Radom Ghetto

Radom Ghetto was a Nazi ghetto set up in March 1941 in the city of Radom during occupation of Poland, for the purpose of persecution and exploitation of Polish Jews. It was closed off from the outside officially in April 1941.[1] A year and a half later, the liquidation of the ghetto began in August 1942, and ended in July 1944, with approximately 30,000–32,000 victims (men, women and children) deported aboard Holocaust trains to their deaths at the Treblinka extermination camp.[2]

The Radom Ghetto
Radom Ghetto street 2
Street in the Radom Ghetto, c. 1940–1941
Red pog.svg
Location of Radom Ghetto in World War II,
west of Majdanek concentration camp
Radom Ghetto is located in Poland
Radom Ghetto
Radom Ghetto
Location of Radom in Poland today
LocationRadom, German-occupied Poland
51°14′N 21°06′E / 51.24°N 21.10°ECoordinates: 51°14′N 21°06′E / 51.24°N 21.10°E
Incident typeImprisonment, mass shooting, forced labor, starvation, deportations to death camps
PerpetratorsSS, Order Police battalions
Victims33,000 Jews


In the invasion of Poland, the city of Radom was overrun by the German forces on 8 September 1939. The total population was 81,000 at that time of which 25,000 were Jewish.[3] On 30 November 1939 the SS-Gruppenführer Fritz Katzmann from Selbstschutz who led the murder operations earlier in Wrocław,[4] and in Katowice,[5] was appointed the Higher SS and Police Leader (SSPF) of occupied Radom. His arrival was followed by wonton violence and plunder for personal gain. Katzmann ordered the execution of Jewish leaders right away.[5] Before the creation of a ghetto, many Jews were pressed into forced labor. One of their first tasks on German orders was to rebuild the prewar Polish Łucznik Arms Factory damaged in the attack, to meet the German military needs. The factory served as the major local Nazi employer throughout the war.[3]

The Germans forced the Jewish community to pay contributions, and seized their valuables and businesses.[3] Nevertheless, the precious metal holdings were already depleted because the Radom Jews – especially the Jewish women from "Wizo" – made massive donations to Polish air-force fund four months before the invasion. Even the least fortunate Jews purchased air-defense bonds with pride until May 1939.[6]

Soon after the invasion, around September–October 1939, the SS conducted surprise raids on synagogues. The worshipers were dragged out and put into labour commandos. The Radom Synagogue was desecrated by the Nazis and its furnishings destroyed. To instill fear, the Jewish city councilor Jojna (Yona) Zylberberg was marched with a stone over his head and beaten by the SS soldiers.[3] His wife died in an accident at home only months earlier by falling out of a window when she tried to hang sheers, leaving her two children behind.[7] Around December 1939 – January 1940 the Judenrat was established to serve as an intermediary organization between the German command and the local Jewish community. One thousand men were sent to labour camps of the Lublin reservation in the summer of 1940. In December, the German Governor-General Hans Frank stationing in Kraków ordered the expulsion of 10,000 Jews from the city. Only 1,840 were deported due to technical difficulties. In the spring of 1941 there were about 32,000 Jews in Radom.[3] Katzmann remained there until Operation Barbarossa.[5]

Ghetto history

The city of Radom received Jews expelled from other locations in Poland including the Jewish inmates of the Kraków Ghetto because Kraków – according to the wishes of Gauleiter Hans Frank – was to become the "racially cleanest" city of the General Government territory to serve as its German capital. The Governor-General Frank issued an order to create Radom ghetto in March 1941. A week earlier the Jewish Ghetto Police was formed by the new Nazi administration to aid with the relocations.[3] The Jews were given ten days in which to vacate their prewar homes and settle within the ghetto zone along with their families. The area was split in two like in many other Polish cities. The ghetto gates were closed from the outside on 7 April 1941.[3] About 33,000 Polish Jews were gathered there; 27,000 at the main ghetto, and about 5,000 at a smaller ghetto in the suburb. Most of the ghetto area was not walled; the barriers were formed by the buildings themselves and the exits were managed by Jewish and Polish police. The "large ghetto" was set up at Wałowa street in central Śródmieście District and the "small ghetto" at the Glinice District.[3]

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-030-0795-05A, Polen, Distrikt Radom, Juden vor Badeanstalt
Jewish men with armbands in the Radom Ghetto, March 1941

As with many other ghettos across occupied Poland, starvation was not uncommon. The German-allotted rations for a person in the ghetto were 100 grams (3.5 oz) of bread per day. Nonetheless the conditions in the Radom Ghetto were on average better than in many other contemporary ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe.[3]

In the first months of 1942 the Germans carried out several actions, arresting or summarily executing various leaders of the Jewish community. The Germans began to liquidate the Radom Ghetto in earnest, starting in August 1942 as part of Operation Reinhard. The first large deportation emptied the smaller Glinice ghetto.[3] The Germans were aided by the Polish Blue Police units,[8] and "Hiwis".[9] By the end of August approximately 2,000 Jews remained in Radom.[3] The deported Jews were sent to extermination camps (primarily Treblinka and Auschwitz). The remnants of the Radom ghetto were turned into a temporary labor camp. The last Radom Jews were evicted in June 1944, when on June 26 the last inhabitants were deported to Auschwitz.[3] Only a few hundred Jews from Radom survived the war.

Escape and rescue

Among the Polish rescuers of Jews, the most prominent role belonged to Dr. Jerzy Borysowicz (pl),[10] director of the mental hospital in Radom located at Warszawska Street. The facility was spared by the Nazis only because the former church building could not be turned into any war-related purpose. The Jews, including children, were receiving daily help from Borysowicz as well as his medical staff in total secrecy.[10] The most dramatic was the rescue of people suffering in the ghetto from the Typhoid fever. Borysowicz treated Mordechai Anielewicz, leader of the Jewish Combat Organization instrumental in engineering the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Most of his patients however, did not survive the Holocaust.[10] Anielewicz died in the Uprising.[11] Borysowicz was awarded the title of Righteous among the Nations posthumously, in 1984, four years after his death on 5 June 1980.[10]

Among those Poles who were murdered by the Nazis for saving Jews was 60-years-old Adam Rafałowicz living in Radom, shot on 18 September 1942 for rendering help to a Jew;[12] There were more such murders in the Radom county. A group of villagers from around Ciepielów near Radom including Piotr Skoczylas and his 8-year-old daughter Leokadia were burned alive by a police battalion on 6 December 1942 for sheltering Jews.[13] On the same day, another barn full of people was set on fire in nearby Rekówka, and 33 Poles saving Jews were burned alive including the families of Obuchiewicz, Kowalski, and 14 Kosiors.[13] Roman Jan Szafranski, age 64, living in Radom with his wife Jadwiga, were caught sheltering a Jewish girl, Anna Kerc (born in 1937); the girl was killed, he was sent to Gross-Rosen concentration camp where he perished. His wife was sent to Ravensbruck but survived.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Krzysztof Bielawski (2015). "Getto w Radomiu". Virtual Shtetl. POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  2. ^ The statistical data compiled on the basis of "Glossary of 2,077 Jewish towns in Poland" Archived 2016-02-08 at the Wayback Machine by Virtual Shtetl Museum of the History of the Polish Jews  (Polish), as well as "Getta Żydowskie" by Gedeon  (Polish) and "Ghetto List" by Michael Peters at ARC. Accessed March 12, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l “Radom” Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Poland, Volume VII (Poland), Translation of “Radom” chapter from Pinkas Hakehillot Polin, Published by Yad Vashem
  4. ^ Waldemar „Scypion” Sadaj (January 27, 2010). "Fritz Friedrich Katzmann". SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS und Polizei. Allgemeine SS & Waffen-SS. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Claudia Koonz (November 2, 2005). "SS Man Katzmann's "Solution of the Jewish Question in the District of Galicia"" (PDF). The Raul Hilberg Lecture. University of Vermont: 2, 11, 16–18. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  6. ^ Tygodnik radomski (28 April 1939). "Kobiety żydowskie przodują w ofiarności na FON. Wielka zbiórka złota. Wzrost subskrypcji" [Jewish women in the lead of donations for Defense Fund] (DjVu scanned document). Tygodnik radomski, Nr 17 / Rok IV. Trybuna. pp. 1–3. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  7. ^ Nowy Głos (16 April 1938). "Wstrząsająca śmierć żony radnego" (DjVu built-in Java applet with required Virtual machine installation). Żydowski Dziennik Poranny. Warsaw: Nowy Głos. p. 4. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  8. ^ The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945, volume 2, part A, edited by Geoffrey P. Megargee, page 291
  9. ^ "Trawniki". Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved July 21, 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d Dr Maria Ciesielska, ed. by Klara Jackl (2014). "Jerzy Borysowicz (1904–1980)". Sprawiedliwy wśród Narodów Świata - tytuł przyznany. Sprawiedliwi.org.pl. p. 1. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  11. ^ Zertal, Idith (2005). Israel's Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood. Cambridge University Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-521-85096-4.
  12. ^ Ryszard Walczak (1 January 1996). Those who helped: Polish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust. Main Commission for the Investigation of Crimes against the Polish Nation--The Institute of National Memory. p. 109. ISBN 978-83-908819-0-4.
  13. ^ a b "A Crime in Stary Ciepielów and Rekówka - the Story of the Kowalski, Obuchiewicz, Skoczylas and Kosior Families | Polscy Sprawiedliwi". sprawiedliwi.org.pl. Retrieved 2019-06-12.
  14. ^ Rusek, Małgorzata (9 March 2018). "Ksiądz, który ratował żydowskie dziecko odzyskał nazwisko". Gazeta Wyborcza: Magazyn Radomski (in Polish). Retrieved 2019-06-12.

Further reading

  • Sebastian Piątkowski, "Radom - zarys dziejów miasta", Radom 2000, ISBN 83-914912-0-X.
  • Sebastian Piątkowski "Dni życia, dni śmierci. Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918 - 1950", Naczelna Dyrekcja Archiwów Państwowych, Warszawa 2006, ISBN 83-89115-31-X
  • Manny Steinberg, describes living as a child in the Radom Ghetto, Amsterdam Publishers 2015, ISBN 9789082103137. Also in French: Souvenirs d'un survivant de la Shoah, in German: Aufschrei gegen das Vergessen and in Italian: Il Grido di Protesta: Memorie dell’Olocausto.
  • Marlot Wandel, Personal testimony on hiding as a child in the Radom Ghetto (PDF file, direct download) Yadvashem.org – Testimony of Marlot Wandel, pages. 3-4.

External links

Bat-Sheva Dagan

Bat-Sheva Dagan (Hebrew: בת-שבע דגן‎) (born September 8, 1925) is a Polish-Israeli Holocaust survivor, educator, author, and speaker. Born in Łódź, Poland, she was incarcerated in a ghetto in Radom with her parents and two sisters in 1940. After her parents and a sister were deported and murdered in Treblinka in August 1942, she escaped to Germany, but was discovered, imprisoned, and deported to Auschwitz in May 1943. After spending 20 months in Auschwitz, she survived two death marches and was liberated by British troops in May 1945. She was the only survivor of her family. She and her husband settled in Israel, where she taught kindergarten and later obtained degrees in educational counseling and psychology. She went on to author books, poems, and songs for children and young adults on Holocaust themes, and developed psychological and pedagogical methods for teaching the Holocaust to children. She is considered a pioneer in children's Holocaust education.

Fritz Katzmann

Fritz Katzmann, also known as Friedrich Katzmann, (6 May 1906 – 19 September 1957) was a German SS and police official during the Nazi era. He perpetrated genocide in the cities of Katowice, Radom, Lemberg (Lwów), Danzig (Gdańsk), and across the Nazi German District of Galicia during the Holocaust in occupied Poland.Katzmann was responsible for many of the atrocities that were perpetrated by the SS during Operation Barbarossa. He personally directed the slaughter of between 55,000 and 65,000 Jews of Lemberg in 1941-1942 followed by mass deportations to death camps including Janowska (pictured). In 1943, Katzmann wrote a top-secret report summarizing Operation Reinhard in Galicia. The Katzmann Report is now considered one of the most important pieces of evidence of the extermination process. He managed to escape prosecution after the war, living under a false identity.

History of the Jews in Poland

The history of the Jews in Poland dates back over 1,000 years. For centuries, Poland was home to the largest and most significant Jewish community in the world. Poland was a principal center of Jewish culture, thanks to a long period of statutory religious tolerance and social autonomy. This ended with the Partitions of Poland which began in 1772, in particular, with the discrimination and persecution of Jews in the Russian Empire. During World War II there was a nearly complete genocidal destruction of the Polish Jewish community by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, during the 1939–1945 German occupation of Poland and the ensuing Holocaust. Since the fall of communism in Poland, there has been a Jewish revival, featuring an annual Jewish Culture Festival, new study programs at Polish secondary schools and universities, the work of synagogues such as the Nożyk Synagogue, and Warsaw's Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

From the founding of the Kingdom of Poland in 1025 through to the early years of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth created in 1569, Poland was the most tolerant country in Europe. Historians have described the label paradisus iudaeorum (Latin for "Paradise of the Jews"). The country became a shelter for persecuted and expelled European Jewish communities and the home to the world's largest Jewish community of the time. According to some sources, about three-quarters of the world's Jews lived in Poland by the middle of the 16th century. With the weakening of the Commonwealth and growing religious strife (due to the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation), Poland's traditional tolerance began to wane from the 17th century onward. After the Partitions of Poland in 1795 and the destruction of Poland as a sovereign state, Polish Jews were subject to the laws of the partitioning powers, the increasingly antisemitic Russian Empire, as well as Austria-Hungary and Kingdom of Prussia (later a part of the German Empire). Still, as Poland regained independence in the aftermath of World War I, it was the center of the European Jewish world with one of the world's largest Jewish communities of over 3 million. Antisemitism was a growing problem throughout Europe in those years, from both the political establishment and the general population.In 1939 at the start of World War II, Poland was partitioned between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union (see Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact). One-fifth of the Polish population perished during World War II; the 3,000,000 Polish Jews murdered in The Holocaust, who constituted 90% of Polish Jewry, made up half of all Poles killed during the war. Although the Holocaust occurred largely in German-occupied Poland, there was little collaboration with the Nazis by its citizens. Collaboration by individual Poles has been described as smaller than in other occupied countries. Statistics of the Israeli War Crimes Commission indicate that less than 0.1% of Poles collaborated with the Nazis. Examples of Polish attitudes to German atrocities varied widely, from actively risking death in order to save Jewish lives, and passive refusal to inform on them, to indifference, blackmail, and in extreme cases, participation in pogroms such as the Jedwabne pogrom. Grouped by nationality, Poles represent the largest number of people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.In the post-war period, many of the approximately 200,000 Jewish survivors registered at Central Committee of Polish Jews or CKŻP (of whom 136,000 arrived from the Soviet Union) left the Polish People’s Republic for the nascent State of Israel, North America or South America. Their departure was hastened by the destruction of Jewish institutions, post-war violence and the hostility of the Communist Party to both religion and private enterprise, but also because in 1946–1947 Poland was the only Eastern Bloc country to allow free Jewish aliyah to Israel, without visas or exit permits. Most of the remaining Jews left Poland in late 1968 as the result of the "anti-Zionist" campaign. After the fall of the Communist regime in 1989, the situation of Polish Jews became normalized and those who were Polish citizens before World War II were allowed to renew Polish citizenship. Religious institutions were revived, largely through the activities of Jewish foundations from the United States. The contemporary Polish Jewish community is estimated to have between 10,000 and 20,000 members. The number of people with Jewish heritage of any sort may be several times larger.

Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland

Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland were established during World War II in hundreds of locations across occupied Poland. Most Jewish ghettos had been created by Nazi Germany between October 1939 and July 1942 in order to confine and segregate Poland's Jewish population of about 3.5 million for the purpose of persecution, terror, and exploitation. In smaller towns, ghettos often served as staging points for Jewish slave-labor and mass deportation actions, while in the urban centers they resembled walled-off prison-islands described by some historians as little more than instruments of "slow, passive murder", with dead bodies littering the streets.In most cases, the larger ghettos did not correspond to traditional Jewish neighborhoods, and non-Jewish Poles and members of other ethnic groups were ordered to take up residence elsewhere. Smaller Jewish communities with populations under 500 were terminated through expulsion soon after the invasion.

Jules Schelvis

Jules Schelvis (7 January 1921 – 3 April 2016) was a Dutch historian, writer, Holocaust survivor, and Nazi hunter. He lost his wife and most of his family during The Holocaust. Schelvis was a plaintiff and expert witness during the trial of John Demjanjuk.

List of Nazi ghettos

This article is a partial list of selected Jewish ghettos created by the Nazis for the purpose of isolating, exploiting and finally, eradicating Jewish population (and sometimes Gypsies) on territories they controlled. Most of the prominent ghettos listed here were set up by the Third Reich and its allies in the course of World War II. In total, according to USHMM archives, "The Germans established at least 1,000 ghettos in German-occupied and annexed Poland and the Soviet Union alone." Therefore, the examples are intended only to illustrate their scope across Eastern and Western Europe.


Radom ([ˈradɔm] (listen); Yiddish: ראָדעם‎ Rodem) is a city in east-central Poland, located 100 kilometres (62 miles) south of Poland's capital, Warsaw, on the Mleczna River, in (as of 1999) the Masovian Voivodeship, having previously been the capital of Radom Voivodeship (1975–1998). Despite being part of the Masovian Voivodeship, the city historically belongs to Lesser Poland. For centuries, Radom was part of the Sandomierz Voivodeship of the Kingdom of Poland and the later Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was an important center of administration, having served as seat of the Crown Council. The Pact of Vilnius and Radom was signed there in 1401, and the Nihil novi and Łaski's Statute were adopted by the Sejm at Radom's Royal Castle in 1505. In 1976, it was a center of anti Communist street protests. Radom is the fourteenth-largest city in Poland and the second-largest in the voivodeship with a population of 213,029 as of 2018, down from 221,066 in 2011.The city is home to the biennial Radom Air Show, the largest and best-attended air show in Poland, held during the last weekend of August. "Radom" is also the popular unofficial name for a semiautomatic 9 mm Para pistol of Polish design (the Model 35/ViS-35) which was produced from 1935 to 1944 at the national arsenal located in the city, under the directorship of Kazimierz Ołdakowski, after whom a square in Radom is named. The Łucznik Arms Factory (still located in Radom) continues to produce modern military firearms.

The international Radom Jazz Festival and the International Gombrowicz Theater Festival are held in the city.

Radom Synagogue

Radom Synagogue was an Orthodox Synagogue in Radom, Poland, destroyed by Nazi Germany following the invasion of Poland in World War II. The Synagogue was located at Podwalna Street, previously named the Bożnicza Street. It was built in 1846, and burned to the ground in 1939 when the Radom Ghetto was set up. Almost all Radom Jews perished during the Holocaust in occupied Poland resulting in nearly complete abandonment of the site. After the end of war, the ruins of the Synagogue were dismantled on the orders of the local pro-Soviet communist government.

Timeline of Radom

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Radom, Poland.

Timeline of Treblinka extermination camp

This article presents the timeline of events at Treblinka extermination camp during the most deadly phase of the Holocaust in World War II. All deportations were from German occupied Poland, except where noted. In most cases the number of deportees are not exact figures, but rather approximations.

Days are listed in chronological order, nevertheless, a number of dates are missing from the below tables which means only that no way bills survived for those particular dates. It does not mean that transports were not arriving or have not been processed from layover yards, when applicable.

Vaihingen an der Enz concentration camp

Vaihingen an der Enz (officially named Wiesengrund) concentration camp, near the city of Vaihingen an der Enz in the Neckar region of Germany, was a slave labor camp for armament manufacturing built by the Todt organization. In the end phase of the war it became a concentration camp for sick and dying prisoners.

The camp was built in late 1943 - early 1944 as part of a secret program known as Stoffel to relocate Messerschmidt manufacturing plants underground, protected from Allied bombing raids. These underground facilities were constructed in conjunction with the quarries in the area. Originally an annex to the concentration camp at Natzweiler-Struthof, it was inhabited by a group of 2,189 Jewish prisoners from the Radom Ghetto in Poland.

These and subsequent prisoners were put to work in the quarry, carrying stone, rubble, sand, and grit. The prisoners were worked 12 hours a day on starvation diets, and mortality rates were high. They were accommodated in four houses sharing one latrine. The camp was heavily guarded with double barbed wire, watchtowers, and SS troops.

By the fall of 1944 operation Stoffel was abandoned and most of the prisoners reassigned to other camps, notably Bisingen, Hessental, Dautmergen, or Unterriexingen. The Wiesengrund camp retained some slave laborers, but became a destination for sick prisoners who were effectively left there to die. A fifth structure was erected to serve as an infirmary. 2,442 seriously ill prisoners arrived between November 1944 and March 1945, and the mortality rate increased dramatically, to 33 deaths a day. An epidemic of typhus made conditions considerably worse.

With the approach of the French army, on 5 April 1945, the SS sent many prisoners on a forced march to the Dachau concentration camp. The same day 16 Norwegian prisoners were rescued by the Swedish Red Cross. One of those prisoners was Trygve Bratteli, who later became a politician and served as prime minister of Norway, 1971-72 and 1973-76. On 7 April the camp was formally liberated by the 1st French army. Even so, another 92 prisoners died after liberation from lingering typhus and/or general ill health.

Corpses in large common graves were exhumed after the war and reinterred in a memorial gravesite near the camp, which was officially opened on 2 November 1958.

Camp officials were charged and put on trial by the French military tribunal. Ten were condemned to death, and eight were sentenced to terms of hard labor.

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