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Herbert Floss or Herbert Floß commander of the Sobibor extermination camp during the Holocaust in Poland.

23-02-2019

Herbert Floss or Herbert Floß (25 August 1912 – 22 October 1943) an SS functionary of Nazi Germany  who served as acting commander of the Sobibor extermination camp during the Holocaust in Poland. He also served as cremation expert in Camp II Totenlager at the Treblinka extermination camp. 

Floss joined the NSDAP in 1930, the SA in 1931, and the SS in 1935. He served at Sobibor from its establishment in April 1942 until the uprising on 14 October 1943. Before entering service in Sobibor, Floss was stationed in Buchenwald  and several euthanasia centres. In the early period of Sobibor, Floss was the acting commander for a few weeks until he was succeeded by SS Oberscharführer Gustav Wagner.  NSDAP-nr.: 443 217 and SS-nr.: 276 962. In October 1980, Wagner was found with a knife in his chest in São Paulo. According to his attorney, Wagner committed suicide. His date of death was determined to be 3 October 1980.

Before the victims went into the gas chambers, he took their last possessions from them.

Floss as remembered by fellow Treblinka SS Scharführer Heinrich Matthes:  “Floss arrived at this time [November 1942], who, so I presume, must previously have been in another camp. He then had the installation built for burning the corpses. The incineration was carried out by placing railroad rails on blocks of concrete. The corpses were then piled up on these rails. Brush wood was placed under the rails. The wood was drenched with gasoline. Not only the newly obtained corpses were burnt in this way, but also those exhumed from the ditches.” 

By the end of July 1943, the Jewish “death brigade” in Camp II, supervised by SS man Floss, had cremated about 700,000 corpses. At Sobibor Floss also trained the Ukrainian guards. One week after the uprising he accompanied a group of them to Lublin. When the train was near Chełm he was overpowered and shot with his own machine pistol.

“October 14, 1943, at about 17:00 hours, a revolt of Jews in the SS camp Sobibor, 40 km north of Chelm. They overpowered the guards, seized the armory and after a shutout with the camp garrison, escaped in an unknown direction. Nine SS killed. One SS wounded. One SS missing. Two guards of non-German nationality shot to death.

Approximately 300 Jews escaped. The remainder were shot to death or are now in the camp. Military Police and armed forces were immediately notified and took over the security of the camp at about l:00 hours (1:00AM, October 15). The area south and southwest of Sobibor is now being searched by police and armed forces.”

Twenty days after the revolt, on November 3, 1943, under the code-name Erntefest (Harvest Festival), the liquidation in other camps began. The results were staggering: 10,000 Jews were killed at Trawniki, 18,000 at Majdanek and an additional 15,000 in other camps; a total of 43,000 killed in six days.

After the revolt, some joined partisan units; others found shelter among sympathetic Poles. It is estimated that just 50 of the escapees survived the war.

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