Ghetto of Krakow

The ghetto Jew from Krakow was one of the five major ghettos created by the Nazis in the General Government , during its occupation of Poland in World War II . It separated people capable of working from those considered worthy of execution. Before the war, Krakow had been an influential cultural center for the Jews residing in it.


The persecution of the Jewish population of Krakow began shortly after the Nazis occupied the city, in September of 1939, during the invasion of Poland . The Jews were forced to perform forced labor (September 1939). In November 1939, all Jews over the age of 12 were forced to wear identification bracelets. The closure of all decreed synagogues of the city and its relics and valuables were confiscated by the Nazi authorities.

By May 1940, the German occupation authority announced that Krakow should become the “cleanest” city of the General Government (part of Poland occupied but not annexed to Germany) and decreed the mass deportation of the Jews of the city. Of the more than 68,000 Jews living in Krakow at the arrival of the Germans, only 15,000 workers were allowed to remain with their families. The other Jews were expelled from the city and settled in the surrounding counties.

The Krakow ghetto was formally established on 3 of March of 1941 . As the ghetto was created in the Podgórze district , and not in the Polish district of Kazimierz , many displaced Polish families occupied the vacated houses by the Jews. Before the creation of the ghetto lived in Podgórze 3000 people. With the arrival of the Jews the figure reached 15 000 people, overcrowded in 30 streets, 320 apartment buildings and 3167 rooms. As a result, each apartment should house 4 families, and many of the most unfortunate had to sleep in the open.

The ghetto was surrounded by walls that isolated him from the city. All doors and windows facing the “side Aryan ” were boarded up, but continued allowing traffic monitored four innings. By macabre coincidence, the walls (some of which are still preserved) contained panels in the form of tombstones.

Young leftist youth movement Zionist Akiva, who had begun publishing the clandestine bulletin HeHalutz HaLohem ( “The pioneer fighter”), allied with other Zionist organizations to form the local branch of the Jews Fighter Organization (ZOB, Polish : Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa), and organized resistance in the ghetto, supported by the Polish resistance ( Armia Krajowa ). The group carried out several operations, including the placement of a bomb in the cafeteria Cyganeria, frequented by Nazi officials. Unlike Warsaw , his efforts did not lead to a general uprising before the ghetto was liquidated.

From 30 of maypole of 1942 , the Nazis began to systematically deport the inhabitants of the ghetto to nearby concentration camps.

On 13 March of and 14th 1943 the Nazis executed the ‘liquidation’ end of the ghetto under the command of Sturmbannführer of the SS Willi Haase . 8000 Jews considered to be in work were transported to Krakow-Płaszów concentration camp . Those considered incapable of working (about 2000) were killed in the streets of the ghetto during those days. Those who remained were sent to die at Auschwitz .


Film director Roman Polanski , a ghetto survivor, recalls his childhood experience in his memoirs, Roman . In the first few months, Polanski writes, the situation was one of normality with occasional moments of terror. Residents dined outside and listened to music bands, and children, like Polanski, played in the snow.

Roma Ligocka , Polish artist and author, and Roman Polanski’s cousin, was rescued and survived the ghetto. Many years later, after being portrayed in the film Schindler’s List , Ligocka would write the novel The Girl in the Red Wrap: Memories , based on her experiences.

Tadeusz Pankiewicz , Polish pharmacist owner of the Krakow Eagle Pharmacy. When it was inside the designated ghetto area, it was allowed to continue the business. In gratitude for his heroism in rescuing several Jews from the Krakow Ghetto, he was given the title of Righteous Among the Nations . He published a book about his time in the ghetto, The Cracow Ghetto Pharmacy ISBN 0-89604-115-8 .

The German speculator Oskar Schindler came to Krakow to take advantage of the workforce of the ghetto. He selected employees to work on his enamelled kitchenware plant, and began to sympathize with them. In 1942 , Schindler watched ghetto inhabitants were brutally taken to Płaszów , and from then on he devoted himself with determination to save Jews interned there, which is told in the film Schindler’s List . At a particularly dramatic moment, 300 of Schindler’s operatives were deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp despite their efforts, and he intervened personally to save them.

See also

  • Occupation of Poland (1939-1945)
  • History of Jews in Poland
  • Second World War
  • List of Jewish ghettos under the Nazi regime
  • Holocaust
  • Krakow
  • Ghetto of Lviv
  • Righteous Among the Nations


  • Graf, Malvina (1989). The Kraków Ghetto and the Plaszów Camp Remembered . Tallahassee: The Florida State University Press. ISBN 0-8130-0905-7
  • Katz, Alfred. (1970). Poland’s Ghettos at War . New York: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0-8290-0195-6
  • Polanski, Roman. (1984). Roman . New York: William Morrow and Company. ISBN 0-688-02621-4
  • Weiner, Rebecca. Virtual tour of the ghetto