Semion Rosenfeld, last known survivor of Sobibor Polish death camp uprising dies at 96

Semion Rosenfeld, last known survivor of Sobibor Polish death camp uprising dies at 96

Semion Rosenfeld, the last Holocaust survivor from the Sobibor death camp uprising, died Monday at the age of 96 in hospital in Rehovot, near Tel Aviv.

Semion Moiseyevich Rosenfeld was born 10 October 1922 in the town of Ternovka in the Vinnytsia region. After graduation in October 1940, he was drafted into the Red Army.

At the end of July 1941, Rosenfeld was surrounded, wounded, and then taken prisoner by the Germans.

He was first in Minsk, at the SS Arbeitslager on Shirokaya Street, and in September 1943, together with Alexander Pechersky, Arkady Vayspapir, and others, was sent to the Sobibor death camp.

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On 14 October 1943, he took an active part in the uprising, as a result of which some of the prisoners led by Pechersky managed to kill eleven SS men and storm the wire fences.

During the revolt, about 600 prisoners tried to escape. About half succeeded in crossing the fence, of whom around 50 eluded re-capture.

Shortly after the revolt, the Germans closed the camp, bulldozed the earth, and planted it over with pine trees to conceal its location. Today, the site is occupied by the Sobibor Museum. It displays a pyramid of ashes and crushed bones of the victims collected from the cremation pits.

After the uprising and until the liberation of Chelm by Soviet troops in the spring of 1944, Rosenfeld, with a small group of prisoners, hid in the woods.

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He was sent to the 39th Guards Motorized Rifle Division and participated in the capture of Berlin and left on the wall of the Reichstag the inscription “Baranovichi-Sobibor-Berlin.” He was demobilized in October 1945 and he lived in Hayvoron, Ukraine.

In 1990, Semion Rosenfeld left for Israel with his family. In 2013, the President of the Republic of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski, awarded Rosenfeld with the Order of the Cavalier Cross.

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Sobibor was part of the secretive Operation Reinhard, the deadliest phase of the Holocaust in Poland. Jews from Poland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union, were transported to the camp by rail. Most were suffocated in gas chambers fed by the exhaust of a large petrol engine.

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At least 250,000 people were murdered at Sobibor, the fourth most deadly extermination camp, after Belzec, Treblinka, and Auschwitz.