Sobibór Museum

Coordinates: 51°26′45″N 23°35′47″E / 51.4459°N 23.5964°E / 51.4459; 23.5964
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Sobibór Museum
Muzeum Byłego Hitlerowskiego Obozu Zagłady w Sobiborze
Sobibor statue, front view.jpg
Sobibór Museum monument,
Woman and child martyrology, iron
LocationSobibór, Poland
Coordinates51°26′45″N 23°35′47″E / 51.4459°N 23.5964°E / 51.4459; 23.5964
DirectorDr Krzysztof Skwirowski [1]

The Sobibór Museum or the Museum of the Former Sobibór Nazi Death Camp (Polish: Muzeum Byłego Hitlerowskiego Obozu Zagłady w Sobiborze), is a Polish state-owned museum devoted to remembering the atrocities committed at the former Sobibor extermination camp located on the outskirts of Sobibór near Lublin. The Nazi German death camp was set up in occupied Poland during World War II, 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 headed by Franz Stangl.[2] The number of Jews from Poland and elsewhere who were gassed and cremated there between April 1942 and October 14, 1943 is estimated at 250,000;[3] possibly more, including those who came from other Reich-occupied countries.[4]

Since May 1, 2012 the Sobibór Museum has been a branch of the Majdanek State Museum,[2] dedicated to the history and commemoration of the Holocaust camps and subcamps of KL Lublin.[5] Originally, the museum served as an out-of-town division of the district museum in Włodawa nearby founded in 1981.[6] The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage reopened the Museum with additional funding after its administrative reorganisation.[7]

Museum history[edit]

Visitor center
Sobibór trail of memory

Little was known about the camp before the Sobibor trial in Hagen, Germany, and the parallel trials of the Trawniki men in Krasnodar and Kyiv in the former USSR,[2] inspired by the investigative work of Simon Wiesenthal and the highly publicized snatching of Eichmann by Mossad.[8] Most Holocaust survivors had left Poland long before these events, and the camp was largely forgotten.[9][10]

The first monument to Sobibór victims was erected on the historic site in 1965.[11] The Włodawa Museum, which was responsible for the monument, established a separate Sobibór branch on October 14, 1993, on the 50th anniversary of the armed uprising of Jewish prisoners there,[12] some of whom successfully escaped in 1943 (see Escape from Sobibor, which aired on CBS in 1987), thus prompting the camp's premature closure.[13]

Research and conservation programs[edit]

The Museum complex comprises the museum building located near the former railway station, which are connected by a paved Trail of Memory; a cast-iron statue of a woman with child on the "Road to Heaven" (Himmelfahrtstrasse) sculpted by Mieczysław Welter, as well as a large circular enclosure with a mound of ashes and crushed bones of the victims, collected at the site and formed into a broad pyramid next to the original open-air cremation pits; and local archive of the facsimiles of testimonies and pertinent documents.[14]

Aerial photograph of the Sobibór death factory possibly just ahead of formation. Permanent structures are not there yet, including Camp II barracks (lower centre), as well as Camp III, and Camp IV. The railway unloading platform (with visible prewar train station) marked with the red arrow, location of gas chambers marked with a cross. Undressing area marked with red square with adjacent "Road to Heaven" through the forest

The camp is scheduled to undergo more advanced geophysical studies and further archaeological excavations. In the camp perimeter, there are practically no fixed objects of any kind since the SS meticulously removed as much evidence as possible.[13] Any research work around and near the graves is conducted under the strict supervision of the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich.[15]

The first excavation project was completed in October 2007. Over one thousand items belonging to the victims were unearthed. In October 2009, the second excavation phase was conducted, which determined the exact placement of double-row barbed-wire fencing posts around the camp. The work revealed numerous new artifacts as well, including false teeth, keepsakes from Marienbad, and many suitcase keys.[16] In the autumn of 2012 the north-western section around mass graves 1 and 2 was analyzed, including geophysical evidence of the barbed-wire enclosure that separated mass graves and cremation pits from the living area of Camp III, and the perimeter of the killing zone as well.[15]

In May 2013 the Israeli and Polish archaeologists conducting excavations near Camp III, unearthed an escape tunnel 10 metres (33 ft) long and 1.6–2 m deep in some places, beginning under the barracks of the Jewish Sonderkommando and leading toward a double-row barbed-wire fence.[17] The tunnel may have collapsed with people inside; the camp perimeter is known to have been mined. Notably, the camp records do not mention any incident of this kind. Other new findings included children identification tags from the Netherlands, and seven human skeletal remains possibly those of the Jewish work-detail shot upon the completion of the removal of genocide evidence.[12][18]


  1. ^ Contact information (2013). "Head of the Museum". Museum of the Former Death Camp in Sobibór. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
  2. ^ a b c MBOZS (2013). "Sobibór extermination camp. Commemoration". The State Museum at Majdanek. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
  3. ^ M.Z.C (2011). ""Z popiołów Sobiboru" (From the Ashes of Sobibor)". Oficjalna strona internetowa (official webpage) (in Polish). Muzeum Ziemi Chełmskiej im. Wiktora Ambroziewicza w Chełmie. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
  4. ^ MBOZS (2013). "Sobibór extermination camp. History". The State Museum at Majdanek. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
  5. ^ "Aktualności". Muzeum we Włodawie informuje o zmianach (in Polish). Muzeum - Zespół synagogalny we Włodawie. 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
  6. ^ MPŁW (2013). "Historia muzeum". History of Włodawa State Museum (in Polish). Muzeum Pojezierza in Włodawa. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
  7. ^ TRW (May 2013). "Muzeum Byłego Hitlerowskiego Obozu Zagłady w Sobiborze jest oddziałem zamiejscowym Muzeum Państwowego na Majdanku". Archiwum (in Polish). Twoje radio Włodawa. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
  8. ^ Victor Smart (2009). "Adolf Eichmann Capture in Argentina". Operation Eichmann. Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
  9. ^ Richard C. Lukas, Out of the Inferno: Poles Remember the Holocaust University Press of Kentucky 1989 - 201 pages. Page 13; also in Richard C. Lukas, The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation, 1939-1944, University Press of Kentucky 1986 - 300 pages.
  10. ^ Michael C. Steinlauf. "Poland". In: David S. Wyman, Charles H. Rosenzveig. The World Reacts to the Holocaust. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.
  11. ^ E.S.R. (2013). "Museum of the Former Sobibór Death Camp". Information Portal to European Sites of Remembrance. Gedenkstattenportal zu Orten der Erinnerung in Europa. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
  12. ^ a b Virtual Shtetl (2013). "A discovery in the former Sobibór death camp". The extermination camp in Sobibór. Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
  13. ^ a b Lest we forget (14 March 2004), "Extermination camp Sobibor" The Holocaust. Retrieved on May 17, 2013.
  14. ^ "Sobibor". Muzeum Byłego Hitlerowskiego Obozu Zagłady w Sobiborze (in Polish)., Chełm. 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
  15. ^ a b Mgr Wojciech Mazurek (2012-12-27). "Wstepne wyniki badan archeologicznych Muzeum Bylego Hitlerowskiego Obozu Zaglady" (PDF file, direct download 3.76 MB). Badania Archeologiczne (in Polish). Sub Terra. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
  16. ^ Yad Vashem (2013). "Archaeological Excavations at Sobibór Extermination Site". Research Projects. International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
  17. ^ "Próba ucieczki z obozu zagłady. Odkryli nieznany tunel w Sobiborze" [Amazing discovery of a secret escape tunnel in Sobibor]. Gazeta Wyborcza (Press release) (in Polish). June 5, 2013. Archived from the original on June 8, 2013. Retrieved June 11, 2013. Article features photograph of geophysical studies area.
  18. ^ Nir Hasson (Jun 7, 2013). "Archaeologists find escape tunnel at Sobibor death camp". Haaretz Daily Newspaper. Retrieved June 8, 2013.

External sources[edit]