KIEV—The last surviving organizer of the revolt at Sobibor death camp Arkady Vaispapir, has died at th age of 96.
Vaispapir belied the unfortunate stereotype of Jews going quietly to their deaths. during the Holocaust. He was a Red Army soldier who was wounded in battle, captured by the Nazis and sent to Sobibor. Realizing they were doomed and with nothing to lose, Vaispapir and other Jewish inmates, led by a Jewish Red Army lieutenant named Alexander Pechersky staged an effective and full-scale revolt against their SS guards.
During this revolt Vaispapir was described as having fought with the “desperation of the condemned.” During the struggle he killed, with an axe to the head, an SS official named Siegfried Graetschus who commanded 200 Ukrainian guards. Eventually a group of the prisoners — including Arkady — managed to escape to the forests where they linked up with Soviet partisans.
But Vaispapir’s entire family was killed during the war. One brother fighting with the Red Army died at the front while the rest of his family were murdered by the Nazis and their local collaborators in the Holocaust. The New York Times reported in 2015 that 500,000 Soviet Jews fought with the Red Army against the Nazis, of whom around 200,000 fell on the front.