LEON FELDHENDLER (LEJB FELDHENDLER) (1910 – 6 April 1945) was a
Polish Jewish resistance fighter known for his role in organizing the
1943 prisoner uprising at the
Sobibor extermination camp together with
Alexander Pechersky . Prior to his deportation to Sobibor, Feldhendler
had been head of the
Judenrat ("Jewish Council") in his village of
Lublin Voivodeship , in German-occupied
* 1 Role in Sobibor Uprising
* 2 Death in
* 3 Feldhendler in culture
* 4 References
ROLE IN SOBIBOR UPRISING
In the spring of 1943, Feldhendler led a small group of Sobibor
prisoners in formulating an escape plan. Their initial idea had been
to poison camp guards and seize their weapons, but the SS discovered
the poison and shot five Jews in retaliation. Other plans included
setting the camp on fire and escaping in the resulting confusion, but
the mining of the camp perimeter by the SS in the summer of 1943
rendered the plan impractical.
In late September 1943 a Holocaust transport of Jews from the Minsk
Ghetto arrived. Among them was a Soviet POWs officer of the
Red Army ,
Alexander Pechersky , who survived the selection to gas chambers. His
presence gave new impetus to the escape plans. Pechersky soon assumed
the leadership of the group of would-be escapees and, with Feldhendler
as his deputy, devised a plan that involved killing the camp's SS
personnel, sending the remaining Soviet POWs to raid the arsenal and
then fighting their way out the camp's front gate.
The uprising, which took place on 14 October 1943, was detected in
its early stages after a guard discovered the body of an SS officer
killed by the prisoners. Nevertheless, about 320 Jews managed to make
it outside of the camp in the ensuing melee. Eighty were killed in the
escape and immediate aftermath. 170 were soon recaptured and killed,
as were all the remaining inhabitants of the camp who had chosen to
stay. Some escapees joined the partisans . Of these, ninety died in
combat. Sixty-two Jews from Sobibor survived the war, including nine
who had escaped earlier.
DEATH IN LUBLIN
Portrait of Sobibor uprising survivors taken in 1944 with the
NKVD officer, and Feldhendler at the top right
Feldhendler was among those who survived the war, hiding in Lublin
until the end of German occupation. The city was taken by the Soviet
Red Army on 24 July 1944, and became the temporary headquarters of the
Soviet-controlled communist Polish Committee of National Liberation
established by Joseph Stalin. However, on 2 April 1945, Feldhendler
was shot through the closed door of his flat as he got up to
investigate a commotion in an outer room. Feldhendler and his wife
managed to escape through another door and made their way to Lublin's
Św. Wincentego á Paulo hospital, where he underwent surgery but died
four days later. According to most of the older publications,
Feldhendler was killed by right-wing Polish nationalists ,
sometimes identified as the
Narodowe Siły Zbrojne , an
anti-Communist and anti-Semitic partisan unit (name unknown).
However, more recent inquiries, citing the incomplete treatment of the
event by earlier historians, and the scant documentary record, have
called into question this version of events.
The only concrete document found by local Polish scholars is a record
of Feldhendler's hospital admission at Wincentego á Paulo describing
the injury. Dr Kopciowski wrote that Feldhendler was likely shot in an
armed robbery gone bad, because he was known locally as a budding gold
trader. A number of escapees from the Sobibór death camp were in
possession of bags of gold coins saved secretly in the process of
sorting the belongings of the victims of gassing on German orders.
Meanwhile, as noted by Marcin Wroński, communist press in the
Lublin routinely accused former AK and WIN partisans
of common crime as part of ideological warfare. Feldhendler's killing
was one of at least 118 violent deaths of Jews in the
between the summer of 1944 and the fall of 1946 amid the crime-wave of
the so-called Soviet liberation.
FELDHENDLER IN CULTURE
In the 1987 made-for-TV film
Escape from Sobibor
Escape from Sobibor he was played by
Alan Arkin . Feldhendler's life in
Lublin is mentioned in the 2005
book Wyjątkowo długa linia by
Hanna Krall . It was written about
tenants of a local tenement house, and nominated for the
Nike Award .
* ^ A B Crowe, David M. (2008). The Holocaust: Roots, History, And
Aftermath. Perseus Books Group. pp. 245–46. ISBN 978-0-8133-4325-9 .
* ^ Schelvis, Jules (2007). Sobibor: A History of a Nazi Death
Camp. Berg, Oxford & New Cork. pp. 147–168. ISBN 978-1-84520-419-8 .
Thomas Blatt . "Sobibor: The Forgotten Revolt". Retrieved
* ^ Yitzak Arad (1984). Jewish Prisoner Uprisings in the Treblinka
and Sobibor Extermination Camps. The Nazi Concentration Camps:
Proceedings of the Fourth
Yad Vashem International Historical
Yad Vashem .
* ^ Reitlinger, Gerald (1961). The Final Solution: The Attempt to
Exterminate the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945. A. S. Barnes. p. 6.
* ^ Yad Washem Bulletin. Yad Washem-Remembrance Authority for the
Disaster and the Heroism. 1953. p. 144.
* ^ Kowalski, Isaac (1985). Anthology on Armed Jewish Resistance,
1939-1945. Jewish Combatants Publishers House. p. 245.
* ^ Rashke, Richard (1995). Escape from Sobibor. University of
Illinois Press. p. 357. ISBN 0-252-06479-8 .
* ^ Joseph Tenenbaum (1952). Underground: The Story of a People.
Philosophical Library. p. 264.
* ^ Marion Mushkat & Henryk Ṡwiątkowski (1948). Polish Charges
Against German War Criminals. Polish Main National Office for the
Investigation of German War Crimes in Poland. p. 220.
* ^ Richard C. Lukas (1986). The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles
Under German Occupation, 1939-1944. University Press of Kentucky. p.
* ^ Tadeusz Piotrowski (1998). Poland's Holocaust. McFarland. p.
Martin Gilbert (1999). Holocaust Journey: Traveling in Search
of the Past.
Columbia University Press
Columbia University Press . p. 273.
* ^ Kopciowski, Adam (January 2008). "Anti-Jewish Incidents in the
Lublin Region in the Early Years after World War II". Journal of the
Polish Center for Holocaust Research (in Polish).
* ^ A B C Marcin Wroński (25 March 2013). "
Lublin tuż po wojnie.
Anarchia, bieda, dostępność broni." Interview with historian Marcin
Wroński by Marcin Bielesz. Gazeta.pl Lublin. Archived from the
original on 27 March 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
* ^ Paul, Mark (2008). Polish-Jewish Relations in Wartime
Poland and the Aftermath. Toronto: PEFINA Press. p. 33.
* ^ Reszka, Paweł P. (17 January 2008). "Gdy życie ludzkie
straciło wartość". Gazeta Wyborcza (in Polish). Archived from the
original on 17 May 2008. Retrieved 4 February 2009.
* ^ IMDB database entry
* ^ Marek Radziwon (7 June 2005). "Wyjątkowo długa linia , Krall,
Hanna". Gazeta Wyborcza. Archived from the original on 13 April 2010.
Retrieved 24 September 2014. Announcement about one of twenty Nike
* ^ Weekend z nagrodą NIKE: Hanna Krall
Sobibór extermination camp
Sobibór extermination camp
* Odilo Lotario Globocnik
* Hermann Julius Höfle
* Richard Wolfgang Thomalla
* Erwin Hermann Lambert
* Franz Paul Stangl a
* Franz Karl Reichleitner b
* Karl August Wilhelm Frenzel
* Gustav Franz Wagner
* Erich Fritz Erhard Fuchs
* Josef "Sepp" Hirtreiter
* Erich Gustav Willie Lachmann
* Paul Rost
* Ivan Demjanjuk
Trawnikis " c
Emanuel Lodewijk Elte
Jakob van Hoddis
Messaoud El Mediouni
Abraham de Oliveira
* Leo Smit
Max van Dam
* Leon Feldhendler
Nazi concentration camps