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Jewish Families from Podgórze, Poland

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This project seeks to collect all of the Jewish families from the town of Podgórze, Poland also known as Podgorza, Josefstadt.

Gesher Galicia-Podgórze

Town Podgorze


Notable People


Establishment of Podgorze

On March 3rd, 1941 Otto Wächter, Governor of the Kraków district, decreed the establishment of a new ‘Jewish Housing District’ on the right bank of the Wisła River in the district of Podgórze. What would become known as the ‘Kraków’ or ‘Podgórze Ghetto’ initially comprised an approximately 20 hectare (50 acre) space of some 320 mostly one- and two-story buildings in Podgórze’s historic centre bound by the river and the Krzemionki hills to the north and south, between the Kraków-Płaszów rail line and Podgórze’s market square to the east and west.

In the 17 days between the ghetto’s establishment and the March 20, 1941 resettlement deadline, approximately 3,000 original residents of the district were relocated across the river to be replaced by some 16,000 Jews, whose property and possessions were confiscated with the exception of what they could carry into the ghetto. Thousands of unregistered Jews also illegally entered the ghetto seeking protection, bringing the total population of the Kraków Ghetto to about 18,000.
// Overcrowding was an obvious problem with one apartment allocated for every four families and an average of two square metres of living space per person. Windows facing ‘Aryan’ Podgórze were bricked or boarded up to prevent contact with the outside world and a 3 metre high wall was erected around the confines of the ghetto, crowned with arches conscientiously designed to resemble Jewish tombstones.

Podgorze was initially a separate town that was founded by the Austrians in 1784 in the wake of the first partition of Poland. By the mid-nineteenth century all of Cracow was under the Austrian crown, and Podgorze was viewed as simply another district of the city.

The fringes of Podgorze had a pronounced industrial character, and disused quarries are still a prominent feature of the landscape (Steven Spielberg used one of them to build his set for the Plaszow Concentration Camp in his film 'Schindler's List').

By the 1930's, when Cracow was again part of an independent Poland, much of central Podgorze was owned by Polish Jews. At that time there were approximately 60,000 Jews living in Cracow. The poorest Jews tended to live in Kazimierz, whilst the more affluent ones lived in central Cracow, or in the more grand parts of Podgorze.

Podgorze, the other side of Krakow

The district of Podgorze stretches on the right bank of Wisla river, opposite the historic Kazimierz quarter. The area was incorporated into the Krakow municipality in 1914.
// Previously Podgorze had been a city in its own right since 1784 with a five-year break as a part of Krakow in the years 1810 through 1815. In fact its history dates back to as far as the Stone Age and the district boasts one of Krakow's oldest landmarks, the ancient Mound of Krak. In the Middle Ages and later on the area of today's Podgorze served as external industrial colony of Kazimierz and Krakow with quarries, brickyards, warehouses, etc.

The Germans invaded Poland in September 1939. Hans Frank, the Nazi Governor of the region, planned for Cracow to be 'the cleanest' of the former Polish cities. It was finally decreed that all remaining Jews should move to Podgorze.

The area that was singled out for the ghetto constituted the heart of the Podgorze district. It spread east from the Main Market Square (Rynek Podgorski today) over an area of 20 hectares. The Jews who stayed in Cracow were ordered to move to Podgorze by March 20th, 1941.

All Christians who lived in the area that was earmarked for the ghetto were compelled to move out, largely to Kazimierz north of the river. However, Tadeusz Pankiewicz, a graduate of medicine from the Jagiellonian University, protested against the rule and was permitted to remain. His pharmacy in the north eastern corner of the ghetto would later became an enclave of resistance to Nazis.


Dreadful Conditions

15,000 Polish Jews were crowded into an area that had previously housed 3,000 souls. It was standard for four families to share one flat. Conditions were made worse by a second transit in October 1941, when a further 6,000 Jews from nearby villages were forced into the ghetto.

  • Forced labour and rationing were standard features of the experience. Outside of working hours, all Jews had to stay within the newly built ghetto walls, whose form resembled oversized Jewish gravestones (fragments of the wall still stand today).
  • Deportations began on May 30th, 1942. In the first few days, some 4,000 Jews were deported. They were transported from the nearby Plaszow station to Belzec concentration camp.
  • A second deportation began in October 1942. Families were separated, and about 4500 people were deported to the Belzec camp.
  • In December 1942 the ghetto was divided into two parts, Ghetto A for 'Workers' and Ghetto B for 'Non-Workers'.
  • On March 13th, 1943 Ghetto A was liquidated and workers were sent to Plaszow camp where many would later perish, including the infamous 'Judenrat' Jewish police.
  • The following day Ghetto B was liquidated amidst widespread shooting on the streets.
  • The remaining Jews were sent to the Auschwitz II: Birkenau camp. In total, it is estimated that some 65,000 Polish Jews who lived in Cracow and its immediate vicinity were murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War, obliterating Jewish life and culture as it had existed before the War completely.


Podgorze today

Podgorze of today is a patchwork of residential areas and industrial estates with addition of generous amount of parklands. Noteworthy is its cultural vibrancy plus the district seems the next frontier of the nightlife in Krakow as Old Town and Kazimierz are already overflowing with nightspots.

The city's two important new museums have opened relatively recently in the Zablocie industrial area of Podgorze: Schindler's Factory and MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow, situated side by side with common address at 4 Lipowa street.

// Also the Cricoteka Center for Documentation of the Art and Tadeusz Kantor Museum have their domicile, since September 2014, in the converted old Podgorze power plant on Wisla riverbank at Nadwislanska street.