News

The next expedition of archeological research has begun

At the beginning of August 2014 started the sixth expedition of archaeological excavation research in the area of the former German-Nazi extermination camp in Sobibor. The expedition is implemented on the basis of financial means of the INERNATIONAL PROJECT TO ESTABLISH THE NEW MUSEUM-MEMORIAL SITE IN THE AREA OF THE FORMER GERMAN-NAZI EXTERMINATION CAMP IN SOBIBOR. The excavation works are of pre-emptive character, i.e. they are conducted in strictly designated areas, where investment actions connected with the new commemoration concept will be realized. The scope of the planned excavations includes inter alia: the full recognition of the areas where commemoration facilities will be located: ,, Himmelfahrtstraße” (“Road to Heaven”), gas chambers, mass graves and the place where the uprising broke out. The scope of the research also covered the area where the museum building together with the auxiliary infrastructure will be placed. The organizer of the research – the Foundation for Polish-German Reconciliation acting in cooperation with the area owner –the State Museum at Majdanek, commissioned the conduction of excavations to the company SUB TERRA Archeological Research WojciechMazurek and entrusted WojciechMazurek the function of research director. YoramHaimi from Israel, Dr. Ivar Schute from the Netherlands and Dr. Anna Zalewska from the Maria Curie Skłodowska University in Lublin and Prof. Andrzej Kola from the Nicolaus Copernicus Universityin Toruń were also invited to participate in the research.

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Historicaldiscovery in Sobibor

The team of archaeologists under the supervision of Wojciech Mazurek that is conducting the foresight excavation research in Sobibor at the turn of August and September 2014, discovered the remains of the gas chambers. Despite knowledge about the likely localization of this tool of mass destruction from the time of existence of the German-Nazi camp, no documented evidence of its existence has been discovered. This wasmainlybecause the post-camp documentation did not survive, none of the prisoners, forced to operate the gas chambers and to burn the bodies of the murdered, survived and the building itself-afterthe successful uprisingof prisoners, whichbroke outin the autumnof 1943. –was blown up. The present research revealed under the asphalt square numerous remains of the foundation of the bricked-up building that constitutes since the 60s the element of commemoration of the place where gas chambers were located. Currently, documentation works on the discovered relicts are underway.

Pozostałości komór gazowych w Sobiborze

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Dutch royal couple saw the presentation of the international project to establish the new museum- Memorial Site in the area of the former German-Nazi extermination camp in Sobibor

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima who were on official visit in Poland in the period of 24-25 June 2014, became acquainted with the international project to establish the new museum- Memorial Site in the area of the former German-Nazi extermination camp in Sobibor. The Secretary of State at the Ministry ofCulture and National Heritage, Piotr Żuchowski, who directs the project on behalf of the Polish Government, acquainted the royal couple with the history of the camp and concept of commemoration of the victims. Presentation of the project took place in the library of the Warsaw Uprising Museum, where a small, one-time exhibition of illustrations and artefacts that were acquired during the project’s realization, was arranged. It was one of the first points of the programme of visit in Poland of the Dutch King.

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Foundation Laetitia supports the Sobibór project

On 14 January 2014 the Foundation for Polish-German Reconciliation, which is a co-organizer of the international project to establish the Museum-Memorial Site in the area of the former German-Nazi extermination camp in Sobibór, entered into an agreement with the Foundation Laetitia, represented by its Chairman – counsellor Marian Mazurek. The object of the agreement is by the Foundation Laetitia to provide organizational and financial support for the project. According to the intention of the donor fund will be allocated to the acquisition and integration of the property to the Memorial Site which during the time of the extermination camp was a camp’s railway platform. That was a vestibule of hell, the beginning of the way to the gas chamber for thousands of Jews from the occupied Europe. At the time being there is a working loading platform at the site that serves loading of wood and the area is held at perpetual lease by the Polish State Railways.

In accordance with the guidelines of the Steering Group and the opinions of experts the Foundation for Polish-German Reconciliation for several months has worked towards winning the platform and integrating it with the Memorial Site area. Thanks to the Foundation Laetitia the acquisition of the railway platform and the commencement of the works became possible in 2014.

On behalf of all project partners, social environments and private persons that are involved in preserving the memory of the victims of the Nazi extermination camp in Sobibór the Foundation for Polish-German Reconciliation would like to thank the Foundation Laetitia for this unprecedented gesture. It is the first time that the Sobibór project received the support from the private donor.

The Foundation Laetitia is a Polish foundation whose aim is to promote reconciliation and to bring nations closer, conflict prevention through mutual learning of history, culture, folk customs and traditions.

Fundacja Laetitia

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The works on the architectural project of the new Memorial Site have begun

On 8 January 2014 the State Museum at Majdanek – the owner of the area after the former Nazi extermination camp and organizer of the museum in Sobibór – concluded an agreement for the drawing up the project documentation for the new Memorial Site. The project will be based on the concept of land arrangement that received the first prize in the recent international contest. The order will be performed by the authors of the selected concept, the winners of above mentioned contest – Mr. Marcin Urbanek and Mr. Łukasz Mieszkowski and the company RE S.C. Piotr Michalewicz Mateusz Tański.

Presentation of the work adopted for implementation

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Another scientific expedition of archeological research in Sobibór completed

On 4 December 2014 the 5th archeological expedition that was conducted within the scientific research carried out in the area of the former German-Nazi extermination camp in Sobibór was completed. The scientific research was organized by the Foundation for Polish-German Reconciliation on behalf of the group steering the international project for establishing the new Museum-Memorial Site.

For the second time the research was conducted in the area of burial sites of thousands of Jewish victims murdered during the II World War. The research aims to acquire the necessary knowledge about the area of the extermination camp prior to the start of investment works that are conducted to preserve and commemorate this place. Archeological research was conducted under the guidance of Wojciech Mazurek (SUBTERRA Archeological research). During the research there were the following persons present as well: Israeli archeologist Yoram Haimi, Dutch archeologist Ivar Schute and Prof Andrzej Kola from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń.

The Organizer of the research would like to thank the State Museum at Majdanek and the Lubelski Provincial Monument Conservator (delegation in Chełm) for allowing and supporting the conduction of scientific research.

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We commemorated the memory of the victims of the exermination camp in Sobibór

On 14 October 2014, on the 70th anniversary of the revolt and mass escape of the Nazi extermination camp prisoners, there were held official celebrations in Sobibór organized by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The camp prisoners took part in the commemoration: Filip Białowicz, Tomasz Blatt and Jules Schelvis.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of states whose nationals were murdered in Sobibór, u.a.: Shai Mose Piron – Israel’s Minister of Education, Maarten Johannes van Rijn – Secretary of State at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Zvi Rav-ner – Israeli Ambassador, Rüdiger Freiherr von Fritsch – Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Paul Bekkers – Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Vasil Grivna – Ambassador of the Slovak Republic, Marek Lisansky – General Consul of Slovak Republic in Poland, Tauras Shpokyavichyus – First Counsellor of the Embassy of Russia, Philippe Cers – First Counsellor of the Embassy of France, Marcel Floor – Head of Department of Victims and Remembrance WWII at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Martin Salm – Chairman of the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future, and many other distinguished guests.

Polish authorities were represented by the Head of the Chancellery of the President of Poland – Jacek Michałowski. The ceremony was hosted by Piotr Żuchowski – the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland, who chairs the Steering Group in the international project to establish a new Museum-Memorial Site in the area of the former Nazi extermination camp in Sobibór.

By order of the President of the Republic of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski, for bravery and heroic attitude displayed during the uprising and for distinguished merits in the activities for the preservation of memory and dissemination of knowledge about Holocaust, were awarded:

With the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland

  • citizen of the Kingdom of the Netherlands – Jules SCHELVIS,
  • citizens of the United States of America – Filip BIALOWITZ, Thomas BLATT, Estera RAAB,
  • citizen of Ukraine – Arkadii WEISSPAPIER

With the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland

  • citizens of the State of Israel – Simcha BILOWIC, Semion ROZENFELD,
  • citizen of the United States of America – Samuel LERER,
  • female citizen of the Commonwealth of Australia –Regina ZIELINSKI

For courage and heroic attitude displayed during the Uprising in the German-Nazi extermination camp in Sobibór the prisoners leader was awarded posthumously with the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland:

  • Aleksander PECZERSKI

Besides the high official representatives of the countries whose citizens were exterminated in the camp in Sobibór, around half thousand children and youth from Israel and Poland took part in the anniversary ceremony. The ceremony was also attended by the participants of educational workshops conducted at that time in Sobibór by the Foundation for Polish-German Reconciliation – youth from Poland, Israel, Germany, Austria, Russia, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Serbia and Armenia.

A new commemoration architectural-artistic project was presented on this special day in Sobibór, chosen in the international contest. Its presentation was also an invitation for other countries, their governmental and non-governmental authorities to the co-financing and substantive cooperation.

[Ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the of the uprising in Sobibór, 14.10. 2013]

Uroczystość upamiętniająca 70. rocznicę powstania więźniów 14.10.2013 r.

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