The boundaries of the Podzamcze ghetto
History of the Place
The decree for the creation of the ghetto in the Podzamcze quarter in Lublin was issued by the Lublin District Governor Ernst Zörner in March 1941. The boundaries of the ghetto covered the area of the former Jewish town, existing in Lublin since the beginning of the 16th century. The area was divided into ghetto A – which included a fragment of the present-day Śródmieście district (city centre), and ghetto B – enclosing parts of the present-day Old Town. Approximately 43,000 Jews were relocated to this area.
The announcement entitled “The creation of a closed, Jewish housing district (ghetto)” dated 24th of March 1941, includes the following information:
For the sake of public welfare a closed, Jewish housing district (ghetto) is to be created with immediate legal effect. The boundaries of the ghetto in Lublin are delinated by the following streets: from the corner of Kowalska, down Kowalska and Krawiecka and along the set of houses indicated on the plan, crossing the empty space of Sienna to Kalinowszczyzna, up to the corner of Franciszkańska, along Franciszkańska up till it reaches Unicka Street and the corner of Lubartowska, down Lubartowska to the corner of Kowalska. The district in question is to be inhabited by all Jews resident in Lublin. Jewish citizens are forbidden to remain outside the ghetto.
The ghetto was fenced off with barbed wire, with one of its gates situated on the corner of Lubartowska and Kowalska. Jews caught outside the ghetto were to be punished with death. The ghetto in Podzamcze was the first to have been liquidated during Operation Reinhard. The liquidation action lasted a month, from the night of 16/17th of March to the 14th of April 1942. In this period approx. 28,000 people were deported to the Bełżec death camp.
The establishment of the ghetto was a sign of fundamental exclusion of the Jewish community from the life and history of the city which they otherwise co-created with Poles for several hundred years. Further stigmatisation took the form of the yellow Star of David which Jews were made to wear conspicuously on their clothing. The creation of the ghetto was also the first step on the way to the annihilation of the Jewish community.
From the memoirs of Anna Langfus:
(...) life continues on the other side. People walk around, their steps slow or fast, the way they used to. Several metres away, two women stand on the edge of the pavement, engaged in an animated conversation. They seem not to notice me. In reality the distance between us is immeasurable. We are divided with a wire mesh bristling with spikes (...).
Marking the boundaries of the ghetto in Podzamcze
The employees of the “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre together with project experts, including the Municipal Conservator of Monuments, carried out on-site verification to determine the exact boundaries of the ghetto in the present-day space of the city. In order to do this, extensive research was conducted, based on the analysis of archival documents and the accounts of historical witnesses along with the contemporary topography of Lublin.
As a result, the boundaries of ghetto A were marked in the present-day urban space, starting with the Grodzka Gate, across the grassy open land at the foot of the Castle hill (Błonia), up to the bend of the Czechówka river by Tarasy Zamkowe shopping centre, across Lwowska Street up to Podzamcze Street, along Podzamcze to Unicka Street and its crossing with Lubartowska. Further along Lubartowska Street up to Kowalska, and along Kowalska to the Castle Square. The boundaries of ghetto B were marked from the crossing between Kowalska and Noworybna by Zaułek Hartwigów. This area included a fragment of the Old Town on the even-numbered side of Rybna and Grodzka Streets, the boundary stretching down towards Grodzka Gate.
In the urban space of Lublin, the boudaries of the ghetto in Podzamcze are marked along a 4,1 km route with 43 flagstones embedded into the pavements. The number of flagstones refers symbolically to the number of Jewish citizens inhabiting Lublin before WWII.
Flagstones marking the boundaries are made with yellow painted concrete and their sizes match the existing paving stones in the area, varying from 25 cm x 25 cm to 50 cm x 50 cm. Each flagstone bears graphic signs and inscriptions
Granice getta / Ghetto Boundary 1941–1942 enabling passers-by to acknowledge the markings they find on the way.
Additionally, documentary murals can be observed in selected locations of the former ghetto. Their design is based on elaborated archival photography, fragments of original texts from the accounts of historical witnesses as well as literary works.