I missed this over a very busy winter; Arkady Wajspapir, one of the prime movers in the Sobibor Uprising (which I covered on its 70th anniversary) passed away last February.
He was 96 – 75 more than he had any reason to expect on the day when a train dropped him off at the death camp in rural eastern Poland.
There, he linked up with other Soviet military inmates of Jewish descent, and made common cause with the Polish, Dutch and German Jews who had also been spared the gas chamber to work endless days under brutal conditions.
There – over the course of a few weeks after Soviet soldiers arrived – they plotted their desperate escape:
The uprising began in the late afternoon of Oct. 14. Mr. Wajspapir and another Jewish prisoner, Yehuda Lerner, armed with axes, hid behind a curtain in the shop until their target, Siegfried Graetschus, the German SS officer in charge of the Ukrainian guards, entered. While Graetschus tried on a coat that had been made for him, Mr. Wajspapir, by his account, emerged and attacked him with his ax, striking his head.
“Graetschus let out a scream, did not immediately fall to the ground but tumbled head first because the blow was obviously not forceful enough,” Mr. Wajspapir said in a 1975 article on the website Sobibor Interviews. He and Mr. Lerner then finished off Graetschus.
Here, he tells his own story:
Reading stories like this – as I’ve been doing since I was a teenager (I was familiar with Wajspapir, if only by name, from reading about the Sobibor Uprising as a kid) periodically remind me of a couple of eternal truths:
- People calling themselves “#Resistance” today Because Trump are pathetic hamsters.
- You will have my gun when those behind you step over your body to pry it from my cold, dead hand.
That is all.
And a belated RIP to Mr. Wajspapir.