Sobibor was a death camp in the Lublin region of Poland.  Jews, including Jewish Soviet prisoners of war (POWs), and possibly Gypsies were transported to Sobibor by rail, and asphyxiated in gas chambers that were fed with the exhaust of a petrol engine. According to various estimates, between up to 200,000 and 250,000 people were killed at Sobibor. 

In May 1942, Sobibor began mass gassing operations. Trains entered the railway station and the Jews onboard were told they were in a transit camp, then were forced to undress and hand over their valuables. They were then led along the 100-metre-long (109 yards) “Road to Heaven” (Himmelstrasse), which led to the gas chambers, where they were killed using carbon monoxide released from the exhaust pipes of tanks.

During his postwar trial, SS-Oberscharführer Kurt Bolender described the way the gassing operations ran:

"Before the Jews undressed, Oberscharführer Hermann Michel made a speech to them. On these occasions, he used to wear a white coat to give the impression he was a physician. Michel announced to the Jews that they would be sent to work. But before this they would have to take baths and undergo disinfection, so as to prevent the spread of diseases. After undressing, the Jews were taken through the "Tube", by an SS man leading the way, with five or six guards at the back hastening the Jews along. After the Jews entered the gas chambers, the guards closed the doors. The motor was switched on by the former Soviet soldier Emil Kostenko and by the German driver Erich Bauer from Berlin. After the gassing, the doors were opened and the corpses were removed by Jewish prisoner workers (Sonderkommando)."

From some transports, a number of Jews were selected to provide slave labor.  These slave laborers, or Sonderkommando, were periodically liquidated and replaced with new arrivals.  In October 1943, Sasha Pechersky (a Russian-Jewish Army officer) and Leon Feldhendler (a Polish Jew) led the Sonderkommando in planning a revolt. They planned to kill the SS guards by luring them into the camp workshops and attacking them with hatchets. After the guards had been killed, the Sobibor prisoners would make their escape. 

The uprising began on October 14, 1943. Ten SS guards were ambushed in the camp workshops and killed with hatchets. Sasha Pechersky and Leon Feldhendler then led the prisoners in a dash toward the main gate. About 150 prisoners were killed by machine gun fire from the camp towers, but about 300 managed to escape. Most of the escaped prisoners were later killed by the Nazis. Only about 50 of the Sobibor escapees survived.