July 11, 2003 by

Chaim Engel

6 comments

Categories: Extraordinary People

When Chaim Engel escaped from a Nazi concentration camp in 1943, he had three things on his mind: freedom, revenge and love.
Engel was born in Brudzew, Poland, in 1916, and served in the Polish Army. He was captured by the Germans in 1940 and sent to the Sobibor concentration camp because he was Jewish.
While awaiting his extermination, Engel was assigned to labor in the closets, sorting through the clothing of the 250,000 prisoners who were killed there. During this task, Engel found his brother’s belongings and vowed to avenge his death. Engel also fell in love with Selma Wynberg, a young woman at the camp. They were forced to dance together to amuse the guards.
Three years later, Engel joined 300 prisoners in a violent uprising that involved killing the guards and escaping from Sobibor. As Engel stabbed an SS sergeant to death, he shouted, “For my father! For my brother! For all Jews!” He then grabbed Selma’s hand and ran away as Nazis shot at them. Engel and Selma hid in a hayloft for nine months before traveling to Holland, and then America.
Engel died on July 4 from pneumonia. He was 87.

6 Responses to Chaim Engel

  1. LeeAnn

    I had heard Mr. and Mrs. Engel speak at my highschool in 1998. I will never forget their words or faces. I was so sad to hear of his passing, and I extend my deepest sympathy to his wife and his family.

  2. D. Poznansky

    I just watched a program about the last days of WW11, and it featured an interview with Chaim and Selma Engel. I came into this site and was sorry to read of his death. I have lived in Israel for 27 years.

  3. Max Reiner

    I have been doing a biography on Chaim. He was a great man and saved many lives with his part in the Sobibor up rising. My sorrow to his family.

  4. Max Reiner

    In my further study of the Holocaust and Chaim I came across things that startled me. In the Sobibor uprising around three hundred escaped. His role was vital… which means he helped save not only many lives, but hundreds of lives! He also stayed behind/slowed down to save his girlfriend and future wife, Selma. Not only my sorrow to his family and Selma, but my gratitude to them and my praise for his part in this. He was an unknown hero to many.

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