1 Execution site(s)
Jan S., born in 1922, recalls: “We had already been waiting for a moment when we heard engine noises. We saw two trucks coming to the Buczyna forest. They stopped right next to it. One of these trucks was full of dead bodies and in the second one, there were Jews who were still alive. The Germans ordered the boys from Baudienst to get into the first truck and push off all the dead bodies. They fell on the ground like pancakes. Then, we had to grab their legs, drag them to the pit and throw them inside. I grabbed one leg, my friend grabbed another and we pulled. If the victims were well dressed, we had to undress them before throwing them into the pit and put their clothes nearby, in a pile. Then, they lashed out at the Jews from the second truck. They arranged them in pairs in one, long column. There were three Germans on every side of the column leading them to the pit.” (Eyewitness N°222, interviewed in Zbylitowska Góra, on September 11, 2013)
1. Date and place of execution: 1942 and 1943, Zbylitowska Góra, Buczyna forest;
2. Type of execution (shooting, hanging or other): shooting;
3. Personal data of the executed victims Polish, Jews, other nationalities: Jews and Poles;
Number of executed victims: about 6000 Jews, 2000 Poles
Origin of the victims: Tarnów; [Court inquiries about executions and mass graves. Deposition of Stanisław Z., a Vogt of Guminska village; IPN, Kr 1/11625]
“The graves are situated in a ravine, which is deep and surrounded by forest. […] The corpses were thrown in the ravine and covered with the ground taken from the embankment. It is still visible were the ground was dug. The graves of Poles are clearly marked, while the Jewish ones are not.” [IPN Kr 1/11625 (1/28/I/55) Protocol of the commission signed in Sad Grodzki in Tarnów November 3, 1945]
Zbylitowska Góra is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Tarnów, within Tarnów County, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, in southern Poland. It lies about 71 km east of the regional capital Kraków. Before World War II, there were about 25,000 Jews living in Tarnów. A large portion of Jewish commerce in Tarnów was devoted to garment and hat manufacturing. World War II didn’t cause any important material or human loss in Zbylitowska Góra but it left a bloody trace in the history of the village: the Nazis transformed the small Buczyna forest into a site of martyrdom.
Right before World War II, 45% of Tarnów’s population was Jewish. During World War II, the town lost a large part of its population. In February 1942, the Germans created a ghetto in Tarnów. On June 11-18, 1942 around 3,500 Jews from the ghetto were sent to the Bełżec extermination camp and another 3,000 Jews were shot at the local Jewish cemetery. Around 6,000 other Jews, mainly the sick, the elderly and children were shot at Zbylitowska Góra, in the Buczyna forest, in the natural ravines. The Jews, as well as the bodies of Jews, were brought there in trucks. The trucks stopped at the end of the road, at the edge of the forest. Men from the Baudienst had to unload the trucks and drag the dead bodies by their arms and legs for about 40 meters to the forest to throw them into the pits which were mostly natural ditches. The Jews who were still alive had to walk to the pits in pairs, in a long column. They had to stand at the edge of the pit where they were killed by a shot in the back of the head. The pits were covered by the members of the Baudienst. Following these operations, the Tarnów ghetto was considerably reduced in size.
The final action of the ghetto liquidation took place on September 2-3, 1943 when about 8,000 Jews were sent to Auschwitz, 3,000 to Plaszów and a group of young and strong Jews was chosen to clean out the ghetto.
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