Hero of Jewish Uprising at Sobibor Death Camp Passes Away in Israel at Age 96
The last remaining survivor of the Nazi death camp Sobibor passed away on Monday at the age of 96.
Semyon Rosenfeld died at a medical center in the central Israeli city of Rehovot. Rosenfeld, who remained in the Soviet Union after the end of World War II, made aliyah to the Jewish state in 1990, following the collapse of communism.
Rosenfeld was born in Ukraine in 1922 in the town of Ternovka. Following the outbreak of World War II, he was drafted into the Soviet Red Army. A year later, he was captured by the Germans and sent to set up a labor camp in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, along with 230 other Jewish prisoners.
Rosenfeld was later transferred to an extermination camp near the railway station of Sobibor near Włodawa in Poland, where some 250,000 Jews were murdered between April 1942 and October 1943.
Rosenfeld escaped the camp along with 300 other prisoners in September 1943 during an uprising — led by Alexander Pechersky — in which 11 SS men were killed. Many of those who took part in the uprising were killed or captured in the days that followed. Rosenfeld, however, hid in the woods with a small group of prisoners until the spring of 1944.
Aged just 21 at the time of the Sobibor revolt, Rosenfeld later reflected, “I was not afraid because I didn’t have the time to think about fear. I thought only about life.”
He recalled being pointedly asked by Pechersky whether he was capable of killing a man with an ax. “I cannot murder a man,” Rosenfeld answered. “But I can kill a Nazi.”