Oral History

Chaim Engel describes plans for the Sobibor uprising

The Germans captured Chaim, a soldier in the Polish army, as they invaded Poland in 1939. They first sent Chaim to Germany for forced labor, but as a Jewish prisoner of war, he was returned to Poland. Ultimately, Chaim was deported to the Sobibor camp, where the rest of his family died. In the 1943 Sobibor uprising, Chaim killed a guard. He escaped with his girlfriend, Selma, whom he later married. A farmer hid them until liberation in June 1944.

In this clip, Chaim refers to [Gustav] Wagner, Sobibor's deputy commandant.


Now we decided, at four o'clock we start to make an uprising in this way: in each group what worked, like we, for example, with separating the clothes, we had two, three Germans what were supervision over us. They supervised us with the...And each group what worked in different ways had two or three Germans what they were there to, to watch them, how they work. So we decided in, in each group to assign two people and these people with some pretext, they will have to get them to a warehouse or somewhere and quietly kill them with a knife or an axe or whatever and just do it like nothing happened and in, in the meantime also to cut the wires. And as I said, as I said before we tried to gear to do it in the time when [SS Sergeant Gustav] Wagner was on vacation, so that was really not safe, but safer. And that was...and so as I say, we was assigned people in each group to, to do this kind of work. Now there were in the barracks where we lived, there was a goldsmith, a tailor, a shoemaker, and that they made for them clothes, shoes...these people there. So that meant they had to come to fit. So they told them, "In this day I will have the fit for you. Come then, and I will have the fit for you, your shoes or your clothes." And when they came there they were already people with this axe or knives. They were hiding behind a a curtain or something, and they killed them on the spot. When they came in to fit, they overwhelmed them and they killed them, and shoved them in under the, under somewhere that nobody sees, and, and the work went through like nothing happened.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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