precisely 4:00 PM the stage was set. Now everything depended
on the nerve of the attackers, their faith in themselves,
and a lot of luck. Since Commandant SS Reichleitner was
absent, Untersturmführer Niemann was the acting commandant.
. . .
A few minutes earlier than appointed, Niemann rode up on
his beautiful white horse [and] entered the tailor shop.
Mundek the tailor was ready, holding the uniform. At tailors
have done for ages, Mundek patted and turned Niemann at
his will. Finally he told him to stand still while he marked
the alterations with crayon. Then a terrible blow fell from
behind. The Nazi dropped like a fallen tree, his head split.
Lerner stood for a second with the bloody ax in his hand,
then struck again. Unexpectedly, the cap maker standing
by broke down and began to stab the dead body hysterically
with his scissors, calling out the names of his wife and
children killed in Sobibor. . . .
Now the news spread like wildfire. While standing in formation,
I noticed religious Jews returning to the barracks to get
the prayer shawls they had hidden. They assembled near the
kitchen, saying Kaddish, the prayer for the dead -- for
themselves. Believing that all was in the hands of Divine
Providence, they resisted their oppressors by openly sanctifying
An elderly tailor twisted his fingers in desperation and
walked back and forth, lamenting to himself, "What do we
need this for? We could live for a few weeks more. Now this
will be the end."
. . . It was obvious that [the sick and weak] had decided
to stay: they appeared resigned to their fate. Other were
saying good-bye to their friends. . . .
The mass of prisoners, coming from most of the nations of
Europe and speaking diverse languages, now understood. From
the assembled Jews, all of a sudden, a single, strange and
impatient voice was heard. "FORWARD! HURRAH! HURRAH!" It
was quickly picked up, and, in a flash, the entire camp
answered the call to defiance. . . .