Itongadol.- Israeli and Polish archeologists have found signs of an underground escape tunnel leading out of the Sobibor death camp in Poland.
"We were excavating near where the ‘sonderkommando’ [‘work units of Nazi death camp prisoners’] barrack was and we came across two rows of buried barbed wire," Polish archeologist Wojciech Mazurek told the British newspaper the Telegraph. "Digging down we found the traces of the tunnel. It was about as wide as a human, and we are 99 percent certain that it was an escape tunnel.”
The Israeli archaeologist overseeing the excavations is Yoram Haimi, who works for the Israel Antiquities Authority. Two of his relatives were killed at Sobibor. Haimi has been performing extensive excavations at the site over the last few years as part of his research work at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His partner is local archaeologist Wojciech Mazurek. Their work is being supported by the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem.
The digs were cinducted in an area known as "Camp 3," which was part Sobibor. "The area in which we dug underwent a lot of looting and prying in the years after the war, Haimi told Haaretz. "We found a mess that included human bones, ashes from human beings, glass, iron and a lot of waste."
There is no proof that any prisoners managed to escape from the camp before the great prisoner uprising that took place in 1943, and therefore it seems that the tunnel wasn’t used. “It’s possible that the Germans found it and then shot the sonderkommando team,” Mazurek told the Polish media.
Over the last few years, excavations at the site have turned up many items that belonged to Holocaust victims, including house keys, luggage, coins, toothpaste, a Star of David, false teeth, pliers for pulling teeth, gold earrings, a girl’s ring, a watch, perfume bottles, a pin and remnants of a gas mask that was used when removing bodies from the gas chambers. Traces of structures have also been found, including a path leading to the gas chambers, an inner fence, poles that supported the structures and a mass grave.
The camp was built in March 1942, along with the Treblinka and Belzec extermination camps. 200,000 Jews, mainly from Poland, the Netherlands andCzechoslovakia, were murdered there between April 1942 and October 1943. The camp was dismantled after the prisoner uprising of October 1943, during which half of the prisoners escaped. Afterward, the Nazis razed it to the ground and tried to erase all traces of its existence. Nothing was left of the camp apart from the train tracks that led to it and the camp commander’s house.
The Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk was convicted in 2011 in Germany of serving as a guard in Sobibor and aiding in the murder of tens of thousands of Jews. He was sentenced to a prison term, but died before he could serve it.