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Sobibor interviews 1983-1984

NIOD Jules Schelvis
Time period: 1943
Number of interviews: 15
Period of interviews: 1983-1984

The collection is housed at DANS:
Jules Schelvis; NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (): Thematic collection: Sobibor Interviews 1983-1984. DANS.


Approximately 170,000 Jews from all over Europe were killed in the Sobibor extermination camp (eastern Poland). More than 33,000 of them came from the Netherlands. Less than fifty prisoners survived the war. Most of them escaped during the uprising that broke out on October 14, 1943.


Interviews have been conducted with thirteen Sobibor survivors. Sometimes emotional, sometimes detached they tell about their lives disrupted by the war, the degrading conditions in the camp, their escape and their lives after the war. The leader of the uprising tells in detail about the preparation and execution of the mass escape. Also featured are interviews with two Polish residents of the camp and a survivor of the uprising in the crematorium at Auschwitz-Birkenau.


The interviews with Sobibor survivors were filmed in 1983 and 1984. During this period, the trial of the camp executioner Karl Frenzel took place in Hagen, West Germany. As a reporter for the newspaper Het Vrije Volk Jules Schelvis, himself a Sobibor survivor, attended the trial. He was accompanied by Dunya Breur (†2009), an expert on Slavic languages, who followed the trial for a film company. Survivors came from America, Israel, Brazil, and Australia to testify at the trial. With video equipment they bought themselves, Schelvis and Breur made film recordings of these survivors. Schelvis operated the camera and Breur did the interviews. Some interviews were recorded later at Schelvis’ home in Tricht. For the interviews with Alexander Petsjerski and Arkady Wajspapir Schelvis and Breur traveled to Rostov-on-Don in Russia. Together with Dunya Breur Jules Schelvis had additional conversations with two Polish neighbors and a survivor of the uprising in the crematorium of Auschwitz-Birkenau.