On 14 October 1943, an armed uprising at Sobibór took place and hundreds of prisoners were able to escape.
The revolt was planned after rumours spread in the summer of 1943 that Sobibór was due to be closed down and dismantled, and all of those who still worked at the site would be murdered. In response to these rumours, a small group of Polish prisoners in the camp formed a resistance group and began planning an armed uprising, so that they could escape before being killed. In September 1943, a group of
soldiers, including Lieutenant Alexander Petjersky, were imprisoned in the camp and joined the resistance group – using their military experience to create a more detailed strategy for the revolt.
The uprising began at 4pm on 14 October 1943, when Johann Niemann, the acting commandant, was killed after being lured into the tailors’ workshop in Camp I. Over the following hour the prisoners managed to kill nine other
At around 5pm, the daily roll call began and other SS staff members became aware that something unexpected was happening. The SS opened fire and began shooting at the prisoners who had gathered for the roll call. In response, some prisoners returned fire at the SS, while others in the camp began to make their escape on foot. To do so, they had to cross the minefields which surrounded the camp, some of which were triggered and began exploding. Chaos reigned, and many prisoners were shot by guards or fatally wounded by the mines as they tried to escape.
In total, approximately three hundred prisoners were able to escape during the uprising. In the hours and days following revolt, Nazi SS officers searched extensively for those who had escaped, and managed to re-capture and then kill around one hundred people. Of the remaining two hundred escapees, approximately fifty survived until the end of the Second World War. Along with a handful of others, these escapees were among the only survivors of Sobibór.
On 15 October, all remaining prisoners in Sobibór who were unable to escape were murdered.