Following the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, the annihilation the Jews of Europe (an action that had been decided upon the previous year) proceeded apace. Aktion Reinhard, named for Reinhard Heydrich, Chief of the Reich Security Main Office, was the operation designed to kill and plunder the more than 2,000,000 Jews living in what the Nazis called the General Government, which comprises most of present-day Poland. Bełżec, Sobibor, and Treblinka were constructed to achieve this end. These camps, which operated from mid-1942 through 1943 before being destroyed by the Nazi’s, were killing centers rather than concentration camps. The vast majority of those sent there were Jews who were murdered within hours of their arrival by carbon monoxide gas. It is estimated that 250,000 were killed at Sobibor.
Sobibor is located in relative isolation near Poland’s border with Belarus. A path of remembrance with small memorial stones along its border cuts through the forest site. One branch of the path leads to a large symbolic ash monument. Along the path is a clearing for meditation that includes a chimney monument and a statue of an adult and child.