Some 250,000 Jews murdered at camp in Poland which Nazis bulldozed and covered up with trees to conceal their crimes; personal effects of victims, including wedding rings found near gas chambers.
Sobibor death camp. (photo credit:REUTERS)
An archaeological dig in Poland has revealed the location of the gas chambers at the Sobibor death camp, Yad Vashem announced on Wednesday.
Some 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor, but on October 14, 1943, about 600 prisoners revolted and briefly escaped. Between 100 and 120 prisoners survived the revolt, and 60 of those survived the war. After the camp uprising, the Nazis bulldozed the area and planted it over with pine trees to conceal their crimes.
The archaeological dig at the camp, which has been carried out by an international team of experts since 2007, has in the past uncovered thousands of personal items belonging to those interned at the camp, including jewelry, perfume, medicine and utensils.
A well was uncovered this week which was used by the prisoners in Camp 1, where the revolt took place. The well contained several personal items belonging to Jewish prisoners because German guards had thrown trash into it when the camp was being destroyed.
Dr. David Silberklang, a senior researcher at the Yad Vashem International Institute for Holocaust research said, "The discovery of the exact location of the gas chambers at the Sobibior Camp is a discovery of the utmost importance in Holocaust research."
He said it was important to understand that
"there are no remains from any Jews who worked in the area of the gas chambers, and therefore these findings are the only thing left from those who were murdered."
"a small window has been open into their daily suffering."
He said for the first time researchers would be able to better understand the murder process in the camp and what the Jews went through before their death.
"Finding the exact size of the gas chambers will enable us to understand what their capacity was and from there we can determine a more precise estimation of the number of people killed at the Sobibor Camp," Silberklang said.
He said the finding will also help fill in the puzzle of what happened to the prisoners who escaped from the camp during the rebellion.
Archaeologist Yoram Haimi said they were surprised at the size of the structure that housed the gas chambers and how well the chambers' walls were preserved.
"The most exciting part is that we found near the gas chambers wedding rings with the inscription in Hebrew "Hare at mekudeshet li" (Behold, thou art consecrated to me)."
*Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.