Arkady Waispapir, one of the last known survivor of the Nazis’ Sobibor death camp, has died in Ukraine at the age of 96.
The Berlin-based Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe said Mr Waispapir died on January 11 in Kiev.
Born in southern Ukraine in 1921, Mr Waispapir was captured by the Germans while serving in the Soviet Army and shipped to the Nazis’ Sobibor camp in occupied Poland in 1943 because he was Jewish.
He was one of a few inmates spared immediate death in Sobibor’s gas chambers, and instead ordered to a work detail.
In October 1943, prisoners organised an uprising against the guards and succeeded in killing nearly a dozen.
Mr Waispapir was one of the eight main organisers of the uprising, who used their training as soldiers to help devise a plan. In the end, about half of the camp’s 600 prisoners managed to escape, although around 100 were caught almost immediately. Of the 200 who made it further, only 47, including Mr Waispapir, survived the war.
Following the uprising, Nazi guards shot the remaining prisoners and razed the camp. Between March 1942 and October 1943, about 167,000 people were killed in Sobibor, almost entirely Jews, according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Mr Waispapir lost his entire family during the Nazi occupation of Ukraine, according to the German Holocaust memorial. He married after the war and had two sons.
Mr Waispapir lived and worked in eastern Ukraine until retiring in 1994 and moving to Kiev.
Initially it was thought Waispapir was the last Sobibor survivor, before the Auschwitz Memorial Museum pointed out that Marek Bem, a former director of Sobibor Memorial said “there are most probably 4 Sobibor survivors still alive.”
According to historian Marek Bem, who for many years was the director of Sobibor Memorial and who wrote a monograph on its history, there are most probably 4 Sobibor survivors still alive.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) January 30, 2018