|Transit to extermination camps|
Liquidation of the Sosnowiec Ghetto. Deportation action at the Sosnowiec Central station, 1943 Auschwitz
during World War II
|Known for||The Holocaust in Poland|
The Sosnowiec Ghetto (German: Sosnowitz) was a World War II ghetto set up by Nazi German authorities for Polish Jews in the Province of Upper Silesia in occupied Poland. During the Holocaust, most inmates, estimated at over 35,000 Jewish men, women and children were deported in railway cattle trucks to Auschwitz death camp in Aktionen lasting from June until August 1943. The Ghetto was liquidated following an unsuccessful uprising, a final act of defiance of its Underground Jewish Combat Organization (Polish: Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa, ŻOB) made up of youth. Most of the Jewish fighters perished.
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 the 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 on German orders; the head of the Sosnowiec Judenrat was Moshe Merin (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 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).
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- N.E.Sternfinkiel,Zagłada Żydów Sosnowca, Katowice 1946.
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