Iwan Karakasz Testimony


sobibor map - karakasz766


Sobibor - Map of Sobibor Death Camp - Drawing by former guard  Iwan Karakasz


Iwan Mikhailovich Karakasz was born in 1922. He was a Communist Youth League member, with a high school education. He was a Ukraine national and he served in the Red Army. He was captured by the Germans, and was probably trained at the SS-Training school at Trawniki, and then posted to the Sobibor death camp near Wlodawa, in Poland. He served there for twenty-eight days and then deserted and joined the Zukhov partisan detachment, on July 19, 1943. He provided this statement regarding his time at Sobibor sometime in September 1943, a month before the prisoner revolt:

Death Camp Sobibor

Consists of five basic camps, I, II, III, IV, V

The Camp I includes:

1. Guard compartment

2. Medical Facility

3. Canteen for Germans

4. Restaurant for Germans

5. House where Germans lived

6. Armoury

7. Barracks where Ukrainian police lived

8. Barrack for the Camp Duty Guard, the club is there too

9. Canteen for the Ukrainian Police

The number of Germans in the camp is 27, and the number of Ukrainians in the camp is up to 80 persons.

Armament: All Ukrainians are armed with Russian rifles, there are 120 rifles overall. Germans are armed with two SVT pistols, 3 automatic guns, the rest are Russian rifles. In the armoury there are also: 1 machine gun Degtyarew, I RKM, 1 manual, 1 Russian machine, 1 Polish machine, 20 German grenades, approximately 5,000 cartridges.

Camp II includes:

4 Barracks for the housing and working of Jews

1 Barrack where Female Jews live

3 Locksmith and woodwork workshops

3 Sewing, shoe and other workshops

The number of Jews in this camp is about 250 people who are assigned to work in this camp, these figures do not include Camp III

Camp III:

The camp where they sort Jewish clothes, and they also store clothes there

Camp IV includes:

1. The Gas Chamber ('Bayna') where they suffocate Jews. Banya is an old Slavic term that refers to a Steam Bath / Sauna.

2. Barrack where Jewish Labourers live, approximately 150 people

3. Bonfire where they burn Jews

4. Tea Room and duty room for Germans. There are repair shops nearby

5. A Tower with a machine gun

Camp V includes:

60 Western Ukrainians sent here supposedly for guarding the construction of a new rail road. They are not connected with the rest of the camp.

Camp's Guard

The guard consists of 27 people. There are two shifts. These are Ukrainians, each shift is 7 hours. There are 7 towers, each is guarded by one person with a rifle and 15 cartridges, only during the daytime. Also each of these five camps is guarded independently. There is also a night guard circulating around the camp during the night time, three persons who are Volksdeutsche. There are two Ukrainian and two German guardsmen inside the camp.

Facts

I hear how a train with a bolt and noise is approaching the camp. I hear gun shots and machine gun shots. The train stops at the station. At the same time all the guards in the camp are on alert. They are waiting. 8-10 cars are detached from the train and are rolled down to the camp. Jewish labourers open the cars and the people are thrown out of there, some are alive, some are dead. All are thrown onto an embankment.

I hear groans and cries of people and children. Germans shouting and particularly whips whistling. People are marched from the embankment along a corridor made from wire. Here is the first barrack where they leave all their belongings, blankets, suitcases and bags. On the way out of this barrack they meet a German with a whip who separates men to the left and women to the right.

Women are then marched along within Camp II to the last two barracks where they are undressed until naked, money, watches, gold, silver, diamonds are all taken away. Then men are marched into the barrack where they are also undressed until naked and then marched along the same corridor to the 'bayna.' The 'bayna' consists of eight chambers. Each chamber fits up to 500 people. They close the door hermetically, turn a switch, and a gas driven by an engine forcefully rushes into the chamber.

One can hear people's groans, mooing and crying through the chamber's wall. In 5-10 minutes people are not quite dead yet. They are thrown into narrow gauge railway cars. At the same time 'guards' extract their teeth and pull rings from their fingers. The piles of corpses are rolled down to the bonfire and are thrown on the ground and with extreme speed are thrown on the rails up to 1,000-1,500 people in a group.

Then they make a fire under them and people are burned. A master German is sitting in the restaurant having a glass of rum and commanding: 'Those who are not working well should be shot. Those who are not laughing should be drowned in water. Those who are weak should be hanged.'

All that is left from these burned people, who lived just an hour ago, are white bones. They are ground into powder and poured into a pit. And this process continues day and night. People are murdered and the Germans take all their wealth, profit from them. These are our 'defenders, and liberators,' presumably from the Soviet regime.

Detailed Description of the 'Banya' (Gas Chamber Building)

The 'Banya' is a cement house with a length about 28 meters in width some 10 meters. From the outside it looks like a shop with smooth walls and wide doors which are opened to the outside. There are two entrances. Inside the 'Banya' there is a corridor. There are 4 chambers on its left side and 4 on the right, where people are suffocated by poisonous gas. The Banya contains pipes directed to each chamber. A chamber looks like a cube with the side length of about 7 meters. Inside a chamber there is an entrance door, on the opposite side there is another door for pulling corpses out. Inside the chamber there are holes for inserting gases and at the top (illegible) for the gasses to exit, after the people have been suffocated. Inside there is an electric bulb and a small slit for controlled 'observation.'

On the right and on the left from the banya, there is a narrow-gauge railway for transporting corpses, pulled out from the chambers, to the bonfire. Each chamber holds 500 people. I guess for masking the true purpose of the banya it is decorated with flowers and other decorations.

 Iwan Karakasz


Date and Signature: illegible


Source

Testimony Kindly provided by Gary Hochman


Holocaust Historical Society 2019