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Sobibor Extermination Camp: Chaim Engel Describes His Escape With His Girlfriend During the Sobibor Uprising

Chaim Engel was born in 1916 in Brudzew, Poland. He served in the Polish army in his early twenties and was near the end of his tour when Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Engel was captured and initially sent to a labor camp in Germany Later, he was sent back to Poland and was deported to Sobibor.

When the uprising began, Engel and the other participants in the revolt killed the Germans at their workplaces. Engel knew that he was not the only one who had killed a guard and was afraid that someone would find out what was going on and alert all the guards, in which case the prisoners attempting to escape would have all been shot.

The plan began to break down when the prisoners approached the main gate. By this time, other prisoners had figured out a revolt was in progress and began trying to flee. Engel said that “some ran on the mines, got killed. Some people didn't ran (sic) at all. They gave up. They didn't want to run. They just gave up. They, they just, waited ‘til they get killed.”

Engel was running with girlfriend Selma when he saw SS Sergeant Karl Frenzel open fire with a machine gun. Engel was afraid of the machine gun, but figured he had nothing to lose and pulled Selma through the gate to freedom.

A farmer hid Chaim and Selma until the area was liberated by Soviet forces in June 1944. Chaim and Selma later got married. Sadly, however, the rest of Chaim’s family died in Sobibor.