Escape from Sobibor is a 1987 British television film which aired on ITV and CBS. It is the story of the mass escape from the Nazi extermination camp at Sobibor, the most successful uprising by Jewish prisoners of German extermination camps (uprisings also took place at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka). The film was directed by Jack Gold and shot in Avala, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). The full 176-minute version shown in the UK[note 1] on 10 May 1987 was pre-empted by a 143-minute version shown in the United States on 12 April 1987.
The film begins with a new trainload of Polish Jews arriving for processing at Sobibor. The German Commandant gives them a welcome speech, assuring the new arrivals that the place is a work camp. Other SS officers move along the assembled lines of prisoners, selecting a small number who have trade skills (such as goldsmiths, seamstresses, shoemakers, and tailors). The remaining prisoners are sent away to a different part of the camp from which a pillar of smoke rises day and night. It is some time before the new prisoners realise that Sobibor is a death camp; all of the other Jews are exterminated in gas chambers, and their corpses are cremated in large ovens. The small number of prisoners kept alive in the other part of the camp are charged with sorting the belongings taken from those who are murdered and then repairing the shoes, recycling the clothing, and melting down any silver or gold to make jewellery for the SS officers. Despite their usefulness, these surviving prisoners' existence is precarious; beatings and murders can occur at any time.
Gustav Wagner is the most clever and sadistic of the German officers. When two prisoners escape from a work detail in the nearby forest, Wagner forces the remaining thirteen prisoners of the work gang to each select one other prisoner to die with them (under the threat that if they refuse, he will select fifty) and then executes all twenty six.
The leader of the prisoners, Leon Feldhendler, realises that when the trains eventually stop coming, the camp will have outlived its usefulness, and all the remaining Jews will be murdered. He devises a plan for every prisoner to escape, by luring the SS officers and NCOs into the prisoners' barracks and work huts one by one and killing them as quietly as possible. Once all the Germans are dead, the prisoners will assemble into columns and simply march out of the camp as if they have been ordered to, and it is hoped that the Ukrainian Guards, not knowing what is going on, and with no Germans left alive to give orders or raise the alarm, will not interfere. A new group of prisoners arrives: Russian Jews who were soldiers with the Soviet army. Their leader, Sasha Pechersky, and his men, willingly join the revolt, their military skills proving invaluable.
The Camp Kommandant leaves for several days, taking Wagner with him, which proves an advantage as the most sadistic of the SS officers will be absent. On 14 October 1943, the plan goes into action. One by one, SS officers and NCOs are lured into traps set by groups of prisoners armed with knives and clubs. Eleven Germans are killed, but one officer, Karl Frenzel, unwittingly evades his killers, discovers the corpse of one of his colleagues, and raises the alarm. By now, the prisoners have assembled on the parade ground and, realising the plan has been discovered, Pechersky and Feldhendler urge the prisoners to revolt and flee the camp. Most of the 600 prisoners stampede for the perimeter fences, some of the Jews using captured rifles to shoot their way through the Ukrainian guards. Other guards open fire with machine guns from observation towers, cutting many of the fleeing prisoners down, and other would-be escapees are killed on the minefield surrounding the camp. But over 300 Jews reach the forest and escape.
As the survivors flee deeper into the forest, famed newscaster Howard K. Smith narrates the fates that befell some of the survivors on whose accounts the film was based. Of the 300 prisoners who escaped, only approximately 50 survived to see the end of the war in 1945. Pechersky makes it back to Soviet lines and rejoins the Red Army, surviving the war, and Feldhendler lives to see the end of the war but is killed shortly afterwards in a clash with anti-semitic Poles. After the uprising, which was the largest escape from a prison camp of any kind in Europe during World War II, Sobibor was bulldozed to the ground, and trees were planted on the site to remove any sign of its existence.
Sgt. Gustav Wagner: This morning, two prisoners escaped from North Camp. Thirteen other prisoners, no doubt inspired by their idiotic example, also tried to escape. If any of you would like to cheer, go right ahead. There will be no more escape attempts in this camp. I'll repeat that. THERE WILL BE NO MORE ESCAPE ATTEMPTS IN THIS CAMP!!
In 1983, shortly after his release from prison for war crimes, Sobibor's third in command, Karl Frenzel, was interviewed by Thomas \"Toivi\" Blatt, a Jewish prisoner who survived following the prison revolt and escape.
This made-for-TV movie from the UK caused quite a splash at the Golden Globes in its day (an awards ceremony we can all agree will remain relevant and vital for decades to come) and earned a lot of plaudits for Rutger Hauer in particular - which is slightly surprising. Not that he isn't good - he's great - but he's really just one of an ensemble. His character is innately appealing and heroic though, so it wouldn't be the first time the awards-voters confused a very appealing character with a great performance.
Adapted from the book by Richard Rashke, this is a compelling account of the escape from a Nazi death camp deep in the Polish countryside, undertaken by a cabal of Jewish workers and Soviet soldiers. Over 250,000 people died in the Sobibor gas chambers. In comparative terms, the fact that over 300 prisoners fled from this hellhole may seem slight. But their achievement remains one of the most audacious acts of courage in the entire Second World War. In a superb ensemble cast headed by Rutger Hauer and Joanna Pacula, Alan Arkin is excellent as ringleader Leon Feldhendler. But the key component is Jack Gold's directorial restraint and his film was deservedly rewarded with two Golden Globes.
Escape from Sobibor is a British 1987 war drama directed by Jack Gold. The movie depicts the uprising of Jewish prisoners in German extermination camp Sobibor in 1943. The story is based on real events.
Most of the German and Ukrainian guards in Sobibor are armed with Karabiner 98k rifles. During the uprising several former prisoners, including Leon Feldhendler (Alan Arkin) and Shlomo Szmajzner (Simon Gregor), arm themselves with rifles taken from the guards.
Other prisoners will be put to work sorting the belongings of the dead Jews. The Germans were notoriously greedy and the stuff they stole from their captives would fill, and probably have filled, several museums of remembrance.
In the summer of 1943, the Sobibor killing center saw a decline in the number of victims sent to be murdered in its gas chambers. This sparked a rumor among the prisoners forced to labor in Sobibor that the killing center would soon be dismantled and all the prisoners murdered. A group of Polish Jews led by Leon Feldhandler formed a secret committee to plan a mass escape. However, its members lacked any military experience and made little progress.
When a group of Jewish Red Army POWs arrived in a transport from Minsk in September, the committee turned to them for advice. Within three weeks, Lieutenant Alexander Pechersky worked out a detailed plan. First, the Soviet POWS would secretly kill some of the SS officials, taking their weapons and uniforms. Then, when the approximately 600 prisoners assembled for evening roll call, the POWs masquerading as camp personnel would kill the guards at the gate and on the towers and urge the prisoners to flee. The revolt was set for a day when Sobibor's commandant and several of its leading officials would be away.
As the prisoners gathered for roll call, however, the remaining camp personnel became alarmed and opened fire on the prisoners. While members of the camp resistance who had obtained arms returned fire, over 300 prisoners fled from the camp.
Many prisoners were shot during the escape or died in the minefields around the camp. At least 100 others were caught and killed during the massive manhunt conducted by SS, police, and German army units in the days following the uprising. Of the perhaps 200 escapees who were not immediately caught, only about 50 survived the war, often with the help of the local population or by joining partisan groups. On the other hand, many of the escapees who did not survive were betrayed to the Germans or killed by Polish civilians or partisans.
Soon afterward, the SS brought in a group of Jewish prisoners from Treblinka to dismantle the killing facilities and erase the traces of Sobibor's true function. In late November 1943, those Jewish prisoners were murdered as well.
On October 14, 1943, the Jewish resistance in Sobibor launched an uprising during which some 300 prisoners escaped. Most of the escapees were subsequently hunted down and killed, but some 50 survived the war.
The Sobibor camp was built along the Lublin-Chelm-Wlodawa railway line just west of the Sobibor railway station. A nearby spur connected the railway to the camp and was used to offload prisoners from incoming transports. A dense forest of pine and birch shielded the site from view.
German SS and police officials conducted deportations to Sobibor between May 1942 and the fall of 1943. Between late July and September 1942, deportations by train to Sobibor from points south were suspended. During this time, repairs were made on the Chelm-Lublin railway.
German SS and police officials deported Jews to Sobibor primarily from the ghettos of the northern and eastern regions of Lublin District, such as the Chelm ghetto. The Germans also deported Jews to Sobibor from German-occupied Soviet territory, Germany itself, Austria, Slovakia, Bohemia and Moravia, the Netherlands, and France. In all, the Germans and their auxiliaries killed at least 167,000 people at Sobibor. 59ce067264