Late Polish-Jewish WWII resistance fighter awarded state honour
PR dla Zagranicy
A Polish-Jewish resistance fighter was posthumously awarded a Polish state distinction on the anniversary of the rebellion he led at a Nazi German extermination camp 75 years ago on Sunday.
Leon Felhendler's nephew Nicholas Kittrie with Wojciech Kolarski and Polish Culture Minister Piotr Gliński. Photo: PAP/Wojciech Pacewicz
The family of Leon Felhendler was given the Commanders Cross of the Polonia Restituta Order by Wojciech Kolarski on behalf of the Polish president at the museum which stands at the site of the former Nazi Sobibor extermination camp in eastern Poland.
In a letter marking the occasion, Polish President Andrzej Duda said the armed revolt, which allowed some 300 prisoners to escape the camp, was one of the biggest Jewish uprisings of World War II.
Felhendler is credited with devising an escape plan in 1943 with Red Army prisoner-of-war Alexander Pechersky, who arrived in September in a transport from Minsk. The pair wanted to kill the camp's personnel, raid the arsenal, and fight their way out the camp.
The uprising on October 14, 1943, was detected in its early stages when a guard discovered the body of a German officer killed by the prisoners.
In the commotion, about 320 Jews managed to make it outside of the camp and 80 were killed while trying to escape. Some 170 escapees were recaptured and killed along with prisoners who did not take part in the uprising.
Felhendler managed to survive the war in hiding but died in hospital after being shot in 1945 in unexplained circumstances.
The camp in Sobibor saw some 17,000 Jews killed between 1942 and 1943 when a decision was taken to shut it down after the revolt. (vb/pk)