Przemysl Ghetto

Przemysl is located in southeast Poland about twenty kilometers from the border with Ukraine. The city is divided by the San River, which also became the border between Germany and the Soviet Union in accordance with the unofficial additional protocol of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. The part of Przemysl that was on the side of Germany was called Deutsch – Przemysl and became a focal point for people who were moved from their homes in Soviet-occupied Poland. These people’s Germans would later settle in new areas controlled by Germany. Immediately after the occupation, anti-Jewish laws and random arrests of Jews were imposed on slave labor in German factories.

A Jewish council was established in the spring of 1940 and the uniqueness of this council was that it was probably the only Jewish council that had a woman as its leader, Anna Feingold. What happened to her has never been established but most likely she died during one of the first mass deportations in 1942. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union, the whole of Przemysl came under German control and Galicia (a historic area) was incorporated into the General Government. Thus, the noose was pulled for the approximately 17,000 Jews who lived in Przemysl. In july and august 1941 the jews were ordered to leave their homes and settle in a jewish quarter (not ghetto). In the spring of 1942, the Nazis began purging the Jewish quarter and Jews from nearby communities were deported to Przemysl.

In the summer of 1942, the neighborhood was isolated and a ghetto was established with about 23,000 Jews. The Jews working in German factories received special stamps in their identification papers that allowed them to move between the ghetto and their workplace. In late july and early august, the nazis carried out several major actions. In connection with these, the first shipment of Jews (about 6500) was sent to Belzec to be murdered. Other residents of the ghetto were transported to nearby forested areas where they were shot. The reason why not everyone was sent to Belzec was simply because Belzec did not have the capacity to murder the Jews involved in the actions. In november 1942, the nazis began a second action, but by then the jews had built hiding places because rumors spread to the ghetto about what happened to those deported. Only about 3,500 of the 8,000 who were destined for deportation signed up at the assembly point.

After the second action, the ghetto was divided into two parts, ghetto A and ghetto B. Ghetto A was for Jews with work permits while ghetto B was for others. Ghetto A became a labor camp. Nazis began decommissioning ghetto B in September 1943 and about 3,500 Jews were sent to Auschwitz. More than 1,500 Jews hid in the ghetto but gave up after they received a promise to be sent to labor camps. Of this promise, nothing became and they were instead murdered in the courtyard behind the Jewish council’s office. The labour camp (getto A) was also closed in the autumn of 1943. The Germans continued until the spring of 1944 with purges of the former ghetto because there were still Jews in hiding. About 300 of the Jews who lived in Przemysl in June 1941 survived the war.

Current status: Partly preserved/demolished with monument (2009).

Location: 49°47'07.93"N 22°46'38.50"E

Get there: Walk from central Przemysl.

My comment:

Old houses from the time of the ghetto still remain among postwar houses. There are also bunkers from the Molotov Line in Przemysl.

Follow up in books: Arad, Yitzhak: Holocaust in the Soviet union (2009).