The site where Jewish children were executed
History of the orphanage
The nursery (orphanage) for Jewish children was established in the second half of the 19th century. The institution was funded with subsidies received from the City Hall and the Jewish Community. During the war the seat of the orphanage was included in the area of the ghetto. Witnesses recall that some children who still had full families also attended the nursery, their parents confident of their offsprings' greater safety there. Aside from being home to orphans and the elderly, the building was also the seat of the Judenrat.
On the 24th of March 1942 the German occupying forces arrived to remove over a hundred children and their guardians from the orphanage as part of the liquidation action carried out in the Lublin district of Podzamcze. According to surviving records, the employees of the Orphanage – Anna Taubenfeld, Chana Kuperberg and Ms Rechtman refused to abandon their wards and were voluntarily led to their deaths. The victims were executed on the premises of the former sand mine, their bodies buried in a mass grave prepared on the site. After the war, in 1948, the bodies of the victims were exhumed and the remains transported to the New Jewish Cemetery in Walecznych Street. In 1987 a monument was erected in the cemetery to commemorate the murdered children and their guardians.
From 2004 the “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre has been active in the realisation of art commemorations of the execution victims. The local community of the Tatary district has been also actively participating in the Centre's undertakings from the very start. The commemoration which was created for the “Lublin. Memory of the Holocaust” project meets the need of the district's inhabitants to protect the site they already feel responsible for.
History of the place
The site of the execution was located on the premises of a sand mine in Łęczyńska Street. Aerial photographs taken by Germans in 1944 have survived to give the view of the area. Additionally, there are “memory maps” drawn by the inhabitants of the district who were eye-witnesses to the shooting.
Determining the location of the mass grave
In the present-day urban space of Lublin the site of the Orphanage children and guardians execution is marked at the crossing of Maszynowa, Łęczyńska and Odlewnicza Streets in the Tatary district. It is now covered with green spaces which are part of a housing development. During work undertaken for the realisation of the “Lublin. Memory of the Holocaust” project non-invasive field research was carried out to determine the exact location of the mass grave.
Results of non-invasive field research
To confirm data retrieved from the accounts of eye-witnesses, non-invasive on-site archeological research was conducted. It enabled the researchers to determine the crime scene which is, in all likelihood, located in the area of the present-day playing field. Three excavations were uncovered on the site, approximately 20 x 6-7 m, 12 x 4 m, 7 x 6-14 m in size and at least 1,5 m deep. Their size can be interpreted as holes dug out to bury the victims of the execution.
Comparisons of pre-war and post-war city plans as well as aerial shots taken in 1944 and at present allows researchers to observe a significant degree of transformation which the area in question has undergone from the times of WWII. The edge of the sand bank, which is a frequent topographical reference point mentioned in the execution accounts, has shifted, i.e. receded, in the direction of Odlewnicza Street. The above research results were handed over to the Voivodship Conservator of Monuments in Lublin.
The research was conducted by a team of experts from Lublin:
Marcin Piotrowski – lead researcher, contractor
Paulina Piotrowska – contractor
Artur Wdowiak – contractor
Jacek Jeremicz – contractor
We would like to express our thanks to one person in particular, Marian Sobczyk (a key historical witness), for the help he has offered in determining the details regarding the site of the execution.
We would also like to express gratitude to our Partners from the 3rd Branch of the Municipal Public Library – Ms Jolanta Niedzińska; the Members and the Chair of the Tatary District Council – Mr Józef Nowimiński; and the Head of the District Board – Mr Mieczysław Stasiak for on-going support given on every stage of the realisation of the project.
Meetings with the local inhabitants
For the realisation of the project successful cooperation with the 3rd Branch of the Municipal Public Library was also undertaken. Thanks to the kindness and involvement of the Head Librarian, Ms Jolanta Niedzińska, two meetings with the local inhabitants were organised. During the first of these, the plans to commemorate the site where the children and guardians from the Orphanage were executed were discussed. The inhabitants were also informed on the scheduled non-invasive field research to be conducted in the neighbourhood. The second meeting coincided with the conclusion of the work undertaken for the realisation of the project and the official presentation of the local memorial which is an element of the Memory Trail.
As part of the “Lublin. Memory of the Holocaust” project an educational programme for the young people attending schools situated along the Memory Trail was also designed. The programme included workshops on the history of the commemorated sites and events whose significance in the Operation Reinhard action carried out in Lublin and in the whole of the General Government territory was particularly emphasised. Walks along the Memory Trail commemorating the Holocaust of the Lublin Jews were also organised.
In the Tatary District students from the 2nd School Complex took part in educational workshops covering the history of the orphanage, the Jewish Town and the liquidation of the ghetto. The meeting included a walk along the Memory Trail to the site commemorating the death of the Orphanage children and their guardians.
In the area where the children from the Jewish orphanage were executed together with their guardians 2 concrete slabs (1m x 1m in size) were placed. Both of them bear a metal band in which the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet is cut. The typeface of the letter resembles that used for the preparation of The Book of Zohar. Additionally, the slabs are inscribed with the following bilingual information (Polish and English) on the history and significance of the site:
Here, on 24 March 1942, the German police murdered more than a hundred children from the Jewish Orphanage at 11 Grodzka Street, together with their guardians. In 1948, the remains of the victims were transported to the New Jewish Cemetery in Walecznych Street.