Janowska concentration camp

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Janowska concentration camp
Concentration camp
Members of a Sonderkommando 1005 unit pose next to a bone crushing machine in the Janowska concentration camp.png
Sonderkommando 1005 next to a bone crushing machine during liquidation of genocide evidence in the Janowska concentration camp
Location of Janowska camp in modern Ukraine
Janowska concentration camp is located in Poland
 Janowska camp
 Janowska camp
From the map of Poland before the invasion
Coordinates 49°51′15″N 23°59′24″E / 49.85417°N 23.99000°E / 49.85417; 23.99000Coordinates: 49°51′15″N 23°59′24″E / 49.85417°N 23.99000°E / 49.85417; 23.99000
Location Lwów, occupied Poland; today Lviv, Ukraine
Operated by Schutzstaffel (SS)
Original use Civilian internment camp
Operational September 1941 – November 1943
Inmates Jews
Killed 200,000 (est. by Soviet Special Commission)
Liberated by The Red Army
Website Janowska - Lvov

Janowska concentration camp (Polish: Janowska, Russian: Янов or "Yanov") was a Nazi German labor, transit and extermination camp established September 1941 in occupied Poland on the outskirts of Lwów (Poland, today Lviv in Ukraine). The camp was labeled Janowska after the nearby street ulica Janowska in Lwów (later renamed Shevchenka street, Ukrainian: Вулиця Шевченка after the city was annexed into the Ukrainian SSR). The camp was liquidated in November 1943. According to Soviet prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, Yanov was mainly an extermination camp where up to 200,000 victims perished.

Background - the Lwów Ghetto[edit]

Main article: Lwów Ghetto

The city of Lwów, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine) was occupied by the Soviet Union in September 1939 (after the invasion of Poland at the beginning of World War II), under the terms of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. At that time, there were over 330,000 Jews residing in Lwów, including over 90,000 Jewish children and infants. Over 150,000 of these Jews were refugees from the German-occupied part of Poland. In June 1941, however, the German Army occupied Lwów as part of the Operation Barbarossa invasion. Almost no Jews were alive at the end of the war, many being horrifically tormented and tortured before they were murdered.

During the Lwów/Lemberg massacre of June 1941, the retreating Soviets killed about 7,000 Polish and Ukrainian prisoners who were being held in three prisons (Brygidki, Zamarstynów, Łąckiego) in Lwów. The Germans blamed the massacre on the Jews and used the NKVD's atrocity as propaganda to incite a first pogrom in which over 4,000 Jews were killed. A further 7,000 Jews were murdered by the German Einsatzgruppen.

The onset of the Nazi regime let loose a wave of antisemitic feeling. Encouraged by the German army, local Ukrainian nationalists murdered about 5,500 Jews during the second Lviv pogrom in early July 1941. On July 25–27, 1941, a second pogrom took place, known as the "Petliura Days", named for Symon Petliura. For three straight days, Ukrainian militants went on a murderous rampage through the Jewish districts of Lwów. Groups of Jews were herded out to the Jewish cemetery and to the prison on Łąckiego street where they were shot. More than 2,000 Jews were killed and thousands more were injured.

In early November 1941, the Nazis closed off northern portions of the city of Lwów into a ghetto. German police shot and killed thousands of elderly and sick Jews as they crossed under the rail bridge on Pełtewna Street (which was called bridge of death by Jews), while they were on their way to the ghetto. In March 1942, the Nazis began to deport Jews from the ghetto to the Belzec extermination camp. By August 1942, more than 65,000 Jews had been deported from the Lwów ghetto and killed. In early June 1943, the Germans destroyed and liquidated the ghetto.

The Janowska labour and transit camp[edit]

In addition to the Lwów ghetto, in September 1941, the Germans set up a D.A.W. (Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke - the German Armament Works) workshop in prewar Steinhaus' mill machines factory on 134 Janowska Street, in northwestern suburbs of Lwów (at that time in German-occupied southeastern Poland, now in western Ukraine). This factory became a part of a network of factories, owned and operated by the SS. The commandant of the camp was SS-Haupsturmführer Fritz Gebauer. Jews who worked at this factory were used as forced laborers, mainly working in carpentry and metalwork.

In October 1941, the Nazis established a concentration camp beside the factory, which housed the forced laborers along with the rest of the prisoners. Thousands of Jews from the Lwów ghetto were forced to work as slave laborers in this camp. When the Lwów ghetto was liquidated by the Nazis, the ghetto's inhabitants who were fit for work were sent to the Janowska camp; the rest were deported to the Belzec for extermination. The concentration camp was guarded by a Sonderdienst battalion of the SS-trained Hiwi police guards known as "Trawniki men".[1]

In addition to being a forced-labor camp for Jews, Janowska was a transit camp (Durchgangslager Janowska) during the mass deportations of Polish Jews to the killing centers in 1942. Jews underwent a selection process in Janowska camp similar to that used at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek extermination camps. Those classified as fit to work remained at Janowska for forced labor. The majority, rejected as unfit for work, were deported to Belzec and killed, or else were shot at the Piaski ravine, located just north of the camp. In the summer and fall of 1942, thousands of Jews (mainly from the Lwów ghetto) were deported to Janowska and killed in the Piaski ravine.

The Nazis occasionally allowed small groups of Jews to go to town for daylong leaves of absence. They would use this temporary freedom to dig up Torahs that had been hidden in Lwów's Jewish cemetery. The Torahs were then cut into pieces which were hidden under their clothes and smuggled back into the camp. After the war the various pieces were assembled into a single scroll, the Yanov torah, which is currently in California.[2]

1944: The Soviet Extraordinary State Commission researches the crimes of German Nazis at Janowska concentration camp and mass graves adjoining the camp.

Liquidation of the Janowska camp[edit]

The evacuation of the Janowska camp began in November 1943. As the Germans attempted to destroy the traces of mass murder (Sonderaktion 1005), they forced the prisoners to open the mass graves in Lesienicki forest and burn the bodies. On November 19, 1943, the inmates staged an uprising against the Nazis and attempted a mass escape. A few succeeded in escaping, but most were recaptured and killed. The SS staff and their local auxiliaries murdered at least 6,000 Jews who had survived the uprising killings, as well as Jews in other forced labor camps in Galicia, at the time of the Janowska camp's liquidation.

The Soviet Extraordinary State Commission determined that over 200,000 people were killed in Janowska in the course of the camp operation. The ashes mixed with crushed bones were buried to a depth of six feet in various places.[3] Leon Weliczker Wells told the Commission that between June 6 and November 20, 1943 his "team burned more than 310,000 bodies" including 170,000 in the immediate vicinity of the camp and another 140,000 or more in the Lysynychi area of eastern Lwów.[4] Weliczker repeated the claim of "a few hundred thousand" at Adolf Eichmann's trial in 1961.[5]

The Commission's reliability has been disputed, however, as politically motivated. When Nikolay Burdenko was chairman of the Extraordinary State Commission for the Katyn massacre, for example, his report was later acknowledged to be an outright falsfication that sought to falsely attribute a Soviet war crime to the Germans.[6]

Janowska served as a Soviet prison camp after its liberation.[3]

Notable inmates[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Holocaust Encyclopedia. "Trawniki" (permission granted to be reused, in whole or in part, on Wikipedia; OTRS ticket no. 2007071910012533). United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved July 21, 2011. Text from USHMM has been released under the GFDL. 
  2. ^ Erwin and Agnes Herman The Yanov Torah Kar-Ben Publishing ISBN 978-0930494452 (1985)
  3. ^ a b Carmelo Lisciotto, H.E.A.R.T (2007). "The Soviet Special Commission". Janowska - Lvov. Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  4. ^ Avner Falk Anti-semitism: A History and Psychoanalysis of Contemporary Hatred ABC-CLIO ISBN 9780313353840 (2008) p. 191
  5. ^ "The Trial of Adolf Eichmann" Session #23 2 May 1961
  6. ^ Fischer, Benjamin B., "The Katyn Controversy: Stalin's Killing Field". "Studies in Intelligence", Winter 1999–2000. Retrieved August 17, 2013.

External links[edit]