Exhibition at the Museum and Memorial in Sobibór in two formats
The permanent exhibition at the Museum and Memorial in Sobibór presents objects discovered during the archaeological excavations carried out on the site of the former German death camp between 2000 and 2017.
Over 700 artifacts – mainly personal items belonging to the victims of the German crimes, but also relics related to the functioning of the camp as well as belongings of the perpetrators – have been displayed in a 25-metre-long showcase, which is the central part of the exhibition, and in smaller showcases mounted in the walls. The preserved house keys, hygiene products, watches, and glasses prove that their owners did not realise until the last moments that they had been brought to Sobibór to be murdered. Seemingly worthless, the exhibited items such as cutlery, dishes or scissors, are as important as jewellery and personal keepsakes. For their owners, they were an expression of hope for further life in the shadow of extermination, and at the same time constituted a link with the houses from which they had been taken.
Among the thousands of discovered anonymous relics, there are also a few personalised trinkets of great emotional value. In the autumn of 2017, archaeologists unearthed many objects from a garbage pit located near the railway ramp, which the Germans had buried during the liquidation of the camp after the uprising and escape of prisoners in October 1943. A small, rectangular plaque cut from silver case of a pocket watch was found in the midst of pieces of glass, bricks, fragments of metal vessels and wires. After cleaning its surface, it was possible to decipher the hand-engraved dedication: “[To] Felek / [from] Ida Ewa Jola / 1932” surrounded by a geometric ornament. Small holes for a thread or a chain were drilled in the corners. This modest fragment of silver plaque was probably a bracelet, a very personal gift given to someone who lost his life in Sobibór. The recently opened permanent exhibition “SS-Sonderkommando Sobibor. German death camp 1942–1943” aims not only at showing the history of the place. With the use of hundreds of artifacts, documents, photographs, and testimonies, it recalls the memory of approximately 180,000 nameless victims – men, women, and children sentenced to cruel death because of their origin.