Archaeology of Destruction
Sobibor was one of three "Aktion Reinhardt Camps" and was in operation between May 1942 and October 1943. An estimated 180,000 people, predominantly Jewish, were killed there, including more than 34,000 Jews from the Netherlands. After the October 14 1943, uprising, the SS decided to liquidate the camp and erase all traces.
The archaeology of Sobibor, meanwhile, has a long history. From 2000-2007, "non-invasive" archaeological methods were used to map the site. This was followed by major excavations conducted by an international team of researchers, which continued incidentally until 2022. The excavations were prompted by the plans to build a new museum and redevelop the site as a place of remembrance. Sobibor is considered the first extermination camp of which a substantial part, including the gas chambers and the route to them, was uncovered using modern archaeological techniques. Tens of thousands of objects were found.
The initial motives, course and results of the Sobibor archaeological investigations raise many questions. This is of concern to relatives of the victims, local residents and others personally involved, as well as to specialists in the fields of archaeology, Holocaust studies, and heritage/museum management. For this reason, an international group of archaeologists, historians, and heritage and museum specialists are brought together to shed light on the archaeological research from their expertise.
The scholarly volume is expected to be published in late 2023 and will be accompanied by a one-day conference in Amsterdam. In addition, the findings of the research will be translated into a public book that will also be published in late 2023. This this book will present and build on the main archaeological findings, providing new insight into the history of Sobibor, the handling of the historic site and the changing culture of remembrance.
This project will run through December 2023.