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Escape from Sobibor Paperback – 19 Nov 2013
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A sensitive, thoughtful, and well-researched account of the biggest prisoner escape of World War II. Samuel Gold, "Jewish Chicago"
A journalistic account in the tradition of Truman Capote s"In Cold Blood." "Choice"
The authoritative version of the breakout from the Nazi experimentation camp at Sobibor. . . . Gives us a very good idea of how the will to survive can lead quite ordinary people to surmount the most extraordinary obstacles. "The Jerusalem Post"
This moving and angry book deserves to be read. " The Washington Post"
A unique, unforgettable, deeply moving and effective account of a death camp. " Detroit Jewish News""
-A sensitive, thoughtful, and well-researched account of the 'biggest prisoner escape of World War II.'- --Samuel Gold, Jewish Chicago
-A journalistic account in the tradition of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood.- --Choice
-The authoritative version of the breakout from the Nazi experimentation camp at Sobibor. . . . Gives us a very good idea of how the will to survive can lead quite ordinary people to surmount the most extraordinary obstacles.- --The Jerusalem Post
-This moving and angry book deserves to be read.- --The Washington Post
-A unique, unforgettable, deeply moving and effective account of a death camp.- --Detroit Jewish News
"A sensitive, thoughtful, and well-researched account of the 'biggest prisoner escape of World War II.'" --Samuel Gold, Jewish Chicago
"A journalistic account in the tradition of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood." --Choice
From the Back Cover
Poignant in its honesty and grim in its details, Escape from Sobibor offers stunning proof of resistance - in this case successful - by victims of the Holocaust. The smallest of the extermination camps operated by Nazi Germany during World War II, Sobibor also was the scene of the war's biggest prisoner escape. Richard Rashke's interviews with eighteen of those who survived provide the foundation for this volume. He also draws on books, articles, and diaries to make vivid the camp, the uprising, and the escape. In the afterword to this reprint, Rashke relates how the Polish government in October 1993 observed the fiftieth anniversary of the escape and how it has beautified the site since a film based on his book appeared on Polish television. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
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.
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.
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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