Tarnow is a town in southern Poland, approximately 70 km east of Krakow
Before the war around 25,000 Jews lived there, around 50% of the population. When the Germans bombed
Tarnow for the first time on 3 September 1939
, many of its Jews fled further east, while a
large influx of refugees from elsewhere in Poland moved into the town. The Germans occupied
Tarnow on 8 September 1939
, and they immediately started confiscating Jewish property and
capturing men in the streets for forced labour. On 9 November 1939
synagogues and prayer houses were set on fire and later demolished. In the same month a Judenrat
established. Its members made great efforts to assist the Jewish population. During
, the Nazis replaced them with another
|The former Ghetto
18 December 1939
Tarnow’s Jews were ordered
to wear a special badge and to hand in valuables such as jewellery or foreign currency on pain of death.
The first transport
|Occupation of Tarnow
of Polish prisoners to
departed from the old mikveh building (ritual Jewish bath) at
in Tarnow on 14 June 1940
). These 728 prisoners (708 Poles and 20 Jews) from the
(prison) were the first victims of the camp. On arrival they were tattooed
with the numbers 31 to 758. (Numbers 1 to 30 were allocated to German prisoner functionaries
brought from existing camps to assist
and his staff in setting up the camp).
The establishment of the Tarnow Ghetto was formally announced in March 1941
It remained open for 3 months. At the beginning of June Jews from the surrounding district were relocated
to Tarnow, and the population of the ghetto rose to 40,000. The Jews had very little food, as the German Supply
Department did not issue them with sufficient rations and they were forbidden on pain of death to
smuggle extra food into the ghetto. As a result a state of famine prevailed in the ghetto.
The First Aktion - June 1942
|The Ghetto in 1940
The first "aktion" against the Jews of Tarnow was carried out In June 1942
Higher SS- and Polizeiführer
for the Generalgouvernement
, visited Tarnow and gave instructions
to the local SD
authorities concerning the forthcoming operations. On
9 June 1942
the Jews were ordered by proclamation to report the following day to
for registration. The papers
of Jews who could prove they were employed on essential war work were stamped "SD"; the documents
of the others were marked with the letter "K". Subsequently the Judenrat
was ordered to surrender for
deportation all those whose papers had been stamped with a "K". When the Germans entered the
premises and requested the lists of Jews to be deported, Paul Reiss
declared he would be the first to go and was shot on the spot. Several other members of the Judenrat
Due to the enormous task represented by the first Aktion
, the security services sought assistance from
the local and district police, a company of Waffen-SS
(commanded by SS-Hauptsturmführer
, stationed at Debica
(Special Services), the Baudienst
(Polish pioneer service) and several
employees of the Tarnow labour exchange.
|The Ghetto in 1940
On the morning of 11 June 1942
, following a speech by
, commander of the
criminal police, the SS men were issued rations of alcohol and they and the Baudienst
, armed with axes,
broke down the locked doors of Jewish houses. Jews in possession of papers stamped with a "K" or with no papers
were taken away or killed on the spot. Children were murdered by having their heads smashed against walls or pavements.
Groups of Jews were dragged to a nearby forest and machine-gunned there; others were shot by the fence
of the Jewish cemetery. Several hundred Jews were killed in the steam bath establishment at
where they were choked by steam. During the Aktion
7,000 Jews were killed in Tarnow itself and in the
near Zbylitowska Gora
where they were buried in large pits. While these events were taking
place, 11,500 other Jews were marched to the railway station, where they were loaded into railway trucks
and deported to certain death in the gas chambers at
|The Ghetto in 1940
On 20 June 1942
the remaining Jews in Tarnow were ordered to enter a special
The ghetto was fenced in by a 2 m high wooden wall topped with barbed wire. The surviving Jews
were forbidden to leave the ghetto without approval. Other Jews began to pour into the ghetto from surrounding areas.
On 24-25 July 1942
the Jews were ordered out of their houses. They all had to remove
their shoes and, barefoot,
were driven with rifle butts and whips into the market square. Children were taken from their parents to a nearby
shed and shot. Some Jews were selected for forced labour; the rest were deported to
was conducted on direct orders from F.W. Krüger
, and the
inhabitants were notified by an announcement by Dr Pernutz
, deputy town major.
targeted the old, those sick and unfit for work, women and children. It was also known as the
("Children action") because of the large numbers of children killed.
|Order from September 1942
At 7 a.m. on 10 September 1942
, all Tarnow’s remaining 10,000 Jews had to present
themselves at the Magdeburger Platz
, the assembly square of the ghetto.
This operation was a repeat of the first Aktion
In charge was Gestapo
. The Jews were selected for either
deportation or work. The selection was again accompanied by acts of brutality. Jews were made to kneel on the ground
for many hours and shot dead for no apparent reason. SS officers Oppermann
displayed particular cruelty. The Jews were then
made to march in double file past a table near the main gate of the ghetto which was manned by the Gestapo
Those able to show permits with the seal of the Gestapo
were sent to one side; those whose permits had no
seal were sent to the other side. Jews were shot dead on the slightest pretext. Even the wives and children
of those selected to live were not spared; they were brutally taken away by the Gestapo
and loaded onto lorries.
Parents who refused to give up their children were simply shot on the spot. A local taxi driver was ordered to
organise vehicles to take several hundred old and sick Jews to the cemetery, where the victims were made
to undress and then shot.
|Deportation to Pustkow
The majority of Jews selected for deportation were taken from the ghetto during the Aktion
to a barracks on the
outskirts of the town, near the railway station. The selection of other Jews from the ghetto continued for
further two days. The Aktion
was completed on 12 September 1942
, and the Jews
in the barracks were led to the station, loaded into cattle wagons and taken to
, where they were all killed. The number of Jews deported or killed
in the town and at the cemetery is estimated at 10,000.
In October 1942
the ghetto was divided into two parts. Section A was organised as a
forced labour camp with
separate quarters for men and women. Its commander was SS-Hauptsturmführer
, and it housed Jewish men, women and children aged over 12 years, all
of whom were organised into working squads. This section was known as Zwangsarbeitslager Tarnow
. Section B
held all Jews who did not work and Jewish labourers with large families. Its commander was
. The Jews were not allowed to move from
one ghetto to the other.
On 15 November 1942
took place in Tarnow.
was again in charge. A significant number of Ghetto B inhabitants
decided to hide in shelters, basements and other places to avoid detection. The Ghetto A Jews left for work.
The Ghetto B Jews were ordered to report to the Magdeburger Platz
, where they
were made to surrender all
valuables. They were ordered to kneel down while Gestapo
officers Palten, Rommelmann,
Grunow, Jeck, Oppermann, Gaa and Libor
checked their documents in a brutal fashion. Gestapo
went with the head of the Jewish order police,
, to the tailor’s workshop administered by
, where several Jews were working. Among this group of Jewish
workers were David Fromowicz
and his wife Chaja, who were
both arrested and taken to the collecting point on the square.
At about midday the selected 2,500 Jews at the square were lined up in columns and marched under guard to
the station, where they were loaded into goods wagons which were then closed and sealed with lead. The
train left Tarnow station at about 6 p.m., stopping at Rzeszow station
where other wagons loaded with
Jews were coupled to the train. At midnight the train left Rzeszow
headed for Belzec
via Rawa Ruska
In the region of Rawa Ruska David and Chaja
, with other Jews, climbed through the air-vents in their wagon and jumped clear while the
train was moving. They returned to the Tarnow ghetto.
In early January 1943 SS-Oberscharführer
took over command of the ghetto. This mainly involved supervising the
Jewish labour force and safeguarding the property left behind by the deported Jews. In the
summer of 1943 there were still about 9,000 Jews in sections A and B of the ghetto.
The Final Liquidation - August/September 1943
|Destroyed Jewish Cemetery
In the middle of August 1943
a conference was held in the office of
, who had replaced
for the Generalgouvernement
presided over the conference. It was announced
that a fourth Aktion
would take place in early September 1943
to liquidate the
took a particularly sinister and deadly decision by placing
, the liquidator of the ghettos in
, and the Szebnie
in charge of the operation.
At the end of August 1943
a further conference was held to fine-tune the plans for
the final liquidation of the ghetto.
200 Jewish men and 100 Jewish women were to remain in the ghetto to serve as a cleaning-up party.
2,000 Jews from the Madritsch clothing factory
were transferred to Plaszow
The approximately 6,000 remaining Jews were to receive "special treatment" in
On the morning of 3 September 1943
SS/SD and other forces surrounded the ghetto.
The working Jews from Ghetto A paraded as on any other day, the Jews in Ghetto B also gathered in the
. The Jewish clearing command was organised and made
to parade in the grounds of the Singer
, which proved to be extremely suitable for the purpose because it was already fenced. A sentry
was posted at the entrance to the factory grounds to prevent Jews selected for deportation from slipping into
the rear cleaning party. Next followed the selection of Jews from Ghetto A for employment at the
forced labour camp.
Many Jews realised the Jews in the Singer factory
grounds were not slated for immediate deportation
and tried to join them. Göth
and his colleagues had anticipated this move,
and set about ill-treating the Jews who attempted to escape. Göth
through the rows of Jews with his pistol drawn, shouting and dealing out blows. He immediately shot dead some Jews
who were slow to act. He hit a Jewish woman called Zimmermann
so hard that she
fell to the ground, dead. Jews were shot out of hand and their bodies strewn across the square. Jews hiding in
their houses were shot on the spot.
|Remnants of a Tarnow Synagogue
That same afternoon, Jews were led in groups from Magdeburger Platz
railway station and loaded
into goods wagons, 160 Jews per wagon. The air-vents of the wagons were closed and wooden planks
nailed over them. Many Jews died of suffocation en route to Auschwitz
due to the lack of ventilation.
About 50 Jews who had attempted to smuggle small children with them out of the ghetto in rucksacks
were taken out of the transport and driven back by lorry to the ghetto, where
and other SS-men started shooting at them. They were all killed.
The Nazi occupation of Tarnow ended on 18 January 1945
when the Soviet
Army entered the city.
Many members of the SS/SD and auxiliary forces, responsible for the extermination of the
Tarnow Jews, had died before investigations were launched in the 1960
three major former members of the Sicherheitspolizei-Außenstelle
(Security Police - Field
Office) were charged with crimes in Tarnow.
was accused of the murder of at least 156 members
of the Jewish community of Tarnow and the deportation of about 23,000 Jews to the extermination camps of
Belzec and Auschwitz.
was charged with compliance with execution orders involving the
death of at least 25 members of the Jewish community of Tarnow and the deportation of about 8,500 Jews
to the extermination camps of Belzec and Auschwitz.
was accused of compliance with execution orders involving the death
of at least 13 members of the Jewish community of Tarnow and the deportation of about 13,600 Jews to the
extermination camps of Belzec and Auschwitz.
Mass Extermination Crimes in Camps
life sentence + 6 Years
LG Bochum 640430
Country where the crime was committed:
Tarnow, HS ZAL Tarnow
4306-4402 (June 1943 - February 1944
Haftstättenpersonal ZAL Tarnow
Subject of the proceeding:
Individual shootings of at least 22 Jewish prisoners from Tarnow forced labour camp.
Participation in the liquidation of the Tarnow ghetto, in the course of which at least 4,000 Jewish men,
women and children were deported to KL Auschwitz. Shooting of Jews who had hidden themselves or their children
to escape deportation.
Published in "JusVerfahren Lfd.Nr. 710"
LG Bochum 690710
Polizei Sipo Tarnow
Deportation von Juden aus dem Ghetto Tarnow ins KL Belzec sowie Erschießungen im
Robin O’Neil - Selected extracts from unpublished research on Belzec and the Ghettos of Galicia
Encyclopedia of the Holocaust
© ARC (http://www.deathcamps.org) 2005