More Sobibor Witnesses

I recently mentioned the testimony of Srul Jankiel Fajgenbaum, builder of the Sobibor electrocution chamber. Here I will outline some aspects of the testimonies from the same file in which Fajgenbaum’s statement appears. These witnesses appear to have been largely neglected in the literature.

Josef Trajtag – statement is unfortunately incomplete in the digitized file. From the stories of those employed in the extermination area, he knew that the gas chamber was a big underground room whose walls, ceiling, and floor were covered with iron plates. The details of the killing method were unknown; it was said to last five minutes. The bodies fell into a pit below the gas chambers. Workers put them on trolleys and hauled them to a nearby pit, into which they were thrown. Gasoline was poured over them and they were burned at a rate of 2, 3, or 4 thousand per day. The pit in which the burning took place measured around 15×10 meters. They calculated that a couple million Jews were killed in Sobibor prior to his escape. He worked in a forest commando which contained 40 Jews, but there is no indication that they gathered wood for cremations – gasoline is the only fuel mentioned in connection with cremation.

Salomon Pochlebnik – not a very detailed statement. Estimates Sobibor death count at 500,000.

Jankiel Spokojny – was not in Sobibor and has nothing specific to say about it.

Motel Samel – transports arrived every day. The old and sick were burned alive. The pyres were constructed by piling bodies on rails running over pits and dousing them with a flammable liquid – no other fuel is mentioned in connection with cremation. The prisoners calculated that 2.5 million people were killed in Sobibor.

The lack of discussion of wood for cremation is quite striking, since as I have pointed out (sections 9, 10, 10.1, 10.2), delivery of the necessary quantities of wood would have made quite an impression.

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One Response to More Sobibor Witnesses

  1. airfixgeneral says:

    I wonder what sort of work would be undertaken by a ‘forestkommando’ ?

    Someone once suggested to me that it would have included chopping down trees. Now I don’t know about you, but I find that quite hard to believe. That’s why none of these witnesses mentioned wood as fuel, because the workers from the forest, surrounded by trees, did not chop down any trees for fuel. That would have been preposterous.

    What these Forestkommandos actually did, was to forage for nuts and berries, in order to make cakes for the SS. Everyone knows that.

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