UNIVERSITY PARK (CBSDFW.COM) – Seventy years since his escape from a Nazi death camp, Holocaust survivor Philip Bialowtiz, 83, shared his story with Southern Methodist University students Thursday night. Bialowitz is one of eight living survivors of the infamous Nazi death camp, Sobibór, where an estimated 250,000 people perished between 1942 and 1943 during WWII. By ’43, both of Bialowtiz’s parents were murdered by the Nazis and at the age of 14, he was taken to Sobibór.
SMU students listened as Bialowtiz described how he helped a small group of Jewish prisoners overpower their guards on Oct. 14, 1943. His brave actions allowed 200 of Sobibór’s 600 slave laborers to escape the camp. However, only 50 of those escapees survived the war. “Philip Bialowitz is one of the few people alive today who can speak with firsthand knowledge of the Nazi extermination process in eastern Poland,” said SMU Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin.
Before the legendary revolt, Bialowitz was tasked with removing countless lifeless bodies of dead passengers who didn’t survive the Nazis’ unimaginably inhumane transport conditions. “I helped them out of the trains with all their baggage. My heart was bleeding knowing that in half an hour they would be reduced to ashes,” he told the BBC.
For the past 25 years, Bialowitz has lectured about the atrocities he witnessed. “This generation of Holocaust survivors will pass away in the years ahead, so this generation of SMU students will be the last group of young people who can ever speak with, and hug, such special people,” said Halperin.
For those who made it into Sobibór alive, Bialowitz explained that many were unaware their lives would end in a gas chamber immediately.
Bialowitz wrote a book three years ago called “A Promise at Sobibór: A Jewish Boy’s Story of Revolt and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Poland.” He has also testified at several war crimes trials. His lecture was sponsored by SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program.