11. Freedom at Last

All of us immediately threw ourselves down to the ground, I opened and closed my eyes many times to make sure that what I saw was real. Perhaps the scenery before our eyes were nothing but a mirage.
It had been a week since we had been crossing forests and swamps, wandering about, but with the firm hope that we were going farther and farther away from Sobibor. Over all that long period we had been hardly able to sleep and we had not eaten a thing. Only a few leaves, which looked edible had served us as food. We were right in the middle of the rainy season and heavy cold showers had been constantly falling, soaking our clothes and not letting us sleep. However, those things had not bothered us, since there was something infinitely greater on which our whole attention was focused to get as distant from that place as we possibly could and in the fastest way.
When those thoughts stopped floating in my astonished mind I opened my eyes again. Then, from among the bushes which surrounded my head close to the ground, I dared to face the tragic view again. It was really Sobibor and there could be no doubt about that and there was its main gate.
We were so frightened that, not wanting to look at that hideous spectre, we immediately started crawling in the opposite direction, and there we lay. Then we started to think.
As we had no way to orient ourselves we had been circling Sobibor for days together. Maybe we owed our fact of our being still alive to that, since the Germans would never have looked for escaped prisoners so close to their own lair.
We remained like that for the rest of the day, waiting for night to come for us to be able to leave the place. When it got dark we left , in the opposite direction though , since we wanted to avoid the swamp.  We thus walked for some may days until we came to a lonely house. It was already night so we decided we would knock on the door. We then heard voices asking who was there.
 I shrewdly answered that we were guerrillas and soon the door was opened.  Inside the house there was a group of Poles. I told them I had to buy some food. While we waited, we started talking. I then cautiously asked them where we were. They told me the place did not have any special name, however, it was located near Sobibor. I then asked them about the camp nearby.
They could not answer, because they had never heard of it. They said the only thing they had noticed was that trains and trucks often went in that direction. Besides at night they always saw a strange glow lighting the sky. They could not explain the origin of that nor what happened there. They had only heard people say that it was a labour camp, but they did not know what kind of activity was developed there. However, they had heard that something unusual had lately happened there.
They could not tell me what it had been, but they knew that sixteen coffins had been ordered for the camp. We were exultant on hearing this. Sixteen henchmen had been killed in our uprising. Our vengeance had been crushing. Soon after this dialogue ended we left the house with our supplies and with sure orientation about how to get to the region where Lublin was and which was rich in forests.
When we were leaving, the Poles said that in that town we would be able not only to hide ourselves but also contact the other guerrillas who lived in the woods. 

Source: Stanislaw Smajzner Translated from Polish
 Copyright SJ H.E.A.R.T 2006 - 2007