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[Pages 589-590]


The Destruction and the Holocaust


The Period

of Destruction and the Holocaust

[Pages 591-592]

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[Pages 593-594]

Annihilation of the Jews of Lwów
During 1941-1944

by Dr. P. Friedman

Translated by Myra Yael Ecker

Edited by Karen Leon

[Pages 595-596]

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[Pages 597-598]

Table of Contents

  1. The German invasion and the Blitzkriege
  2. Other Aktionen in Summer 1941
  3. The Economic War, varied Acts of Robbery and Brutality
  4. The Jewish Council (Judenrat)
  5. Legal Restrictions and anti-Semitic Incitement; the Ukrainians' attitude towards the Jews
  6. The “Work” Penalties and Work-Gifts
  7. The Jewish Ghetto and new Aktionen
  8. The Plights of Livelihood, Hunger and Sickness
  9. “Despite everything” - First deportation from Lwów
  10. “Work will save from Death”
  11. The Imminent Disaster
  12. The Grossaktion of August 1942
  13. Establishment of Lwów's Ghetto
  14. The Organisation and Inner Life in the Ghetto
  15. New Aktionen in the Ghetto
  16. The Ghetto is made a Julag
  17. Statistics of the Crimes perpetrated by the Nazis against Lwów's Jews
  18. Spiritual Life in the Ghetto, the Fate of Writers, Scholars and Artists
  19. Attempts at Defence and Revolt
  20. Liquidation of the Ghetto
  21. The Jews in the Aryan side of town
  22. Places of Extermination in Lwów; Establishment of Janowska Camp
  23. The Hangmen at Janowska Camp
  24. The Prisoners at Janowska Camp
  25. Life at Janowska Camp
  26. Underground Operations and Uprising Attempts in the camp
  27. The Survivors
  28. References

[Pages 599-600]

Plan of Lwów's Ghetto

[Pages 601-602]

Chapter 1. The German invasion and the Blitzkriege

At dawn of 22nd June 1941, the residents of Lwów awoke to the thunder of bombs that rained down onto the quiet town from German aeroplanes. The Nazi strategy of surprise worked perfectly. Because of the sudden onslaught by the Germans, the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs declared that very morning that war had begun between Russia and Germany.

Lwów's Jewish population numbered between 150,000 and 160,000 at the time, although the exact number is not known. The last official census was carried out on 9th December 1931, at which time 99,595 Jews were counted. From 1931 until 1939, the number of Jews increased by at least 10,000. At the start of the Polish-German war in September 1939, many Jews hastily moved from the western districts of Poland, to escape the Nazi armed forces, and many of them settled at Lwów. After the military operations in Galicia (at the end of September 1939), a new wave of migration moved from western Poland, that was in the hands of the Nazis, toward the eastern part that was under the administration of the Soviet Union. Some Jews fleeing Nazi persecution chose to illegally cross the borders between the zones occupied by the Germans and the Russians. Some were forced to cross the border when the Nazis expelled them. In any event, a very large number of Jews crossed the border during the autumn and winter months of 1939-1940. Most of the refugees who settled at Lwów were from Kraków, Lodz [Łódź], Warsaw and Kielce. At the beginning of 1940, the number of Lwów's inhabitants was more than double that of pre-war. (In addition to Jews, many Polish refugees also came to Lwów). At the time, the town's inhabitants were generally estimated to number 700,000, 180,000 of whom were Jews.

In 1941, a fear of death gripped Lwów's Jews. They agonised about the German invasion and its perils for the Jewish population. The Soviet authorities decided to remove the Russian population from Lwów, but they only managed to move a small number of officials and army recruits. Due to the sudden German attack, even the partial removal created great complications. The means of transport and transportation were not adequate for such a vast transfer that already faced disruptions by German aeroplane attacks. Consequently, the Russian authorities did not help the escape-frenzied Jews, and even obstructed the success of escapees fleeing westward on their own. At Tarnopol, Podwołoczyska and other towns along the old border between Galicia and Russia, the refugees were stopped and ordered to return to their homes. As a result, only a meagre number of Lwów's Jews managed to evade the Nazis. A few thousand youths (mostly those with connection to the left wing movements and to the Communists), specialist officials and a few thousands of the Russian army, escaped to the Soviet Union.

At the time of the German invasion of Lwów, the Jewish community committee estimated its population to be around 150,000 on 28th August 1941. According to general [Fritz, Friedrich] Katzmann, SS Gruppenführer of the Lwów district, the estimated number of Jews in July-August 1941, was 160,000.

The last Russian army companies left Lwów on 29th June 1941. The first German troops entered the town on the following day and were jubilantly greeted by the Ukrainian masses. The Ukrainians hoped that the Germans would help to sever the eastern Ukraine from the Soviet Union, and unite the two parts of the Ukraine into a single, independent country. When Stepan Bandera, Ukrainian's National Party leader arrived at Lwów, he called for war against the Bolsheviks and spoke venomously and hatefully against the Jews. Concurrently, the Ukrainian militia was established, and from the first moment of its existence

[Pages 603-604]

it attacked the Jews. Andrey Szeptycki [Sheptytsky], the Metropolitan (the Greek Catholic) [Ruthenian] Uniate archbishop [of Lwów], on the other hand, appealed publicly to his Ukrainian followers, warning them against bloodshed and acts of violence.

The Germans, however, did not wait for the Ukrainians to start attacking the Jews. Their destructive plan was prepared several months earlier, before the outbreak of the German-Soviet war. The plan was created and sanctioned in meetings with Hitler and his associates, and in joint consultation with agents of the SS, the Gestapo and the upper military echelons. It was decided that four “extermination companies” (Einsatzgruppen) were to be tasked with eliminating the Jews in all territories that would be seized from the Soviet Union. “Company C” (Einsatzgruppe C), led by Dr. [Emil Otto] Rasch, operated in east Galicia. Erwin Schulz, one of the company's officers, and an SS and Gestapo official, submitted under oath, at the International Court of Justice in Nürnberg/Nuremberg, the following supportive evidence regarding the actions at Lwów:

“On 23rd of July 1941 or there about, the extermination company C, made up of special companies Sonderkommando 4A and 4B, and extermination companies (Einsatzgruppen) 5 and 6, set out for Gleiwitz [Gliwice], on its way to Lwów. At the beginning of July, we reached Lwów, and here we were told that some of Lwów's residents had been killed before the Russian armies retreated from the town. Shortly after we arrived at Lwów, we were told by Dr. Rasch, the Einsatzgruppe C officer, that Jewish clerks, and Jewish residents were among the perpetrators of the killings. The military headquarters had already organised a local Ukrainian militia. Dr. Rasch who worked closely with the militia, ordered the Sonderkommandos to support it. Those who participated in, together with those suspected of the mentioned killings, were incarcerated that very day and the next. In addition to that, the special company of [Karl Eberhard] Schöngarth was also brought to Lwów from Kraków.”

The meaning of this euphemistic evidence is clear: The Germans sent the extermination company C to Lwów in order to incite the residents against the Jews. They spread rumours that the bodies found at Lwów's prison, found after the departure of the Russians, had been killed by the Jews. In this way the Nazis encouraged the non-Jewish residents of Lwów to take revenge on the Jews, without exposing German supervision. Thus, in the early days, the Ukrainian militia was used to execute the Germans' evil deeds. The Germans inflamed the hatred of the masses against the Jews with inciting proclamations, flyers and oral propaganda. Pogroms and attacks against the Jews started immediately after the arrival of the German army. From 30th June until 3rd July, German soldiers circulated throughout the town, accompanied by Ukrainian nationalists and hordes of residents. They attacked Jews in the streets, beat them brutally, and dragged them to “work,” especially to clean the jails that were littered with dead bodies and blood. Thousands of Jews were caught and taken to the prisons on Zamarstynowska Street, Jachowicza Street and on [Ulica Eliasza Łąckiego] Łącki Street, to Brygidki prison [formerly a Bridgettine convent] on Kazimierzowska Street and to the gestapo building at 59 Pełczyńska Street. The Jews feared imminent death. They hid in basements and avoided going outside. Consequently, the terrorists, especially members of the Ukrainian militia, entered Jewish homes and dragged out the men, and at times even women, for “purifying work.” Most of the Jews were held in the jail yards, and they never left alive. They were murdered after severe torture or they were shot. Eye-witnesses who escaped the thugs during the days of rage, reported that the walls of the Brygidki jail were soaked in fresh blood and speckled with human brain, up to the second floor.

One of the eye-witnesses who escaped the slaughter in Brygidki, surmised that thousands of Jews were tortured to death there, and that about eighty were saved and let free.[1] Among the saints murdered in the yard of Brygidki prison, was Dr. Jecheskiel Lewin. This Rabbi of Lwów's synagogue of the Enlightened, and lead editor of the Jewish-Polish weekly Opinja, died a hero's death. When the abuse started and the first Jewish victims died, Dr. Lewin approached the Metropolitan Sheptytsky, to ask him to convince the Ukrainian masses to leave the Jews alone. And so he did. His opening words were as follows:

“I came to Your Grace, to plead on behalf of Lwów's Jewish community and on behalf of half a million Jews living in western Ukraine. You once said to me ‘I am a friend of the Jewish People.’ You have always stressed your sympathy for us. I beg of you during this terrible danger, to prove your friendship, to influence also the rampaging masses attacking us. I beg in order to save hundred of thousands of Jews, and the Almsighty will repay your endeavours.”[2]

[Pages 605-606]

Sheptytsky probably promised Dr. Lewin that he would fulfil his request, and did indeed publish a proclamation to the Ukrainians, which did little to influence them. He also offered refuge in his Palace to Dr. Lewin until the rage had subsided, but Lewin replied: “My mission is done. I came to plead for the community and I return to the community among whom I belong, and may God be with me.” After leaving the Palace and crossing Plac sw. Jura [St. Jura Square] where the Metropolitan's Palace stood, and on his way to his apartment on Kołłątaja Street close to Brygidki, some people came to warn him that Ukrainian detectives were in the vicinity of his home, dragging Jews to jail. Dr. Lewin did not turn back. When he reached his home the Ukrainian police caught him and led him to the courtyard of the jail. His son Izak, who was also in the Brygidki death courtyard at the time, describes his father's last moments:

“At ten I saw my father. Two Germans pushed him and hit him with gun butts. White as a sheet, dressed in his priest's outfit, he marched toward death… When my father came among the group of Jews, he recited the prayer prior to death, and said in a loud voice: Sh'ma Israel. At that moment the Germans started firing in that direction. All those engaged in removing the bodies, heard his prayer… and joined in, and the sound of their prayer “Sh'ma Israel!” drowned the sound of the firing. The threats and beatings did not stop our prayer that gave us superhuman power.”

Those martyred at the beginning of July, included the brother of Dr. Jecheskiel Lewin, the renowned Rabbi Aron Lewin, head of the rabbinical court at Rzeszów [Resche], leader of Agudas Yisroel and delegate to the Polish Sejm, Henryk Hescheles, principal editor of the daily newspaper in Polish Chwila, and also the editor, Dr. Igel.

It is difficult to estimate the number of Jews murdered in all the jails and in the streets, during these pogroms. According to an eye witness,4,000 were murdered.[3] The Germans, on the other hand, estimated a very much larger number of victims. The official report recorded at the main German police station by the “Special Service,” Chef der Sicherheitspolizei und des F.S.D. in Berlin, on 16th July 1941, stamped “highly Secret” (Streng geheim), summed up this Aktion as follows:

“In the hours after the Bolsheviks had left, the Ukrainian population took a laudable action against the Jews. By abusing Lwów's Jewish residents they caught about thousand people and brought them to prison that previously belonged to the GPU [Soviet; State Political Directorate], and that now housed the German army. Some seven thousand Jews were caught and shot by the police for the cruel and inhuman acts {that were supposedly perpetrated by the Jews prior to the departure of the Russians}. Seventy three people {Jews} were appointed by the NKVD [Soviet, People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs] as clerks and spies, and were also shot. Forty people were liquidated based on proven reports from {Lwów's} residents. The age of most of the Jews who were caught, was between 20 and 40 years. The craftsmen and specialists among them were let free as far as possible.”

The report continues in this vein, to disclose similar “reprisals” and “laudable” murders that took place in other parts of eastern Galicia, such as Dobromyl, Jaworów [Yavoriv], Tarnopol, Złoczów, Sambor etc.

[Pages 607-608]

Chapter 2. Other Aktionen in Summer 1941

Even after the “spontaneous pogroms” of July 1941, the Germans were not yet satisfied. Their method was not to allow the Jews to breath air, to gain strength, to have mortal danger removed from their consciousness. Jews in a state of permanent fear would have no time to consider covert propaganda, to spread rumours that would damage German prestige, or to trade in the black market, that would cause a loss to the German economy. This was the official explanation issued daily by the Berlin offices of the Ministry of Propaganda. These slogans served as camouflage for the plan worked out in Berlin, to annihilate the Jewry of eastern Europe. The goal of total eradication was unattainable by sporadic pogroms or by other destructive stratagems such as those adopted by the tzarist authorities. The Germans replaced the pogrom by a new concept which symbolised their novel strategy, with the strategic military term Aktion (action, act, undertaking). Its essence: a systematic, deliberate and planned action.

Throughout the whole of July 1941, the Aktion consisted of searches and arrests of Jewish leftist businessmen, and in particular of young Jews who were, or were reported to belong to the Komsomol. Without investigation or further requirement, all the suspects caught were put to death at Lesienice [Lysynychi] Forest near Lwów. Concurrently, a second Aktion, kidnapping for “work,” was underway. This Aktion gathered force on 25, 26 and 27 of July. Hundreds and thousands of Jewish men and women were abducted by the Ukrainian trackers, and were taken to a “place of work.” These wretched people were most often taken to the courtyard of the jail on Łącki Street. The Ukrainian mobs burst into the courtyard, time after time, screaming wildly: “Revenge for Petliura, our Hetman,” and beat many of the Jews to death. Many of the abducted disappeared without a trace. Very few managed to save their lives. This Aktion was known as Aktion Petliura. Rumours spread around town that the Germans gave the Ukrainian Nationalists three “days off,” to do with the Jews as they wished, to avenge the blood of Hetman Symon Petliura, who had been killed in Paris on 26th May 1926 by the Jewish Sholem Schwarzbard. According to a tentative estimate of those days, Aktion Petliura led to the murder of at least two thousand Jews.

A continuous chain of bloodshed continued on a smaller scale for the entire summer of 1941. One of the atrocities in particular shook Lwów's Jews. A German military hospital was housed in the school named after Saint Anna (on St. Anna [św. Anny] Street). At a certain point the German soldiers complained that a shot was fired into the surgery from one of the houses opposite the hospital. Without any investigation or inspection, or a search for the culprit, the German hobnailed soldiers burst into the houses of Jews on St. Anna Street (houses No. 1; 3; 5; 7) and on [Rappaporta] Jakóba Street (Nos. 11; 18) at dawn. They removed all the Jewish men without touching any Christian residents, and shot almost all of them. Some eighty souls in total.

[Pages 609-610]

Chapter 3. The Economic War, varied Acts of Robbery and Brutality;

“Official” and “Private” Larcenies

Hand in hand with the murders, an “economic war” was also started against the Jews, primarily executed through violence and plunder. There were official and private thefts. The private robberies were very simple. A German intruded into a Jewish house, raided anything that took his fancy, and often demanded that the ransacked Jew wrap the items and deliver them to the German's house. The Jew was glad if he were lucky enough to return home safely after his “mission”.

The official theft started by imposing ransom (Kontribution [contribution]) on the Jews, in the sum of 20,000,000 Roubles (or 22,000,000 Roubles, according to other witnesses). The Kontribution announcement, signed by the General of the Infantry [Karl] von Roques, was declared at the beginning of August 1941.

The pretexts for imposing this penalty were, “Since the town suffered greatly from the war operations {i.e. from the explosions and bullets rained down on it by the Germans during their attacks. P.F.} it stands to reason and is just, that the Jews who were the cause of this war, should contribute financially to rebuilding the ruins.” The rest of the residents were naturally not asked to contribute. The Jews received the ransom demand with a sense of relief. They considered it a sign signalling the end to the reckless pogroms of the invasion period, and the start of a new, civil government that would be appeased by using them as a source of extortion. The Jews hoped it would be possible to negotiate and save lives with future payments. That period's slogan read “Kontribution will save from death.” In every town quarter, Jewish committees were formed under their own initiative to collect the required sums. The Jews rushed to pay their contribution. In the early days long queues formed in front of the offices of the committees by those who came to pay their large sum or a symbolic 18 Roubles. From those unable to pay in cash, the committees accepted gold and silver items, watches, jewellery, candle sticks, wedding rings etc. Christian Poles also contributed, although mostly anonymously.

Despite the willingness to pay, the Germans took Jewish hostages. When the announcement was first issued, small groups of German and Ukrainian police entered the homes of Jewish dignitaries and removed them under the pretext that “hostages” were required. This particular Aktion focused on members of the Jewish professional intelligentsia, physicians, advocates, engineers etc. and also large scale merchants, factory owners, bankers, communal representatives etc. Through this Aktion over one thousand people (closer to two thousand, according to a different estimate) were arrested. This event affected the ransom payment. The Jews believed that if the Kontribution were paid in full and on time, the hostages would be released, and consequently they sold the remainder of their possessions to contribute to the “soul-saving” Kontribution collection box. They guarded vouchers they received for their contributions with their lives.

The ransom money was paid on time. The first instalment was made on 8th August 1941. Besides the cash, the Jews brought a great deal of jewellery and gold, and about 1,400 kg. of silver. However, the hostages were not returned. They disappeared without a trace.

This cynic deception was the first encounter of the Jews of Lwów with “the new institution” of Nazi Germany. The Germans adopted the same deceptive ploy of “hostage” taking also in other towns. The outcome repeated itself everywhere. As a result, the lives of a large number of the communal and cultural leaders were cut short. The Germans employed the strategy of eliminating the leading strata when dealing also with other nations, such as the Poles, Czechs and others, but they avoided a similar heinous implementation with them.

While the Kontribution and the hostages Aktion “evolved,” a new edict was issued. The Germans started systematically burning down synagogues: the old Synagogue of the author of Turei Zahaw (known as the Golden Rose Synagogue, die goldene Rojze), and the rest of the synagogues on Sobieski, Boimów and Blacharska Streets, the synagogue on Szajnochy street, and also the synagogue of the Enlightened (the Temple prayer house) on Żółkiewska Street (its ruins and burnt walls were only removed in the summer of 1942). This arson Aktion was led

[Pages 611-612]

by the SS Officer Wollenberg. The remaining synagogues were later demolished by the Germans, especially during the period when the Ghetto was liquidated in 1943.

The Germans also practiced an “economic exploitation” of the Jewish cemeteries. They removed tombstones from the cemeteries and used them to pave the streets and roads (some of the tombstones were later used as floor tiles at the Concentration Camp for Jews, on Janowska Street).

We don't have precise information about the extent of this “economic Aktion,” however, a report submitted by General [Fritz] Katzmann indicates that the Germans removed about 2,000 square meters of material (stones) from a cemetery near Lwów, which was used for paving roads. Those engaged in the arduous physical labour of uprooting the commemorative stones, breaking them up and transporting them, were the Jewish labourers who had been abducted by the Germans, and were forced to carry out the work.

[Pages 613-614]

Chapter 4. The Jewish Council (Judenrat)

The Jewish committee was formed during the Kontributions Aktion. Its first official act was to collect the donations and pay ransom to the Germans. The Jewish community committees in eastern Galicia were abolished by the Soviet authorities during their period of occupation. It was the policy of the Germans to organise a Jewish Council wherever Jews lived, and to turn it into an apparatus to execute their own commands. The German military headquarters summoned diverse Jewish businessmen to negotiated the formation of a new Jewish committee. These negotiations took place at the beginning of July1941. The Germans suggested to Maurycy Allerhand, a renowned scholar in jurisprudence and Professor at Lwów University who for some years before the war was a government appointed manager of Lwów's community, that he should accept the leadership of the Jewish Council. He refused, citing his age and ill health. Others (Dr. Juda Ehrlich among them) also declined the positions of council members. The Germans eventually gave up on their tricks of negotiating with the important, the best and the good of the town and when they realised that none volunteered. They appointed the Council members from their own list of candidates. At first only five members were appointed, which was augmented after a few days (until 29th July 1941). By the autumn of 1941, after all the appointments and additions, the composition of the Jewish Council consisted of: Dr. Oswald Kimelman, Dr. Edmund Scherzer, the engineer Naftali Landau, Dr. Henryk Ginsberg, Chiger, Seidenfrau, Józef Hoch, Szymon Ulam, Dr. Marceli Buber, Dr. Źarnicer and others. By late autumn 1941, the composition of the Council had changed. Dr. Józef Parnas, who was seventy years old by then and one of the assimilated representatives, was unable to adjust to the Germans' ways and methods of work. He was an advocate from a wealthy, estate-owning family and had been a cavalry officer (Reitmeister) in the Austrian army. He had a strong character, he displayed no signs of submission towards the German authorities, and even refused some of their demands. In October or November 1941, Dr. Parnas was arrested by the Germans. According to the chroniclers and to rumours that spread at the time in town, he was arrested because re refused to supply the Germans with the amount of forced-labourers the Germans demanded. Dr. Parnas was led to the jail on Łącki [Lantzki] Street and was shot dead in the jail courtyard. He was replaced by Dr. Rothfeld, a Zionist activist and member of east Galicia's Zionist executive committee, but he died of a fatal disease in February 1942. He was followed as president by Dr. Henryk Landesberg, a renowned advocate, an active businessman and member of Bnei Brith, before the war. He also did not hold his post for long. He was murdered by the Germans in September 1942. The fourth president, Dr. Ebersohn, an honest, helpless man with no influence, held the post until the Germans murdered him together with the rest of the Council members, in February 1943.

The authority of the Jewish Council was very broad and surprised even the most optimistic amongst the Jewish public. On the face of it, the Germans granted the Jews a very wide range of “self governance”. The Jewish Council had to manage its administration in accordance with German orders. After the Ghetto was erected, the Council administered a territorial self governance. It organised a financial and taxation department that relied on various, independent income sources. It opened social aid institutions including clinics, hospitals, orphanages, old-age-homes, soup-kitchens and inexpensive restaurants. It managed economic issues, industrial and commercial enterprises, consumer markets, etc. It organised work preformed by Jews through its employment agency. It oversaw nutrition in the ghetto through the distribution of food-cards, the acquisition of food, and the establishment of bread bakeries. The Council allocated apartments through its housing department. It managed the Jewish post-office. Finally, the Jewish Council was granted jurisdiction of the legal department and the Jewish police.

The activities of the Jewish Council branched into many fields and required a very large structure. From the start, the community employed around 1,000 clerks. That number increased to 4,000 in 1942. According to some members (Farber,

[Pages 615-616]

Maltiel), there were up to 5,000 clerks and labourers, in addition to craftsmen and the employees of financial enterprises near the community. The Council was composed of the following departments: i) Personnel Dept., headed by Józef Hoch, an energetic individual with much influence within the Jewish Council, was responsible for hiring and supervising clerks and workers. (In a cynical song about the Lwów Judenrat, the entire Jewish Council system was termed Organisation Hoch {parallel to Organisation Todt, after the Germans' [military] work organisation}). ii). Provision Dept., led by Agid and his deputy Beno Teichholtz. iii). Housing Dept., led by Dr. Schutzman of Prsemyśl, and after his death, by Dr. Jaffe of Bilsko [Bielitz], Silesia. One of the clerks and managers within the housing department was Szmuel Pacanowski of Łódż, a leading member of the Zionist Youth movement, and who was murdered by the Nazis in August 1942. iv). Finance Dept., led by Dr. Zarnicer, Stanisław Rothfeld, Dr. Bardach and others. v). Employment Dept. vi). Taxation Dept. vii). Health Dept., managed by Dr. Ginzburg, followed by Aleksander Blaustein. viii). Dept. of Care and Social Assistance, headed by Dr. Jozef Kohn, a veteran social worker. ix). Legal Dept., led by Dr. Hirschsprung and others. x). Dept. of Statistics, managed by Dr. Fryderyk Katz. xi). Building Dept. xii). Chevra-Kadisha [Holy Society - or funeral Soc.]. xiii). Education Dept., managed by Abraham Roth, who had been the headmaster of the Jewish commercial gymnasium, and Mrs. Dr. Cecylja Klaften, who had been very active in the field of vocational education before the war. Since the Germans prohibited Jewish schools from opening, the education department was impotent. xiv). Culture Dept., principally engaged in the administration of religious issues. Among the Orthodox rabbis employed in this dept., were, R' Izrael Wolfsberg, R' Mojzesz-Elchanan Alter, R' Natan Leiter, from among the progressive rabbis, Dr. Kalman Chameides, who had been R' at Katowice [Katowitz] and Dr. Dawid Kahana. There were also six Dayanim [religious judges]. The function of this department was very restricted since the Germans prohibited public prayer. Almost all the synagogues were burnt down and the Midraashim [Torah study schools] and the Kloyses were closed, and turned into dormitories for Jewish refugees displaced from their homes by the Germans, who came to Lwów. Praying in private Minyanim was also forbidden. Soon after the start of their rule, the Germans burst into such Minyanim and arrested the worshippers, who disappeared without a trace. Secular, cultural activities were completely forbidden in Lwów.

The Jewish Council was allotted an old building near the scraps market, not far from the old synagogue far der Schul at 2 Starotandetna Street, but the building was too confined to contain all the community departments. Later, the old community building at 12 Bernstein Street was given back to the Council, and the Statistics and Religious Affairs Departments were relocated there. On the lower level was the “Jewish self-help” (Jüdische soziale Selbsthilfe) that was not directly reliant on the community system. This was the sole independent institution managed outside the Jewish Council, a branch of the Jewish “social aid” that was managed by the “General Government [Allgemeine Regierung]” (a term the Germans used for occupied Poland). The head-quarters of the “social aid” was in Kraków, led by the Jewish writer and theologian, Dr. Michał Weichert. The manager, of Galicia's branch located at Lwów, was the renowned advocate, Dr. Leib Landau, and the manager of the Lwów branch was Dr. Maks Schaff. The Jewish Council also had a social aid department, which to a large extent, paralleled the work of the “social self-help.” This department was situated in a synagogue the Germans had not destroyed, on Jagiellońska Street. The taxation department operated from the synagogue at 2 Rappaporta Street. The Chevra-Kadisha was located nearby on the Schleichera Street. The housing department was first located in the Great Synagogue on Bożnicza Street, and later moved to the school named after Abraham Kohn, on św [St.] Stanislawa Street. The office for the distribution of food-coupons, which functioned under the financial department that employed a large number of clerks, was on Żółkiewska Street and contained an enormous ticketing machine. The Jewish police, known by its official title “The Jewish security-service [Jüdisches Ordnungsdienst]” filled a special place within the “self governance”. The police were organised during August-September 1941. According to one chronicler of those days,[4] Warsaw's Jewish chief of police was brought to Lwów to instruct and organise the force. The 100 workers who first formed this police, soon increased to 500, and later to 750 men. The Jewish Police operated in four commissariats (districts) The police of the first district, together with the headquarters and the criminal department (Kripo), were at “Yad

[Pages 617-618]

Charuzim [the diligents']” house at 11 Bernstein Street. The police of the second district was situated at 112 Zamarstynowska Street, the third district was at the Kleparów suburb, and the police of the fourth district was in the Zniesienie suburb. The criminal department (Kripo = Kriminalpolizai) and the “special service” (Sonderdienst) occupied a specific section within the Jewish police, that closely collaborated with the Gestapo [Geheime Staatspolizei]. The managers of this section (Goliger-Schapiro and his deputy Krumholz) were considered a disgrace by the Jewish community, because of their evil deeds. In general, the role of the Jewish police and their stature steadily declined in the eyes of the Jewish public. The militia was formed to assist the Jewish Council in maintaining order and cleanliness in the Jewish neighbourhoods. By and by, however, the police collaborated with the Germans. Eventually, these Jewish police divisions became part of German control while loosing all connection with the Jewish Council. The composition of the police also changed over time. At the start, mostly young men from among the Jewish intelligentsia joined the police, but when its function turned into another oppressive German tool, the Jews, those with a sense of public responsibility abandoned it. They fled to the Aryan neighbourhoods, or were expelled by the Germans. A mob of greedy, self-serving thugs replaced them amidst a dreadful scandal. And these new recruits were ready to execute the orders of their German masters.

The activities of the Jewish Council also moved in a direction that was more harmful than helpful. The Germans intended to create a tool to execute their schemes against the Jews, operated by the Jews themselves. By employing their tricks, they succeeded in disguising their stratagem from most of the Jews. While this scheme was only uncovered at a later stage of the Nazi occupation, it was plain from the start that the Germans used the community as a means to extort money, objects and work from the Jews. One of the important departments of the Council was the provisions department. One would be mistaken, however, to think that its purpose was to assist the Jews. This department was tasked with to satisfying the lists of demands that emanated daily from the Germans. One day they demanded 100 Persian rugs, the next a dozen porcelain dinner sets, silverware, kitchenware. and luxury furniture, crystal vessels, jewellery and diamonds, fancy clothes, works of art and paintings, or barrels of coffee, salmon roe and other delicacies that had long vanished from the market. And although officially the provisions office had only to fulfil the demands of German offices or their representatives, woe betide the clerk who did not quickly fulfil the wishes of private Germans, especially those of the clerks for the secret-police and the SS. The provisions department leader, Agid, once refused to supply the German police clerks with some private “invitations.” The following day he was invited to the secret police under a pretext of a meeting, where he was shot. The Germans justified their demands from the Jews under the “legal” pretence that the Jewish wealth in the occupied countries was confiscated by Germany. It was only in Jewish hands temporarily. The Jews were permitted to use their resources only until the Germans decided to remove them.[4a] This law, following the edict of 7th August 1941, was extended to include the area of eastern Galicia.

The provisions department employed many clerks whose sole task was to go to the houses of the Jews to confiscate those items that the Germans. Besides these regular “orders,” it was also necessary to offer special presents to the German officials, to soften their hearts to “forgo” some of the “exaggerated orders.” Other clerks, specialised in using “gentle” bribery in their negotiation with the Germans, and were able at times to lobby for the good of the community or for specific individuals. This led to frequent contacts that eventually created a class of panderers and mediators who knew how to “organise” things, and who earned a great deal of money in their lobbying. This resulted in corruption to the malaise of the Jewish public.

The extent of the German “legal” robbery was immense. According to one of the Jewish Council clerks, the value of the items seized in August-September 1941, was 30% greater than the (Kontribution) ransom payment made to the Germans in the July Aktion.[5]

Apart from the legal robbery that was perpetrated via the departments of provisions, taxation and labour (whose task was to supply the Germans with free-labour), the Germans used the Jewish Council to create division amongst the Jews themselves. The strategy of sowing a chasm between the community clerks and the rest of the Jewish population, the policy of “divide

[Pages 619-620]

and rule,” was also practiced by the Germans with regard to interactions among Jews and Poles, Jews and Ukrainians, Poles and Ukrainians, etc. Members of the Jewish police, and to a certain extent clerks of the Jewish Council (members of the Judenrat, the provisions department clerks and others), were granted privileges, such as protected living quarters, free movement in the streets without fear of being picked for forced-labour, additional food rations, etc. The police and the community clerks, on the other hand, did not receive a fixed salary for their work, and the cost of living rose daily. Consequently, some of the clerks exploited their official position out of greed and to oppress. The work documents carried a minor protection from abduction for forced labour while wandering in town, and other accessibility. Indeed, even among the community clerks, graded “privileges” led to “class differences.” Those of the upper stratum were members of the Council and department managers. The middle stratum was made up of the high officials who held “stiff” work-certificates (a stiff paper-card, or bound certificates), while the labourers and the provisional workers held “soft” work-certificates (ordinary paper slips, not printed but written with a typewriter or a pen). Other privileged strata were those of the professionals, expert workers, technicians, engineers, surgeons and medics, who mainly worked for German offices or enterprises. The least privileged were the hordes of tradespeople and shopkeepers, panderers, ordinary house owners, teachers, advocates, those in religious-service, and synagogue staff. Last of all were the masses, the unemployed, the poor, the “impoverished” and those who “lost” their jobs, who were not protected by work-certificates or lobbying, and were consequently objects of plunder by the Germans. The lower classes were destroyed and wiped out without mercy from the very start.

The class segregation among the Jewish community was entirely different from the professional and social structure before the war, as if the world had turned upside down. The chasm was sharper and more pronounced than before the war, when class difference did not only deprive a man of his livelihood, but also literally of his life. A man with no means, privileges or a profession that benefitted the Germans, had one destiny, to die, be it by “a kiss of death” (starvation or ill health), or by “fast death” as forced-labour, in a camp or in an Aktion.

Eventually it became clear to all that the Miniature Jewish State granted by the German authorities, was nothing but a sham, a vicious caricature of self rule, with the one aim – to be an instrument of convenience for the Germans.

[Pages 621-622]

Chapter 5. Legal Restrictions and anti-Semitic Incitement; the Ukrainians' attitude towards the Jews

From the early months of their rule, the Germans made housing subject to racial principles. They intended to segregate the town's residents of different nationalities into different geographic zones. In particular, they intended to separate the Jews, Slav nations (Poles and Ukrainians) and the Germans (including those of German culture, Volksdeutsche). The Germans chose the most attractive part of town for themselves, where the mansions and grand houses stood. This was where Poles and many Jews, mostly wealthy and professionals, lived. The Jews, who resided on the streets in the vicinity of Listopada, Potockiego, Wulecka, Kadecka, and the streets that surrounded the Stryjski [Kilińskie] Parc, Dwernickiego Street, św Zofii [St. Sofia], Snopkowska and Żyżyńska Street, were issued an order to vacate their residences without delay. They were allowed a few hours to vacate, and allowed to remove only whatever they could carry. At times they were ordered to leave their homes behind, empty handed and destitute. This Aktion was accompanied by terror and resulted in approximately 200 murdered Jews.

The Jews residing in the Aryan parts of town were fearful, and took preventative measures before the order to vacate reach them. Every day, people looking for a residence in the Jewish neighbourhoods formed long queues in front of the accommodation department of the Jewish Council. However the Aktion that uprooted people from their residences came to a halt in the late summer, only to be followed by new calamities.

On 1st August 1941, a new edict was issued that annexed eastern Galicia as part of the Generalgouvernement (Distrikt Galizien). The Ukrainians were greatly disappointed by this law. They had believed the Nazi propaganda that promised the Germans would help them found a “single, undivided, free and sovereign” Ukrainian country. The Germans seized the Ukrainian nationalists and locked them up. Among them was the leader of the extreme Ukrainian nationalists, Hetman Stepan [Andriyovych] Bandera, who was held in a concentration camp and only released after the defeat of Germany. His followers (known as Banderowcy [Banderites]) formed underground battalions of partisans to fight the Germans. Eastern Galicia was full of these partisans. In their fight against the Germans, however, they also massacred Jews. A large section of the Ukrainian mob, the peasants in particular, were Bandera supporters, snd the Ukrainian intelligentsia fell into different factions. One part collaborated with the Germans, another part followed Bandera, and the democratic faction kept out of politics. But even the democratic intelligentsia circles did not help the Jews, nor did they try to restrain the Ukrainian mob. An exception which deserves mention, was the Metropolitan [Andrey] Sheptytsky, and his rescue operation. He provided refuge to a large number of Jews, especially children, whom he sheltered at his home, in prayer houses and Catholic monasteries under his jurisdiction. He saved 150 Jews[6] in this way. No one from among Metropolitan Sheptytsky's flock of worshipers followed his example.

After the Galicia district was annexed to the Generalgouvernement, the Jews of Galicia and those of Lwów in particular, were subject to the Anti-Semitic [Nazi] law that had been issued two years earlier. One of the decrees that was issued as early as 15th July 1940, stated that all Jews over the age of ten, including anyone of Jewish extraction to the third generation, had to wear a white ribbon with a blue Star of David on their left arm. This identifying symbol increased the danger of wandering in the town's streets, and acted as magnet for attacks. A Jew caught in the street with a ribbon improperly fastened, or soiled ribbon, was arrested by the police, thoroughly beaten, and released, or taken to a place from which he never returned. A ribbon-fear seized the Jews. Warning notes appeared on walls and house entrances: “Remember the Ribbon!,” “Mortal danger! Do not forget to wear your ribbon!” There were also illustrations of a skull with a ribbon next to it, a self-explanatory symbol.

While the ribbon was meant to segregate the Jews from the non-Jews, the purpose of the rest of the restrictions was to limit the possible movement from place to place, pursuing a livelihood, finding food, etc. A curfew, imposed on non-German Christians that began at 9 p.m. (there were no such restriction on the Germans), restricted the Jews by 8 p.m. Whoever was found in the street, even a few minutes after 8 p.m., was shot or sent to a concentration camp. On the trams, a special compartment was designated for Jews (Nur für Juden). In time, they were even deprived of the right to ride a tram, and had to walk to their places of work, often several kilometres at a times. The long route was exhausting and full of danger. Train riding was proscribed, as was the right to leave the town. Buying provisions in the town's markets

[Pages 623-624]

was permitted only between 2p.m. and 4p.m. Employment in many professions was forbidden, and Jews were compelled to provide forced-labour. Their possessions, including their worldly goods, real-estate, and money in amounts over 2,000 Gulden were confiscated. (The Germans were unable to execute the law regarding money.).

Dr. Karl Lasch was the first governor of the Galicia district. On 24th January 1942, Lasch was arrested for embezzlement from the state. He was charged with forging accounts, the theft of “countless carpets, furs, artworks etc.,” and bribing the wife of Governor-General Hans [Michael] Frank. He was also suspected of “incest” (desecration of the race) and betrayal of the fatherland. He was replaced by Dr. [Baron Otto Gustav von] Wächter, who had been the governor of Kraków. The head of the German administration was assisted at Lwów by the head of the secret police and the SS [Schutzstaffel] for the district of Galicia, Major-General [Fritz] Katzmann, and the head of the regular police, Dr. Robert Ulrich from Graz, Austria. In the early days of the German occupation the Ukrainian scholar, Professor [Jurij] Polanśkyj (a geographer), served as Lwów's mayor. When Galicia was annexed to the Generalgouvernement, the Germans dropped all vestiges of Ukrainian “autonomy,” and appointed the German clerk [Hans] Kujath, who was succeeded by another German, Dr. [Egon Ambros] Höller.

By means of restrictions, outdoor attacks, insults, beatings and abductions, the Germans wanted to instil fear among the non-Jewish, Christian inhabitants, and even more so among the Jews. The Germans planned to prevent any sense of solidarity and joint fate from forming among the victims, through strategic levels of privileges and discriminations. The Ukrainian slave felt superior to the Polish slave who was more oppressed and abject than himself, and both considered themselves aristocratic Aryans, compared to the Jews. The Germans constantly inflamed the feeling of contempt for the Jews, in newspapers, advertisements and placards, in plays and exhibitions, in songs and on the radio. The Nazi Ministry of Propaganda poured out endless, unfounded accusations and false allegations, without sparing the converted [to Christianity] through Lwów's newspapers, that had shrunk to two dailies, one Polish and one Ukrainian, and the official German newspaper. The article “They forgot their origins” in Gazeta Lwowska of 22nd October 1941, expressed the view that those who had converted were also obliged to wear the white ribbon, as was every Christian related to Jews by marriage. It seems that in the early stages of the German invasion, many of the converted innocently assumed that conversion would save them from the restrictions that befell the Jews (a similar mass process took place in Slovakia and Hungary). According to Gazeta Lwowska of 8.11.1941, in September 1942[a] there were about 4,000 Jews who wished to convert. Although the information in this newspaper was not necessarily reliable, as it counted Jews and the converted together, the numbers of those ready to convert were presumably quite large. Consequently, Lwów's Catholic bishop's office organised special lectures for them, and set a six months' trial period for the converting candidates. The monk A. Paulo, at the church of St. Vincent [de Paul], whom Gazeta Lwowska (9th and 11th November 1941) vigorously attacked, was particularly active in the Jewish conversions. It did not take long for the converted and the would-be converted to realise that conversion would not be their salvation. The precise definition of “Jew,” in German law, was based on a racial rather than a religious notion. The converted Jews were also subject to the restrictions. Only a small portion of them, with Christian relatives or friends, were concealed or acquired false Aryan papers that saved them.


Dr. Henryk Hescheles

[Pages 625-626]

Chapter 6. The “Work” Penalties and Work-Gifts

Among the Generalgouvernement laws was that of Jewish forced-labour [jüdische Zwangsarbeit], which forced every male and female Jew between the ages of 14 and 60, to work for the Germans. After the annexation of Galicia, the Jews of Lwów were also subject to that law. The Germans established a labour-office that had a special section for Jews (Judeneinsatz). The office for Jewish employment was first located in a school on Zamknięta Street (in a side alley off Gródecka Street). Later, it was moved to the school named after Mikołaj Rej, on Misjonarski Square. The department was led by Heinz Weber, an extremely cruel, uncultured and uneducated man. The department clerks were Jews. Some of these clerks were reviled among the Jewish community for being servile to the Germans, and for their wicked deeds against other Jews. The new office conducted a roll-call of all the Jews of forced-labour age. Those who did not present a work-permit from an institution that performed useful work for the Germans, had to do the forced-labour assigned to them. The Jews were not used to this physically demanding hard labour. Many evaded registering with the German labour-office which led the Germans to use a new strategy. They employed Jewish “kidnappers” (Chappers) to hunt Jews without work-permits. The kidnapped people were locked up in the office until the next “transport” left for the place of work.

The work of the German labour-office ran parallel with that of the Jewish community's labour-office. This type of duplication was common and typical of the Nazi strategy, for two reasons. First, they did not trust the Jews, and second, it was wilfully done to create confusion in the labour market. The actual work accomplished by the Jews was not important, but rather the accompanying persecution and accessibility. The labour-office of the Jewish Council tried, in vain, to come to an agreement with the Germans in order to introduce a work recruitment or a quota system for obtaining Jewish workers. Even when an agreement had been reached after great efforts, the Germans took no notice of it, dismissed the workers sent by the community, and again they sent out the kidnappers who led their captives to places whence no one returned.

“Work” was a pretext for any German who wished to abuse Jews. In addition to the two employment offices, military cars and the secret-police wagons, drove through the streets almost daily, seizing Jews for work. The snatching for work was often undertaken by German individuals, in uniform or not. Not only was the work unpaid, it was also mostly fruitless work, aimed solely to deride the Jews. It general, it was gruelling and beyond mortal strength. For instance, the elderly


Street attacks by Ukrainians in Aktion Petliura


were ordered to carry cement bags weighing 100 kg, and then carry them back. The young were forced to transport 200 kg. or greater weight, iron bars. At times, the Jews were compelled to carry such heavy burden while running. Those who lagged behind or fell down were slapped, beaten, wounded and even murdered.

At most of the army's work places, the Jews received a paltry salary of 2-4 Gulden per day. On occasion they were even given food provisions depending on the generosity of the oppressor overseeing their work. The Jews working for enterprises organised by the German trust-offices [Treuhand Ämte], also received pay in money or food. During the Soviet rule (1939-1941), the private factories and stores owned by Jews or Christians, had been nationalised. At the start of their occupation, the Germans declared that they would reinstate their private owners, but the promises were not kept, and all the industrial enterprises

[Pages 627-628]

and the consumer unions established by the Russians were handed over to German “trust-offices.” The Jews who had been factory owners and merchants, were glad to get a labourer's job in these establishments. Stone houses that had been confiscated by the Russians, were also not returned to their rightful owners, and some among the past house-owners succeeded in getting the post of gatekeeper of their own homes.

Most of the Jews who worked in German institutions did so not for the paltry salary, but to have a work-permit, trusting that it would shield them from a worse fate, especially from being sent to labour-camps.

The Germans referred to labour-camps for Jews, by the fraudulent title “Educational institutions [Erziehungsinstitutionen].” The need for such institutions, according to the head of the secret-police and of the SS, General [Fritz] Katzmann, was as follows:

“Our (the German secret-police) obligation was first of all to fight the widespread, black market activities of the Jews throughout Galicia, especially that of the self-serving, the unemployed and the idlers. The most effective means was establishing forced-labour camps by the leader of the secret-police and the SS. Our best opportunity arose when it was necessary to repair the Thoroughfare [Durchgangsstrasse] DG IV, which was of great significance for the entire southern front, and was in a very poor state of repair…” “On 15th October 1941, we started to establish the camps at the side of the Thoroughfare DG IV, and despite the many obstacles, we established seven new camps within a few weeks, so that we could say in our report that there were 15 such camps, where some 20,000 Jews worked.[”][7]

It appears from the report that education was not the sole purpose of the Germans for moving the Jews to the camps, and that these were not the first camps established at Lwów and its surroundings. Several were created even before 15th September 1941. A small labour-camp (for 30 to 60 labourers) was formed on Herburtów Street, as early as July 1941. A larger camp existed on an urban farm at Sokolniki near Lwów. The Jews worked there in boggy soil and water pools. The camp was organised in mid July 1941, and there were always 200 to 400 Jewish labourers there. The Ukrainian police who oversaw their work were led by the Ukrainian Czubak [Tchubak] and his deputy Jaworski. The Jewish labourers were forced to stand in the middle of the pool, with water reaching up to their knees and above, to uproot the bulrush and hydrophyte, and move them to dry areas. In the winter months, with the increased cold, the work that lasted 12 hours a day, led to serious diseases and a great many deaths. On a monthly basis some 70-80 percent of the labourers were lost to sickness from cold, lack of food and the inhuman conditions of living. Many died from their wounds that were inflicted by the Ukrainians on the “malingerers.” Some were shot by the supervisors. The Jewish Council's labour-office was obliged to supply “replacements” for the dead and the sick. On average, every fortnight about 100 men were sent to fill the gap. The camp policemen stopped all contact between the imprisoned and their families, and with the Jewish community. The camp was tightly closed. No one went in, nor out, except for replacing labourers and the dead. The total secrecy surrounding the Sokolniki camp was maintained throughout its existence. The number of the Jewish victims swallowed up by this camp is not clear, nor is the date of its liquidation. Some say the camp was closed down in December 1941, and others claim that it still functioned during 1942.

The Jews of Lwów were also sent to other labour-camps, such as: Lacki Murowany; Hermanów, west of Lwów; Winniki - Weinbergen and Ostrów; Medike; Unterbergen; Kurowice; Kozaki - near Złoczów [Zolochiv]; Jaktorów - Złoczów district, and others. Most of the Jews did not leave these camps alive, and of the few who did, a large percentage of them were maimed and sick.

The secret police and the SS also established two camps in town. An SS labour-camp, on Czwartaków Street in the SS neighbourhood (between Listopada Street and Potockiego Street), and Janowska Street camp (Janowska Street camp is discussed later on). The camp on Czwartaków Street was renowned for the rough behaviour of the SS men, and their cruel abuse of the Jews. The camp was liquidated in the spring of 1943, after most of the Jews there had been murdered by the SS.

[Pages 629-630]

Chapter 7. The Jewish Ghetto and new Aktionen

In October 1941, the Germans announced the establishment of a Ghetto in Lwów, and allocated the suburbs of Zamarstynów and Kleparów to the north-west of the town, as a specific living district for the Jews, Jüdischer Wohnbezirk. These areas were slums without sewers, water, and generally no electricity. There were only a few large houses there, so most of the accommodations were in decrepit hovels and mud huts, in an area that typically housed paupers, prostitutes and thieves. Here, the raised barrier of the railway separated the suburbs from the town of Lwów. Only four streets joined the suburbs to the town via culverts or tunnels under railway bridges. These streets were Kleparowska, Żródlana, Pełtewna and Zamarstynowska. The topography made the neighbourhoods of Kleparów and Zamarstynów ideal for the ghetto. It was simple to separate them from the town, and supervise the connecting routes. On 15th November 1941, an announcement appeared in the official German Newspaper, Lemberger Zeitung, stating that within one month, from 16th November until 15th December (1941), the Jews had to vacate their homes in all parts of the town, and move to the new ghetto. Pełtewna Street was the one route out of the four that the Jews were permitted to use enroute to the ghetto. Ukrainian police guards and SS men were posted under the railway bridge to check the last few possession the Jews moved to their new abodes. The inspection centre was an old bathhouse turned into a barrack of the German-Ukrainian “garrison.” The inspectors closely checked the continuous stream of Jews carrying their meagre possessions. From morning till dusk convoys of Jews flocked via Pełtewna Street, under the railway bridge, all laden with sacks and packages, or pushing their chattel in a cart or wheelbarrow. Under the railway bridge, known by the Jews as “the bridge of death,” stood patrols of Jew-haters. Anyone whom they considered gaunt, hungry, dressed shoddily, sick or old, was immediately dragged over the fence of the old bathhouse. There he was confronted by supervisors and guards who slapped him and beat him to death. The supervisors included a few Jews who served the Germans. A tall Jewish woman named Malkale was particularly notorious. Anyone whom the guards and checkers did not like, was arrested, beaten up and later moved


Ukrainians' onslaught: “A Jews' hunt”


to the jail on Łącki Street. From there, the victims were victims were flung into freight-wagons, taken to the forest and murdered. In this way the lives of many Jews, including a large number of women, were ended in “the bridge of death” Aktion. This was the first mass Aktion against Jewish women, in Lwów.

It seems that at the time the ghetto was intended to extinguish the lives of thousands of Lwów's Jews, to uproot them and move them from place to place, to create confusion and instil a fear of death among them. For a while the Germans stopped at that, and once the set date for closing the ghetto had passed, 15th December 1941, nothing happened. Most of the Jews had not yet managed to find accommodation “beyond the bridge,” and were left with no choice but to remain in their apartments in the centre of town, waiting in fear for the severe retribution. Although the Germans pretended to have forgotten their order, they nevertheless did not officially annul the ghetto decree. The Jewish Council was therefore forced to manage a protracted negotiation. The community representatives seem to have tried to soften the Germans' intentions with bribes and suitable gifts, but we have no documents or proof of such actions. Clearly, the Germans paid no heed to the ghetto issue, and this “neither here nor there” situation of living with fear in the “forbidden” neighbourhoods continued for almost a year until September 1942.

The number of Jewish residents in Lwów decreased each month

[Pages 631-632]

as a result of he recurring Aktionen, the work recruitment and the movement of people to labour-camps. In addition, people simply chose to leave the town. Many refugees had arrived at Lwów from western Poland during the Soviet rule, but now, it was rumoured that despite the persecution and restrictions, Jewish life was quieter and more settled in the western regions of the Generalgouvernement, than in the areas the Germans had conquered from the Russians. The rumours were indeed true, since at that point the Germans schemed to annihilate only those Jews “infected by Communist propaganda,” seemingly those who had previously lived in areas under Soviet occupation. Refugees who had relatives in the western districts moved there from Lwów. Many of Lwów's residents also decided to leave their big home town and settle in the quieter, small provincial towns. In this way several thousands left Lwów despite the German prohibition. But as their departure was illegal and clandestinely undertaken, their exact number is impossible to determine.


Abuse of Jews


In January-February 1942, the town of Lwów experienced a short, quiet spell, even if not a total calm. Although large murder Aktionen did not take place at the time, “minor-Attionen” continued. One minor Aktion involved the eviction of Jews from Żołkiewska Street and its surroundings, in the middle of winter, from December 1941 to January 1942. The Jews who lived on these streets were suddenly forced to move to the Zniesienie suburb, which was a semi-rural settlement and a longstanding refuge for bandits and robbers. The new residents suffered greatly in their new surrounding that lacked any amenities and personal security. One of Lwów's Jews described his new accommodation as follows:

“A new apartment. Two rooms like mouse-holes. Small hatches embedded in the soil, peek out. Nine souls now reside in this shack. The mustiness is putrid. Years of little air dazes the head. Here we have something the wealthy are proud of: a WC right next to the table… and the stench rises like a bloom. The shack lacks a cellar, but has a potato pit, and the drinking-water well is tens of yards away.

During our stay at Zniesienie, robbers broke in at least 30 times. Every two or three days we were paid another visit by the guests from neighbourhood. They stole anything at hand, including food, heating logs, coal, pieces of furniture, fence posts, etc. Everything was suitable for stealing.[”][8]

During December [1941]-January 1942, the “fur Aktion” also took place. The Germans demanded that the Jews hand over all leather clothing, women's furs, fur-collars, woollen textiles and woollen clothes. All of it was needed for the soldiers fighting for the “fourth Reich,” in the cold parts of Russia. Only the Jews were recruited for this “patriotic Aktion,” and any Jew transgressing the order would face death. Not all the collected furs and fabrics were sent to the fighting soldiers. The administration and the German secret police kept a large quantity of furs, especially luxury furs, for their own use, and for commercial plunder which they sold on the black market. (As previously mentioned, even Dr. Lasch, the Governor of Galicia, was caught personally profiting from the plunder). According to General Katzmann's official report, even after all of the personal plunder, the Germans sent the army 35 rail-carriages filled with furs, from all parts of Galicia. The report does not specify how much of the loot was taken from the Jews of Lwów, and how much from the provincial towns). Those Jews who were caught with secreted furs, were murdered.

Despite everything, the “fur Aktion” was one of the quietest. It caused financial damage, but led to few deaths. There were, however, other minor Aktionen that resulted in a much greater number of deaths. On one occasion the Germans decided to rid the town of its Jewish beggars. Another time they caught orphaned children. Then, they hunted old men and women, for days. The victims of the Aktionen were taken to an undisclosed place, never to be seen again. The kidnap Aktionen did not stop even for a day. Every day 50-100 Jews disappeared without a trace. After the massacres and slaughter of the previous months, the Jews of Lwów treated them with equanimity - a sacrifice to the devil.

[Pages 633-634]

Chapter 8. The Plights of Livelihood, Hunger and Sickness

The German regime completely revolutionised the economic life of the Jews. This was the second economic upheaval the Jewish population underwent since the outbreak of World War II. The first occurred during the Soviet occupation, when, in the socialist manner, all the property and assets of house-owners, industrialists and tradesmen, were confiscated. Other groups, such as clerks, advocates, teachers of religion, etc., had practically lost their livelihoods through the changes in the social order. Many Jews, on the other hand, found employment as labourers, clerks, teachers, etc., within the new trade and industry of the collective regime. The great capitalists, bankers, industrialists and merchants, the functionaries and the former officers, as well as the unemployed (among them many refugees) were considered with suspicion by the Russian regime. Many of these were moved from Lwów to the provincial towns of eastern Galicia or to Russia in 1940-1941. During the Soviet period, the Jewish community in Lwów existed in a state of instability and ever-changing standards. Now, the community


Ukrainian police working the Jews in the destruction of graves in the cemetery


that had previously endured the unsettlement of its economic life, was again faced with far-reaching crises.

Suddenly, most of the clerks, employees, professionals and self-employed professionals were left without a means of livelihood. All of the collective economic institutions automatically passed to the Ukrainian and German authorities, and they laid off all the Jews. The sole remaining avenue open to the Jews was hard physical labour, mostly forced-labour that did not pay enough to sustain the workers. Even where Jews were paid for their labour, it was purely symbolic, too meagre to sustain life. The remaining Jewish capital, on the other hand, was eroded by the contribution [Kontribution] payment and other extortions. The expulsions and transfers between living quarters resulted in grave financial damage to most families, many of whom lost their breadwinners when sons and fathers were taken as forced-labour and to camps. There was no steady source of financial income open to Jews. Most of them were left to follow a makeshift existence dependent on the sale of chattel still in their possession. They sold furniture, clothes, underwear, gold and silver items and anything they managed to conceal from their persecutors. Once their “merchandise” had run out, they were reduced to the level of beggars and relied on public or private charity. Others, under mortal danger, tried to earn a living through temporary, covert dealings in the blackmarket, etc. (Such an “economic strategy” was naturally unsustainable, and short-lived.).

This however, was not the end of the Jews' economic tribulations. The Germans introduced the use of grocery-card which rationed the supply of food to the population. The food portions varied according to their nation status. The Jews received only 10% of the ingredients provided for the Germans, that was 50% of the portion which the Poles or the Ukrainians received.

The food ration allotted to the Jews consisted of, 1,400 gm. bread per week, an amount that was later reduced to 1,050, then to 700, and eventually to 500 gm. Sugar as allocated at 250 gm. and later 100 gm. per month, and there was half a kg. of black salt (“salt for animals”) once in two or three months. Rations included 200-400 gm. of mouldy flour (black flour known by the Germans as

[Pages 635-636]

“Proof” how the Jews evade deportation
(from the documents folder of the oppressor [Fritz] Katzmann)


“Jews' flour” Judenmehl), or alternatively the same quantity of groats, only once in two months. Other items included half a litre vinegar, sometimes 200 gm. red beetroot jam, a box of matches, a small quantity of mustard, and rarely a small quantity of other groceries devoid of nutritional value. In the winter of 1941, the Jews received 25 kg. potatoes per person. The Jews were not given any wood or coal for heating, and were obliged to purchase these from the grocery shops intended only for Jews, established by the Jewish Council. Jews were permitted to buy unrestricted amount of vegetables from the markets in the town, but their shopping time was restricted to two hours in the afternoon, by which time most of the market produce had been sold. Since the official provision did not satisfy the needs, a section of the Jewish population who could still afford to, purchased groceries on the black market. The prices on the black market shot up without control. In 1941, the price of a loaf of bread (1400gm.) cost 30 to 40 Gulden, 1 kg. butter was 200 Gulden, a box of matches 1.50 Gulden, etc. Apart from the high costs, buying on the black market also involved mortal danger as the Germans ruthlessly pursued offenders. The Poles caught with goods or buying on the black market, were sent to jail or a camp. Jews caught for the same transgression were murdered. One woman, Mrs. Barabasz (a Latin teacher at the Jewish gymnasium, wife of the renowned Polonist, Dr. Barabasz) attempted to purchase several kilograms of potatoes from a Christian gatekeeper, and she was caught redhanded by the Gestapo. She was immediately taken to jail, never to return. Similar incidents are known about other Jews.

However, as the Jews' funds ran out, they had to contend with the official food portion. They suffered from, and became worn down by

hunger, lack of decent accommodations, the cold, their thin, worn clothes, the endless moving and the physical and moral torments. Fatal diseases spread among the children, particularly among the poor, wretched orphans who had lost their parents in Aktionen. Everything was stolen from them; they had no home or possessions. They roamed the streets, naked and destitute, as they tried to earn some meagre amount through begging “trade” and even theft. Many people dropped dead in the streets. A member of the Jewish Council calculated, on the basis of the statistics of deaths from hunger, sickness and suicide, and taking into account of the low birth rate, that also without the Aktionen, no Jew would be left in Lwów within five years.[9] However, even this pessimistic calculation was wrong as the natural growth had come to a complete halt during 1942-1943. According to an estimate by Jewish physicians

[Pages 637-638]

at Lwów, more than 50% (others suggested 90%) of women no longer menstruated. Sixty to eighty per cent of the ghetto inhabitants in 1942-1943 were swollen from hunger. Many fell victim to typhoid, tuberculosis and scurvy.

No organised public aid could alleviate


Aktion Petliura near the cathedral of the Metropolitan [Andrey] Sheptytsky


this mass disaster. The “Jewish social assistance” and the community's welfare department, had a very limited budget. The employees of these institutions were helpless, and despite their dedication, they could only help a few individuals. They were also powerless to halt the overall catastrophe, as the German policy of extermination and extortion eliminated any possibility of effective assistance. Even the fight to cure the sick was unsuccessful under these conditions. The Jewish hospital named after [Maurycy] Lazarus on Rappaporta Street, was confiscated by the Germans immediately after their arrival, and they did not permit the Jews to transfer furniture or medical equipment to the new hospital. Yet, the Jews managed to establish three small medical clinics. These included the hospital in the school named after Tadeusz Czacki [Tzatzki], on Alembeków Street, a second hospital in a school on Kuszewicza Street, and a hospital for infectious diseases at 112 Zamarstynowska Street. Each day, the injured and disabled, the seriously ill, the dying and the starving were brought to the clinics from their places of “work” and the camps.


All notes in square brackets [ ] were made by the translator.
Notes framed in the brackets { } contain comments provided by the author.
The spelling of most individuals' names in Pt. IV; Chapter 4, were taken from a local directory of Lwów from 1935/6.

Translator's note:

  1. A misprint in the original. Should say Sept. 1941 Return

Original notes:

  1. Izak Lewin Aliti MeSpezia [Tel-Aviv, 1947] p. 61. Return
  2. Quoted in the above mentioned book by Izak Lewin, the son of Dr. Jecheskiel Lewin. Izak Lewin translated his father's speech from Polish to Ukrainian. Return
  3. Isaac Farber, “Cronika Shel Ish Lwów [Chronicle of a Lwów man - the Community's Sufferings during the Nazi Occupation]” Reshimot Vol. I, New series, [Tel-Aviv, 1946,] p. 7. Return
  4. Maltiel [-Gerstenfeld, Jacob. Be'ain Nakam… Tel-Aviv Am Oved, 1947], p. 53. Return
    1. The law regarding the occupied territories of Poland, dated 17th September 1940, Reichsgesetzblatt, Vol. 1, 1910, Chapter 6, Clause 2, p. 1270. Return
  5. Maltiel [-Gerstenfeld], op.cit. p. 29. Return
  6. About his activity, see: Izak Lewin Aliti MeSpezia [Tel-Aviv 1947]. (the writer was one of these saved by Sheptytsky). Return
  7. [Fritz] Katzmann's report of 30th June 1943 to General [Friedrich Wilhelm] Krüger, head of the secret police and the SS at the Generalgouvernement. Return
  8. Maltiel, [-Gerstenfeld, Jacob. Be'ain Nakam… Tel-Aviv Am Oved, 1947], pp. 63; 64. Return
  9. Maltiel, op. cit. p. 143. Return
  10. Maltiel [-Gerstenfeld, Jacob], op. cit. p. 245. Return
  11. Szlojme Mayer: Der Untergang fun Zloczów [Munich 1947]. pp. 21-2. Return
  12. J. Blitz, a Yiddish writer who was among the Tarnopol refugees, and who survived, recounted the shocking event in detail in his testimony that was published in the newspaper Dos naje Lebn, Łódż, in 1945. Return
  13. E. Unger: Zechor [Massada, Tel Aviv 1944/5] pp. 190-191. Return
  14. Warszawski Dziennik Narodowy 1937, 36. Return


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