin.