In April of 1942, Major Rugemer's unit was moved to Lwów. The month before the move the Glinice ghetto was liquidated and bulldozed under.
Białystok Ghetto Uprising
The Białystok Ghetto Uprising of World War II, was a Jewish insurrection in the Białystok Ghetto against the Nazi German occupation authorities, launched on the night of August 16, 1943. The Uprising was the second largest ghetto uprising organized in Nazi occupied Poland after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of January 1943. It was led by the Anti-Fascist Military Organisation (Antyfaszystowska Organizacja Bojowa), a branch of the Warsaw Anti-Fascist Bloc.
The revolt began upon the German announcement of mass deportations from the Ghetto. The main objective was to break the German siege and allow the maximum number of Jews to escape into the neighboring Knyszyn (Knyszyński) Forest. A group of about 300 to 500 insurgents armed with 25 rifles and 100 pistols as well as home-made Molotov cocktails for grenades, attacked the overwhelming German force with a great loss of life. Leaders of the uprising committed suicide. About 150 combatants managed to break through and run into the Knyszyn Forest where they joined other guerrilla groups.
The Białystok Ghetto was set up by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland soon after the German invasion of the Soviet Union. In February 1943, the first wave of mass deportations to Treblinka extermination camp took place, organized during country-wide Aktion Reinhard. The final liquidation of the Ghetto was attempted on August 16, 1943 by regiments of the German SS reinforced by Ukrainian, Byelorussian, and Latvian auxiliaries, known as the "Trawniki men" or "Hivis". During the night of August 16, 1943, several hundred Polish Jews started an armed uprising against the troops carrying out liquidation of the Ghetto. The guerillas led by Mordechaj Tenenbaum and Daniel Moszkowicz were armed with only one machine gun, rifles, several dozen pistols, Molotov cocktails and bottles filled with acid. As with the earlier Warsaw Ghetto Uprising extinguished in May 1943, the Białystok uprising had no chances for military success. However, it was seen as a way to die in combat rather than in German camps. A Betar youth commander was Yitzhak Fleischer.
The fights in isolated pockets of resistance lasted for several days, but the defence was broken almost instantly. German soldiers set fire to the area. The commanders of the struggle committed suicide after their bunkers ran out of ammunition. In spite of the Insurgency, the planned deportations to concentration and extermination camps went ahead without any delay. Approximately 10,000 Jews were led to the Holocaust trains and sent to camps in Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz. Approximately 1,200 children were sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp and later to Auschwitz.
Several dozen guerillas managed to break through to the forests surrounding Białystok where they joined the partisan units of Armia Krajowa and other organisations and survived the war. It is estimated that out of almost 60,000 Jews who lived in Białystok before World War II, only several hundred survived the Holocaust.
The Lwów Ghetto (German: ; Polish: ) was a World War II Jewish ghetto established and operated by Nazi Germany in the city of Lwów (since 1945 Lviv, Ukraine) in the territory of Nazi-administered General Government in German-occupied Poland.
The Lwów Ghetto was one of the largest Jewish ghettos established by Nazi Germany after the joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland. The city was a home to over 110,000 Jews before the outbreak of World War II in 1939, and by the time the Nazis occupied the city in 1941 that number had increased to over 220,000 Jews, since Jews fled for their lives from Nazi-occupied western Poland into the then relative safety of Soviet-occupied eastern Poland, which included Lwów. The ghetto, set up in the second half of 1941 after the Germans arrived, was liquidated in June 1943 with all its inhabitants who survived prior killings, sent to their deaths in cattle trucks at Bełżec extermination camp and the Janowska concentration camp.
On the eve of World War II, the city of Lwów had the third-largest Jewish population in Poland, after Warsaw and Łódź, 99,600 in 1931 (32%) by confession criteria (percent of people of Jewish faith) and numbering 75,300 (24%) by language criteria (percent of people speaking Yiddish or Hebrew as their mother tongue), according to Polish official census. Assimilated Jews, those who perceived themselves as Poles of Jewish faith, constitute the discrepancy between those numbers. By 1939, those numbers were, respectively, several thousand greater. Jews were notably involved in the city's renowned textile industry and had established a thriving center of education and culture, with a wide range of religious and secular political activity including parties and youth movements of the orthodox and Hasidim, Zionists, the Labour Bund, and communists. Assimilated Jews constituted a significant part of Lwów's Polish intelligentsia and academical elites, including such notable ones as Marian Auerbach, Maurycy Allerhand and many others, and greatly contributed to Lwów's cultural center status.
Three weeks after the outbreak of the war, the city, along with the rest of eastern Galicia, was annexed by the Soviet Union under the terms of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Under the Soviets, Lwów's Jewish population swelled to about 200,000-220,000 persons, as it absorbed an influx of refugees fleeing eastward from the Nazi-occupied western part of Poland (Stefan Szende gives the number of 180,000 Jews). Under Soviet rule some of Lwów's Jews were repressed along with the rest of population. Those residents deported deep into the USSR were almost the only ones to survive the Holocaust.
The German army entered the Soviet occupation zone on June 22, 1941 under the codename Operation Barbarossa and a week later, on June 30, 1941 overran the city of Lwów. When the 1st Mountain Division of the German 49th Army Corps took over the city, the gates of all NKVD prisons were opened and, within hours, the scale of Soviet murders revealed. A special commission was formed under SS Judge Hans Tomforde to make a report. Jews were ordered to start removing decomposing bodies from cells and cellars into prison yards. Over 1,500 dead were accounted for at Brygidki. At some prisons, the mountains of putrefacting corpses reaching the basement ceilings forced the Germans to stop counting and wall-off the doors with brickwork. The German propaganda blamed the killings on the Jewish commissars and encouraged local Ukrainians to take their revenge – according to testimonies collected by the Germans, OUN-UPA members were in the majority of prisoners. In early July 1941 SS paramilitary death squads organized the first pogrom against the Jews with the aid of Ukrainian Auxiliary Police. About 4,000 Jews were massacred by Ukrainian nationalists. In late July, another pogrom (known as Petliura Days), took the lives of more than 2,000 Jews. Some, mostly Ukrainian scholars, argue that the pogroms were in retaliation for the NKVD prisoner massacres of 2,000 to approximately 7,000 prisoners (including Polish, Jewish and Ukrainian intellectuals, political activists, and convicted common criminals) at Lwów's three prisons (Brygidki prison, Łąckiego street prison and Zamarstynowska street prison). According to Ukrainian scholars 75-80% of these victims were Ukrainian. The Jews who survived the pogroms as eye-witnesses and victims of the violence present a far more direct view in their memoirs. Of the entire population of Jewish Lwow before World War II estimated to be 150,000; less than 1,000 survived.
Although Jews had also been among the victims of the massacre perpetrated by the NKVD and Soviets in retreat, they were collectively accused as a group by the Nazis of having somehow been responsible for it. One theory advanced to "justify" the ensuing anti-Jewish pogrom commonly known as the "Prison Massacre" and mass murder of several thousand Jews is that the Ukrainians had retaliated against them "because some Jews had welcomed the Soviet occupation." Ukrainian historians have posited other theories also, and this is just one among many as to why the Prison Massacre of the Jews occurred.
According to the Jewish survivors of the Ghetto – eye witnesses to these events – the sole reason for the so-called Prison Massacre was hundreds of years of pent-up Ukrainian hatred for the Jewish population, that had been steeping from the days when Ukrainians were still Ruthenians, subjected to the authority of the Kaiser Franz Josef I during the time when Lemberg was the capital city of the province of Galicia in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, wrote Jakob Weiss. In the eyes of the Jewish survivors, the murder of Ukrainian prisoners gave impetus to the shifting of blame onto the Jews with reasonably foreseeable consequences (i.e. to advance what would soon be called the "Final Solution"). It was craftily set in motion utilizing the nationalistic Ukrainians as "tools" (or in view of the crimes committed against the innocent Jewish civilian population, "accessories") after the Nazi invasion.
During this invasion, according to evidentiary photographs as well as eye witness accounts, Ukrainian Nationalists marched side-by-side with the German Einsatzgruppen "C" and the Wehrmacht "Army Group South" when they entered Lviv. Ukrainian nationalists, UNO, and civilians welcomed the invaders. Some were bearing garlands, waving the Ukrainian Trizub along with the Nazi standard. The Ukrainians (civilians and "nationalists" alike) greeted the invaders with open arms, banners, and floral arrangements. Men displayed a raised arm "Heil Hitler" salute, while the Nazis received embraces and kisses from young women dressed in traditional Ukrainian folk outfits.
The Soviets themselves as well as other witnesses (mostly the few surviving Jews), notably Rabbi David Kahane, author of Lvov Ghetto Diary and former member of the Committee on Religious Affairs of the Lemberg Judenrat, have asserted that it was actually the Nazis themselves that perpetrated the massacre, and then blamed it on the NKVD. But as the pretext went, after filming the devastation they themselves had inflicted, used the "prison massacre" as a pretext to set up the Jews of Lwow; in effect to provide a "cause" for the Ukrainians to vent their hatred. Thus, if we accept the Soviet and Jewish victims' version of the events rather than the version advanced by the Ukrainians (who were the actual rioters and perpetrated the murders), it was the Nazis who "gave license" to the UNO, the Ukrainian nationalists, the Ukrainian militia (soon to become the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police), and Ukrainian citizenry (identified simply by yellow armbands), to conduct a full blown massacre in which at least 2000 Jewish men were killed. Note that at this early stage of the (recently named) "Holocaust by Bullets" in Ukraine (technically General Government Galicia beginning in August, 1941), women were still only harassed and beaten. The outright massacre of Jewish men, women, and children would soon follow (see Wikipedia article "The Final Solution," specifically the section on General Government Galicia for further references).
A second pogrom took place in the last days of July 1941 and was named the "Petlura Days" after the assassinated Ukrainian leader and pogromist Symon Petliura. This pogrom was organized by the Nazis, but carried out by the Ukrainians, as a prologue to the total annihilation of the Jewish population of Lwów. Somewhere in the neighborhood of between 5,000–7,000 Jews were brutally beaten and more than 2,000 murdered in this massacre. In addition, some 3,000 persons, mostly Jews, were executed in the municipal stadium by the German military.
On November 8, 1941, the Germans established a ghetto which they called Jüdisches Wohnbezirk in the northern part of Lwów. All of the city's Jews were ordered to move there by December 15, 1941 and all Poles and Ukrainian were to move out. Vicinity which was designated to form the Jewish quarter was Zamarstynów (today Ukrainian: Замарстинів). Before the war it was one of the poorest and pitiable built suburbs of Lwów. German police also began a series of "selections" in an operation called "Action under the bridge" - 5,000 elderly and sick Jews were selected and shot as they crossed under the rail bridge on Pełtewna Street (which was called bridge of death by Jews), while they were moving into the ghetto. By December, between 110,000 and 120,000 Jews were living in the Lemberg Ghetto. The living conditions in the overcrowded ghetto were extremely poor. For example provided food rations were estimated to equal 10% of German and 50% of Ukrainian or Polish rations.
The Germans established a Jewish police force called the Jüdischer Ordnungsdienst Lemberg wearing dark blue Polish police uniforms but with the Polish insignia replaced by a Magen David and the letters J.O.L. in various positions on their uniform. They were given rubber truncheons. Their ranks numbered from 500 to 750 policemen. The Jewish police force answered to the Jewish National city council known as the Judenrat, which in turn answered to the Gestapo. They served under duress as did their Polish and Ukrainian counterparts.
The Lemberg Ghetto was one of the first to have Jews transported to the death camps as part of Aktion Reinhard. Between March 16 and April 1, 1942, 15,000 Jews were taken to the Kleparów railway station and deported to the Belzec extermination camp. Following these initial deportations, and death by disease and random shootings, around 86,000 Jews officially remained in the ghetto, though there were many more not recorded. During this period, many Jews were also forced to work for the Wehrmacht and the ghetto's German administration, especially in the nearby Janowska labor camp. On June 24–25, 1942, 2,000 Jews were taken to the labor camp; only 120 were used for forced labor, and all of the others were shot.
Between August 10–31, 1942, the "Great Aktion" was carried out, where between 40,000 and 50,000 Jews were rounded up, gathered at transit point placed in Janowska camp and then deported to Belzec. Many who were not deported, including local orphans and hospital inpatients, were shot. On September 1, 1942, the Gestapo hanged the head of Lwów’s Judenrat and members of the ghetto's Jewish police force on balconies of Judenrat's building at Łokietka street and Hermana street corner. Around 65,000 Jews remained while winter approached with no heating or sanitation, leading to an outbreak of typhus.
Between January 5–7, 1943, another 15,000-20,000 Jews, including the last members of the Judenrat, were shot outside of the town. After this aktion in January 1943 Judenrat was dissolved, that what remained of the ghetto was renamed Judenlager Lemberg (Jewish Camp Lwów), thus formally redesigned as labor camp with about 12,000 legal Jews, able to work in German war industry and several thousands illegal Jews (mainly women, children and elderly) hiding in it.
In the beginning of June 1943 Germans decided to finally end the existence of the Jewish quarter and its inhabitants. As Nazis entered the Ghetto they met some sporadic acts of armed resistance, but most of the Jews were trying to hide themselves in earlier prepared hideouts (so called bunkers). In effect many buildings were suffused with gasoline and burned in order to "flush out" Jews from their hiding places. Some Jews managed to escape or to conceal themselves in the sewer system.
By the time that the Soviet Red Army entered Lwów on July 26, 1944, only a few hundred Jews remained in the city. Number varies from 200 to 900 (823 according to data of Jewish Provisional Committee in Lwów, Polish: from 1945).
Among its notable inhabitants was Chaim Widawski, who disseminated news about the war picked up with an illegal radio. Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal was one of the best-known Jewish inhabitants of Lemberg Ghetto to survive the war (as his memoirs (The Executioners Among Us) indicate, he was saved from execution by a Ukrainian policeman), though he was later transported to a concentration camp, rather than remaining in the ghetto.
Lakhva Ghetto or Łachwa Ghetto was a World War II ghetto created on April 1, 1942 by Nazi Germany in the town of Łachwa in occupied Poland (now Lakhva, Belarus), with the aim of persecution, terror and exploitation of the local Jews. The ghetto existed only until September. It was the location of one of the first, and possibly the first, Jewish ghetto uprising after the Nazi–Soviet Invasion of Poland.
The German army entered the Soviet occupation zone on June 22, 1941 under the codename Operation Barbarossa and two weeks later, on July 8, 1941, overran the town of Łachwa, located in the Polesie Voivodeship of the Second Polish Republic before 1939. Many young Jews escaped with the Red Army. A Judenrat was established, headed by a former Zionist leader, Dov Lopatyn. Rabbi Hayyim Zalman Osherowitz was arrested by the Germans. His release was secured later only after the payment of a large ransom.
On April 1, 1942, the town's Jews were forcibly moved into a new ghetto consisting of two streets and 45 houses, and surrounded by a barbed wire fence. The ghetto housed roughly 2,350 people, which amounted to approximately 1 square meter for every resident.
The news of massacres, committed throughout the region by German Einsatzkommandos, soon spread to Łachwa. The Jewish youth organized an underground reistance under the leadership of Isaac Rochczyn (also spelled Yitzhak Rochzyn or Icchak Rokchin), the head of the local Betar group. With the assistance of Judenrat, the underground managed to stockpile axes, knives, and iron bars, although efforts to secure firearms were largely unsuccessful.
By August 1942, the Jews in Łachwa knew that the nearby ghettos in Łuniniec (Luninets) and Mikaszewicze (now Mikashevichy, Belarus) had been liquidated. On September 2, 1942, the local populace were informed that some farmers, summoned by the Nazis, had been ordered to dig large pits just outside the town. Later that day, 150 German soldiers from an Einsatzgruppe mobile killing squad with 200 local auxiliaries surrounded the ghetto. Rochczyn and the underground wanted to attack the ghetto fence at midnight to allow the population to flee, but others refused to abandon the elderly and children. Lopatyn asked that the attack be postponed until the morning.
On September 3, 1942, the Germans informed Dov Lopatyn that the ghetto was to be liquidated, and ordered the ghetto inhabitants to gather for "deportation". To secure the cooperation of the ghetto's leaders, the Germans promised that the members of Judenrat, the ghetto doctor and 30 labourers (whom Lopatyn could choose personally) would be spared. Lopatyn refused the offer, reportedly responding: "Either we all live, or we all die."
When the Germans entered the ghetto, Lopatyn set fire to the Judenrat headquarters, which was the signal to commence the uprising. Other buildings were also set on fire. Members of the Ghetto underground attacked the Germans as they entered the ghetto, using axes, sticks, molotov cocktails and their bare hands. This battle is believed to represent the first ghetto uprising of the war.
Approximately 650 Jews were killed in the fighting or in the flames, with another 500 or so taken to the pits and shot. Six German soldiers and eight German and Ukrainian (or Belarusian) policemen were also killed. The ghetto fence was breached and approximately 1,000 Jews were able to escape, of whom about 600 were able to take refuge in the Prypeć (Pripet) Marshes. Rochczyn was shot and killed as he jumped into the Smierc River, after killing a German soldier with an axe to the head. Although an estimated 120 of the escapees were able to join partisan units, most of the others were eventually tracked down and killed. Approximately 90 residents of the ghetto survived the war. Dov Lopatyn joined a communist partisan unit and was killed on February 21, 1944 by a landmine. Lakhva was captured by the Red Army in July 1944.
Pre-war Polish topographic maps showing Łachwa
Ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe
The Vilna Ghetto, Vilnius Ghetto or Wilno Ghetto was a World War II Jewish ghetto established and operated by Nazi Germany in the city of Vilnius in the territory of Nazi-administered Reichskommissariat Ostland. During roughly two years of its existence, starvation, disease, street executions, maltreatment and deportations to concentration camps and extermination camps reduced the population of the ghetto from an estimated 40,000 to zero. Only several hundred people managed to survive, mostly by hiding in the forests surrounding the town, joining the Soviet partisans, or finding shelter among sympathetic locals.
German troops entered Vilnius on 26 June 1941, followed by units of the Einsatzgruppe A death squads. Over the course of the summer, German troops and Lithuanian collaborators killed more than 21,000 Jews living in Vilnius, in a mass extermination program. Vilnius (or Vilna/Wilno) was a predominantly Polish and Jewish city before World War II. After invading Poland, Joseph Stalin transferred it back to Lithuania in October 1939 according to the Soviet–Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty. The Republic of Lithuania had claimed it as its capital and the dispute between Poland and Lithuania was a long-standing one at the League of Nations. The Republic of Lithuania, operating out of the provisional capital Kaunas, sent in the Lithuanian Army to reclaim the city and embarked on a project to Lithuanianize the city.
The Jewish population of Vilnius on the eve of the Holocaust was probably more than 60,000, including refugees from the German-occupied Poland, and subtracting the small number who managed to flee onward to the Soviet Union. The kidnapping and mass murder of Jews in the city commenced before the ghetto was set up by the advancing German forces, resulting in an execution of approximately 21,000 victims prior to September 6, 1941. The Lithuanian kidnappers were known in Yiddish as hapunes, meaning grabbers or snatchers.
The Great Provocation refers to the incident the Nazis staged as a pretext for clearing the predominantly poorer Jewish quarter in the Vilnius Old Town in order to force the rest of the predominantly more affluent Jewish residents into the Nazi German-created ghetto. Specifically, the Great Provocation of 31 August 1941, was led by SS Einsatzkommando 9 Oberscharführer Horst Schweinberger under orders from Gebietskommissar of the Vilnius municipality Hans Christian Hingst and Franz Murer, Hingst’s deputy for Jewish affairs, under “provisional directives” of Reichskommissar Hinrich Lohse. Murer, Hingst and Vilnius Lithuanian mayor Karolis Dabulevičius selected the site for the future ghetto and staged a sniping at German soldiers in front of a cinema from a window on the corner Stiklių (Glezer, also known as Szklana in Polish) and Didžioji (Wielka, meaning in Polish Great Street, hence the name for the event) streets by two Lithuanians in civilian clothes who had broken into an apartment belonging to Jews. The Lithuanians fled the apartment, then returned with waiting German soldiers, seized two Jews, accused them of firing on the German soldiers, beat them and then shot them on the spot. Stiklių and Mėsinių (Jatkowa) streets were ransacked by the local militia, and Jews were beaten up. At night, in “retaliation,” all Jews were driven out of the neighbourhood the Nazis had selected as the future ghetto territory, street by street, and the next day the women and children on remaining streets were seized while the men were at work. Men at workplaces were also seized. Jews were taken to Lukiškės Prison, then to Paneriai, also known as Ponar or Ponary, where they were murdered between 1 September and 3 September. Five to ten thousand people were murdered, including ten members of the Judenrat. The objective was to clear a territory for the establishment of a ghetto to imprison all the Jews of Vilnius and suburbs.
On 6 September and 7 September 1941, the Nazis herded the remaining 20,000 Jews into the parameters of two ghettos by evicting them from their homes, during which 3,700 were killed. Converts, "half-Jews" and spouses of Jews were also forced into the ghetto. The move to the ghetto was extremely hurried and difficult, and Jews were not allowed to use transportation. They could take only what they were physically able to carry.
The area designated for the ghetto was the old Jewish quarter in the centre of the city. While Vilna never had a ghetto per se except for some very limited restrictions on the movement and settlement of Jews during the Middle Ages, the area chosen by the Nazis for their ghetto was predominantly and historically inhabited by Jews. The Nazis split the area into two Jewish quarters (Large Ghetto and the Small Ghetto), with a non-ghetto corridor running down Deutschegasse (Niemiecka or Vokiečių Street). This made it easier for the Nazis to control what the victims knew of their fate beforehand, facilitating the Nazis' goal of total extermination. Like the other Jewish ghettos Nazi Germany set up during World War II, the Vilnius Ghetto was created both to dehumanize the people and to exploit its inmates as slave labour. Conditions were intended to be extremely poor and crowded, subjecting victims to unsanitary conditions, disease and daily death.
Jewish Vilna was also known for its distinguished medical tradition, which inmates of the Ghetto managed to maintain to some degree during the Holocaust. As in front of most Ghettos established by the Germans, a sign was put right outside the Ghetto stating: "Achtung! Seuchengefahr", that is "Attention! Danger of Infection". Mortality rates did, indeed, increase in the Vilna Ghetto as compared with pre-war demographics. However, due largely to the efforts of the Ghetto Health Department, the Vilna Ghetto had no major epidemics despite malnourishment, cold and overcrowding. According to Dr. Lazar Epstein, the head of Sanitary-Epidemiological Section of the ghetto Health Department, the inmates of the Ghetto could, left to their own devices, have lived a very long time, certainly to the end of the war despite the numerous privations.
By the end of October 1941, the Nazis had murdered all the inhabitants of the smaller second ghetto. They declared from that point on only 12,000 Jews would remain in the larger ghetto to serve the needs of the German military and economy. In reality, 20,000 remained all together. The Germans systematically carried out Aktionen, or massive killing sprees, to reduce the number of sick and elderly and to meet quotas on the total of the population allowed. These Aktionen were conducted on a regular basis from the creation of the ghetto until January 1942. The period between January 1942 and March 1943 was known as the time of ghetto stabilization when German murder in the ghetto decreased. From 6 August to 5 September 1943, however, 7,130 Jews were deported to Estonia by order of Heinrich Himmler. Under the supervision of Oberscharführer Bruno Kittel, the ghetto was "liquidated" between 23 and 24 September 1943, and the majority of the Jewish population were sent to the Vaivara concentration camp in Estonia, killed in the forest of Paneriai, or sent to the death camps in German-occupied Poland.
A small remnant of Jews remained after the liquidation of the Vilnius Ghetto, primarily at the Kailis slave labour camp and at the HKP slave labour camp. The HKP camp (short for Heereskraftpark and an outfit involved in repairing German military automobiles) was commanded by Wehrmacht Major Karl Plagge, who, with the help of some of his men, managed to shield many of his workers from the murderous goal of the SS. Two-hundred and fifty Jews at HKP survived the war. They represent the single largest group of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust in Vilnius.
The Fareynikte Partizaner Organizatsye (United Partisan Organization) was formed on 21 January 1942 in the Vilna Ghetto. It took for its motto "We will not go like sheep to the slaughter," a phrase resurrected by Abba Kovner. This was one of the first resistance organizations established in the Nazi ghettos during World War II. Unlike in other ghettos, the resistance movement in the Vilna Ghetto was not run by ghetto officials. Jacob Gens, appointed head of the ghetto by the Nazis but originally chief of police, ostensibly cooperated with German officials in stopping armed struggle. The FPO represented the full spectrum of political persuasions and parties in Jewish life. It was headed by Yitzhak Wittenberg, Josef Glazman, and Abba Kovner. The goals of the FPO were to establish a means for the self-defence of the ghetto population, to sabotage German industrial and military activities and to join the partisan and Red Army’s fight against the Nazis. Poet Hirsh Glick, a Vilna ghetto inmate who later died after having been deported to Estonia, penned the words for what became the famous Partisan Hymn, Zog nit keynmol, az du geyst dem letstn veg.
In early 1943, the Germans caught a member of the Communist underground who revealed some contacts under torture and the Judenrat, in response to German threats, tried to turn Yitzhak Wittenberg, the head of the FPO, over to the Gestapo. The FPO was able to rescue him after he was seized in the apartment of Jacob Gens in a fight with Jewish ghetto police. Gens brought in heavies, the leaders of the work brigades, and effectively turned the majority of the population against the resistance members, claiming they were provoking the Nazis and asking rhetorically whether it was worth sacrificing tens of thousands for the sake of one man. Ghetto prisoners assembled and demanded the FPO give Wittenberg up. Ultimately Wittenberg himself made the decision to submit to the Nazi demands. He was taken to Gestapo headquarters in Vilnius and was reportedly found dead in his cell the next morning. Most people believed he had committed suicide. The rumour had it that Gens had slipped him a cyanide pill in their final meeting.
The FPO was thoroughly demoralized by the chain of events and began to pursue a policy of sending young people out to the forest to join the Jewish partisans. This was controversial as well because the Nazis attempted to kill all family members of people who had joined the partisans. In the Vilna ghetto a "family" often included non-relations who registered as a member of a family in order to receive housing and a pitiful food ration.
When the Nazis came to liquidate the ghetto in 1943, members of the FPO went on alert. Gens took control of the liquidation in order to keep the Nazi forces out of the ghetto and away from a partisan ambush, but helped fill the quota of Jews with those who could fight but were not necessarily part of the resistance. The FPO fled to the forest and fought with the partisans.
The Vilna Ghetto was called "Yerushalayim of the Ghettos" because it was known for its intellectual and cultural spirit. Before the war, Vilnius had been known as "Yerushalayim d'Lita" (Yiddish: Jerusalem of Lithuania) for the same reason. The center of cultural life in the ghetto was the Mefitze Haskole Library which was called the "House of Culture". It contained a library holding 45,000 volumes, reading hall, archive, statistical bureau, room for scientific work, museum, book kiosk, post office, and sports ground. Groups, such as the Literary and Artistic Union and the Brit Ivrit Union, organized events commemorating Yiddish and Hebrew authors and put on plays in these languages. The popular Yiddish magazine Folksgezunt was continued in the ghetto and its essays were presented in public lectures. Yitskhok Rudashevski (1927–1943), a young teen who wrote a diary of his life in the ghetto during 1941 to 1943, mentions a number of these events and his participation in them. He was murdered in the liquidation of 1943, probably at Paneriai. His diary was discovered in 1944 by his cousin.
The Vilna Ghetto was well known for its theatrical productions during World War II. Jacob Gens, the head of Jewish police and the ruler/dictator of the Vilna ghetto, was given the responsibility for the starting of this theatre. Performances included poetry by Jewish Authors, dramatizations of short stories, and new work by the young ghetto people.
The Ghetto Theatre was a great source of revenue and had a calming effect on the public. A total of 111 performances had been given by January 10, 1943 and a total of 34,804 tickets were sold. The theatre was renovated to accommodate a bigger audience and create a better-looking theatre for the public eye. This theatre permitted the non-Aryan race to display their power through plays and songs; for instance, one of the songs that was sung was called "Endurance."
The last theatrical production, Der mabl meaning The Flood, was produced by the Swedish dramatist Henning Berger and opened in the summer of 1943, in the last week of this Ghetto’s existence. This play, set in an American saloon during a flood, featured a group of people who banded together during a time of danger and need.
Joshua Sobol's play Ghetto recounts the last days of the Vilna Ghetto theatre company.
During World War II, ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe were set up by the Third Reich in order to confine Jews and sometimes Gypsies into tightly packed area within a city. In total, according to USHMM archives, there were at least 1,000 ghettos in German-occupied and annexed Poland and the Soviet Union alone. Therefore, the examples are intended only to illustrate their scope and living conditions across Eastern Europe. Although the common usage in Holocaust literature is 'ghetto', the Nazis most often referred to these detention facilities in documents and signage as 'Jüdischer Wohnbezirk' or 'Wohngebiet der Juden' (German); both are often translated as Jewish Quarter although the former is literally "Jewish Living/Residential Area/District/Neighborhood" and the latter is "Living Area of the Jews").
Soon after the 1939 Invasion of Poland, the German Nazis began to systematically move Polish Jews away from their homes and into designated areas of larger Polish cities and towns. The first ghetto at Piotrków Trybunalski was established in October 1939, the one in Tuliszkow was established in December 1939 – January 1940, followed by the first large scale ghetto, the Łódź Ghetto in April 1940, and the Warsaw Ghetto in October, with many other ghettos established throughout 1940 and 1941. Many ghettos were walled off or enclosed with barbed wire. In the case of sealed ghettos, any Jew found leaving them was shot. The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest ghetto in Nazi occupied Europe, with over 400,000 Jews crammed into an area of 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2) located in the heart of the city. The Łódź Ghetto was the second largest, holding about 160,000.
The situation in the ghettos was brutal. In Warsaw, 30% of the city population was forced to live in 2.4% of the city's area, a density of 7.2 people per room. In the ghetto of Odrzywół, 700 people lived in an area previously occupied by five families, between 12 and 30 to each small room. The Jews were not allowed out of the ghetto, so they had to rely on smuggling and the starvation rations supplied by the Nazis: in Warsaw this was 253 calories (1,060 kJ) per Jew, compared to 669 calories (2,800 kJ) per Pole and 2,613 calories (10,940 kJ) per German. With crowded living conditions, starvation diets, and little sanitation (in the Łódź Ghetto 95% of apartments had no sanitation, piped water or sewers) hundreds of thousands of Jews died of disease and hunger.
There were three types of ghettos in existence. Closed or sealed ghettos were situated mostly in German-occupied Poland and the occupied Soviet Union. They were surrounded with brick walls, fences or barbed wire stretched between posts. Jews were not allowed to live in any other areas under the threat of capital punishment, as announced by the German authorities. In the closed ghettos the living conditions were the worst. The quarters were extremely crowded and unsanitary. Starvation, chronic shortages of food, lack of heat in winter and inadequate municipal services led to frequent outbreaks of epidemics such as dysentery and typhus and to a high mortality rate. Most Nazi ghettos were of this particular type.
Open ghettos, which did not have walls or fences, existed mostly in initial stages of World War II in German-occupied Poland and the occupied Soviet Union, but also in Transnistria province of Ukraine occupied and administered by Romanian authorities. There were severe restrictions on entering and leaving them.
The destruction or extermination ghettos existed in the final stages of the Holocaust, for between two and six weeks only, in German-occupied Soviet Union especially in Lithuania and the Soviet Ukraine, as well as in Hungary. They were tightly sealed off. The Jewish population was imprisoned in them only to be deported or shot by the Germans often with the aid of their collaborationist forces.
In opposition to a Jewish Quarterings, the parts of the city outside the walls were called "Aryan".]discuss[ For example in Warsaw, the city was divided into Jewish, Polish and German Quarters. The individuals living there had to have identification papers proving they were not Jewish (none of their grandfathers was a member of the Jewish community), i.e., baptist testimony. The baptist testimony certificates were forged on a mass scale by Catholic clergy in Poland.
In 1942, the Germans began Operation Reinhard, the systematic deportation of local people to extermination camps. The Nazi authorities deported Jews to the ghettos of the East from everywhere in Europe during the Holocaust, or most often directly to the extermination camps. Almost 300,000 people were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto alone to Treblinka over the course of 52 days. In some of the Ghettos the local resistance organizations started ghetto uprisings. None were successful, and the Jewish populations of the ghettos were almost entirely killed. On June 21, 1943, Heinrich Himmler issued order to liquidate all ghettos and transfer remaining Jews to concentration camps. A few ghettos were reorganized into concentration camps and survived until 1944.
The Lublin Ghetto was a World War II ghetto created by Nazi Germany in the city of Lublin in occupied Poland, on the Nazi-administered territory of the General Government. Its inhabitants were mostly Polish Jews, although a number of Roma were also present. The Lublin Ghetto, set up in March 1941, was one of the first Nazi-era ghettos in occupied Poland to be liquidated. In November 1942 around 30,000 inmates were delivered to their deaths in cattle trucks at the Bełżec extermination camp and additional 4,000 at Majdanek.
Already in 1940, before the actual ghetto was opened, the SS and Police Leader Odilo Globocnik (the SS district-commander who also set up the nearby Jewish reservation), began to move the Lublin Jews away from his staff headquarters and into a new area set up for this purpose. Ten thousand Jews had been expelled from Lublin to the rural surroundings of the town in early March.
The Ghetto, referred to as the Jewish quarter or Wohngebiet der Juden, was opened on March 24, 1941. The expulsion and ghettoization of Jews was decided in early March when the Wehrmacht troops, preparing for the invasion of the Soviet Union, needed housing close to the Nazi-Soviet demarcation line. The Ghetto, the only one in the Lublin district in 1941, was located around the area of Podzamcze, from the Grodzka Gate (at the time called the "Jewish Gate", as it demarcated the boundary between the Jewish and non-Jewish quarters of the city), along the Lubartowska and Unicka streets, until the boundary of the Franciszkańska Street. Various members of Jewish political parties, such as the Bund, were imprisoned in the Lublin Castle and continued to carry out their activities underground.
At its creation the ghetto imprisoned 34,000 Jews and an unknown number of Roma people. Virtually all of them were dead by the war's end. Most of them, about 30,000, were deported to the Belzec extermination camp (some of them through the Piaski ghetto) between March 17 and April 11, 1942; the German set quota called for 1,400 people per day to be sent to their deaths. The other 4,000 people were first moved to the Majdan Tatarski ghetto (a second ghetto established in the suburb of Lublin) and then either killed there or sent to the nearby KL Lublin/Majdanek concentration camp. The last of the Ghetto's former residents still in German captivity were executed at Majdanek and Trawniki camps in the Operation Harvest Festival (German: Aktion Erntefest) on November 3, 1943. At the time of the liquidation of the ghetto, the German propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary, "The procedure is pretty barbaric, and not to be described here more definitely. Not much will remain of the Jews."
After liquidating the Lublin Ghetto, German authorities employed a forced labor work force of inmates of Majdanek to demolish and dismantle the area of the former ghetto, including in the nearby village of Wieniawa and the Podzamcze district, and in a symbolical event blew up the Maharam's Synagogue (built in the 17th century in honor of Meir Lublin). In that way they erased several centuries of Jewish culture and society in Lublin – the Jewish population in 1939 was about a third of the town's total population.
A few individuals managed to escape the liquidation of the Lublin Ghetto and made their way to the Warsaw Ghetto, bringing the news of the destruction with them. The eyewitness evidence convinced some Warsaw Jews that in fact, the Germans were intent on exterminating the whole of the Jewish population in Poland. However, others, including head of the Warsaw's Judenrat, Adam Czerniaków, at the time dismissed these reports of mass murders as "exaggerations". In total, only 230 Lublin Jews survived the German occupation.
Ghetto uprisings were armed revolts by Jews and other groups incarcerated in ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europes during World War II against the plans to deport the inhabitants to concentration and extermination camps.
Some of these uprisings were more massive and organized, while others were small and spontaneous. The best known and the biggest of such uprisings took place in Warsaw in April 1943 (Warsaw Ghetto Uprising), but there were also other such struggles in other ghettos.
To some extent the armed struggle was also carried out during the final liquidation of Ghettos in:
Jewish history (or the history of the Jewish people) is the history of the Jews, and their religion and culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples, religions and cultures. According to Jewish tradition, Jewish ancestry is traced back to the Biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who lived in Canaan around the 18th century BCE. Historically, Jews had evolved mostly from the Tribe of Judah and Simeon, and partially from the other Israelite tribes, especially of Binyamin and Levi, who had all together formed the ancient Kingdom of Judah and the ancient Kingdom of Israel. The earliest mention of Israel as a people was found inscribed on the Merneptah Stele dating back to 1213-1203 BCE.
Jewish ghettos in occupied Poland
Radom Ghetto was a World War II ghetto set up in March 1941 by Nazi Germany in the city of Radom in occupied Poland, for the purpose of persecution and exploitation of the local Polish Jews. Liquidation of the ghetto began in August 1942 and ended in July 1944, with approximately 30,000–32,000 victims sent to their deaths in cattle trucks at the Treblinka extermination camp.
The town of Radom was overrun by the Germans on September 8, 1939 during the Invasion of Poland. At that time the population of Radom was 81,000, out of which 25,000 were Jews. Many Jews were pressed into forced labor, one of their first tasks being the rebuilding the local arms factory, which would serve as the major local employer throughout the war. The Germans also forced the Jews to pay contributions, and seized their property. Around September–October 1939 the Radom Synagogue was desecrated by the Nazis and its furnishings destroyed. A Judenrat was established in Radom around December 1939 to January 1940 and played a major role as the intermediary between the Germans and the local Jewish community. Around late 1940 and early 1941 approximately 10,000 Jews were deported to other communities, and in turn, Radom received Jews deported from other settlements, including expellees from Kraków. In the spring of 1941 there were about 32,000 Jews in Radom.
The Holocaust in Poland
Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland were established during World War II in hundreds of locations across German-occupied Poland. Jewish ghettos had been created by Nazi Germany between October 1939 and July 1942 to confine and segregate Poland's Jewish population of about 3.5 million for the purpose of persecution, terror, and exploitation. In smaller towns, ghettos often served as staging points for Jewish slave-labor and mass deportations, while in the urban centers they resembled walled-off prison-islands described by some historians as little more than instruments of "slow, passive murder," with dead bodies littering the streets. In most cases, the larger ghettos did not correspond to traditional Jewish neighborhoods, and non-Jewish Poles and members of other ethnic groups were ordered to take up residence elsewhere. Smaller Jewish communities with populations under 500 were dissolved immediately following the invasion.
The liquidation of the Jewish ghettos across Poland was closely connected with the formation of highly secretive killing centers built in early 1942 by various German companies, for the sole purpose of annihilating a people. The Nazi extermination program depended on death factories as much as on the effectiveness of their railways. Rail transport enabled the SS to run industrial-scale mass-extermination facilities and, at the same time, openly lie to their victims about the "resettlement" program. Jews were delivered to their deaths in cattle trucks from liquidated ghettos of all occupied cities, including Litzmannstadt, the last ghetto in Poland to be emptied in August 1944. In some larger ghettos there were armed resistance attempts, such as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Białystok Ghetto Uprising and the Łachwa Ghetto uprising, but in every case they failed against the overwhelming German military force, and the remaining Jews were either executed or deported to the death camps. By the time Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe was liberated by the Red Army, not a single Jewish ghetto in Poland was left standing. Only about 50,000–120,000 Polish Jews survived the war on native soil with the assistance of their Polish neighbors, a fraction of their prewar population of 3,500,000.
The Holocaust, also known as haShoah (Hebrew: השואה), was a genocide officially sanctioned and executed by the Third Reich during World War II. It took the lives of three million Polish Jews, destroying an entire civilization. Only a small percentage survived or managed to escape beyond the reach of the Nazis. The Holocaust in German-occupied Poland involved the implementation of German policy of systematic and mostly successful destruction of indigenous Polish-Jewish population. The official Nazi term for the extermination of Jews during their occupation of Poland was the euphemistic phrase Endlösung der Judenfrage (the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question"). Every arm of the sophisticated German bureaucracy was involved in the killing process, from the Interior Ministry and the Finance Ministry; to German firms and state–run trains for deportation to the camps. German companies bid for the contracts to build the crematoria in concentration camps run by Nazi Germany in the General Government and other parts of occupied Poland.
Throughout the German occupation, many Poles – at great risk to themselves and their families – engaged in rescuing Jews from the Nazis. Grouped by nationality, Poles represent the biggest number of people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. To date, 6,135 Poles have been awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel – more than any other nation.
Lviv (Ukrainian: Львів L’viv, IPA: [lʲviu̯] ( listen); Polish: Lwów, IPA: [lvuf] ( listen); German: Lemberg, Russian: Львов Lvov) is a city in western Ukraine, that was once a major population center of the Halych-Volyn Principality, the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, the Habsburg Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, and later the capital of Lwów Voivodeship during Second Polish Republic.
Formerly capital of the historical region of Galicia, Lviv is now regarded as one of the main cultural centres of today's Ukraine. The historical heart of Lviv with its old buildings and cobblestone roads has survived Soviet and Nazi occupation during World War II largely unscathed. The city has many industries and institutions of higher education such as Lviv University and Lviv Polytechnic. Lviv is also a home to many world-class cultural institutions, including a philharmonic orchestra and the famous Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet. The historic city centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lviv celebrated its 750th anniversary with a son et lumière in the city centre in September 2006.