One of only eight living survivors of the infamous Nazi death camp Sobibór will speak at SMU nearly 68 years to the day after he joined a prisoner-led revolt to ultimately survive the Holocaust.
“An Evening with Philip Bialowitz,” sponsored by SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13 in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.
“If anyone survives, bear witness to what happened here!” revolt leader Aleksandr Pechersky told 17-year-old Philip Bialowitz, his brother and a small group of prisoners before their escape from where some 250,000 people were killed between 1942 and 1943.
Sobibór was one of three camps designed purely for extermination, and only 48 people who were held captive there, including Bialowitz, lived to tell about it. The camp was one of the Nazis’ best-kept secrets – so much so that when one of its survivors spoke of it to a survivor of Auschwitz, he was reportedly told, “You have a tremendous imagination. I’ve never heard of Sobibór and especially not of Jews revolting there.”
Bialowitz, 86, wrote about his experiences in his 2010 book, A Promise at Sobibór: A Jewish Boy’s Story of Revolt and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Poland.
“The fact that he overcame Herculean odds to survive Sobibór and then escape from it is testament to his immense will to live,” says Embrey Program Director Rick Halperin, who takes students, staff and others to the Sobibór site each year as part of a two-week Holocaust-focused tour of Poland.
Bialowitz’ book will be sold and signed at the event. For more details, visit smu.edu/humanrights or call 214-768-8347.