Before the war, there were about 30,000 Jews in Sosnowiec, making up about 20% of the town's population. Over the next few years Germans would resettle Jews from smaller local communities to Sosnowiec, temporarily increasing the Jewish community size to 45,000. By late 1942, Będzin and nearby Sosnowiec, which bordered Będzin, became the only two towns in the Zagłębie Dąbrowskie region that were still inhabited by Jews.
The city, located on the pre-war Polish-German border, was taken over by Germans within the first days of the invasion of Poland. Local Jews were rounded up and terrorized immediately; shootings and first mass executions followed soon afterward, and forced relocations, slowly creating a ghetto. On September 9, the Great Synagogue in Sosnowiec was burned.
Judenrat and Jewish police were soon established; the head of the Sosnowiec Judenrat was Moishe Merin (pl) (Mojżesz Merin). In the first months of 1940 the Zentrale der Judischen Altestenrate in Oberschlesien (Central Office of the Jewish Councils of Elders in Upper Silesia), headed by Merin, was created in Sosnowiec, representing about 45 communities. For a time, Merin became infamous as the dictator of the Jews of the Zaglebie region, with the power of life and death over local Jews. A local labor camp was established, along with various workshops, overseen by Germans (see Forced labor in Germany during World War II).
Ever since the ghetto was established, there had been a steady trickle of Jews sent to labor and extermination camps. Large transfers of Jews took part in May (1,500) and June 1942 (2,000). Around October 1942 - January 1943 the ghetto was moved to the Środula (pl) district. Środula also bordered the site of the Będzin Ghetto. At this point about 13,000 Jews still lived in Sosnowiec. The creation of the Sosnowiec ghetto ended on March 10, 1943, when it was finally closed off from the outside world.
Thousands of Jews were deported from Sosnowiec ghetto to Auschwitz in June 1943. The Ghetto was liquidated two months later, in August, and almost all remaining Jews were also deported to Auschwitz. A few hundred Jews remained in the Środula ghetto, which was liquidated in January 1944.
There had been considerable underground activity among the Jews in Sosnowiec Ghetto, mostly organized by the youth organizations Ha-No'ar ha-Ziyyoni, Gordonia, and Ha-Shomer ha-Za'ir. During the final major deportation push in August 1943, the Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB) in Będzin and Sosnowiec staged an uprising against the Germans. The uprising, a final act of defiance of the local population, was unsuccessful; most of the Jewish fighters perished fighting the overwhelming German forces.
Resistance of the ghetto inhabitants is commemorated by one of the streets in Sosnowiec, bearing the name "Street of the Ghetto Heroes" (Ul. Bohaterów Getta).
In popular culture
- Konrad Charmatz, Nightmares: memoirs of the years of horror under Nazi rule in Europe, 1939-1945, Syracuse University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-8156-0706-7,
- Charmatz, Google Print, p.28
- (Polish) Aleksandra Namysło, Rozmowa z dr Aleksandrą Namysło, historykiem z Oddziału Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej w Katowicach, Dziennik Zachodni, 28.07.2006
- Charmatz, Google Print, p.14
- Charmatz, Google Print, p.16
- Charmatz, Google Print, p.20
- Charmatz, Google Print, p.22
- Charmatz, Google Print, p.30
- Charmatz, Google Print, p.32
- Charmatz, Google Print, p.38
- Charmatz, Google Print, p.46
- Charmatz, Google Print, p.53
- Abraham J. Edelheit, A World in Turmoil: An Integrated Chronology of the Holocaust and World War II, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1991, ISBN 0-313-28218-8, Google Print, p.284
- Monica Wood, 12 Multicultural Novels: Reading and Teaching Strategies, Walch Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0-8251-2901-X, Google Print, p.82
- Sosnowiec Ghetto at shoaheducation.com
- Encyclopedia of the Holocaust
- Mieczysław Łyszczarz, Martyrologia Żydów m. Sosnowca w okresie okupacji hitlerowskiej, Sosnowiec 1970 r.
- Henry Schwab, The echoes that remain, Cardinal Spellman Philatelic Museum, 1992, p. 55
- Jarosław Sobaszk, Łukasz Podlejski, Żydzi w Sosnowcu-historia niepełna., ADORE Dąbrowa Górnicza 2005
- N.E.Sternfinkiel,Zagłada Żydów Sosnowca, Katowice 1946
- Konrad Elkana Charmatz, Nightmares: Memoirs of the Years of Horror Under Nazi Rule in Europe, 1939-1945, full text at MIGS
- Sosnowiec Ghetto at orans.org
- Book of Sosnowiec and the Surrounding Region in Zagłębie
- Photo from the Sosnowiec ghetto
- HOLOCAUST TESTIMONIES: The Ghetto of Sosnowiec (Srodula).
- Documents and postcards from Sosnowiec Ghetto
- salamandra, The House of Dolls written by Ka-Tzetnik (Yehiel De-Nur)