The Nazis were responsible for some of human history’s worst crimes during the Second World War. Chief among them was their attempted extermination of the Jewish people, along with many other minorities and marginalized groups.
Thankfully, Hitler’s reign did not last forever, but it ended almost as brutally as it began. As defeat loomed, the Nazis attempted to cover up the evidence of their actions by killing the witnesses and burning their extermination facilities to the ground.
One of these sites, a death camp in Sobibor, Poland, has since been excavated, and what the archaeologists found there is too shocking for words.
There’s no doubt that the Nazis’ committed an untold number of atrocities during World War II. The worst of them, of course, occurred at the extermination camps that they set up across Europe to eradicate the Jewish people, as well as other groups that they deemed enemies.
Poland, which Germany occupied from the beginning of World War II until the Nazis’ defeat, was home to many of the worst camps, including the infamous Auschwitz and Treblinka.
Sobibor, yet another extermination camp constructed there, was one of the worst. There, Jews and several other marginalized groups, including communists, homosexuals, and Catholics, were sent to die in some of the most painful ways imaginable. Only recently has the extent of the horrors been uncovered…
This particular camp was part of what came to be known as Operation Reinhard, under which two million people were systematically murdered. The goal of this horrifying plan was to specifically target the Polish Jews.
Due to the Nazis’ organized efforts, Operation Reinhard was largely considered the Holocaust’s deadliest phase. Trainloads of victims were shipped in on these very rails and never left.
Near the end of the war, when defeat at the hands of the Allied powers seemed inevitable, the Nazis began trying to cover up their crimes. They burned the camps to the ground and filled in the graves with concrete. They thought they’d left nothing behind…
Recently, though, a skilled team of Polish and Israeli archaeologists took a visit to the Sobibor site. Their mission was to uncover these inhumane crimes and learn more about the history of the Holocaust.
The archaeologists hoped to find out what had happened there and maybe bring some peace to the souls of the departed. Besides, after all of these years, the least anyone could do was to try to rectify that cruel history.
One of the Israeli archaeologists, Yoram Haimi, lost two uncles at the camp. One could only imagine the kind of obligation that he must have felt, as their descendant, to honor their legacy.
The research team unearthed several items throughout the camp, such as these rusty sets of locks and keys. At one point, these kept prisoners in their cells. There was certainly a plethora of dark history there.
There were also personal items among the ruins, like this ring, which read, “Behold, you are consecrated onto me” in Hebrew. It must have been a romantic gesture. Now, it’s a reminder of how much was lost.
The archaeologists also found decaying bodies, and a frightening number of them at that. These researchers were professionals, but even they must have been disturbed by everything they saw.
Fewer than 60 prisoners made it out of the camp alive by the war’s end. The rest were put in mass graves like this one. While these discoveries didn’t surprise the researchers, they affected them nonetheless.
This particular body was found lying face down, and if you look closely at the base of the skull, you can clearly see the gunshot wound that killed him. This person was apparently executed.
A large portion of the camp was destroyed over the years, but several of the most horrifying monuments remained remarkably intact. Here is the base of a brick wall to one of the infamous gas chambers.
The emptiness of these research sites seems to reinforce the devastation that was wrought at this facility. It’s as if the barren remains echo the death and destruction that was once so commonplace there.
This well was once used by the prisoners of the extermination camp. It, too, seemingly stands as a monument both to the crimes that took place at Sobibor and to the lives that it extinguished.
We may never know how anyone could ever carry out such horrific crimes, but at least the victims of this terrible place have finally been found and given the respectful burial they deserve. May nothing like this ever happen again!
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