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Lublin Umschlagplatz

Last Update 8 September 2006

Umschlagplatz in 2004
About 26,000 Jews were deported to the death camp in Belzec between 17 March and 11 April 1942 from the Lublin ghetto. They were all taken from the gathering point in the Great Synagogue on Jateczna Street in the centre of the ghetto, and had to walk a distance of 4-5 km to the ramp which was located near the town slaughterhouse, a modern factory built in Lublin in 1927.
The ramp had been used solely for industrial purposes until the time of the German occupation. The building and the ramp were hidden from the view of the inhabitants of the city. Even Polish employees who worked in the slaughterhouse were not able to see the details of the deportation, because the ramp was surrounded by the walls of the factory buildings and by barbed wire.

Former Slaughterhouse in 2004
According to Polish employees who worked in the slaughterhouse at that time, only the screams of hundreds of people and the firing of machine guns could be heard. Trains carrying the deportees departed early every morning. On occasion, some trains stood at the ramp for 2-3 days and from the overcrowded cattle cars the screams and cries of the imprisoned people could be heard. There were no bodies of the people who had been shot to be seen, since the corpses of those killed at the Umschlagplatz were loaded into the cattle cars together with those deportees still alive and awaiting transport.
Rumours about the fate of the Lublin Jews who had been taken to the Umschlagplatz were spread by Polish railway workers. These told of the many people who had been killed or already died in the trains there. Some Jews tried to break free from the Umschlagplatz, attempting to hide in the slaughterhouse, but there was no escape for them. As a military organization producing meat for the German army, the factory was under the supervision of the Wehrmacht. Everybody working there was strictly checked by German soldiers and policemen. During the time of the deportations, the buildings of the factory were subject to especially rigorous inspection. Anybody attempting to escape was arrested and once again taken to the Umschlagplatz.

There is no testimony available from anybody who escaped from the Umschlagplatz. During post-war investigations and trials, even the SS men who were responsible for the deportations from the Lublin ghetto failed to provide any details about this place.

Former Ramp in 2004
Memorial in 2004
The location was totally forgotten after the war. Only in the last several years a group of people from Lublin started to discuss the commemoration of the site. In 1990, a modest memorial was built at the Umschlagplatz a symbolic railway ramp and a memorial plaque were dedicated.
The entrance to the site is still restricted (2004). The Lublin Umschlagplatz is located on the grounds of the former slaughterhouse factory which subsequently became bankrupt. Anybody wishing to visit the site requires permission from the liquidator of the factory.
All of the surrounding buildings are derelict and nobody cares for this place. The liquidator of the meat company has agreed that the Umschlagplatz should be commemorated in a suitable manner. He is prepared to discuss the possibility of selling the site to somebody who would create a more appropriate memorial. Today, only a few individuals in Lublin know that there was an Umschlagplatz for the Lublin ghetto and for its Jews, the first victims of Aktion Reinhard.

© ARC 2005