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The Holocaust in Grodno

compiled by Ellen Sadove Renck

During World War II, Grodno was the second largest city in Bialystok bezirk with a population of 50,000, about half of whom were Jewish. The Gestapo outstation was headed by Det. 2nd Lt. (Kriminalsekretear) Gross starting in September 1941. In April 1942, Capt. Heinz Erreles assumed command of twelve subordinates: Krimialobersekrataer Gross [see above], SS Untersturmfuehrer Scott, Kurt Wiese, Det Staff Sgt/SS Scharfuehrer Streblow, Det Staff Sgt Sandhop, Niestroj, and officers Best and Schulz, translators Ringner, Lottermoser and von Dobbert, drives Fucs and Zyga, and two female typists, Bachler and Koschorke.

Effectively in charge of Jews was Schott, reporting to Errelis. Streblow and Wiese supervised the two ghettos. Streblow was found guilty of crimes against humanity at a trial in Dortmund and was sentenced to six years. He strangled his wife and then committed suicide.

Jews were ghettoized on 1 November 1941. Ghetto 1 was in the old part of Grodno, the other on the road to Skidel. Ghetto 1 encompassed the synagogue neighborhood and held about 15,000 Jews. A two-meter high fence surrounded the area, running though backyards of houses along Dominikanska Street (Hindenburg St.).  The entrance was in Zamkow (Castle St.) and Chasna (Butchers' Lane/Shuster St.) Front entrances on those street could not be used. The Judenrat, headquartered near the entrance, was headed by High School Principal Dr. Brawer until his murder in 1943. Two members were attorney Shulkes and a man named Bass.  The judenrat handled provisions, labor conscription, a Jewish police force headed by Rubinczyk until 2 November 1942, and registering of inhabitants,. Shulkes and the merchant Sarnack had to procure German requisitions of the Jews belongings.

Ghetto 2 was beyond the railroad tracks on the right side of the Skidel road in Slobotka. 10,000 Jews were confined in an area physically larger than Ghetto 1 but with fewer houses. Fenced along Skidel Road, the entrance was at Artillery St. (Kraemer St.) facing the market square and Grodno barracks. The judenrat had a branch in Ghetto 2.

Deportations began on 2 November 1942 when the ghetto was sealed. Workers were gathered at the transit camp Kelbasin about 10 km from Grodno near Losossna train station. Ghetto 2 primarily held skilled workers.  Ghetto 1 liquidations were large in January and February 1943. From 18 January 1943 and for five days, 10,000 Jews were sent to Auschwitz. On 13 February 1943, 5,000 Jews were sent to Treblinka. These people were taken from the synagogue, their homes searched. Random shots to intimidate were fired into the synagogue, hitting light fixtures, a clock and random Jews. About the middle of March 1943, "useful" Jews were sent to Bialystok, leaving Ghetto 1 "judenrein." Twelve to fifteen Jews remained in Grodno to work for the Gestapo. They were reportedly killed, except for one, during the Russian offensive.

Transports were called "RSHA transports by the Germans. The Auschwitz museum has records of these transports (No. 3), testifying to the murders of the Jews of Grodno, Sokolka, Wolkowysk, and Pruzhany.