The Displacement of the Jewish Inhabitants of German-Occupied Lublin Before the Creation of the Ghetto
The functioning of the Jewish district in Podzamcze during the German occupation can be divided into four periods. The first one commenced with the German invasion of Lublin and lasted until March 1941. It was characterised with the displacement of the Jewish population from various parts of Lublin to its historical Jewish quarter, which had been appointed as the Jewish area before the ghetto had been officially created. During that period, refugees and displaced persons from other regions of the General Government, including Reichsgau Wartheland and Pomerania, had been arriving in Lublin, too. The second period was marked with the decree issued by the Lublin District Governor Ernst Zörner, which regulated the establishment of the ghetto. This period was defined by a significant deterioration of living conditions which was a result of the overpopulation of this relatively small territory. Many houses were deprived of the necessary sanitary and hygenic infrastructure, which combined with undernourishment and poor medical care led to the outbreak of typhoid fever. The third period started at the turn of 1941 and 1942, with the German division of the ghetto into sections A and B, gathering the privileged inhabitants in section B, and ordering the rest of the Jewish population to remain in section A. The operations undertaken by the German occupying forces at this point were an important part of the preparations for the final extermination of the Jewish population in Lublin, facilitating the displacement procedures. On the night of 16th/17th March 1942, the final phase of the functioning of the ghetto began, which concluded in mid April with a complete liquidation of the Jewish District in Podzamcze. Within a month, the majority of the local Jewish population was transported to the death camp in Bełżec. Several thousand Lublin Jews were resettled to a makeshift, residual ghetto in Majdan Tatarski.
The First Resettlement of the Jewish Inhabitants of Lublin
The German invasion of Lublin radically changed the situation of its Jewish inhabitants, who soon became the target of Nazi persecution, similar to all Jews in the German-occupied territory. By the end of October 1939, the German authorities ordered a general census to be performed, the results of which revealed that there were 37,054 Jews residing in the city. In the several months to come, as a consequence of the influx of refugees and resettlers, the number of the Jewish citizens had grown to over 40,000 people at the beginning of 19401. The actions undertaken in the first weeks of the German occupation focused on removing Jews from apartments situated in the representative parts of the city, and their relocation into the historical Jewish quarter in Podzamcze and its vicinity. The actions taken by the German civilian and police forces were a straightforward delineation of their long-term scheme to gather Jews in their quarter, which was the poorest neighbourhood of the city. However, in 1939 there were no clear plans of ghettoization. The first organised resettlement actions began by the end of October and in November 1939 and involved tenement houses in the represenative streets of Lublin, which were allocated as lodgings for the arriving Germans. The undertaken actions were designed to take people unawares – they would start in the early hours of the morning, and the persons forced to move out of their flats had very little time to do so. At the same time, they were forbidden to take any household equipment or valuables with them. This is how Ida Glickstein describes it:
"On this day [9 November 1939 – J.Ch.], at eight in the morning, Gestapo uniforms were swarming in front of Kenigsberg's house. The soldiers were standing in groups, chatting merrily and laughing; they gave the impression of getting ready for a trip. What a nice trip has it turned out for the Jews! The SS dispersed along Krakowskie Przedmieście and the little roads leading to it. They walked from house to house throwing Jews out of their apartments. Depending on the character and mood of the persecutor, the flat owners would get from 10 to 30 minutes to pack their belongings. If any of the more expensive things caught the German's eye, he would take them. Panic spread through the city. It was still very early in the morning, some people were in bed when they were ordered to leave their flats in a hurry. Every single Jew was thrown out of the nicer, upper part of the city on that day; they had to move in with their family or friends living in the districts still untouched by resettlement. Most of them went straight for the Jewish quarter, i.e. Lubartowska Street and its vicinity, looking for a place to stay. [...] About 500 families were displaced on that day, losing their furniture, household equipment, bedding, clothes, underwear and food supplies [...]"2.
The Liquidation of the Jewish Quarter in Wieniawa
In May 1940, the German occupying forces conducted one of the biggest Jewish resettlement actions within the administrative borders of Lublin, relocating several thousand Jews from Wieniawa, which was to become part of the German Quarter, to the Podzamcze district3. Various Jewish institutions were to take care of the displaced persons, obliged first of all to provide them with lodgings and food. The inhabitants of Wieniawa were relocated to private apartments, as well as shelters situated in the Jewish Quarter. By July 1940, the Committee for Aid to Refugees and the Poor made arrangemets for the lodgings of the 393 resettled families, of whom 181 people were relocated to the following shelters: 4 Cyrulicza Street (former Reis warehouse), 4 Lubartowska Street (prayer house), 24 Lubartowska Street (prayer house), 50 Lubartowska Street (barracks), 8 Rynek Street (prayer house) and 40 Szeroka Street (prayer house)4.
Immediately after the removal of Wieniawa inhabitants, the German forces commenced the demolition of the buildings, which was carried out by the local Jews, selected for work. As Franciszka Mandelbaum recalls: "In May 1940, the inhabitants of Wieniawa were dislodged, only to be made to pull down their own houses [...]"5.
Many of them were treated very brutally while at work, which is evident from Roman Chwedkowski's account: "In the spring of 1940, Jews were thrown out of the settlement adjacent to Lublin – Wieniawa. Men were detained, women and children were allowed to enter the city. The men had to pull down the houses they recently moved out of. They were not given any tools, but instead they were beaten, not allowed to eat, slept outside, and worked from dawn to dusk. It took them about 2 weeks6.
After the demolition process was completed, the area was incorporated into the German Quarter. The local cemetery was devastated too, and turned into a work camp, the so-called Sportplatz. The plans for the work camp were to expand the German sports infrastructure. A sports stadium was later constructed in this location.
The 1940 Resettlement Actions in the City
The surviving reference sources allow us to determine that in August 1940 the German authorities performed the Lublin population census, which revealed that some of the more representative streets of the city, like Krakowskie Przedmieście, Kościuszki and Narutowicza, were still inhabited by Jews or had Jews registered there. It leads to a conlusion that during the resettlement carried out in the autumn of 1939 not all Jewish citizens left their apartments. As soon as autumn 1940, the German authorities issued a decree, according to which Jews were obliged to leave flats inhabited in the Aryan part of the city and move to the Jewish Quarter. The relocation was designed as an apartment exchange action between Jews and the Polish citizens still living in the Jewish housing zone7.
In the first months of the German occupation, the resettlement actions affected mostly the wealthy Jews, who had the opportunity to live in the elegant parts of the city because of their social and financial status. They were forced by Germans to move out of their apartments and relocate to the poorer area of Lublin, which included the Jewish district surrounding the Castle.
Despite the stigmatization, which forceful evictions and relocation orders led to, Jews inhabited a relatively big area of the city in the first months of the German occupation, as Dwora Donner recollects:
"By the end of 1939, the Nazis specified the boundaries of the Jewish quarter. They were quite wide. Jews could live in Podzamcze, Ruska Street, Lubartowska Street, Nowa Street up to the Krakowska Gate, and Świętoduska Street. It was a city district, not a ghetto […]”8.
People ordered to leave their apartments were not given much time to collect the most necessary items. It was forbidden to take household equipment and valuables, which would frequently become German clandestine loot. The persons thrown out into the streets were aided by relatives, who often took them in. The more resourceful citizens, with the help of connections or money, were able to organize another flat, even if its standard was decidedly lower than the apartments in the elegant parts of the city; in this way, at least temporarily, the problem of billet assigned quarters was coped with. The other evicted people moved into shelters, most often set up in synagogues, prayer houses or post-industrial buildings, the state of which left much to be desired.
Living Conditions in the Jewish Quarter
The only Jews who could safely reside outside of the strictly delineated habitation zone were those in possession of special permits or dispatched to work places. This included city hall and Judenrat clerks, doctors, dentists as well as craftsmen.
Restricting the area to be inhabited by Jews to the historical Jewish District in Podzamcze, together with the influx of refugees and resettlers led to a significant deterioration of the housing, sanitary and hygenic conditions, resulting in overpopulation and the consequent outbreak of typhoid fever. From the beginning of the German occupation, the Jewish district was a frequent 'trip' destination for German soldiers, which posed a threat of spreading contagious diseases outside of the Jewish area. In July 1940, the German authorities placed a ban on the Wehrmacht soldiers entering the district, putting the following information boards on its boundaries: "Ghetto! Betreten für Wehrmacht Verboten” (Ghetto! Wehrmacht entry forbidden)9. Such warnings were designed to prevent the spread of contagious diseases into the 'Aryan' part of the city on the one hand, but on the other they were meant to have a propaganda function as well. Most probably, information boards were also placed at the opening of the streets leading directly to the Jewish Quarter, with the following inscription in German and Polish: "Typhoid Fever! Danger of Contagion"10. Boards like these had been placed from the first months of the German occupation, which was meant to deepen the sense of isolation, being simultaneously another element of the stigmatization of the Jewish population.
Resettlements into provincial towns
In spite of very difficult living conditions, German authorities had not initially aimed at expanding the established ghetto boundaries. However, between 10-12 March 1941, they conducted an action of forcible resettlement of at least 10,000-12,000 Jews to smaller towns of the Lublin District. It affected mostly the poorest Jews, who were not in possession of work permits. Officially, a little over 34,000 Jews were left in the city itself 11. The plans to improve the situation in the area of the scheduled ghetto entailed taking drastic measures. The resettlement actions were conducted in a very brutal and dramatic way, Jews were forced out of their flats, many of them badly beaten. They were escorted to gathering places, and from there taken by carts or trains to designated towns. The course of the action is presented in Ida Glickstein's account:
"10 minutes of time, 25 kilograms luggage limit and off to the gathering place, obviously under escort. There was dreadful havoc, families got dispersed straight away, there were no men anywhere, mothers found it difficult to count their children, underwear and clothes were scattered on stairs and pavements. Commotion, shouting, cries, nobody knew what's ahead. [...] It was sleeting, March wind was howling through the deserted, rickety streets of the ghetto. Soldiers walked from home to home, dragging people out of their flats and hide-outs, and gathering them into groups watched over by one German in each street. The evicted were nearly all poor, since every wealthier man had already obtained a work permit, for bigger or smaller amounts of money, which provided him with an illusion of safety. It was a miserable sight, people in rags, cuddling by the walls, lashed with rain and wind. Many of them returned later, but there was no sign of their property anymore. The Germans looted the more valuable things, and the rest was hacked and burnt. The housing conditions were becoming more and more difficult, life had turned to hell"12.
The displaced Jews were moved to over a dozen towns in the Lublin District: Bełżyce, Brzeziny, Bychawa, Chodel, Czemierniki, Izbica, Kazimierzówka, Lubartów, Michów, Parczew, Rejowiec, Siedliszcze, Sosnowica, Wysokie and Żółkiewka. The resettlement action was organised without the knowledge and engagement of the Lublin Judenrat or the Jewish Mutual Social Aid Society, which was informed on the reasons for the operation post factum:
"Mr Dr Siegfried [Josef; member of the Lublin Judenrat and chair of the Jewish Aid and Rescue Committee for the County – J.Ch.] informs that yesterday evening the aim of the resettlement action from Lublin was clarified. It is because the creation of a small and specific Jewish Quarter is currently underway. Since the area is scarce, some of its inhabitants had to be relocated. The details have not been settled yet. The resettlement of the Jewish Quarter is to be completed by 1 April of the current year"13.
As a result of the displacement action, many families were separated, which left the people who had been moved to the provincial towns devoid of support from their relatives. This situation forced many of them to return illegaly to Lublin, in spite of the official prohibition. The influx of the relocated Jews caused a fast deterioration of the conditions in the Lublin ghetto. As far as possible, the care of the resettlers was handled by the Lublin Judenrat, which together with the Jewish Councils and aid committees in the area of the Lublin District, ensured communication between the relocated people and their families, organized medical care and medicine transports. The help given included financial assistance, which was however far from sufficient, because of the organization's limited means14.
The enforced resettlement action was only one of the stages on the road to the stabilization of the population status within the created ghetto. The German authorities assumed that faced with separation from their families, at least several thousand Jews would have left Lublin, trying to re-unite with their relatives. The operation was to be carried out in the span of several weeks, and any persons interested in leaving the city were to obtain a special certificate permitting them to do so. Voluntary resettlers were allowed to bring some of their belongings with them, which was indicated at the end of March 1941 by the member of the Lublin Judenrat and chair of the Jewish Aid and Rescue Committee for the County, Dr Josef Siegfried, in a telephone call to the representative of the Presidium of the Jewish Mutual Social Aid Society (ŻSS) in Kraków:
"The operation for people voluntarily leaving Lublin is underway. Those who decide to move out can take all their belongings with them: clothing, bedlinen, etc. When posed the question whether this included furniture, Dr Siegfried responded that the matter was of no consequence"15.
The phone call was made after the decree regulating the creation of the Podzamcze ghetto had already been officially issued. By that time, Jewish institutions had most certainly been in possession of data enough to realise the direction in which the Geman policy concerning Jewish residents was heading. During the conversation with Siegfried, the Presidium of the Jewish Mutual Social Aid Society had been informed that "by 15 April the Jewish District will have been created"16. At the same time, Siegfried made it clear that another group of 15,000 Jews would have to leave Lublin because of the relatively small area of the ghetto17.
From mid March, the resettlement was voluntary, and the date of 15 April mentioned in the conversation might have constituted a deadline which determined the end of migration, concurrent with the process of establishing the ghetto. At the beginning of April, the German authorities informed the Judenrat that only 25,000 Jews would be allowed to remain in Lublin18.
Compilation: Jakub Chmielewski
Consultation: dr hab. Dariusz Libionka
Translation: Monika Metlerska-Colerick
1 Archiwum Państwowe w Lublinie [dalej: APL], zesp. 891, Rada Żydowska w Lublinie [dalej: RŻL], sygn. 8, Sprawozdanie z działalności Rady za okres od 1 września 1939 roku do 1 września 1940 roku, k. 39–40, 57.
2 Archiwum Państwowego Muzeum na Majdanku [dalej: APMM], Relacje nt. gett, więzień i obozów położonych na terenie okupowanej Polski, sygn. VII/O-20, Pamiętnik Idy Gliksztajn Rapaport Jarkoni, k. 8. Akcja usuwania Żydów z reprezentacyjnych ulic Lublina znalazła odzwierciedlenie w wielu relacjach ocalałych Żydów lubelskich: Archiwum Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej [dalej: AIPN], sygn. GK 175/186, Akta w sprawie getta w Lublinie – protokoły przesłuchań świadków 1948–1949, k. 21, 27; APMM, VII/M-623, Relacja Juli Celińskiej, k. 6; APMM, VII/M-676, Relacja Etli Wolberg, k. 3; APMM, VII/O-220, Relacja Efraima Krasuckiego, k. 2; APMM, VII/O-254, Relacja Cipory Fischer, k. 5; Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego [dalej: AŻIH], zesp. 301, Relacje. Zeznania ocalałych Żydów, sygn. 6, Relacja Doby Cukierman, k. 27–28; tamże, 301/1295, Relacja Franciszki Mandelbaum, k. 15; tamże, 301/1478, Relacja Leopolda Linda, k. 14; tamże, 301/1514, Relacja Róży Mitelman, k. 4; tamże, 301/2784, Relacja Rachmila Gartenkrauta, k. 3, 5; tamże, zesp. ARG, Konspiracyjne Archiwum Getta Warszawy [Ring. I, Ring. II] Archiwum Ringelbluma.  1940-03.1943, sygn. ARG II 351 (Ring. II/305), k. 1; Archiwum Ringelbluma. Generalne Gubernatorstwo. Relacje i dokumenty, oprac. A. Bańkowska, Warszawa 2012, s. 52.
3 APL, RŻL, sygn. 6, Sprawozdanie z działalności Rady za okres 1 września 1939–1 września 1940, k. 16; AIPN, GK 175/186, Akta w sprawie getta w Lublinie, k. 28; AŻIH, 301/6669, Relacja Romana Chwedkowskiego, k. 2.
4 APL, RŻL, sygn. 8, Sprawozdania z działalności Rady za okres od 1 września 1939 roku do 1 września 1940 roku, k. 16, 20; tamże, sygn. 132, Wydział Pomocy Uchodźcom (Komisja Pomocy Uchodźcom i Biednym) – sprawozdania, podział produktów z darów amerykańskich, korespondencja w sprawie uchodźców, k. 71.
5 AIPN, GK 175/186, Akta w sprawie getta w Lublinie, k. 28.
6 AŻIH, 301/2187, Relacja Romana Chwedkowskiego, k. 8.
7 APMM, VII/O-18, Pamiętnik Idy Gliksztajn Rapaport Jarkoni pt. „Wzorcowe getto w cieniu Majdanka”, k. 5; Yad Vashem Archive [dalej:YVA], Yad Vashem Testimonies [dalej: YVT], sygn. O.3/3060, Relacja Idy Gliksztajn Rapaport Jarkoni, k. 3.
8 YVA, YVT, O.3/1324, Relacja Dwory Donner, k. 2.
9 Tablica o takiej treści znalazła się na co najmniej dwóch fotografiach z getta na Podzamczu, z których jedna znajdowała się u zbiegu ulic Targowej i Ruskiej, zaś druga na rogu Grodzkiej i Rynku. „Getto” jest tu rozumiane jako żydowski rejon zamieszkania, a nie zamknięta dzielnica, którą utworzono w Lublinie później. Tamże, k. 3.
10 Tablica o takiej treści znalazła się na co najmniej jednej fotografii u zbiegu ulic Podwale i Królewskiej.
11 APL, RŻL, sygn. 6, Sprawozdania wydziałów 1939–1942, k. 50; tamże, sygn. 150, Spis ludności żydowskiej m. Lublina 1941, k. 1–2; tamże, zesp. 498, Amt des Distrikts Lublin, Gouverneur des Distrikts Lublin – Urząd Okręgu Lubelskiego 1939–1944, sygn. 262, Archivamt – Urząd Archiwalny, k. 5; AŻIH, zesp. 211, Żydowska Samopomoc Społeczna [dalej: ŻSS], sygn. 193, ŻSS. Aneks, k. 26, 31; tamże, 211/649, Korespondencja Prezydium ŻSS z Komitetem Powiatowym ŻSS w Lublinie. 1 marca 1941–31 marca 1941, k. 24, 26, 28; APMM, VII/O-18, Pamiętnik Idy Gliksztajn Rapaport Jarkoni, k. 6; APMM, VII/O-19, Pamiętnik Idy Gliksztajn Rapaport Jarkoni pt. „Getta: Lublin i Majdan Tatarski”, k. 10.
12 APMM, VII/O-20, Pamiętnik Idy Gliksztajn Rapaport Jarkoni, k. 22–23. Przesiedlenie znalazło odzwierciedlenie w wielu relacjach ocalałych lubelskich Żydów. AIPN, GK 175/186, Akta w sprawie getta w Lublinie, k. 31, 55; APMM, VII/O-220, Relacja Efraima Krasuckiego, k. 3–4; AŻIH, 301/6, Relacja Doby Cukierman, k. 28–29; tamże, 301/728, Relacja Symchy Turkieltauba, k. 9; tamże, 301/1290, Relacja Henryka Goldwaga, k. 14; tamże, 301/1295, Relacja Franciszki Mandelbaum, k. 19; tamże, 301/1514, Relacja Róży Mitelman, k. 4; tamże, 301/2184, Relacja Zelmana Szajnera, k. 14; tamże, 301/2187, Relacja Romana Chwedkowskiego, k. 7; tamże, 301/2300, Relacja Berka Kawe, k. 16; tamże, 301/2556, Relacja Haliny Sawickiej z d. Puterman, k. 11; tamże, 301/2783, Relacja Chany Rapaport, k. 3; tamże, Konspiracyjne Archiwum Getta Warszawy [Ring. I, Ring. II] Archiwum Ringelbluma.  1940-03.1943, sygn. ARG II 351 (Ring. II/305), k. 1–2; YVA, YVT, O.3/1324, Relacja Dwory Doner, k. 3; tamże, O.3/3060, Relacja Idy Gliksztajn Rapaport Jarkoni, k. 4; tamże, Perlman Testimonies Collection of Refudees form Poland [dalej: PTCRP], sygn. O.12/16, Relacja Jochwety Szwarcman, k. 2.
13 AŻIH, ŻSS, 211/649, Korespondencja Prezydium ŻSS z Komitetem Powiatowym ŻSS w Lublinie. 1 marca 1941–31 marca 1941, k. 29.
14 APL, RŻL, sygn. 3, Protokoły plenarnych posiedzeń Rady Żydowskiej w Lublinie od 1 stycznia 1940 roku do 1 listopada 1942 roku, k. 117–188; tamże, sygn. 6, Sprawozdania wydziałów 1939–1942, k. 49; AŻIH, Konspiracyjne Archiwum Getta Warszawy [Ring. I, Ring. II] Archiwum Ringelbluma.  1940-03.1943, sygn. ARG II 351 (Ring. II/305), k. 1–2; tamże, ŻSS, 211/193, Aneks. Lublin, k. 26, 28, 31; tamże, 211/ 649, Korespondencja Prezydium ŻSS z Komitetem Powiatowym ŻSS w Lublinie. 1 marca 1941–31 marca 1941, k. 24–29, 45.
15 Tamże, k. 45; APL, RŻL, sygn. 153, Sprawozdanie z akcji „dobrowolnego” przesiedlenia się ludności żydowskiej, wykazy osób wysiedlonych z Lublina do: Bełżyc, Chodla, Lubartowa, Rejowca i Siedliszcza, k. 1–119.
16 AŻIH, ŻSS, 211/ 649, Korespondencja Prezydium ŻSS z Komitetem Powiatowym ŻSS w Lublinie. 1 marca 1941–31 marca 1941, k. 45.
17 Tamże, k. 45; Eksterminacja Żydów na ziemiach polskich w okresie okupacji hitlerowskiej. Zbiór dokumentów, red. T. Berenstein, A. Eisenbach, A. Rutkowski, Warszawa 1957, s. 109–110.
18 APL, RŻL, sygn. 3, Protokoły plenarnych posiedzeń Rady Żydowskiej w Lublinie od 1 stycznia 1940 roku do 1 listopada 1942 roku, k. 129.