The area of Lublin and the Lublin region was a territory destined by the German occupying forces for the realisation of Operation Reinhard. The headquarters of the chief commander and supervisor of the action, Odilo Globocnik, were situated in the city itself. Operation Reinhard commenced in Lublin at night, between the 16th and 17th of March 1942 with the liquidation of the ghetto in Podzamcze. The Jews of Lublin were the first victims of the action having been deported to the death camp in Bełżec. The camp served an experimental function, allowing for the perpetraitors to elaborate an extermination system later employed in other Operation Reinhard camps. Out of the 43,000 Lublin Jews, nearly 28,000 were murdered in the Bełżec death camp having been sent there from the railway platform in Zimna Street. The details of the deportation are as yet unknown.
The idea for the Lublin. Memory of the Holocaust commemoration has its origins in the recognised need to mark the sites connected to the Holocaust of the Lublin Jews in the public space of the city. The urban space designated for the trail no longer recalls or relates to the historical significance of the sites in question. After WWII the Jewish district in Podzamcze was demolished – streets, synagogues and houses with adjoining buildings were razed to the ground. The space left by the Podzamcze ghetto was re-edified and its original sections are not marked as such. A new housing estate was constructed within the boundaries of the former Majdan Tatarski ghetto and this, too, fails to offer information on the history of the area. The site where the Jewish orphanage children and their guardians were executed is now covered with green spaces which are also part of a housing development. The only physical trace of the Jewish district in Wieniawa is one surviving building.
The Memory Trail will mark the following sites in the city space:
- Umschlagplatz – Mis/Remembrance of the Place – art installation
- The route from the Maharshal Synagogue site to the Lublin Umschlagplatz in Zimna Street
- The boundaries of the Podzamcze ghetto
- The area of the destroyed Jewish Quarter in Podzamcze
- The boundaries of the residual ghetto in Majdan Tatarski
- The site where the orphanage children and their guardians were executed
- The area of the destroyed Jewish Quarter in Wieniawa
Thanks to the creation of the Memory Trail within the urban spaces of Lublin, a visual identification of memorial sites will be possible, enhancing the image of the city as a place relating to its own multicultural heritage and identity. The designed commemoration aims at increasing awareness of the historical significance of the areas which are crucial constituents of the city – helping everyone to understand the concept of local heritage, which is of particular importance in the context of the 700th anniversary of the founding of the city of Lublin in 2017. The artistic and academic events planned for the occasion will give us the opportunity to celebrate the centuries-long, enriching contribution which the Jewish community had in the development of the city.
The commemoration is being created on the initiative of the “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre, thanks to the support received from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The formal permission for the realisation of the commemoration was issued by the Lublin City Council, on the basis of statutes issued on November 17, 2016 concerning the construction of the Memory Trail and the Nazi Railway Platform and the Jewish Holocaust memorials in the area of the City of Lublin.
We received a positive assessment of the project from the Chief Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation, The Office for Commemorating the Struggle and Martyrdom, operating at The Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) in Warsaw. The Head of the Office, Adam Siwek, wrote:
I would like to express my gratitude for the care You have shown to the memory of the Holocaust victims. I do believe that as an effect of Your initiative we will witness an increase in the social awareness of the tragic history of the Jewish inhabitants of Lublin who were brutally murdered by the German occupying forces.
We also received a positive assessment of the project from the Municipal Section for Monument construction in the City of Lublin.
Idea, spatial and visual concept: Tomasz Pietrasiewicz
Architectonic development: Arkada Studio – Renata Janusz, Małgorzata Szymaniak
The Form of Commemoration
Concrete slabs (1m x 1 m x 0,2 m) will be used in the realisation of the commemoration project. 21 of them mark the route to Umschlagplatz, 2 refer to the Jewish district in Podzamcze and the Lamp of Memory standing there, as well as the site where Jaob Glatstein's house once stood. In the several remaining locations the concrete slabs will be placed side by side in pairs: in the area of the former Jewish district in Wieniawa, Majdan Tatarski ghetto and the site where the children and guardians from the orphanage in Grodzka Street were murdered. 29 such markings will be located along the Memory Trail.
The boundaries of the ghetto in the Podzamcze district will be marked with concrete flagstones embedded into the surface of the pavement. Each flagstone will bear metal indications referring to the direction of a specific boundary and dates of the ghetto's functioning. The flagstones are additionally inscribed with numerical figures relating to the number of the inhabitants of the ghetto – 43,000. In all, there will be 43 flagstones placed along the Memory Trail.
Elements of the Memory Trail in particular districts of Lublin:
Bronowice – markings referring to the ghetto in Majdan Tatarski; City Centre and the Old Town – markings referring to the ghetto in Podzamcze, the area of the demolished Jewish district; Kalinowszczyzna – markings referring to the route along which Jews were led to Umschlagplatz; Tatary – Umschlagplatz Memorial Site and the site where the children and guardians from the Jewish orphanage were executed; Wieniawa – markings referring to the Jewish district in Wieniawa.
Memory Trail guidebook
The “Lublin. Memory of the Holocaust” Guidebook will be published as a map provided with the descriptions of all the sites highlighted in the urban space of the city. It will be issued in Polish and English and will be available free of charge.
Workshops for guides and free walks along the Memory Trail for the inhabitants of Lublin
Training for people interested in becoming Memory Trail guides is also being prepared. The first set of workshops took place in December 2016, and subsequent ones are scheduled for February and March 2017. What is more, we are planning free walks along the Memory Trail for the inhabitants of Lublin and the Lublin region.