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Introduction

Janowska was a German Nazi labor, transit and concentration camp established September 1941 in occupied Poland on the outskirts of Lwów (Poland, today Lviv in Ukraine). The camp was labeled Janowska after the nearby street's name ulica Janowska, nowadays Shevchenka street - Ukrainian?????? ????????.

The city of Lwów, Poland (now LvivUkraine) was occupied by the Soviet Union in September 1939 (after the invasion of Poland at the beginning of World War II), under the terms of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. At that time, there were over 330,000 Jews residing in Lwów, including over 90,000 Jewish children and infants. Over 150,000 of these Jews were refugees from the Nazi-occupied part of Poland. In June of 1941, however, the German Army occupied Lwów as part of the Operation Barbarossa invasion. Almost no Jews were alive at the end of the war, many being horrifically tormented and tortured before they were murdered.

During the Lwów/Lemberg massacre of June 1941, the retreating Soviets killed about 7,000 Polish and Ukrainian prisoners who were being held in three prisons (BrygidkiZamarstynów, ??ckiego) in Lwów. The Germans blamed the massacre on the Jews and used the NKVD's atrocity as propaganda to incite a first pogrom in which over 4,000 Jews were killed. A further 7,000 Jews were murdered by the GermanEinsatzgruppen.

The onset of the Nazi regime let loose a wave of antisemitic feeling. Encouraged by the German army, local Ukrainian nationalists murdered about 5,500 Jews during the second Lviv pogrom in early July 1941. On July 25-27, 1941, a second pogrom took place, known as the "Petliura Days", named for Symon Petliura. For three straight days, Ukrainian militants went on a murderous rampage through the Jewish districts of Lwów. Groups of Jews were herded out to the Jewish cemetery and to the prison on ??ckiego street where they were shot. More than 2,000 Jews were killed and thousands more were injured.

In early November 1941, the Nazis closed off northern portions of the city of Lwów into a ghetto. German police shot and killed thousands of elderly and sick Jews as they crossed under the rail bridge on Pe?tewna Street (which was called bridge of death by Jews), while they were on their way to the ghetto. In March 1942, the Nazis began to deport Jews from the ghetto to the Belzec extermination camp. By August 1942, more than 65,000 Jews had been deported from the Lwów ghetto and killed. In early June 1943, the Germans destroyed and liquidated the ghetto.

In addition to the Lwów ghetto, in September 1941, the Germans set up a D.A.W. (Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke - the German Armament Works) workshop in prewar Steinahus' mill machines factory on 134 Janowska Street, in northwestern suburbs of Lwów (that time in German-occupied southeastern Poland, now in western Ukraine). This factory became a part of a network of factories, owned and operated by the SS. The commandant of the camp was SS-Haupsturmführer Fritz Gebauer. Jews who worked at this factory were used as forced laborers, mainly working in carpentry and metalwork.

In October 1941, the Nazis established a concentration camp beside the factory, which housed the forced laborers. Thousands of Jews from the Lwów ghetto were forced to work as slave laborers in this camp. When the Lwów ghetto was liquidated by the Nazis, the ghetto's inhabitants who were fit for work were sent to the Janowska camp; the rest were deported to the Belzec camp for extermination.

In addition to being a forced-labor camp for Jews, Janowska was a transit camp (Durchgangslager Janowska) during the mass deportations of Polish Jews to the killing centers in 1942. Jews underwent a selection process in Janowska camp similar to that used at Auschwitz-Birkenauand Majdanek extermination camps. Those classified as fit to work remained at Janowska for forced labor. The majority, rejected as unfit for work, were deported to Belzec and killed or were shot at the Piaski ravine, located just north of the camp. In the summer and fall of 1942, thousands of Jews (mainly from the Lwów ghetto) were deported to Janowska and killed in the Piaski ravine.

The evacuation of the Janowska camp began in November 1943. As the Germans attempted to destroy the traces of mass murder (Sonderaktion 1005), they forced the prisoners to open the mass graves and burn the bodies in Lesienicki forest. On November 19, 1943, inmates staged an uprising against the Nazis and attempted a mass escape. A few succeeded in escaping, but most were recaptured and killed. The SS staff and their local auxiliaries murdered at least 6,000 Jews who had survived the uprising killings, as well as Jews in other forced labor camps in Galicia, at the time of the Janowska camp's liquidation.

Bone Crushing Machine

Members of a Sonderkommando 1005 unit pose next to a bone crushing machine in the Janowska concentration camp

Brygidki

Brygidki is the building of a former Bridgettine nunnery in LvivUkraine. It was founded in 1614 at the behest of Anna Fastkowska and Anna Poradowska for girls from noble families. After thePartition of Poland the Austrian administration decided to secularise the convent. In 1784 the Brygidki building was turned into a prison, where death sentences would be carried out on a regular basis until the 1980s.

Taken over by the Soviet Union after Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, the prison was one of three sites of mass murder of political prisoners by NKVD in Ukraine in June 1941 as the Soviets were retreating before the Nazi German invasion. Approximately 7,000 prisoners - primarily Poles and Ukrainians - died in Lviv in that event.

Amongst those who perished on June 30, 1941, was Fr. Zynoviy Kovalyk, whom the NKVD arrested in December for the sermon he gave on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8). While they shot the rest of the prisoners, they decided to treat Fr. Kovalyk like his Lord by crucifying him in front of his fellow prisoners. When German troops had conquered Lviv, many people hastened to the prison in the hope of finding their relatives. According to witnesses, the most terrible sight was that of seeing the priest nailed to the prison wall. Even worse, someone had slit his belly open and placed a dead human fetus inside of it.

The prison courtyard still contains a Baroque chapel from the former convent. There are plans to shut down the infamous prison or to move it out of the city.

Kazimierz Bartel

Kazimierz W?adys?aw Bartel (Polish pronunciation: [ka??imj?? ?bart?l];

3 March 1882 – 26 July 1941

was a Polish mathematician and politician who served as Prime Minister of Poland three times between 1926 and 1930.

He was born in Lemberg (Lwów) Austria-Hungary 3 March 1882. After completing secondary school he studied at the Lviv Polytechnic in the Mechanical Engineering Department. He graduated in 1907 and soon became an assistant in Descriptive Geometry. By 1914 he was a professor at his alma mater.

Conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I, in 1918 he returned to Lemberg. In 1919, as commander of railway troops, he fought in the defense of Lemberg against the Ukrainian siege. Bartel was a friend and supporter of Poland's leader and commander-in-chief,Józef Pi?sudski.

Appointed Minister of Railways (1919–1920), in 1922–1930 he was a member of Poland's Sejm(parliament). After Józef Pi?sudski's May coup d'etat (1926) he became prime minister and held this post during three broken tenures: 1926, 1928–29,1929–1930. He was Deputy Prime Minister between 1926–1928 and Minister of Religious Beliefs and Public Enlightenment, when Pi?sudski himself assumed the premiership, however Bartel was in fact de facto prime minister during this period as Pi?sudski did not concern himself with the day to day functions of the cabinet and government.

In 1930 he gave up politics and returned to academia. In 1930 he became rector of the Lwów Polytechnic and was soon awarded an honorary doctorate and membership in the Polish Mathematical Association.

In this period he published his most important writings, among them a series of lectures on perspective in European painting throughout the ages. In 1937 he was appointed a senator of Poland and held this post until the war broke out.

After the invasion of Poland by the Soviet and subsequent occupation he was allowed to continue giving lectures at the Lwów Polytechnical Institute. In 1940 he was appointed to Moscow and offered a seat in the Soviet parliament. He refused and returned to Lwów.

Soon after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, on 30 June 1941 the Wehrmacht entered Lwów. Kazimierz Bartel was arrested two days later and imprisoned in Gestapo prison. The Nazis made him an offer to create a Polish puppet government with himself as the head. He refused and, by order of Heinrich Himmler, was shot at the Brygidki prison on 26 July 1941, shortly after the mass murder of his colleagues ended. His place of burial remains unknown.

3 March 1882 – 26 July 1941

Janowska - Lvov


View of the Janowska Camp (photo circa 2005)In September 1941 the Germans set up a factory at 134 Janowska Street in the suburbs of Lvov to service the needs of the German Army. Soon after, they expanded it into a network of factories as part of the German Armaments Works (DAW), a division of the SS. From its inception Jews from Lvov were utilised as forced labourers in these factories and by the end of October 1941, six hundred Jews were working there.

 

At that point, the character of the factories changed, a forced Jewish labour Camp (Juden- Zwangsarbeitslager) was established. The area became a restricted camp, enclosed by barbed wire, and the Jewish workers were not permitted to leave. The Janowska camp complex consisted of three sections. The first comprised the garages, workshops and offices, with a separate villa for the camp staff, SS/SD and the Ukrainian guards. At the centre of this section stood the villa of the camp commandant

 The second section was the camp proper, here barracks, each housing 2,000 inmates, were erected for the Jewish workers. The conditions in the barracks were appalling. Prisoners slept on the ground or on planks. Sanitation was primitive, resulting in permanent conditions of disease and sporadic outbreaks of epidemics. Many prisoners died of starvation – rations consisted of black coffee substitute in the morning, a midday meal of watery soup, containing unpeeled potatoes and 200 grams of bread in the evening.

The third section of the camp consisted of the DAW factories. A barbed wire fence separated the three camp sections from each other, and the entire camp was surrounded with a double barbed-wire fence illuminated with searchlights.  Watchtowers were placed all around the camp at fifty meters intervals, with armed Ukrainians and SS men patrolling the perimeter.

 

Map of the Janowska campThe first commander of the camp was Fritz Gebauer, his deputies were Gustav Wilhaus and Richard Rokita, in May 1942 Gebauer took over the command of the DAW camp and Friedrich Warzog was appointed commander of Janowska, with Wilhaus as his deputy. A staff of 12 -15 SS officers, who were replaced from time to time, administered the camp, the guards at the camp were Russian Prisoners of War, who had volunteered for service with the SS.The camp had originally been planned exclusively for Jews, but after several months a special section was set up for Poles. They were separated from the Jews, received better treatment and were generally released from the camp after a period of detention. In the first months, only Jews from Lvov were brought to the camp, but later on Jews were sent to the camp from other districts including Krakow.

Most of the Jews in the camp came from the East Galician District, and the sub-districts of Rawa- Ruska, Kamionka, Strumilowa, Sambor, Brzezany and Kaluz. The SS men from the camp visited these districts from time to time for extermination actions, and sub-branches of the Janowska camp were also established in Laski Kurowice, Jaktarowe and other places to which some members of the Jewish workforce of the Janowska camp were transferred.

 

The Jews who were brought to Janowska had to surrender all valuables on arrival. The Jewish prisoners were divided into labour brigades of 20-30 persons. They worked a 12-hour day, both in the camp and in Lvov itself, where they broke up tombstones in the Jewish graveyards, supervised by SS and Ukrainian militia.

 

Warzog outside the camp gates

The prisoners also worked on various projects organised by the SS, there was a special Jewish Commando engaged in burying the Jewish dead in the camp, particularly those Jews executed on the sand-hills behind the camp. This Commando was also used to sort the clothing and property of the dead. The living conditions in the camp were exceptionally barbaric, many prisoners committed suicide by hanging themselves in the barracks, rather than face another day of cruelty.  
 

When they returned from work, the prisoners were made to run into the camp, Warzog and his deputy Wilhaus singled out those Jews who showed signs of fatigue. These Jews were placed between the rows of wire and left there to die. Each morning there was a roll call for all prisoners, who were personally inspected by an SS officer. Any prisoner failing the inspection was immediately shot.

 

Rokita had a murderous habit when passing through the rows of prisoners on the parade ground, if he did not like a prisoner he would shoot him in the back of the neck. Every SS man had his favourite way of killing Jews in the camp, who were often murdered for the slightest misdemeanour, for working slowly, for not paying attention, some for no reason at all.

 

The manner in which a Jew was killed varied, depending on the executioner; shooting, flogging, choking, hanging, fixing to crosses with the head down, cutting to pieces with knives or axes. Distinctive procedures were adopted when killing women. They were mostly flogged to death or killed by stabbing. The Nazis conducted their tortures, beatings and shootings to the accompaniment of music.

 

The "Orchestra" at Janowska

For this purpose the SS organised a prisoner’s orchestra, led by Professor Stricts and the well-known conductor Mund. Composers were ordered to write a special tune, which was called “The Death Tango.” Shortly before the camp was liquidated the Nazis shot all members of the orchestra.

 

The Jews working at the Railway station scrubbing and cleaning locomotives, were house in Barrack `Number 5, was the subject of intense SS brutality. This brigade also supplied the largest quotas for executions.  On 16 March 1943, following the killing of an SS man by the Jews Kotnowski, thirty members of this work –brigade were summarily shot as a reprisal. A further eleven Jewish policemen were hanged from balconies in the main street of the Lvov Ghetto.

Nearly 1,000 Jews were taken out of other working groups outside the camp and shot. A further 200 Jews in Janowska itself were also shot. During a tour of the General Government by Max von Herff, his aide wrote about a visit to Janowska on 10 May 1943:

"This camp stands on the grounds of an old factory and through the initiative of SS Gruppenfuhrer Katzmann it has grown to its present size. Over 30,000 Jews work in this camp. There is a Jewish Police force who are picked, well-built men with rubber truncheons and a long leather whip.

 

Ukrainian citizens beating Jews in Lvov

German soldiers watches the pogromTime and again one can see how, with the most brutal methods, they drive their own people to work and they feel themselves completely their superiors. It is completely beyond the understanding of German people that among the Jews some of their own men, are the worst slave drivers.

 

Jewish women who are in charge of various departments and blocks run around with enormous whips to drive their own companions to work and it could be clearly seen that they do their job mercilessly.

The more one sees of Jewish people in these camps, the more one comes to loathe them. They have no composure, no self-esteem and no will to resist, not even passively, no pride, neither in their general bearing or their looks. On the contrary, they give way and try to make the best of the position they are in."

When the mass deportation of Jews from Eastern Galicia to Belzec began in March 1942, the status of the camp was changed yet again- it became a transit camp for Jews from towns and villages in the area.  Inside the camp, selections of those considered fit for labour took place, those not selected were transported to the Belzec death camp.

Shortly afterwards Janowska was enlarged and took on the character of a concentration camp, following “actions” in Lvov in the summer of 1942, thousands more Jews were sent to the camp. By mid-1943, whilst still functioning as a labour camp, Janowska was now being turned into an extermination camp. Fewer prisoners were employed in the factories inside the camp and in Lvov and newcomers to the camp, did not stay long.

The executions took place in the Piaski sand-hills behind the camp, there were two slopes on which Jews were shot and then buried in pits. During mid-May 1943 alone, over six thousand Jews were murdered there. Under Gebauer, a savage system of extermination was instituted at the Janowska Camp, and this was continued by Commandant Warzog, and his deputy Wilhaus.

From the testimony of many Soviet POWs as well as French subjects held in German camps, it was ascertained that the Nazis "invented" most refined methods for the extermination of human beings.

 

Himmler tours Janowska

This initiative was regarded as a matter of special merit at Janowska, and horrific atrocities were an everyday occurrence. One unnamed witness told the Soviet Special Commission of Enquiry:

 

“I saw Gebauer strangle women and children with my own eyes. I saw them place men in barrels of water to freeze in the depth of winter. The barrels were filled with water and then the victims were tied hand and foot and put into the water. The doomed people remained in the barrels until they froze to death.” 

Wilhaus partly for sport, and partly to amuse his wife and daughter, used regularly to fire a machine-gun from the balcony of the camp office at prisoners occupied in the workshops.

Then he would pass the machine-gun to his wife, who also shot at them. On one occasion to please his nine-year old daughter, Wilhaus ordered someone to toss two four year old into the air, while he fired at them. His daughter applauded and cried, “Papa, do it again, papa do it again!”Papa did.

Warzog liked to hang prisoners on poles by their feet, and leave them in this position until they died. Rokita personally ripped open prisoners’ stomachs, Heine the Chief of the Investigation Department within the Janowska camp used to perforate the bodies of prisoners with a spike or iron rod, he would pull out the finger-nails of women prisoners with pliers, undress his victims hang them by the hair and set them swinging, before shooting at the “moving target.”

In Janowska, prisoners were murdered on any pretext, often for a bet. The victims were not always Jewish, the witness Kirschner informed the Soviet Special Commission after the war that Wepke, a Gestapo Commissar, boasted to other camp executioners that he could cut a boy in two parts with one blow of an axe.

 

Members of the Lvov Judenrat hanged by the SS

His colleagues did not believe him, so he caught a ten year old boy in the street, forced him to his knees, then he made the boy put his palms together to hide his face. Wepke made a trial stroke, adjusted the boy’s head, and with a single blow of the axe slashed him in two. The Nazis congratulated Wepke warmly, and shook him by the hand.

 

On 2 March 1942, the first day of Purim, six Jews were forced to spend the night outside the barracks, on the grounds that they “looked sick” and should not infect others. The temperature was below freezing point. Leon Wells (Wieliczker) recalled:

 

“In the morning all six people were frozen lying down where they were put out the night before, completely white like long balls of snow. On 4 March 1942, Gebauer ordered a barrel of water to be brought and picked out eight more labourers from Janowska. The eight Jews were forced to undress and were then placed in the barrel. They remained in the barrel all night – in the morning Wieliczker recalled, “We had to cut the ice away – the men were frozen to death.”  
 
A week later Gebauer and Wilhaus began a game whereby they used the Jewish labourers, who were walking in the camp, as target practice.

In the evening the same officers selected sick Jews and shot them. Gebauer was known for his sadistic strangling abilities. He would select a Jew and strangle him with his bare hands.

On 20 April 1943, Hitler’s fifty-fourth birthday, Wilhaus picked out fifty-four prisoners and personally shot them. In the camp there was a so-called hospital for prisoners – the Nazi executioners Brambauer and Birmann examined the patients on the 1st and 15th of every month. If they found any patients who had been in hospital over a fortnight, they shot them on the spot. Six or seven people were murdered during each such examination. 

By a miracle Leon Wieliczker survived internment in Janowska twice, once as a prisoner condemned to death and then as a member of the Sonderkommando 1005, whose grisly task was to exhume and burn the corpses of the murdered Jews.

 

Photo of Janowska from outside the camp (circa 2005)

In his testimony during Adolf Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem in 1961, Wieliczker graphically described how having first dug his own grave in the sand hills of Piaski, he was ordered to fetch the body of a prisoner who had been shot in the camp.  Despite a raging fever, which caused him to lag behind his guard, he dragged the body of the dead man towards the execution site. There was a moment when the guard’s back was turned, Wieliczker seized the opportunity to drop the body and disappear into the camp.

 

The guard knew that he had lost Wieliczker, and was afraid of the reactions of his superiors. Anyone taken to Piaski could never return to the camp, and so the dead man was buried as if he were Wieliczker.

 

The numbers tallied and Wieliczker was officially dead. This was of vital importance. At that time, escaping from the camp was easy. The problem was that if one prisoner escaped, the SS shot ten people from that person’s brigade and the family and relatives of the escapee were hanged.

 

Now that he knew that he was officially dead, Wieliczker understood that he could escape without endangering any of his fellow prisoners or his family. And escape he did, only to be subsequently recaptured and returned to Janowska. In June 1943, the 126 man Jewish brigade of Sonderkommando 1005 began the exhumation and cremation

During June 1943, the 126 strong Jewish brigade of Sonderkommando 1005 began the exhumation and cremation of all those who had been murdered and buried in the Lvov district. The German officers in charge of this Kommando were SIPO-SD Scharfuhrer Rauch and SIPO –SD Oberwachtmeister Kepick.  The process for this task was that the bodies were recovered from the pits and laid on special platforms in stacks, each containing 1200 – 1600 corpses.

Tar and petrol were then poured over the bodies which were then burned. The ashes and bones were sifted in order to collect articles of value – gold fillings, teeth, rings and watches.

Eyewitness accounts testify that during the five months’ activity of this "Death Kommando" "110 kilogrammes of gold were sifted out of the ashes and dispatched to Germany. The ashes were scattered on the fields or buried; large bones were collected separately and crushed in a bone-crusher, which was specially designed to speed up the "work".

The bone-crusher supervisor was SIPO-SD Scarfuhrer Elitko, surprisingly the Germans failed to destroy this bone-crusher, which was later recovered by the Soviets and used as material evidence at war crimes trials in the Soviet Union.

 Wieliczker described in detail the gruesome task of Sonderkommando 1005:

 

Bone crushing machine used at Janowska

“We used to uncover all the graves where there were people who had been killed during the past three years, take out the bodies, pile them up in tiers and burn these bodies, grind the bones, take out the valuables in the ashes, such as gold teeth, rings and so on – separate them.

 

After grinding the bones we used to throw the ashes up in the air so that they would disappear, replace the earth on the graves and plant seeds, so that nobody could recognise that there was a grave there. In addition to this they used to bring new people – new victims – they were shot there, undressed beforehand – we had to burn these new bodies too.

 

When on Tuesday 29 June 1943, two hundred and seventy- five arrived - they were shot with a machine –gun in groups of twenty five. After the first twenty-five stepped into the pit and were shot, the next twenty-five followed.

The 275 that were shot that day explained something that we had found before- there were some graves where it did not seem to us that the people had been shot. Their mouths were open with their tongues protruding.

They were more like people who had suffocated – this told us that these people were buried alive, because when we came to burn the bodies, we found that some of them were only slightly injured due to the machine gun shooting twenty-five people in one burst.   

So some of them were only slightly injured in the arm and they fell down and were buried beneath the bodies above them. So it happened that this night when we picked up a body and put it in the fire, at the last moment the person started to scream – yell aloud- because they were still alive……….. 

The Brigade was divided into different corps, there was in the beginning one, afterwards two Burn Masters (Brandmeisters), two counters (zahler) an “ash commander”, carriers, pullers and also cleaners.

The Burn Masters were in charge of the fire- when they put up a heap like a pyramid, sometimes up to 2,000 bodies – one had to watch out so that the fire did not go out.

 

The SS at Janowksa

They were in charge of the fire, while the Counters were keeping a count of how many bodies were burnt to check out with the original list – how many were killed, because if we uncovered a grave we were sometimes looking for hours for one body or more if it were buried on the side, there was an exact list of how many people were killed. 
 

So the Counter kept the number of bodies burned and taken out of each grave – the report was made with pencil and paper – it was forbidden for anybody to mention the number, and the Zahler himself had to forget.

So that if the Hauptscharfuhrer or Untersturmfuhrer next morning asked, “How many were burned yesterday?” The Counter couldn’t say, he had to reply, “I forgot.”

"We had to make up songs and sing while we were going to wok, and also the Burn Masters would march in front, he was clothed like a devil – he had a special uniform with a hook in his hand and we had to march after him and sing.

Afterwards we were also joined by an orchestra which would play as we sang and accompany us on our march to work.  We were told that after eight to ten days we had to be exchanged - we would be shot and another group would come; so when visiting SD men came over to the Death Brigade and asked us how long we had been there it was forbidden for us to say that we had been longer than six, eight, up to eight or ten days - no longer..." 

The Soviet Special Commission which investigated Nazi crimes after the war, found a number of pits full of bodies of prisoners shot during the second half of July 1944. According to witness testimony and relatives of the murdered people, the Nazis used this place as an execution site for people brought from various Gestapo prisons.

Contrary to their usual practice, the Nazis did not search the clothes of the murdered people, the Soviet Commission found identification papers in the pockets of the clothes of those shot. From these papers the identification papers in the pockets of the clothes of those killed, many of the victim’s identities was established.

The Soviet Special Commission also determined the following:

  • Mass murder of civilians was carried out in the Janowska Camp.

  • The murders were carried out using the standard German technique – shooting through the back of the head, though some were murdered through the roof of the skull.

  • On the territory adjoining the Janowska Camp the Germans carried out the mass burying and subsequent burning of bodies. The burnings took place over a long period of time, the sites were scattered over the territory of the camp, and mostly they took place at Piaski.

  • The earth at Piaski proved to be saturated to a considerable depth with corpse fluid and fats, together with the smell of decay and burning.

  • The nature of the ashes discovered, consisting of small pieces of bone, and the brittleness of the larger bone fragments, testify that the burning of the bodies was carried out at a high temperature. The remaining ashes after the bodies were burnt were buried in various places within the camp area at a depth of three to six feet. In all 59 such sites were discovered. Moreover, ashes and bones were found on the surface of the soil over nearly all of the former camp territory examined by the Commission. Considering that the total area of burials and scattering of ashes and bones occupied nearly two square kilometres, the Commission of experts considered that over 200,000 people were killed in Janowska.

 


 

The Janowska  camp in present time

In common with all of the Nazi killing sites, it is impossible to arrive at a precise total for the number of victims at Janowska, the Commissions investigating these sites immediately after the Second World War generally tended towards over- estimating the numbers murdered there.

 

Wieliczker testified to the Commission:

 

“I was a former inmate of the Janowska Camp who was ordered to work in the Blobel – Kommando 1005, compelled to work in this team engaged in exhuming and burning bodies.

I worked from 6 June 1943 to 20 November 1943 – during this time the team burned more than 310,000 bodies, including about 170,000 on the sand-stone of the Janowska Camp, and over 140,000 in the Lisincki Forest.   This number includes bodies which were exhumed by the Kommando, as well as those which were not buried, but burned directly after shooting. 

On 20 November 1943, our whole team escaped. Only a few remained alive – most were killed while trying to escape, the Germans formed another team of prisoners, who continued with the work of burning bodies. I do not know how many bodies were burned after my escape, but I know that the burning of the bodies continued in the Lisincki Forest until January 1944.”    

Another witness, Manussevich: 
 

Memorial to the victims of the Janowska camp

"After burning the bodies in the gully, near the Janowska Camp, we were taken at night on trucks to the Lisincki Forest, where we opened 45 pits full of bodies of people who had been shot. From the uniforms, marks of distinction, buttons, medals and orders we identified among the bodies Red Army men, French, Belgian and Italian war prisoners. There were also bodies of civilians among them." 

Current estimates of the total murdered of Janowska number between 100,000-200,000. Liquidation of the corpse-burning squad began on 25 October 1943. When the final thirty or so Jews of the Sonderkommando left in Janowska realised their intended fate, they planned an escape. Some Germans were killed during the course of the attempted breakout; their number, and that of the Jews who succeeded in fleeing, is not known. 

The Red Army liberated Lvov on 26 July 1944. Gebauer was brought to justice and tried by a West German Court and he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

 Janowska is still a prison to this day 

Lviv Ghetto

L'viv (Lwow / Lvov) was the third largest Jewish community in pre-war Poland. Prior to 1939nearly 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 until30 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 #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 at the Opera * 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 byEinsatzgruppen. 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 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



1941 Resettlement Map 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 Belzecdeath 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 toKleparow 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 WehrmachtLuftwaffe 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 theJanowska camp. Only 120 of them were selected for forced labour. Others were executed on the "Sands" (Piaski) near the camp. 


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 fromKleparow 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". 

Former Ghetto Entrance
at Zamarstynowska Street
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. Inlate 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 theJanowska 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 * 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 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

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