« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 203]

Chapter 8

The Annihilation of the City



January 12th, 1942 The Jewish section “Blich” became a closed ghetto and included Jews from villages in the Sambor district
January 1943 Attempts to organize a Jewish underground and acquisition of arms
February 15th, 1943 Four Hundred Fifty Jews were led to Radlowice and cruelly murdered
April 10th – April 14th, 1943 Aktion and mass execution of 1,200 men, women and children at the Sambor cemetery
May 22nd – May 23rd, 1943 More than 1,000 Jews were sent to their deaths in the Belzec extermination camp
June 6th, 1943 The final mass aktion. Final liquidation of the ghetto and the murder of the remaining Jews of Sambor and the district
Annihilation of the Remains
June 23rd, 1943 About 100 people who were in hiding were captured in murdered in the Jewish cemetery
July 6th, 1943 About 40 Jews were captured and murdered
July 22nd, 1943 About 25 Jews were captured and murdered


[Page 204]

From occupation to occupation

by Toni Nacht (Halperin)

Translated by Susan Rosin

The Germans occupied Sambor at the start of the World War II in September 1939, stayed about two weeks and at the end of the month the town was occupied by the Russians, an occupation that lasted until the end of June, 1941 (a year and nine months).


The Soviet occupation

The Russians confiscated all the homes and businesses in town and banned all Zionist organizations. Wealthy Jews were exiled to Siberia.

The pharmacist Rella Selinger, her husband and their little daughter committed suicide to prevent their exile to Siberia, a tragedy that hit the town hard. The Siberian exile caused much anxiety and fear among the middle class.

Life was dark and gloomy and the general atmosphere was that of anxiety and depression. Long lines formed due to the lack of basic food items.

The Soviets trusted the Jews more than the Poles or Ukrainians. Government positions were given to Jews. This fact caused even more anger and hate towards the Jews among the Poles and Ukrainians when the Russians retreated.

A few days before the German invasion of Sambor in June of 1941, the Russian arrested the leaders of the Ukrainian nationalist movement, murdered them and left the bodies at the jail.


The German occupation

As soon as the Germans invaded at the end of June 1941, the Ukrainian hatred towards the Jews exploded. The Ukrainian nationalists organized and were given a free rein to start pogroms against the Jews. They raided the streets, homes and yards, captured Jews, beat them, brought them to the jail and forced them to remove the decayed Ukrainian bodies. Some of the captured Jews fainted, others were wounded and some were murdered. This was the first massacre following the German invasion which shocked the population greatly.

At the same time the Germans started organizing their actions against the Jews. The decrees were posted for all to see. The first one was to order all Jews to wear a white armband with a blue star of David on their right sleeve. Afterwards they were ordered to hand–over all their valuables – furs, radios, silver and gold. Those who did not comply would be subject to punishment by death.

Homes were searched, curfew hours were announced and Jews were prohibited from taking the train. A Judenrat (“Jewish council”) was established at the end of June 1941 and was headed by the lawyer dr. Shimshon Schneidscher. The other members were: Dr. Halperin, Dr. Frei, Dr. Zausner , Becker , Lerrer, Schnur, and others. A Jewish police force was also established headed by Stahl.

The first massive aktion took place on August 4th, 1942. Beforehand, Jews from the surrounding areas were brought to Sambor and were squeezed into the stables that were previously used by the Polish army.

[Page 205]

Leading the aktion, which began in the early morning hours in the Jewish quarter “Blich”, was Krieger, head of the Gestapo in Stanisławów. Shouting and screaming, the Jews were caught and led to the railway station in Sambor. There, they were pushed and squeezed into cattle cars and transported to the death camp in Belzec. Hundreds of people were brought from the city center to the sports square near the railway station.

We all stood in groups of fours, the old, women and children, without distinction. Since there were not enough cars for them all, the Germans divided the lines in half – the first half were directed to the cars and the second transferred to the Polish army's stables. Some thousand people were crowded into this space which was guarded by armed Nazis and Ukrainians.

On August 6th, the Jews held in the stables were moved to the railway station and squeezed into cattle cars and transported to Belzec.

On August 15th, 1942 I obtained Arian papers and escaped to Warsaw. From August 1944 and until the end of the war in May 1945 I was in the Sachsenhausen, Ravensbrück, and Oranienburg concentration camps.

In 1947 I immigrated to Israel.

When Ukrainians Get Wild

by Dolek Frei

Translated by Susan Rosin

For a number of weeks radio London broadcasted about the impending German attack on the Soviet Union. However, the Soviet press treated these warnings as simply a capitalist propaganda. These predictions came true on June 22nd, 1941. The following days will stay with me as long as I live. I will not describe here the tragic historical events, the magnitude of which was not seen before, but my personal experiences which reflect to some extent the fate of Sambor's Jews.

Although these were warm, sunny and bright days of June, I remember those days as cold, and dark. The bestial cruelty and brutality must have cast a dark shadow on those bright days.

Russian guards patrolled the streets. The long lines of the retreating Soviet army were the sign of the tragedy to come.

My friend Itzhak Trau and I found a refuge in the house of the priest Bilinski. From the windows we could see the new reality:

A German soldier plays cheerful tunes on grand piano in the street; a German soldier on horseback drags an injured and bleeding person with a long rope.

We spent the days in conversations with the priest's family and chess games.

A strange and unnatural calm was around us.

Upon coming home the priest showed signs of worry, and we could hear whispers among the family members. Unrest could be felt throughout the house.

We were playing chess when the door suddenly opened by a gang of young armed Ukrainians. They listened to the priest who begged them not to beat us, but they ordered us to come with them.

Outside it became clear to us that a pogrom was in progress in town.

Gangs of incited Ukrainians were abusing beaten and bleeding Jews. Our captors consulted the new Ukrainian “ruler” that ordered to transfer us to jail.

We were led to the corridor and saw the ex–judge Kozbor, who for a while was a temporary starosta and was friendly with Trau's father. My friend begged the judge: “Mr. Counselor, please save us”. But Kozbor ignored us and left.

The jail gates opened and then closed behind us. What we saw inside was unimaginable: Ukrainian gangs were beating Jews with iron rods and rifle butts.

Ukrainian bodies were piled up at the edge of the yard,

[Page 206]

victims of the retreating Stalinist murderers. A terrible stanch was everywhere. Because of the blood dripping from our faces after the beating we could not see much of the surrounding. In spite of the pain, a strong will to save ourselves and live arose and I concentrated all my thoughts and efforts in that direction, but it seemed impossible. Through my blurred vision I noticed a single horse hitched to a cart with a crate full of bodies. The crate swayed from side to side. An armed Ukrainian ordered my friend Trau to support the crate. I jumped and supported the crate on the other side.

The cart started moving towards the prison gates and with that the “gates of life” opened and a spark of hope not to be tortured to death.

Two rows of Ukrainians stood outside the jail area and they were beating us as we passed.

We walked towards Paszmiska street between the rows of beating Ukrainians soaked in our own blood supporting the crate from both sides. A friend from school, Nikolai Holobei was passing nearby. He was a Ukrainian nationalist but remained human even during the most difficult circumstances. I yelled “please save us”. He nodded but continued walking.

We reached the cemetery where deep pits were already dug. The cart stopped and a Ukrainian thug ordered us to unload the crate, but all our efforts were unsuccessful.

The thug removed his rifle, ordered us to stand next to a tree and told us he had an order to shoot us. Just then, like in a tragic tale, we heard somebody shouting “Frei, Trau”.

Without paying attention to what was happening around us we sprinted and started running towards the voices that called our names. In front of us we saw a person we did not recognize.

The thug and the rescuer started a heated argument. The thug was screaming that he had orders to shoot us whereas the rescuer told him he was the head of the Ukrainian police (which was untrue) and had orders to return us to the authorities. At last, the thug gave–up and let us go.

The rescuer whispered that he came to save us and pointing his rifle towards us led us to town whereas at the same time many Jews were being led to the cemetery.

It turned out that the rescuer was sent to save us by his brother Nikolai Holobei.

After a short walk we arrived at the house of Holobei. His wife dressed our wounds, fed us and took care of us. She also stood in front of the house and told any of the rioting gangs that there were no Jews around.

After a few days, the Ukrainian pogrom which claimed many lives stopped. Unfortunately, these were the first victims, but not the last.

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.

JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Sambir, Ukraine     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page

Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Jason Hallgarten

Copyright © 1999-2022 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 10 Apr 2016 by JH