Sobibor is a small village in southeast Poland in the province of Lublin, on the railway between Chelm and Wlodawa and a few miles distant from the present Polish eastern border with the Ukraine. Had it not been for World War Two, it would have remained no more than an unimportant and unknown hamlet. History though decided otherwise. In the vicinity of the village, across from the local train station and a few miles from the frontier river Bug, the Germans constructed an extermination camp in the spring of 1942 in a remote, wooded and swampy location which was to give Sobibor a sinister place in history.
Sobibor, Camp Treblinka and Belzec formed the three extermination camps that were constructed in connection with Aktion Reinhard. It was the smallest of the three and was made operational as the second camp after Belzec. Sobibor has been in use or a relatively short time, 18 months. The purpose of the camp was just as simple as macabre: to gas as many Jews as possible in the shortest time possible. An uprising of prisoners in October 1943 spelled the end of the existence of the camp. Only a few dozen prisoners survived Sobibor.
Sobibor has played an important role in the extermination of the Dutch Jews. Out of all Jews deported to Sobibor most of them, excluding Polish Jews, came from the Netherlands. In a few months time, between March 2 and July 20, 1943, a total of 34,313 Jews were deported from Westerbork to Sobibor on 19 trains, always departing on Tuesday morning. Only 18 of them returned after the war.