Eyewitness accounts of gassings at Sobibor (1943)

Erich Fuchs and Erich Bauer served as camp personnel at Sobibor, a Nazi extermination camp near the eastern border of Poland. Here they recall measures taken to gas Jews in Sobibor:

Erich Fuchs
“On Wirth’s instructions, I drove to Lemberg in a truck and picked up an engine, that I transported back to Sobibor… We unloaded the motor. It was a heavy Russian gasoline engine (probably a tank engine or tractor engine)… We placed the motor on the concrete base and installed the connection between the exhaust and the pipeline. Then we tested the motor. At first, it did not work. I repaired the ignition and the valve with the result that the motor finally started up. The chemist, whom I already knew from Belzec, went into the gas chamber with a measuring instrument in order to test the concentration of gas. In conclusion, a test gassing was then conducted. As best I remember, some 30-40 women were gassed in the chamber.”

Erich Bauer
“Perhaps 3 or 4 times I also led certain groups through the tube to the gas chambers. After all, no member of the permanent staff in Sobibor could exempt himself over the course of time from having to perform this and all other functions occurring during the destruction process. It may sound astonishing that the Jews went unsuspecting to their death. Resistance occurred extremely seldom. The Jews only became suspicious when they were already in the gas chambers. At this point in time, however, there was no turning back. The chambers were densely packed… The doors were sealed airtight and immediately the gassing procedure commenced. After some 20-30 minutes, there was complete silence in the gas chambers; the people were gassed and dead. Then the chambers were opened, work Jews dragged the people who had been killed out of the gas chambers and transported the victims by means of a lorry to the graves. Later the victims were cremated.”