But a "lucky" few men and women were picked out from the doomed crowds to work as prisoners in the camp; as bakers, tailors, cleaners, metalworkers, carpenters, even in the sorting houses sifting through possessions of the dead. But everyone knew that being selected to work in the camp meant their lives were only on loan.
The idea of mounting an escape began in spring 1943, when the working prisoners started to hear rumors that Sobibor could be shut down. In June, a note was discovered in the coat pocket of a recently exterminated prisoner revealing that when the Belzec death camp was closed, all its prisoners were put to death. For the prisoners, the countdown to death had begun. Determined this would not be their fate, the Sobibor inmates formed an underground group. Their only option for survival was escape.
Led by Leon Feldhendler, former head of the Zolkiewka ghetto, and Russian POW Lieutenant Alexander "Sasha" Pechersky, the prisoners' underground group agreed that only a large scale organized escape would work. They decided to systematically kill key German officers by luring them to their deaths, before all the prisoners gathered in the yard for evening roll call. In the absence of SS authority, the "underground" would rally everyone to storm the main gate and escape to freedom. They hoped that by killing the Nazi overlords the Ukrainian camp guards would be too disorganized to fight back.
Through the film we're transported to the grit-grey and blood-red afternoon of Oct. 14, 1943, and follow our characters as their audacious plot unfolds. By the end of that day, after two hours of covert action, more than a dozen Nazis and Ukrainian guards had been killed and over 300 prisoners had escaped. When news of the escape reached as far as Hitler’s office in Berlin it shook the Nazi party to its core. To survive in a place like Sobibor was an exceptional feat. To escape en masse was unprecedented.