Philip Bialowitz, age 90, was the last Polish Jewish survivor of the infamous Sobibor Nazi death camp.
After decades of bearing witness to the revolt staged by a small group of Jews who overpowered their captors and freed hundreds of their fellow prisoners, he passed away peacefully this past Saturday in a Florida hospice, surrounded by his four children.
Bialowitz saw it as a sacred duty to bear witness, having been exhorted to do exactly that by the two leaders of the revolt who stood on a table to launch the fight for survival.
“If you survive, bear witness!” they cried to their fellow prisoners. “Tell the world about this place!”
Bialowitz spent the rest of his life doing exactly that, honoring the memories of the 250,000 Jews whose lives were lost and the few who survived at Sobibor. Their “fighting spirit” became their legacy, that which he recounted to the thousands of children and adults in his countless speaking engagements around the world. “I had the honor of meeting Philip numerous times with former Deputy Minister of Education for the State of Israel Avi Wortzman, at Treblinka extermination camp and most memorably at Chabad in Warsaw, where I learnt of his love of Chazanut, Jewish music,” Jonny Daniels, founder of the Holocaust commemoration foundation ‘From the Depths’ wrote on Facebook.
“He always had a smile on his face and was always so open and willing to speak of his difficult past.
“Now is our turn to stand as his witness.”
His popular book, ‘A Promise at Sobibor,’ told the story of his life from his childhood in pre-war Poland and his teen years in WWII to the years after the war, when he married and grew a family. He helped build a community and bring Nazi monsters to justice while never forgetting to keep his promise to tell the story of the revolt at Sobibor.
Baruch Dayan HoEmes. “Yehi Zichro Baruch – May he rest in peace.”