Lublin Ghetto

Of Lublin’s approximately 122,000 inhabitants in 1939, about 42,000 were Jews and the city was before the war a central place for Jewish culture and education. Before the war, there were twelve synagogues, about a hundred Jewish prayer houses, three Jewish cemeteries, a Jewish hospital, a home for Jewish orphans, jewish schools and two newspapers published in Yiddish. The Jews of Lublin had influence in the political, social and cultural life of Lublin. Despite this, few of the adult Jews were assimilated with the rest of the population and only about 1000 Jews spoke polish. The younger generations, however, were more assimilated and spoke fluent Polish.

On September 18, the German army entered Lublin and imposed anti-Jewish laws that isolated the jews and made it easier to confiscate jewish property. In mid-October 1939, the jews were forced to pay about 300,000 zlotys in compensation to the german army. The Germans carried out random arrests of Jews and forced them to clean up after the fighting and bombardment of the city. About 5,000 Jews left Lublin and went east to the part of Poland occupied by the Soviet Union. On 9 November, Odilo Globocnik, the Swedish High Commissioner, arrived in Lublin as a newly appointed police leader. On the same day, the Jews were ordered to leave their homes and settle in the Jewish and old quarter of Lublin. In connection with the move, the property of the Jews was confiscated. Globocnik became the head of Operation Reinhardt in the autumn of 1941 and the operation headquarters were located in Lublin.

In late November, Governor-general Hans Frank ordered all Jews over ten years of in the Government to wear a armband with the david star and that all Jewish shops should be marked with the david star. Himmler had also decided that the Lublin district (part of the General Government) would become a Jewish reservoar to which all Jews from the german empire would be deported. Between December 1939 and February 1940, tens of thousands of Jews were deported to the Lublin district. The deportations were carried out by the SS without it being anchored by Hans Frank who complained to Hermann Goering that the General Government was unable to receive all these Jews. As a result, the deportations were stopped. In March 1941, a ghetto was established in the Jewish quarter, but it was only in March 1942 that the ghetto was blocked from the outside world.

In early 1942, the ghetto was divided into two parts, ghetto A and ghetto B. Ghetto A was the largest and consisted of unemployed Jews and in ghetto B were among others several institutions that belonged to Judenrat (jewish council). However, it was easier to move between the ghetto and the outside world than it was in several other ghettos. Several Jews working in German industries were allowed to stay in their homes despite being outside the ghetto. This also made it easier to smuggle goods and supplies into the ghetto. It even went with special permission to visit both ghettos during specific times of the day. These milder restrictions led Jews from other ghettos to flee to Lublin in the hope of a better relationship. Although this was true in comparison, the overpopulation led to the spread of typhoid fever and spot fever, among others, leading to many deaths.

In December 1941, parts of the ghetto’s jews were moved to Majdan tatarski just outside Lublin to help with the construction of a camp (Majdanek). But while the ghetto was structured in early 1942, the Nazis knew that in the near future the Jews would be deported to the Belzec extermination camp, about fifteen miles south of Lublin. Belzec was built in November 1941 to kill the Jews. Lublin district. A few days before the deportations began in mid-March 1942, all Jews who worked and received special stamps were registered in their identification papers. This meant that they avoided the initial deportations to Belzec and were transferred to ghetto B. The Jews who did not work were informed that they would be relocated and ordered to arrive at a certain place for further transportation. From there they had to walk about three kilometers to umschlagplatz (transit camp) from where they were deported to Belzec and murdered.

Between mid-March and mid-April, some 26,000 Jews were deported from Lublin to Belzec. In addition to deportations, several residents of the ghetto were shot on the outskirts of Lublin. Later in 1942, the Jews of the ghetto were moved to an area in Lublin called Majdan tatarski near the Alter flugplatz labor camp. In this new ghetto, the relationship was disastrous. There was not enough housing for the residents who were forced to live under the open sky. This new ghetto was blocked off and surrounded by barbed wire fences and the Nazis carried out regular purges. Himmler ordered the ghetto’s Jews to be transferred to nearby Majdanek concentration camp in November 1942. The old ghetto in Lublin was demolished by the Nazis in 1943. Of Lublin’s 42,000 Jews, about 1,300 survived the war. About 200 to 300 remained in hiding until the Red Army arrived or they were deported to some camp. A further 1000 survived the war by fleeing to Soviet territory. In 2009 there lived about 200 – 250 Jews in Lublin out of about 100 000 inhabitants.

Current status: Demolished with monument (2011).

Address: Niecala 1, 20-080 Lublin (monumentet).

Get there: Walk from central Lublin.

My comment:

Just outside the ghetto, the square remains on ul. Grodzka where the Jews gathered before being marched off to the humschlagplatz for further transport to Belzec. Near what was the main entrance to the ghetto, a memorial monument was set up for the inhabitants of the ghetto. Sometime around the turn of the century, Lublin City decided to exploit the area where the monument stood and it would therefore be moved, among other things, there would be built a parking garage under monuments. This created strong Jewish reactions and Lublin agreed to a compromise to move the monument back when the construction was completed. The monument was moved about 400 meters to a secluded place on ul. Niecala right next to an elementary school. In 2011 the monument still stands and the construction of the garage has not yet started. The foundation is still there after the monument at the previous site and no one seems to know what will happen next.

Follow up in books: Arad, Yitzhak: Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka – The Operation Reinhardt death camps (1987).