'Escape Tunnel' Found Under Concentration Camp

It ran from barracks under a barbed wire fence at Sobibor

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 14, 2013 10:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – Archaeologists think they've found the first evidence of prisoners trying to dig their way out of a Nazi death camp. The find comes after more than a decade of excavations at the Sobibor camp in Poland; Nazis leveled the place after its prisoners revolted in 1943, LiveScience explains. In the course of their work, the team last month "came across two rows of barbed wire," one archaeologist tells the Telegraph. "Digging down we found the traces of the tunnel. It was about as wide as a human, and we were 99% certain that it was an escape tunnel."

The tunnel, found 5 feet below ground, runs an astonishing 32 feet, from under where one of the barracks once stood to the other side of the barbed wire. The Telegraph explains that the barracks in question would have housed the sonderkommando: prisoners tasked with bringing victims to—and bodies out of—the gas chambers. Having avoided an immediate death, archaeologists speculate they would have had time to work on the tunnel. There's no evidence of whether it was actually used.

Map locates the sites of former Nazi death camps in Sobibor and Treblinka in Poland.   (Associated Press)
Israeli archaeologist Yoram Haimi shows aluminum plate to young people from Dror school in Israel at the site of the former German Nazi death camp of Sobibor, in eastern Poland, Aug. 21, 2012.   (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
Young people from the Dror School in Israel at the site of the former German Nazi death camp of Sobibor, in eastern Poland, Aug. 21, 2012.   (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
In this Aug. 21, 2012 file photo, Israeli archaeologist Yoram Haimi talks to a group of Israeli students about his findings at the site of the former German Nazi death camp Sobibor, in eastern Poland.   (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)
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