Seventy-five years after being written, a letter from Dutch concentration camp survivor Jules Schelvis reached its intended recipient on Sunday.
Schelvis — one of the 18 Dutch detainees held in Sobibor, the Nazi extermination camp near Lublin, Poland — wrote this letter, dated May 7, 1945, to his cousin Karel Stroz, Newsweek reported. This letter is the “earliest evidence” of life in Sobibor and the camp’s existence. (RELATED: Israeli Consul Pressures CNN Executive For Apology Over Holocaust, Trump Comparisons)
“Gretha, David, Hella, Chel, and Herman were, I am 99 percent sure, gassed immediately upon arrival at the SS Sonderlager Sobibor, near Lublin. It will be painful for you to read all of this, but I have to tell you nonetheless,” a translation of the letter read, according to Newsweek.
Heartbreaking letter from Holocaust camp survivor delivered after 75 years https://t.co/EwXFbJd0sN— Newsweek (@Newsweek) December 14, 2020
The Nazis brought Schelvis to Sobibor in June 1943. They killed his wife, Rachel, and they put Schelvis to work. Schelvis would then go on to “live through” the camp after the Nazis destroyed it following an uprising by prisoners.
While hospitalized near Stuttgart in the war’s final days, he had written this letter, putting three addresses on the envelope in hopes that if one of the three recipients live, it will reach them.
However, the letter didn’t get to its recipients. Not until researcher Jos Sinnema discovered it after somebody bequeathed the letter, seal intact, to Amsterdam’s Verzetsmuseum. Sinnema then delivered it to 90 years old Stroz on December 13, Newsweek reported.
“Sobibor was a murder factory,” Sinnema said, according to Newsweek. “170,000 to 180,000 people, mostly Jews, have been murdered. Almost everyone was gassed immediately upon arrival.”