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Sobibor Survivor Tells the Story of his Escape

Friday, 4 June, 2010 - 7:29 am

sob4.jpgThomas Toivi Blatt, one of only five living survivors of the Sobibor extermination camp, spoke to over 500 people throughout the UK on a speaking tour organised by Oxford Chabad Society, with locations including Newcastle Hebrew Congregation, Lubavitch of South Manchester, Hasmonean Boys School in North West London and Edgware Chabad House.
 
In Oxford, close to 100 students and community members came to hear Blatt speak. Robert Slager, the grandson of Esther Jacobs - in whose memory the event was dedicated - and father of David Slager - the principle supporter of the Slager Jewish Student Centre in Oxford, opened the event, speaking in memory of his grandmother.

“Who can explain why the young and the elderly had to be murdered due to such hatred and propaganda?” he asked.
 
Explaining how life was before the war in the small shtetl of Ishbitz, Thomas Toivi Blatt went on to described how the Nazis first appeared friendly to the Jews until the transports began.
 
Blatt related how he remembered his family and friends talking how they were confident that they would not be taken to Sobibor, as they had professions and were useful. However, as they passed the two labour camps they became aware that they were indeed being taken to Sobibor.

sob2.jpgOnce there, at the age of 15 and with no professional experience, Blatt was selected as the camp commander's shoeshine boy, while his parents and friends were taken to the gas chambers.
 
Blatt described in length the escape from Sobibor that, he said, was only possible due to a transport from the East of Russian Jewish prisoners of war who possessed training in arms and combat.
 

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