Rzeszów Ghetto

Rzeszow is a city in southeastern Poland occupied by the Germans on September 10, 1939. At that time, about 15,000 Jews lived in the city, which corresponded to about a third of the inhabitants. Of these, between 1,200 –,1,700 Jews fled east before the city was occupied. However, many were captured by the Germans and brought back to Rzeszow. Rzeszow became a part of the General Government and the germans immediately introduced anti-Semitic laws that severely deteriorated the lives of the Jews. At the end of September 1939, synagogues were vandalized and Jewish cemeteries were forced to perform humiliating tasks on public display. At the end of October, a law was introduced that all male Jews between the ages of 14 and 60 had to sign up for work.

In December 1939, a law was introduced that all Jews in the General government must wear a white armband with a blue star on their right arm as a form of identification mark when they were outside the home. By the end of 1939, there were dozens of Jewish labor camps in and around Rzeszow. In may 1940, the Jewish homes were confiscated and the Jews were no longer allowed to move freely in the city. In February 1941, the city’s name was declared Reichshof, and in June 1941 the local authorities began the transfer of the city’s jews to the future ghetto. In 1942, a ghetto was established for the remaining 12,000 Jews. The ghetto was cut off from the rest of the city and only with special (working) permission could Jews in the ghetto leave the ghetto and residents outside the ghetto visit it. Many Jews worked as slaves in a factory (Lisia Gora) that manufactured parts for aircraft.

By June 1942, about 10,000 more Jews from nearby villages and towns had been sent to the ghetto. Crowded housing, lack of water, food, medicine, heat and inadequate sewage resulted in epidemics in which hundreds of Jews died. In July 1942, the nazis began a first (murder) action that forced about 2,000 jews that the nazis considered unproductive (usually old and sick) on a march to a wooded area north about Rzeszow called Glogow (german Rudna). There the Germans shot the Jews and buried them in mass graves. About 14,000 Jews were deported from the Staroniwa station to the Belzec extermination camp. A new action was carried out in August when about 1,000 Jews were sent to various labor camps. After the initial actions, the size of the ghetto was reduced.

In 1942, 2,000 Jews were sent to Belzec. After the third action, the number of Jews had decreased to about 3000 and the ghetto was divided into two ghettos (or camps) called ghetto A and ghetto B respectively. In September 1943, most of the people in the ghetto were sent to the Szebnie labor camp, about four miles southwest of Rzeszow. In November 1943, the remaining Jews in both ghetto A and B were sent to Auschwitz where most were murdered. The ghetto was then discontinued. Of the approximately 15,000 Jews who lived in Rzeszow during the outbreak of the war, only about 100 survived the war.

Current status: Rebuilt with monument (2015).

Address: Boznicza 2, 35-064 Rzeszów.

Get there: Walk from central Rzeszow.

My comment:

The memorial is located in the old Jewish cemetery from where the Jews who were to be deported were gathered before being forced off to the Staroniwa station for further transportation towards some extermination camp. What may be left of the buildings in the former ghetto I do not know, but probably nothing.

Follow up in books: Gilbert, Martin: The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War (1987).