Drohobycz Ghetto

Drohobycz Ghetto
Commemorative plaque at the ghetto house
of Polish writer and artist Bruno Schulz
Drohobycz location south of Belzec in World War II, with Nazi-Soviet demarcation line marked in red
Drohobycz Ghetto
Drohobych in modern-day Ukraine (compare with above)
Also known as Drohobych Ghetto
Location Drohobycz, German-occupied Poland (now Ukraine)
49°13′N 23°18′E / 49.21°N 23.30°E / 49.21; 23.30
Date July 1941 to November 1942
Incident type Imprisonment, starvation, mass shootings, deportations to Bełżec extermination camp
Organizations Nazi German SS, Orpo battalions
Victims 10,000 Polish Jews

Drohobycz Ghetto or Drohobych Ghetto was a World War II ghetto created by Nazi Germany in the city of Drohobycz in occupied Poland (now Drohobych, Ukraine), for the purpose of persecution and exploitation of Polish Jews after the Nazi takeover of the region in Operation Barbarossa. The ghetto was liquidated mainly between February and November 1942, when most local Jews of Drohobycz were transported in Holocaust trains to the Belzec extermination camp.[1]


Before the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland, Drohobycz (now Drohobych in Lviv Oblast, Ukraine) was a provincial city in the Lwów Voivodeship of the Second Polish Republic with 80,000 inhabitants,[2] the seat of Drohobycz county with an area of 1,499 square kilometres (579 sq mi) and population of around 194,400 people. Drohobycz belonged to the Lwów region of south-eastern Kresy, with a sizable Jewish population; exceeding that of Ukrainian and Polish.[3]

After the invasion, the territory of the interwar Poland was divided in September 1939 between Nazi Germany and the USSR (see map). The city was attached to the Soviet Ukraine under the terms of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact. Drohobych became a center of the newly expanded Drohobych Oblast in the Soviet zone of occupation. The repression of Poles and Polish citizens by the NKVD circled around the mass deportations of men, women and children to Siberia in cattle trains.[2] A group of local Polish boyscouts and soldiers of the defeated Polish Army created the clandestine White Couriers organization, which in late 1939 and early 1940 smuggled hundreds of people from the Soviet zone of occupation to Hungary, across the Soviet-Hungarian border in the Carpathians.[2]

Operation Barbarossa of 1941

In early July 1941, during the first weeks of the anti-Soviet Operation Barbarossa, the city was overrun by the Wehrmacht,[4] and the District of Galicia was created. Drohobych had a petrol-producing plant essential for the German war effort. In September 1942 Drohobych became the site of a large, open type ghetto,[5] holding around 10,000 Jews in anticipation of the final deportations to killing centres in Operation Reinhard.[2] Jewish men of working age remained at the local refinery.[5]

The year of 1942 marked the beginning of the Final Solution in the General Government. The first deportation action of 2,000 Jews from Drohobych to the Belzec extermination camp took place in late March 1942 as soon as the killing centre became operational.[5] The next deportation lasted for nine days in 817 August 1942 with 2,500 more Jews loaded onto freight trains and sent away for gassing. Another 600 Jews were shot on the spot while attempting to hide or trying to flee. The ghetto was declared closed from the outside in late September. In October and November 1942 some 5,800 Jews were deported to Belzec. During these round-ups about 1,200 Jews attempting to flee were killed in the streets with the aid of the newly formed Ukrainian Auxiliary Police.[5][6] The remaining slave-workers were transferred to labor facilities, with about 450 people murdered in February 1943. The last of the Drohobycz Jews were transported in groups to Bronicki Forest (las bronicki, i.e. Bronica Forest) and massacred over execution pits between 21 and 30 May 1943.[5]

One of the most notable inmates of the Drohobych Ghetto was Bruno Schulz, educator, graphic artist and author of popular books Street of Crocodiles and the Cinnamon Shops.[7] He painted murals for the children's room of one of the German officials before being shot, and after the war, became the most famous Polish writer detained and killed in the Ghetto. The mathematicians Juliusz Schauder and Józef Schreier lived in the ghetto before their deaths in 1943.[8] Drohobych was liberated by the forces of the Red Army on 6 August 1944.[9] There were only 400 survivors who registered with the Jewish committee after the war ended.[5]

Felix Landau, an SS Hauptscharführer of Austrian origin serving with an Einsatzkommando z.b.V based in Lemberg, participated is the mass executions of Jews, and wrote about it in his daily diary.[10]

Holocaust rescue

There were numerous rescue efforts during the ghetto liquidation. Among the Polish rescuers of Jews were members of the Karol Klimczak family who hid in their home 56 Jewish people from Drohobycz. First, they saved Regina and Sylvia in the spring of 1943. During the night, Mrs Klimczak crossed the river and brought two more Jews, Jozef Grossman and Leon Fasman. Five more Jews were brought in by their nephew from the Drohobycz ghetto. Crossing the river again, Anastazja Klimczak brought in Ignacy Stembach with his wife and nephew, and the Dym couple, followed by Jakub Drymer family with his wife and three children. The hiding place got too small. Karol Klimczak transferred the five Drymers and the Wajs brothers with wives, to his brother-in-law, Jan Sawinski. Many of the Jews did not have money, and no extra clothes. Anastazja shared her wardrobe with the women; her husband with the Jewish men. In summer 1944 the Germans showed up with their horses, but they did not discover anything. After the war the Klimczaks lost contact with the Jews they saved. They were not recognized as the Righteous.[11]

Among the Christian Poles bestowed with the honor of the Righteous Among the Nations were members of the Woloszanski family credited with saving 40 Jews in Drohobycz. The fugitives were kept in the basement; above them, incredibly, was a Gestapo lodging. The Woloszanski couple fed them and took care of removing the wastes quietly. They did not get a cent for the help, however, they were recognized as "Righteous" early in 1967. Inka Kawasniewski's husband was killed by the Soviets at Katyn. Inka saved Stella Kreshes, age 12 and her younger sister. Their father was killed by the Germans. Stella's uncle bought the Polish saviors a house, in which three more Jews found a hiding place as well. The rich uncle hid with the Woloszanski couple. Stella immigrated to Israel in 1949 and with time, won the recognition for Inka, who received her award posthumously.

Following World War II, at the insistence of Joseph Stalin during Tehran Conference confirmed as not negotiable at the Yalta Conference of 1945, Poland's borders were redrawn and Drohobych was incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR of the Soviet Union. The remaining Polish population was expelled and resettled back to new Poland before the end of 1946. The Jewish community was never restored. The USSR officially ceased to exist on 31 December 1991.[12][13]

See also


  1. "History of Jews in Drohobycz". Virtual Shtetl. Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Drohobych". Polacy na Wschodzie. KARTA Center with the Poles in the East Project. 2006. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
  3. "Drohobycz local history". Virtual Shtetl. Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  4. Drohobych during the period of nazism // Drohobyczer Zeitung (photos)
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Arad, Yitzhak (2009). The Holocaust in the Soviet Union. U of Nebraska Press. pp. 277, 282, 237. ISBN 080322270X. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  6. Howard Aster, Peter J. Potichnyj (1990). Ukrainian-Jewish Relations in Historical Perspective. CIUS Press. p. 415. ISBN 0920862535. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  7. "Hitler's Furies" by Wendy Lower. ISBN 0547807414
  8. Georgiadou, Maria (2004). Constantin Carathéodory: Mathematics and Politics in Turbulent Times. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9783540203520.
  9. События 1944 года (Events of 1944) at Hronos.ru
  10. The Lost. Searching for Bruno Schulz by Ruth Franklin (The New Yorker, December 16, 2002)
  11. Sylwester Fertacz (2005), "Krojenie mapy Polski: Bolesna granica" (Carving of Poland's map). Magazyn Społeczno-Kulturalny Śląsk. Retrieved from the Internet Archive on 5 June 2016.
  12. Simon Berthon, Joanna Potts (2007). Warlords: An Extraordinary Re-Creation of World War II. Da Capo Press. p. 285. ISBN 0306816504.
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