The Lviv Ghetto or the Lwów Ghetto (also known as Lvov or Lemberg Ghetto, Polish: getto lwowskie) was a World War II ghetto set up in the city of Lwów (now Lviv, Ukraine) on the territory of Nazi-administered General Government in German-occupied Poland.
It was one of the largest Jewish ghettos established by Nazi Germany after the joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland.
The city was a home to over 120,000 Jews before the outbreak of World War II in 1939, and by the time the Nazis occupied the city in 1941 that number had increased to over 220,000 Jews, since Jews fled for their lives from Nazi-controlled western Poland into the then relative safety of Soviet-controlled eastern Poland, which included Lviv (Lwow).
The ghetto, set up in the second half of 1941 after the Germans arrived, was liquidated in June 1943 with all its inhabitants who survived prior killings, were sent to their deaths in cattle trucks at Bełżec extermination camp and the Janowska concentration camp.
The Lemberg Ghetto was one of the first to have Jews transported to the death camps as part of Aktion Reinhard.
Between March 16 and April 1, 1942, 15,000 Jews were taken to the Kleparów railway station and deported to the Belzec extermination camp.
Following these initial deportations, and death by disease and random shootings, around 86,000 Jews officially remained in the ghetto, though there were many more not recorded.
During this period, many Jews were also forced to work for the Wehrmacht and the ghetto's German administration, especially in the nearby Janowska labor camp. On June 24–25, 1942, 2,000 Jews were taken to the labor camp; only 120 were used for forced labor, and all of the others were shot.
Between August 10–31, 1942, the "Great Aktion" was carried out, where between 40,000 and 50,000 Jews were rounded up, gathered at transit point placed in Janowska camp and then deported to Belzec. Many who were not deported, including local orphans and hospital inpatients, were shot.
On September 1, 1942, the Gestapo hanged the head of Lwów’s Judenrat and members of the ghetto's Jewish police force on balconies of Judenrat's building at Łokietka street and Hermana street corner. Around 65,000 Jews remained while winter approached with no heating or sanitation, leading to an outbreak of typhus. Between January 5–7, 1943, another 15,000-20,000 Jews, including the last members of the Judenrat, were shot outside of the town.
After this aktion in January 1943 Judenrat was dissolved, that what remained of the ghetto was renamed Judenlager Lemberg (Jewish Camp Lwów), thus formally redesigned as labor camp with about 12,000 legal Jews, able to work in German war industry and several thousands illegal Jews (mainly women, children and elderly) hiding in it.
In the beginning of June 1943 Germans decided to finally end the existence of the Jewish quarter and its inhabitants. As Nazis entered the Ghetto they met some sporadic acts of armed resistance, but most of the Jews were trying to hide themselves in earlier prepared hideouts (so called bunkers). In effect many buildings were suffused with gasoline and burned in order to "flush out" Jews from their hiding places. Some Jews managed to escape or to conceal themselves in the sewer system.
By the time that the Soviet Red Army entered Lwów on July 26, 1944, only a few hundred Jews remained in the city. Number varies from 200 to 900 (823 according to data of Jewish Provisional Committee in Lwów, Polish: Tymczasowy Komitet Żydowski we Lwowie from 1945).
Among its notable inhabitants was Chaim Widawski, who disseminated news about the war picked up with an illegal radio.
Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal was one of the best-known Jewish inhabitants of Lemberg Ghetto to survive the war (as his memoirs (The Executioners Among Us) indicate, he was saved from execution by a Ukrainian policeman), though he was later transported to a concentration camp, rather than remaining in the ghetto.
Links and Resources
- In the Sewers of Lvov: A Heroic Story of Survival from the Holocaust, by Robert Marshall.
- The Girl in the Green Sweater: A Life in Holocaust's Shadow, by Krystyna Chiger, Daniel Paisner.