Brody is a town situated today in eastern Galicia in the Ukraine, an area that before WW2
was a part of Poland. The total population in 1939
was 22,000 of
whom about 10,000 were Jews and the remainder Ukrainians and Poles. The Jewish
community in Brody was very famous – on the one hand it was a renowned Galician
Hassidic centre, yet at the same time at the beginning of the 19th century Brody also
became one of the first locations of the Haskala (Jewish Enlightenment) in the province.
The prominent Jewish-Austrian novelist Joseph Roth
came from Brody. The town itself was also well known, since in the 18th century it
was major trading place, and in the 19th century, because of its location close to the
Russian border, many Jewish refugees travelled through Brody fleeing from Russian pogroms.
From September 1939 until 1 July 1941
the town was under Soviet occupation.
At that time some Jews collaborated with the Soviets and others, mainly wealthy people, were
prosecuted and deported to Siberia. Before the German army entered the town,
Brody was bombed for eight days. Many houses were completely destroyed and the
Soviet army evacuated the town in panic. German units captured the town on 1 July 1941
and were warmly welcomed by the local Ukrainian population. From the beginning of the
occupation the Jewish apartments were plundered by German soldiers and their Ukrainian collaborators.
As early as 7 July 1941
an "action against the Communists" was organised in
Brody. In practice,
Jewish intellectuals were arrested (in some cases together with their entire families) and on that
same day about 250 of them were executed at the Jewish cemetery. On the day following the
executions, the first Judenrat
was established from among the Jewish intelligentsia
who survived the "action". The first president of the Judenrat
, who before the war had been a director of a local bank.
According to the testimonies of survivors the first members of the Judenrat
decent, but later the Gestapo
replaced many members of the Judenrat
and very quickly this
institution became simply an instrument for implementing German policy. Together with Germans
and Ukrainians, many members of the Judenrat
, as well as Jewish policemen,
participated in the plunder of Jewish property. The German civil administration ordered the
payment of three "contributions" by the Jews. Apart from money and valuables, the Jews
had to supply the German offices and houses with furniture, clothes, shoes, linen and even
coffee. Although a closed ghetto was not established in the town until December 1942, the
Jews of Brody were not permitted to walk on the main street and they were only allowed to
shop for one hour per day – between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. All Jewish shops were
confiscated and given to Ukrainians.
In January 1942
, work camps for Jews were created near Brody at
430 young men from Brody were sent to these camps. In the first half of 1942
aggregate of Jews imprisoned in these camps rose to about 1,500, but their number
dwindled rapidly in the second half of 1942
due to the high death rate
caused by mistreatment,
starvation and disease. Jewish women worked mainly in the manors near the town. When
rumours spread about the first deportations, the Jews paid large sums of the money to
acquire work cards. At the same time, people began to construct shelters in their homes.
|Assembled for Deportation
The first deportation from Brody to
on 19 September 1942
. Germans (including members of the civil administration under
the command of Landkommissar Weiss
Ukrainian police and some civilian Ukrainians and Poles, who looked for hiding places
in the Jewish houses, participated in the "action". The Jews were gathered on the market
square and from there were led to the train. Many people were shot in their houses or on the
streets. On that day 4,500 Jews (other sources suggest 2,500) were deported to
. A second deportation was organised on
2 November 1942
Together with 2,500 - 3,000 other Jews, members of the Judenrat
policemen were deported at that time to Belzec
Information about the fate of the deportees was known to the Jews of Brody soon after
the first deportation. Rafal Schleger
, then a 12 year-old boy,
heard about Belzec
just after the first "action":
"Railway workers from the trains that carried people to the camp told about
Belzec. They described that there is an iron floor on which people are placed and
electricity kills them.
Rumours about using electricity for the killing of Jews in Belzec
abounded at that time in the whole of eastern Galicia.
Among the Germans in Brody there was one family who tried to aid the Jews.
and her husband Otto
who worked for the Forest Administration, were very active during the time of the "actions" in
assisting the Jews. Otto Hassenstein
saved many Jews by
assigning them to forest work. He told everyone:
"Whoever works for me needs to be treated honestly, no matter if they are a Jew, a
Pole or a German.
Of course, this work in the forests could only help in the short term, but still it was of great value
during the deportations. Both Hassenstein
s were arrested by the Gestapo
when somebody denounced them for sheltering in their attic a Jewess who had jumped
off a death train. During the "actions" in the town Liselotte Hassenstein
had frequently hidden Jews in her attic. The Hassenstein
s were taken to
and sentenced to two years imprisonment. Mrs.
was released from prison because she was in bad health, but was
still sent to KZ Ravensbrück
to complete her sentence.
|Ghetto Entrance *
After the second deportation, on 1 December 1942
, a closed
ghetto was established in the
town. About 4,000 local Jews and 3,000 Jews from neighbouring towns and villages such as
Sokolowka, Lopatyn, Olesko
were incarcerated on two streets: Browarna
The office of the Judenrat
was situated outside of the ghetto, on
. The ghetto was surrounded by barbed wire and
completely overcrowded. Because it was not permitted to have any contact with the non-Jewish
inhabitants of the town, most of the Jews starved. Only those who worked outside of the ghetto
had the possibility of smuggling in some food, but it was not enough. The members of the Judenrat
confiscated almost all of the smuggled food for themselves and their families. Officially, the
daily portion of bread for everybody in the ghetto measured 80 g. There was a kitchen in the
ghetto for poor people, but even there people had to pay for food. The price was not great,
but in a situation in which most of the people had no money, only relatively wealthy individuals
could afford to eat the soup in the people's kitchen. At the same time there was a typhus
epidemic in the ghetto. During the winter of 1942/1943
, about 1,500 Jews died in
Brody from starvation and typhus.
|Ruins of the Synagogue *
At the beginning of 1943
a resistance group was organised in the ghetto.
The leader was
. The resistance organisation made contact with the
Polish underground, a unit of the Polish People's Army from whom they obtained several guns.
The Jews wanted to organise resistance in the event of the liquidation of the ghetto. Some
of the members of the group decided to escape to the forest prior to the liquidation. In addition,
other Jews who were not connected with the resistance decided to escape from the ghetto in
the certain knowledge that the next "action" would be the ghetto's final liquidation. In the
a so-called "family camp" was organized, where
80 - 200 Jews from Brody were hidden.
The final liquidation of the ghetto occurred on 21 May 1943
, in the course of which
members of underground organisation opened fire on the Ukrainian policemen and Germans.
Several Ukrainians were killed. The Germans set fire in the ghetto and many people were
burned alive. Others were executed on the streets or in the forest near the town but in the
chaos that ensued, many Jews escaped from the ghetto. Among them were some members
of the resistance, led by Weiler
. He survived the war in a
partisan unit. Of the many people who tried to escape only a very few survived with the help of
Poles and Ukrainians. In this final deportation, more than 3,000 inmates of the ghetto were probably sent to
. From the entire pre-war Jewish population of 10.000 in Brody,
only 88 people survived until the liberation.
, 1976 - 82:
Ab., Wolfgang Maria Marquardt Viktor
- Case dismissed, acquittal
- 3 years
Polizei Pol.Rgt.Süd -Nachrichtenabteilung 2-
Crimes committed in July – September 1941 in: unknown, Brody
Mass shooting of at least 100 Jews at an unknown location in the Kiev area (near Polonnoye), and
approximately 60 Jews in Brody.
Photos: USHMM *
Brody Map: Ner Tamid: Yizkor leBrody (An Eternal Light: Brody Memorial Book)
, Israel, 1994.
Gutman, Israel, ed. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust
, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1990
Archive of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. Testimonies by survivors.
© ARC 2005