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19.05.2020

Sobibór railway station during the German occupation

The German death camp in Sobibór was established in the Sobibór Stacja settlement. According to the 1921 census, the 12 houses built in the locality were inhabited by 73 people. The settlement was situated about five kilometers from the village of Sobibór and included forestry offices, a sawmill, and a tar plant.

Its center was a railway station with a main track, a maneuvering track, and two spur tracks. The facility handled passenger and freight traffic.

The Germans took over the infrastructure existing in the settlement in order to enable the functioning of the camp. This included: the post office and the forester's farm, as well as the western spur track (with a buffer stop at its end). The station remained outside the camp. However, it was situated directly opposite the entrance to the spur line, which was hidden behind a barbed wire fence and densely woven pine branches. There, the SS unloaded wagons with the victims deported for extermination. The station building housed a ticket office, a waiting room, and a buffet with liquor license servicing the travelers. It was also visited by local residents and members of the camp crew.

Polish railway staff subordinated to German railwaymen were employed at the station. The facility was subjected to the German-managed General Directorate of Eastern Railways (Generaldirektion der Ostbahn, abbreviated Gedob), which supervised the General Government.

In the photographs:

Sobibór railway station before the death camp became operational.

The station buildings, including the lamp room and the station itself, are visible in the background, on the right. In the foreground, the SS and police leader in the Lublin District, Odilo Globocnik, who between 1942 and 1943 coordinated the mass extermination of Jews carried out by the Third Reich under the code name “Einsatz Reinhardt.”

Post-war photograph of the Sobibór train station.

Fragment of the German railway map with the lines marked in the Lublin District.

According to the German timetable from 1943, passenger trains running on the Chełm–Bug Włodawski section and back, stopped in Sobibór eight times a day. The first – at 2.48 am, and the last – at 9.20 pm.

Running in board.

SS-Sonderkommando Sobibor was the official name of the German extermination camp. However, it were the post-war running in boards with the name of the station that became almost an iconic symbol of the camp. A photograph of one of the boards found its way to the cover of the English-language edition of the camp monograph by Jules Schelvis.

After full zooming use arrows keys to change image and ESC key to close zoom

  • Zoom image: Sobibór railway station before the death camp became operational.
  • Zoom image: Post-war photograph of the Sobibór train station.
  • Zoom image: Fragment of the German railway map with the lines marked in the Lublin District.
  • Zoom image: Running in board.
  • Zoom image: Running in board.
  • Show larger image above: Sobibór railway station before the death camp became operational.
  • Show larger image above: Post-war photograph of the Sobibór train station.
  • Show larger image above: Fragment of the German railway map with the lines marked in the Lublin District.
  • Show larger image above: Running in board.
  • Show larger image above: Running in board.

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