“But they are just like us!”
You are an ordinary man, with an ordinary family whom you dearly love. Your Country is invaded by another, and your nation is overwhelmed by massive superiority of men, weaponry and air power. You soon realise that the invaders look upon your religion and race with distaste and dislike, but you are used to that, as the same fate has littered your race’s history for centuries. You don’t worry too much, because, after all, your new masters might have the power, but they are still human beings. Your fate becomes progressively worse, as you and all your neighbours, friends and fellow members of your faith are herded together into ever-smaller areas of your own city, and you are forced to wear distinguishing labels on your clothing whenever you walk out of the hovel you are forced to call home. Then the news spreads that you, along with thousands of others, are to be sent far away to new areas to work for your new overlords. You seek counsel with those who are the wisest amongst your religion, and it is decided that you should co-operate, because your new rulers might be vicious, and brutal, but they are just following their own orders to relieve pressure upon overloaded city functions.
Your family, after travelling for many hours in crammed railway cars, finally arrive at your new home, where you are met with the usual mixture of efficiency, brutality and disdain by your conquerors; separated into two columns of men and boys, women and girls and told to prepare to march to your new home. But before you commence marching, the call goes out for skilled volunteers, for carpenters, cobblers, electricians, and because you were told to volunteer by one of the many uniformed helpers at the rail station, members of the same religion as yourself, you put your hand up and you are told to stand by until ordered to move. You wave farewell as your wife and children walk away as their long column disappears through the trees which line the dusty road, then you are briskly pushed into another, smaller line of volunteers and marched into the camp. You are shown your workplace, then a friendly face speaks, and shows you where you will sleep, and how the invaders always expect the camp workers to run everywhere, and never question any order given.
As the hours and days progress, you notice that some things are very, very different in this work camp. There are many soldiers, and armed guards, all from the country of your conqueror, and many working men and women, all of your race and religion, but there are no children at all, and you ask several others when you can expect to see your wife and children, as you were told that they would be working in the fields; but all avert their eyes and will not answer. You see a constant cloud of smoke from a distant building, but again, when you ask what is the source of that smoke and fire, no one will answer. Finally, that same friendly face comes close, takes you by the arm to a quiet place, gets you to sit down and tells you the terrible truth, that the name of this camp is SOBIBOR, and it is not a work camp, it is a death camp.
Escape from Sobibor is not a very well made film, some of the characters are stereotypes, and the acting is alternatively very good, and almost absurd; but the message, the central theme behind the storyline, is of course real, truthful and very deadly. The film was based on testimony from two survivors of Sobibor, and every major item is based on fact. There were only some three hundred Jews who made their escape through the barbed wire fences, over the anti-personnel mines which literally infested all the surrounds of that terrible place, escaping as the remaining guards and S.S. shot down the rest of the ‘UnterMenschen’, as the Jews were known by their Nazi masters. Only 300-odd escaped from Sobibor, and a further 70 made their escape from Treblinka and all the other death camps, out of the six million or more Jewish prisoners whose mortal remains either rose through the crematorium chimneys, or lie in unmarked graves across the wide expanses of the wide swathes which were scythed by the Nazis in their five years of warfare and terror.
It isn’t a well-known film, but I for one would make it compulsory viewing for all teenagers in schools across this nation of ours; just so that they too can remember why our fathers fought and won at Alamein some seventy years ago this week, why the Royal Air Force was so right to bomb Dresden into a smoking pyre, why some 30,000 young Americans flying B-17’s and Liberators sacrificed their lives during the daylight bombing raids over Nazi Germany; and why I would always support military action in a cause worth embarking upon.