Sobibór Death Camp was established in the Lublin district of Poland in March 1942, as part of Operation Reinhardt. The camp was shut down in 1943 after a prisoner uprising, where several Ukrainian and SS guards were killed. In total around 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibór at the hands of the Nazis. In post-war memory discourses of the Holocaust, public awareness of Sobibór remained comparatively less than that of other sites of killing in Poland, which we can now attribute to the small number of survivors, the communist influence of silencing the Holocaust and the lack of elaborated Holocaust discourse in the West. This also resulted in a lack of academic interest and study, until the fall of communism. This paper follows the earlier stages of commemoration at the site, and how these developments reflect the wider debates of Polish Holocaust memory throughout this time. It aims to highlight the success of the most recent archaeological excavations which began in 2007 and have since resulted in the discovery of physical remains and hundreds of artefacts, which have been highly publicised in the media. Not only do these artefacts provide a deeper social and historical understanding of the site, but they also help to create narratives for both the perpetrators and victims. Furthermore, the uncovering of certain objects has led to wider international interest in the site of Sobibór, creating a series of debates surrounding ownership of memory, and how each participating country in the future commemoration of Sobibór remembers its victims. I aim to explore the materialisation of Sobibór through the representation and contextualisation of the artefacts in museum collections, exhibitions and media publications.
Wilson, Hannah, "The Materialisation of Sobibór Death Camp" (2018). CHGS Conference Proceedings. 98.