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Lviv Ghetto

Last Update 22 July 2006

Lwow Ghetto
Lviv Ghetto
L'viv (Lwow / Lvov) was the third largest Jewish community in pre-war Poland. Prior to 1939 nearly 110,000 Jews lived in the town. Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. On 17 September 1939 the Soviets invaded Poland too. The Soviet invasion was a result of the Hitler - Stalin Pact. Lviv capitulated to the Soviet army and remained under Soviet occupation until 30 June 1941. During this time the number of Jewish residents in Lwow increased to 160,000. Around 100,000 Jews living in German occupied Poland fled to Lviv and its environs.

Under the Soviet occupation, Jews officially had equal status with other nationalities. Some collaborated with the Soviet authorities, others were persecuted. In April 1940 hundreds of Lviv Jews and refugees were deported to Siberia when they refused to take up Soviet citizenship. Jewish political activists were arrested.

Zamarstynowska #2
Zamarstynowska #2 *
Zamarstynowska #1
Zamarstynowska #1 *
German forces occupied Lviv on 30 June 1941, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June. The Ukrainian population celebrated the German occupation, by installing banners and garlands. Immediately after this occupation Polish and Ukrainian anti-Semites (of whom the Ukrainians formed the majority) organized a pogrom in Lviv, together with members of the Einsatzgruppe C. Ukrainian nationalists informed the population of the town that these mass executions were retribution for the mass executions carried out in Lviv's prisons by the NKVD (People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs) during the last days of Soviet occupation. The Ukrainians accused the Jews of helping the NKVD with the
Humiliated Jews
Humiliated Jews at the Opera *
Resettlement Map
Pogrom at Kopernika
arrest and execution of "Ukrainian patriots". In truth, the majority of those killed were Polish nationalists and intellectuals, although there were also Ukrainians and Jews among the victims. During the four week pogrom nearly 4,000 Jews were killed in Lviv.

Some of these mass executions were carried out by Einsatzgruppen. Groups of Polish professors from Lviv universities were also killed.
In July 1941 Lviv’s Jews had to wear a badge with a blue Star of David. In the same month the Judenrat was established. Its first
Riots in July 1941 *
chairman was the lawyer Josef Parnes. He was executed by the Gestapo in November 1941 for his refusal to turn over Jews for forced labour. His successor was Henryk Landsberg.

Humiliated Jews
Humiliated Jews at the Town Hall

On 25 July 1941 Ukrainian nationalists organized the next pogrom in Lviv - the so called "Petlura Days" (named after Semen Petlura, hetman of Ukraine at the end of WW1, who organized anti-Jewish pogroms in this country. After WW1 he was killed by a Jew in France). During the "Petlura Days" nearly 2,000 Jews were killed in Lviv. On 2 October 1941 the first 500 Jewish men were recruited as forced labour for the German Armament Works (Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke - DAW Lemberg) in Lviv. They were employed constructing a work camp on Janowska Street.

Resettlement Map
1941 Resettlement Map
Riots in July 1941 #2
Jewish Women behind the Fence *
On 8 November 1941, the German civilian administration issued the order to establish a ghetto in Lviv. All Jews were forced to move into the ghetto before 15 December 1941. The German police organized selections on Peltewna Street during this time. Nearly 5,000 elderly and sick Jews were selected and shot. This "action" was called "Action under the bridge". At this time there were between 110,000 and 120,000 Jews in the ghetto.

The first deportation of Jews from the Lviv Ghetto to the Belzec death camp was organized between 16 March and 1 April 1942. Prior to deportation the forced labourers were registered in the ghetto. Around 15,000 Lviv Jews were deported at this time to Belzec. Most were elderly and religious people, and women with children. They were assembled in the courtyard of the Sobieski School and after selection they were taken to Kleparow railway station, near the Janowska camp, from where the deportation trains departed for Belzec. Officially this action was called "action against antisocial elements". Together with the deportations from the Lublin ghetto, which were carried out at the same time, this transport from the Lviv Ghetto was the first one during Aktion Reinhard.
After this deportation around 86,000 Jews officially remained in the ghetto. There were also a large number of "illegal" Jews in the ghetto. Workshops were set up. Large numbers of Jews worked for the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and the German civil administration outside the ghetto.
On 24/25 June 1942 the "Great Round-Up" (Großrazzia) was carried out in the ghetto by the Germans. Around 2,000 Jews were taken to the Janowska camp. Only 120 of them were selected for forced labour. Others were executed on the "Sands" (Piaski) near the camp.

Hanged Jews in Lviv
Hanged Jews in Lviv *
Between 10 and 31 August 1942 the "Great Action" was carried out. Prior to this action hundreds of forced labourers were taken to Janowska and to the small work camp on Czwartakow Street in the SS and Police district of Lviv. During the "Great Action" between 40,000 and 50,000 Jews were deported to Belzec. The assembly points for the deportations were on Teodor Square, at Sobieski School and on the square in front of the Janowska camp. Nearly 1,600 men were selected for forced labour and they were concentrated at the camp on Janowska Street. Other people were deported daily from Kleparow railway station to Belzec. About 1,000 people were shot in the ghetto, among them the children from the orphanage and patients from the Jewish hospitals. The round-ups in the ghetto were organized by the SS, Ukrainian and Jewish police. On 1 September 1942, following the last deportations, the Gestapo publicly hanged Henryk Landsberg, chairman of Lviv’s Judenrat, and Jewish policemen. They were no longer needed after the "Great Action".

Zamarstynowska Street
Former Ghetto Entrance
at Zamarstynowska Street
Jewish Quarter
Jewish Quarter
At the beginning of September 1942 there were still around 65,000 Jews in the ghetto, among them around 15,000 "illegals". Some Jews hid in the sewers of Lviv and with help from local Poles survived until liberation. The heavily guarded ghetto was surrounded by barbed wire. The living conditions were extremely primitive with lack of water and medical aid and overcrowded accommodation. In late autumn 1942 a typhus epidemic spread throughout the ghetto. At the beginning of November all Jews were "barracked", according to profession. Only people with work cards could stay officially in the ghetto.
On 18 November 1942 the SS carried out a selection. Around 5,000 "unproductive" Jews were arrested and deported to Belzec. The Jewish hospital was liquidated and its head, Dr Kurzrock, was sent to the Janowska camp. Between 5 and 7 January 1943 the next "action" was carried out. 15,000-20,000 Jews, including the last members of the Judenrat, were taken to the "Sands" where they were executed. The Germans proclaimed, that only Jews with a work permit could remain within the ghetto which was then reclassified as a forced labour camp. The Judenrat was dissolved. During this "action" the SS set houses on fire with the purpose of flushing Jews out of hiding. Many Jews were burnt to death.

Assembled for Forced Labour
Assembled for Forced Labour *
The work camp within the former ghetto only existed until 1 June 1943. There were still "illegal" Jews remaining after the selections. During the final liquidation of the labour camp within the ghetto the Jews organized an armed resistance, killed and wounded several policemen. In addition to the SS, German and Ukrainian police units of the Hitlerjugend participated in the liquidation of the ghetto. The SS and police blew up the ghetto buildings and set them on fire when they met resistance. They did the same to bunkers where large numbers of Jews hid. Around 7,000 Jews were taken to Janowska camp and after selection most were shot on the "Sands". Probably some of the group were deported to Sobibor. 3,000 Jews were killed in the ghetto during its liquidation.
The last of Lviv’s Jews were gathered at Janowska, where they were executed on 18 November 1943, during the Aktion Erntefest. When on 26 July 1944 the Soviet Army entered Lviv, only 200-300 Jews had survived in hiding in the town and its environs.

Memorial Plaque on the Site of the Golden Rose Synagogue with Grafitti 'Death to the Jews'
Memorial Plaque
Mezuzah Doorway with Townhall
Mezuzah Doorway with Townhall
One of Lviv’s most famous residents was Simon Wiesenthal who, with his wife Cyla, was moved from the ghetto to Janowska. Towards the middle of 1942, Wiesenthal and his wife were assigned to forced labour at the eastern railway repair shops. Simon Wiesenthal's mother, aged 63, was deported in August 1942 to Belzec, and his wife's mother was shortly thereafter shot by a Ukrainian police auxiliary on the steps of her house in the ghetto. Simon Wiesenthal survived the horror of Janowska and imprisonment in Groß-Rosen, Buchenwald, and Mauthausen. After liberation Simon Wiesenthal dedicated his life to bringing to justice Nazis guilty of war crimes. He played a leading part in the arrest and trial of Franz Paul Stangl, commandant of Treblinka, as well as bringing to justice other Aktion Reinhard leaders like Hermann Höfle and Ernst Lerch, responsible for the killing of 1.8 Million Jews in the death camps in East Poland. Odilo Globocnik, head of all extermination camps in Poland, was arrested by Allied troops in Austria in May 1945 where he committed suicide. Wiesenthal was also involved in the arrest and capture of Adolf Eichmann.

More Lviv comparison photos.

Sergei Nikolsky *

Encyclopedia of the Holocaust
Tatiana Berenstein: Eksterminacja ludnosci zydowskiej w dystrykcie Galicja (1941-1943). "Bulletin of the Jewish Historical Insitute in Warsaw", 1967.
Wlodzimierz Bonusiak: Malopolska Wschodnia pod rzadami Trzeciej Rzeszy (Eastern Malopolska Under the Rule of the Third Reich). Rzeszow 1990.
David Kahane: Lvov Ghetto Diary. Amherst 1990.
Aleksander Kruglov: Deportacja ludnosci zydowskiej z Dystryktu Galicja do obozu zaglady w Belzcu. (The Deportation of the Jewish Population from Galicia District to the Death Camp in Belzec): "Bulletin of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw", No. 3 (1989).
Thomas Sandkühler: "Endlösung" in Galizien. Der Judenmord in Ostpolen und die Rettungsinitiative von Berthold Beitz 1941-1944. Bonn 1996.
Simon Wiesenthal - Justice not Vengeance. London 1989

120,000 Jews lived in the ghetto

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