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Escape from Sobibor

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  1,381 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Poignant in its honesty and grim in its details, Escape from Sobibor offers stunning proof of resistance - in this case successful - by victims of the Holocaust. The smallest of the extermination camps operated by Nazi Germany during World War II, Sobibor also was the scene of the war's biggest prisoner escape. Richard Rashke's interviews with eighteen of those who survive ...more
Paperback, 389 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Houghton Mifflin (T) (first published 1982)
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I owe my discovery of Richard Rashke's Escape from Sobibor to my father. He introduced me to the death camp in one of our notorious late night discussions and his account of operations within the compound and the subsequent uprising that took place there were so captivating that I took it upon myself to learn more about the remarkably obscure chapter of Operation Reinhard.

Rashke's was the first title Google turned up and th
How many Holocaust books can you read before you cease to be shocked at human behavior? I thought I had reached my threshold yet found myself arguing with a casual acquaintance that they were not "just following orders," as the story goes. This brand of cruelty and impromptu games of torture cannot be taught. It was a mindset rather than chain of command.

Regardless of the horrors described, I was able and willing to disconnect the mental images I could have conjured. Perhaps in a minute way, thi
Disclaimer: I received a copy via Netgalley in exchange for a review.
Way back, in the 80s, television use to have movies, made for TV movies. Sometimes they were like the garbage that Lifetime puts on, but sometimes they were actually good. One of the good ones was about an escape from a Nazi Death Camp. I thought of it when I saw this title offered at Netgalley. It turns out this is the back the movie drew on.
Richard Rashke relates the determined revolt and escape of several prisoners of the
Charlene Intriago
It took me a LONG time to finish this book. It is so intense. I had to step back from it for awhile, read some other stuff, and then go back. I almost abandoned it but I'm glad I didn't. The last few chapters were sobering. The author interviewed the survivors which involved him visiting several countries to do so. He also went to Sobibor with one of the survivors and walked through what remains of the camp. His description of that visit was what made the book well worth the read for me.
Lisa Vegan
Sep 05, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who has interest in reading holocaust books
Wrenching and yet inspirational book about Sobibor, a Nazi death camp. This was not one of the concentration camps but a death camp, (one of only 4 - along with Treblinka, Belzec and Chelmno.) Here, there were not large numbers of Jews kept alive to work but only a handful from each transport. Just enough prisoners were kept alive to keep the camp running; the vast majority were murdered immediately upon arrival. This is the story of the inmates’ plan, escape, and what happened next. An importan ...more
Donna Brown
It’s extremely difficult to look at a book like Escape from Sobibor with a critical eye. The usual concerns of characterisation, plot, setting etc don’t come into play. These are facets that cannot be changed if the story is to be told accurately. Therefore, when I review a book like this I have two main considerations: 1) the quality of the writing, 2) the accuracy of the details.

Escape from Sobibor is related in a unique manner, almost as if it were a work of fiction. In this way we are introd
Lori Spier
This is one of the hardest reviews I've ever written. The subject matter of the book (the exterminaton camp Sobibor in Eastern Poland) alone makes going "Yes! Wonderful!" just sound... off.

In all seriousness though, this is an excellent book. I''d heard of Sobibor before and read some books where the camp had been included in mini-chapter because, frankly, little is known about the camp. (Notably, Rashke's work also corrects many of the errors found in other books that cover Sobibor.) Exterminat
This is a brilliant, heartbreaking book and put together very well. It's a non-fiction story about a real event, but the way it's written, it reads like a Frederick Forsyth novel. If you didn't know if was non-fiction you wouldn't guess from reading it. Yet the author also includes endnotes where he explains what sources he uses, and how he dealt with conflicting sources, and his opinions as to what was reliable and what wasn't -- just like in a regular history book.

I read this book feeling a lo
I have read any books regarding the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis against Jews and other groups.This book described the brutality and hatred of many Poles also toward the Jews. It is difficult to attribute these crimes solely to the Nazis. There were hundreds of concentration camps that were used to kill, torture, and exploit the Jews and others deemed un worthy by the Nazis. To have such a vast network of horrors required more than just the Nazi criminals to run them. It is unbelievable t ...more
Bas Kreuger
Special book as it describes a very unusual situation in the Holocaust, a group of Jews fighting back at their slavers and tormentors. The book combnes both the best and worst in man, courage and degradation.
The fact that a few people kept just a sliver of hope alive in wanting to escape and hit back at the Germans makes this into a special story
Rashke writes both the petit histoire of life in Sobibor as the big picture how the world learned (but not acted upon) information coming from Poland on
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrew Davis
This is a very powerful story of the largest escape during the II World War by over 300 Jewish prisoners from a death camp in Sobibor. Only over 30 survived the war and told the world story of survival and mass death of over 250,000 Jews. An amazing story of how a small team of SS men and Ukrainian guards could exterminate so many in perhaps only a couple of years.
Stories of survival after escape demonstrate basest instincts of many living in the area who were killing escapees for their gold sto
In this updated version of Escape from Sobibor I am struck with how difficult it is for survivors of tragedy to remember and bear witness and how difficult it is for those who record their testimony.

This was a wonderful blending of the first person accounts together with the personal histories of those giving testimony. As the Holocaust Survivors age it is of the greatest importance that their testimony be preserved.
Roger McFarland
The 2012 kindle edition of this book, originally published in 1982, baffled me at first due to its unique style. The first portion of the book reads like a novel in order to better convey what the individuals were thinking and feeling while imprisoned in this Nazi death camp in Poland. The later portion of the book tells the story of the author researching and interviewing the survivors. The author, Richard Rashke, does the difficult job of piecing together the individual recollections of the su ...more
This is one of the best books written about the holocaust that I've read. This is a non-fiction account, but it reads like fiction (it's not boring). It is intense and emotionally challenging but incredibly worthwhile. I don't know why I wasted my time reading something like The Book Thief when I could have been reading this.
Mr Rashke interviewed 7 of the survivors of Sobibor's escape in 1943. The book at times almost reads like a novel, but then returns to the darkness that was Sobibor and how these Jews were able to survive, escape and tell the world about Sobibor and what happened there. The great thing about this book is that it tells what happened and the aftermath of the survivors. He asks them all about how they deal with the escape and how Sobibor impacted their lives. The subjects are very candid about how ...more
This was an impressive effort--the author spent probably uncounted hours tracking down and interviewing the survivors of the Sobibor death-camp escape. His account traces the lives of a number of individuals, how they ended up in the camp, how they survived and reacted to the brutality while there, the escape itself, and then the aftermath, concluding with telling the story of the interviews he conducted with the survivors and how their lives have been affected by their experience. This was a ri ...more
John Findlay
This book really brings home the horrors of the Holocaust, and the will to survive that Jewish prisoners exhibited under horrendous conditions. I had never heard of Sobibor, one of the smaller and lesser-known extermination camps, before reading the book, but I will never forget it now. Life in the camp, and the planning for an escape attempt, are pieced together through interviews with the small number that survived to tell the story. The latter portion of the book encompasses the author's trac ...more
Patty Wells
Emotionally tough to read, but worth it

I saw the movie when it came out in 1981, but the book is so much more...everything. Emotional, informative, complete, to name a few. The author has updated his book and the backgrounds of the people involved to bring it current.
In the book, I found the events after the escape to be more shocking than what happened in the camp, where I expected to find such inhumanity. I was also enraged by our government's (and others) refusal to see the truth and do anyth
This is an important contribution to the Holocaust historical record because it shows a truth that is not widely recognized: the Jews of Europe did not all go quietly and passively to be slaughtered by the Nazis. This is important for survivors and for their descendants, and it is an historical fact that has not been widely reported.

Most Holocaust historians focused on documentation, reasoning that interviews with survivors could not be trusted to be accurate. As good historians, they wanted doc
Victoria Brown
I remember watching this movie as a child and when I found this book I couldnt wait to read it. It is such a major time period in history that is so unbelievable its been easily forgotten just how horrible and devestating this was. This is the story of Sobibor a Polish death camp during the holocaust where over 250,000 yes that number is huge 250,000 Jewish people were sent to their death. This story focuses on the brave thirty who staged a revolt and were able to kill Nazi guards and help almos ...more
I remember seeing the movie based on this book when I was younger. Rutger Hauer has always been one of my favorite actors. His role as Sasha I thought was perfect. Yet I think I was to young to really know what the story fully entailed. I knew it was during a war, and I knew that they were in a prisoner camp, I didn't really realize that Sobibor was a death camp during the Holocaust.

We learn about the Holocaust in school, we know the history, we know the horror. This was not a easy book to read
Janet Eshenroder
E-book. Amazing story of a little known Nazi death camp in Poland. There are ghastly accounts of cruelty, in part because there were many survivors, but the story is also filled with hope and resistance. This is the answer to the question, "Why did the Jews submit to their annihilation?" Sobibor was the largest prisoner revolt and escape in all of WWII (military and civilian). By the second third of the book when you get to the escape you are on the edge of your seat. A few hundred Jews successf ...more
Excellent account of a comparatively little-known escape from the Nazi death camp, Sobibor. Very readable, even though the subject matter is of course, horrific. Well-documented. The basis for a widely-aired TV movie in the 1980's. Although most of the persons who intended or attempted to escape did not survive, some did. And it was inspiring to learn of their courage, their determination to fight back, and the impact of the sacrifices made in desperate pursuit of life and freedom.
I am of the way into this audiobook, and my opinion is exactly the same as Auschwitz A Doctor's Eyewitness Account by Miklós Nyiszli except perhaps I am not as vehement regarding the narration. Although the same complaints apply, I’d give it 1.5 stars instead of just 1. Still, it’s not much better.

Here is my review of that book:

It’s hard to criticize the content of someone’s personal recollections of what they experienced in harrowing times. It's interesting, I'm interested.

I think these things are important to learn about and remember. In some its
I am glad that I read this at a time when the Jews of Israel are again under attack. I recall the prisoners planning to somehow get the word out to the world that this atrocity was occurring and someday they hoped for a country of their own where they could protect themselves in numbers. They remind me of the Vietnamese in that they hold the good of the whole over the good of the individual and will do whatever it takes to preserve its culture.
Shelly Riggle
A very important book

I really don't know that I liked this book because it had so many people and their stories and was a little disjointed; it jumped around a lot. I did feel it was very important, historically, and I was glad I pushed through it. I wanted to honor the writer for pushing forward and the people he wrote about. it was a great book just not an easy read and I feel better for having read it.
Mimi Premo
Absolutely Stunning

As a Jewish woman, the subject of the Shoah and especially the Operation Reinhard camps is never far from my mind. This book gives voice to the courage, strength and tenacity of the Jews who survived the hell of Sobibor and is a testament to the memory and lives of the 250,000 Jews who were murdered there. Such a stunning book that I recommend highly.
It is hard to give 5 stars to book whose subject matter is so disturbing. I found the accounts of life, and mostly death, in Sobibor extermination camp very mentally draining to read. It is yet another example that man's inhumanity to man seems to know no bounds. But do read it, as Mr. Rashke's narrative is compelling and well done.
This is hard to review. So profound and provoking emotionally and intellectually. I still felt like the author felt pressed. Driven. I understand all the weight of giving a true revelation of the testimonies he gathered yet he seems unable to remain apart from it and I feel him close throughout the narrative. I cannot imagine being able not to internalize these experiences for him and I could not stay apart but feeling the weight of these truths on him strongly was distracting at times. I defini ...more
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Richard Rashke is the author of nonfiction books including The Killing of Karen Silkwood (2000) and the forthcoming Useful Enemies. His books have been translated into eleven languages and have been adapted for screen and television. Rashke is also a produced screenwriter and playwright; his work has appeared on network television and in New York.
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“That’s the reason it’s so important to keep the memory alive, so that people know about it. Another ten or fifteen years, there won’t be any witnesses.” 0 likes
“Esther never believed for a moment that she’d end up in the frying pan, as the women called the gas chamber. A friend in Staw had once told her, “Esther, I have a feeling you’re going to survive. When you do, knock on my tombstone. Then I’ll know that the Germans lost the war.” 0 likes
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