Janowska concentration camp

Janowska concentration camp (Polish: Janowska, Russian: Янов or "Yanov", Ukrainian: Янівський табір) was a Nazi German labor, transit and extermination camp established in September 1941 in occupied Poland on the outskirts of Lwów (Second Polish Republic, today Lviv, Ukraine). The camp was labeled Janowska after the nearby street ulica Janowska in Lwów, renamed Shevchenka (Ukrainian: Шевченка) after the city was ceded to the Ukrainian SSR at the end of war in Europe. The camp was liquidated by the Germans in November 1943 ahead of the Red Army's counteroffensive. According to Soviet prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, Janowska was a pure death camp, although it also housed a factory.[1] Modern estimates put the total number of prisoners who passed through Janowska at over 100,000.[2][1] The number of victims murdered at the camp is estimated at 35,000–40,000.[2]:255

Janowska concentration camp
Concentration camp
Survivors of the camp's Sonderkommando 1005 unit stand next to a bone crushing machine (taken following the liberation of the camp in 1944)
Location of Janowska camp in modern Ukraine
Location of KL Janowska in World War II,
south of the Belzec death camp
Coordinates49°51′15″N 23°59′24″E
LocationLwów, District of Galicia, General Government (today Lviv, Ukraine)
Operated bySS
Original useCivilian internment camp
OperationalSeptember 1941 – November 1943
Number of inmates100,000
Liberated byThe Red Army


After the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland at the beginning of World War II, the city of Lwów in the Second Polish Republic (now Lviv, Ukraine) was occupied in September 1939 by the Soviet Union 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 them were refugees from the General Government, German-occupied Poland. In June 1941, the German Army occupied Lwów in the course of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. Almost no Jews of Lwów were alive at the end of the war.[3][4]

The retreating Soviets killed about 7,000 Polish and Ukrainian civilians in June during the NKVD prisoner massacres in Lwów. The victims were held in three prisons: Brygidki, Zamarstynów, and Łąckiego Street prison. The invading Germans blamed the NKVD massacre on the Soviet Jews in the NKVD ranks, and used the atrocity as a Nazi propaganda tool to incite the first Lviv pogrom in which over 4,000 Polish Jews were killed between June 30 and July 2, 1941 by Ukrainian nationalists. A further 2,500 to 3,000 Jews were murdered by the German Einsatzgruppen.[5] The arrival of the Nazis let loose a wave of antisemitic feelings. Encouraged by German forces, local Ukrainian nationalists murdered additional 5,500 Jews during the second Lviv pogrom in July 25–27, 1941. It was known as the "Petliura Days", named for the nationalist leader 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 killed. Thousands more were injured.[6][7]

In early November 1941, the Nazis closed-off northern portions of the city of Lwów thus forming a ghetto.[8] During the forced relocation of the Jewish families to the newly created ghetto, German police shot and killed thousands of elderly and sick Jews as they crossed under the rail bridge on Pełtewna Street (which came to be known as the bridge of death for the Jews). Several months later, in March 1942, the Nazi police under Fritz Katzmann began to deport Jews from the ghetto to the Belzec extermination camp. By August 1942, more than 65,000 Jews from Lwów had been sent away aboard Holocaust trains and killed. In early June 1943, the Germans destroyed and liquidated the ghetto.[9]

Labour and transit camp

In addition to the Lwów ghetto, in September 1941 the occupation authorities set up a German Armament Works D.A.W. factory (Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke) in prewar Steinhaus Milling Machines Merchants (Maszyny młyńskie - Sprzedaż) on 134 Janowska Street (Grodecka 10a address),[10] in northwestern suburbs of Lwów. 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 next to the factory, which housed the forced laborers along with other prisoners. Thousands of Jews from the Lwów ghetto were forced to work as slave laborers in this complex. 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 Belzec for extermination. The concentration camp was guarded by a Sonderdienst battalion of the SS-trained Hiwi guards known as "Trawniki men".[11]

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 from across German-occupied southeastern Poland (now western Ukraine) 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.[2]

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.[12]


Ahead of the Soviet advance, in November 1943 the new camp commandant SS-Hauptsturmführer Friedrich Warzok was put in charge of the evacuation of the Janowska inmates to Przemyśl.[13] The Germans attempted to destroy the traces of mass murder during Sonderaktion 1005. Prisoners were forced to open the mass graves in Lesienicki forest and burn the bodies. On November 19, 1943, the Sonderkommando inmates staged a revolt against the Nazis and attempted a mass escape. A few succeeded, but most were recaptured and killed. The SS and their local auxiliaries murdered at least 6,000 Jews who had survived the uprising killings at Janowska, as well as Jews in other forced labor camps in Galicia, at the time of the camps' liquidation.[14]

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.[15] 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.[16] Weliczker repeated the claim of "a few hundred thousand" at Adolf Eichmann's trial in 1961.[17] Weliczker also described his work as part of the Sonderaktion 1005 in his book Death Brigade.

Janowska served as a Soviet prison camp after its liberation.[15]

Notable inmates

See also


  1. Emil Kerenji (2014). Jewish Responses to Persecution: 1942–1943. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 69–70, 539. ISBN 1442236272.
  2. Marina Sorokina, Tarik Cyril Amar (2014). Michael David-Fox, Peter Holquist, Alexander M. Martin (eds.). The Holocaust in the East: Local Perpetrators and Soviet Responses. Pitt Series in Russian and East European Studies. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 124, 165, 172, 255. ISBN 978-0-8229-6293-9 via direct download 13.6 MB. Some of the information published by the Extraordinary State Commission was the result of conscious and purposeful falsification by Stalinist propagandists.[124] The survey categorized victims into “about 500,000 persons” killed in “the so-called Yanov [sic] death camp.”[172]CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link) CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  3. Anna Gałkiewicz (2001), Informacja o śledztwach prowadzonych w OKŚZpNP w Łodzi w sprawach o zbrodnie popełnione przez funkcjonariuszy sowieckiego aparatu terroru; Institute of National Remembrance Biuletyn, Vol. 7 – August 2001. (in Polish)
  4. Nagorski, Andrew. The Greatest Battle (Google Books). Simon and Schuster. p. 83. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  5. N.M.T. (1945). "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals" (PDF direct download). Volume IV : "The Einsatzgruppen Case" complete, 1210 pages. Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council Law No. 10. pp. 542–543 in PDF (518–519 in original document). Retrieved March 1, 2015. With N.M.T. commentary to testimony of Erwin Schulz (p. 543 in PDF).
  6. Longerich, Peter (2010). Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-19-280436-5.
  7. USHMM. "Lwów". Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Archived from the original (Internet Archive) on March 7, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  8. 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 January 30, 2015.
  9. Filip Friedman, Zagłada Żydów lwowskich (Extermination of the Jews of Lwów) OCLC 38706656.
  10. Jewishgen.org (May 2005), Businesses, Partnerships and Addresses: Steinhaus Milling Machines-Merchants
  11. Holocaust Encyclopedia. "Trawniki". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. permission granted to be reused, in whole or in part, on Wikipedia; OTRS ticket no. 2007071910012533. Retrieved July 21, 2011. Text from USHMM has been released under the GFDL.
  12. Erwin and Agnes Herman The Yanov Torah Kar-Ben Publishing ISBN 978-0930494452 (1985)
  13. Levy, Alan (2006) [1993]. Nazi Hunter: The Wiesenthal File (Revised 2002 ed.). London: Constable & Robinson. ISBN 978-1-84119-607-7.
  14. USHMM. "Janowska". Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  15. Carmelo Lisciotto, H.E.A.R.T (2007). "The Soviet Special Commission". Janowska – Lvov. Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  16. Avner Falk Anti-semitism: A History and Psychoanalysis of Contemporary Hatred ABC-CLIO ISBN 9780313353840 (2008) p. 191
  17. "The Trial of Adolf Eichmann" Session #23 2 May 1961
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