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on 15 July 2005
I have read this book about five times over and each time is more terrifying and unbelivable than the first.
Rashke portrays different experiences of those who lived through the Hell of Sobibor and the unthinkable things as to what human beings are capable of.
Escape from Sobibor highlights just what one person can achieve in such a hopeless and horrific situation.
This is possibly one of the most heartbreaking, yet inspiring books that I have ever read based on the Holocaust.
What makes the book so special is Rashke's personal encounters with the survivors, who gives the hero's of Sobibor a united voice with one purpose: to tell the world what happened.
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on 7 July 1999
I've found that, as someone who was born in the '70s, with no conception of the horror of the Shoah, I tend to read books like this with detachment. It would be beyond arrogance to try to tap into the victims' feelings, but I've found that I have to let their stories *affect* me... to let my heart break for them.
This is a beautiful book to start with. As gripping as any thriller, it doesn't lose a bit of its humanity. Especially thought-provoking were the stories of Shlomo and Sasha. Nobody could remain unaffected over Sasha's torment for his daughter, Ela.
So why not five stars? I was disappointed with the bias against the Christian Poles. It is politically correct these days to villify them and to forget the story of their Shoah. At least five million non-Jews suffered in the death camps alongside their Jewish brothers and sisters, of whom Christian Poles made up a significant number of the victims. One of those victims was the Polish Catholic Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a priest who volunteered to die in the place of a father with children. Should not the Shoah of the five million non-Jews, among them the Christian Poles, be remembered as well?
ESCAPE FROM SOBIBOR paints, with few exceptions, the Christian Poles as villainous collaborators with the Nazis and totally ignores the fact that they suffered horrifically in the same camps as the Jews.
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on 15 July 2016
Absolutely riveting. I am a different person after reading this book. It has changed me. I am so encouraged and inspired by the strength and courage of those who stood against atrocities of this period. This book is utterly electrifying and completely riveting. The most amazing part of all is that it is a true story. I think everyone should read this book.
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on 2 December 2013
I have read many books on the holocaust and this book is probably the best one i have ever read. This book goes far far beyond what was portrayed in the film 'Escape from Sobibor'. It tells of the characteristics of the escapers, what happened during and after the escape and how the people are now. Importantly, it tells the truth about Sobibor, about the victims and what can be learned. Buy this book!
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on 2 April 2014
Heaven only knows how people found the will to survive after going through the hell of Sobibor. The thing I found devastating as well was how a number of the escapees were either betrayed and killed after surviving in Sobibor and managing to escape from it. I've read a number of books of this genre but this has been the best.
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on 31 July 2013
Very interesting book, full of facts, but also a good read that gets you gripped by the story. Upsetting and hard to belive that this happened, the courage of man and how you can survive as some did is amazing,
Highly recommend .
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on 18 July 2015
As part of my Holocaust education programme for late Key Stage 3/Early Key Stage 4 RE, I had a scheme of work based on the key question: What experiences might make people give up, change or adopt religious belief? - Students will evaluate e.g. Shlomo Schmaltzer’s story of why he became an atheist after his escape from Sobibor.

The film ‘Escape from Sobibor’ was a brilliant resource and I’ve seen it so many times, over the years, that I know off off by heart.

This book tells the story of the revolt in the death camp and tells us what happened to the survivors afterwards.

Of particular interest to me was the young idealist, Stanisław [Shlomo] Schmaltzer (Polish spelling Szmajner). (1923-1989 – but he lived to see the vicious Commandant Wagner killed – probably he was the killer since he’d spent his life trying to track him down.) When I discovered that he had died, I wept as if he were an old friend. The film and the book are emotionally moving – and I believe education shouldn’t just appeal to reason but to spirituality.

Shlomo was born 50 miles west of Sobibor. He was bored with school and used to ‘bunk off’ to watch a goldsmith at work. That was his salvation because he made gold rings for the SS from the fillings extracted from the teeth of those who went to the gas chambers. He also got to know the habits and movements of the SS so well – the Germans love routine – that it was possible to kill them off one by one so as to facilitate the escape.

I am also interested in Thomas "Toivi" Blatt, who is still alive today. Schlomo protected him and they escaped together. Having escaped, they hid in a barn –and the farmer tried to shoot them dead – because they were Jews.
He gave evidence at the trial of John Demjanjuk who was charged with 27,900 counts of accessory to murder as a Ukrainian SS guard. Aged 82, Toivi was one of the last people alive to have survived Sobibor. He was born in Izbica, only 43 miles from Sobibor. He survived only because the SS had executed a number of so-called "work Jews" at Sobibor the day before he arrived. The camp commandant was looking for replacements and 15-year-old Thomas pushed himself forward, pleading "Take me, take me!"
His jobs included polishing SS men's boots, sorting the clothes and shaving the hair off naked women prisoners before they were driven into gas chambers pumped full of exhaust fumes. It took up to 40 minutes for those inside to die. "We heard the whine of the generator that started the submarine engine which made the gas that killed them. I remember standing and listening to the muffled screams and knowing that men, women and children were dying in agony as I sorted their clothes. This is what I live with," he said.
When Jewish prisoners scaled the perimeter fence under a hail of gunfire from the camp watchtowers, which were still manned, the ones who got over the fence were blown up by mines that surrounded the camp. Mr Blatt escaped this fate because his jacket caught on the fence. He eventually got through the minefield by jumping through the pits in the ground caused by the explosions.
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on 18 July 2015
As part of my Holocaust education programme for late Key Stage 3/Early Key Stage 4 RE, I had a scheme of work based on the key question: What experiences might make people give up, change or adopt religious belief? - Students will evaluate e.g. Shlomo Schmaltzer’s story of why he became an atheist after his escape from Sobibor.

The film ‘Escape from Sobibor’ was a brilliant resource and I’ve seen it so many times, over the years, that I know off off by heart.

This book tells the story of the revolt in the death camp and tells us what happened to the survivors afterwards.

Of particular interest to me was the young idealist, Stanisław [Shlomo] Schmaltzer (Polish spelling Szmajner). (1923-1989 – but he lived to see the vicious Commandant Wagner killed – probably he was the killer since he’d spent his life trying to track him down.) When I discovered that he had died, I wept as if he were an old friend. The film and the book are emotionally moving – and I believe education shouldn’t just appeal to reason but to spirituality.

Shlomo was born 50 miles west of Sobibor. He was bored with school and used to ‘bunk off’ to watch a goldsmith at work. That was his salvation because he made gold rings for the SS from the fillings extracted from the teeth of those who went to the gas chambers. He also got to know the habits and movements of the SS so well – the Germans love routine – that it was possible to kill them off one by one so as to facilitate the escape.

I am also interested in Thomas "Toivi" Blatt, who is still alive today. Schlomo protected him and they escaped together. Having escaped, they hid in a barn –and the farmer tried to shoot them dead – because they were Jews.
He gave evidence at the trial of John Demjanjuk who was charged with 27,900 counts of accessory to murder as a Ukrainian SS guard. Aged 82, Toivi was one of the last people alive to have survived Sobibor. He was born in Izbica, only 43 miles from Sobibor. He survived only because the SS had executed a number of so-called "work Jews" at Sobibor the day before he arrived. The camp commandant was looking for replacements and 15-year-old Thomas pushed himself forward, pleading "Take me, take me!"
His jobs included polishing SS men's boots, sorting the clothes and shaving the hair off naked women prisoners before they were driven into gas chambers pumped full of exhaust fumes. It took up to 40 minutes for those inside to die. "We heard the whine of the generator that started the submarine engine which made the gas that killed them. I remember standing and listening to the muffled screams and knowing that men, women and children were dying in agony as I sorted their clothes. This is what I live with," he said.
When Jewish prisoners scaled the perimeter fence under a hail of gunfire from the camp watchtowers, which were still manned, the ones who got over the fence were blown up by mines that surrounded the camp. Mr Blatt escaped this fate because his jacket caught on the fence. He eventually got through the minefield by jumping through the pits in the ground caused by the explosions.
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on 24 March 2013
What a brilliant book! I am very interested in the Holocaust and have read quite a few books on the subject. I can't begin to imagine what strength it took for those Jewish prisoners to stand against the Nazis and get out of that awful camp. The pain they must have felt when they realized their families where gassed and burnt is unbelievable. I have seen the movie too and would recommend both the book and the film.
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on 17 February 2013
I have not finished reading the whole book yet but what i have read is upsetting. I cant even begin to imagine the fear of being in that camp. The things they had to do in order to survive another day,another hour even. Thank god its over
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