Tarnogród | Lublin Voivodeship

Execution of Jews and Roma in Tarnogród

5 Execution site(s)

Investigated by Yahad :
2017
Kind of place before :
Behind a catholic cemetery (1); passage between houses (2); main square (3); Jewish cemetery (4)
Memorials :
Yes
Period of occupation:
1939-1944
Number of victims :
About 3,000

Witness interview

Szczepan P., born in 1927: “Me and three other Poles were requisitioned to dig the pit which would be used for a shooting near a pond. The pit was as deep as a human size, wide and long, 2m x 2m. Once the pit was ready, the Germans brought the Jews. They told us to sit on the hill and wait until the end of the execution. That is how we witnessed the shooting. Before being shot the victims had to undress. All the Jews, including men, women and children were shot in this pit. They had to descend inside the pit and lie down facing the ground. One gendarme was literally walking over them and shooting in the nape of the neck. Afterwards, we were ordered to fill in the pit.” (Witness N°709, interviewed in Tarnogród, on August 9, 2017).

German archives

“The ghetto had been cordoned off from 8 am until 2 or 3 pm. During this time, the Gestapo and Schutzpolizei entered into the Jewish quarter and chased the shocked Jews from their houses. Those Jews were taken to the gathering point outside the quarter. During the raid, we used firearms. I heard the gunshots coming out from Jewish area in the quarter from my post. In the afternoon, we were ordered to return to the Gendarmerie post; thus, we saw the raided Jews marching in the direction of Biłgoraj (distance: 20 km). I heard people saying the column was escorted by the Gestapo and Schutzpolizei. Many Jews were shot during this march. I didn’t see the bodies of the shot Jews, but the local population talked about that. However, I saw the bodies here and in the Jewish quarter, including the bodies of elder and young Jews.” [Deposition of Reinhold W., Gendarme in Tarnogrod, given in Stuttgart, Germany, on January 1, 1967, BAL [Temporary number: 20170718144306544, p.13].

Polish Archives

1. Date and place of execution:  from November 2, 1942, to December 31, 1942, in the paddock located behind the cemetery, western side.

2. Type of execution (shooting, hanging or other): shooting.

3. Personal data on the executed victims:

Poles, Jews, other nationalities: the Poles were shot at night, while the Jews - at any moment of the day.

Number of executed victims: 2,500 people.

Origin of the victims: from Tarnogród and Łódź.[…]

7. Were the bodies burned or destroyed in any way? They were buried in 7 pits near the cemetery.

 2nd excerpt

1. Date and place of execution:  November 2,1942 on the Market place of the Tarnogród’s surroundings.

2. Type of execution (shooting, hanging or other): shooting in the shape of the neck.

3. Personal data on the executed victims: Poles, Jews, other nationalities: Jews.

Number of executed victims: 500 Jews.

Origin of the victims: local population from Tarnogród […]

8. Where were the bodies buried? Exact place: the path from Różanicka street to Marcin Seremak’s place.

9. Description of the pit/pits/dimensions, number of victims per pit: one rectangular pit 5m by 10m. 500 Jews. [Court inquiries about executions and mass graves; IPN :GK 163/12]

Historical note

Tarnogród is a town located 105 km south of Lublin. The first records about the Jewish community go back to the 16th century. The first synagogue was built in 1686. Its building still exists today. In 1827, there were 1,260 Jews in Tarnogród. During the 19th century, the community grew and reached 3,451 in 1904. The majority of Jews lived off of trade. There were many craftsmen among them as well. According to the 1921 census, the Jewish community numbered 2,238 making up almost 50% of the total population. The Jews lived mainly in the center. Zionist movement was active as well as many other political parties in the interwar period. In 1930s, the community had two synagogues, two houses of prayer, and numerous cheders [Jewish school]. However, according to the witnesses, many Jewish children went to the same school as non-Jews, but they had their separate religion classes. On the eve of the German occupation, there were 2,515 Jews in the town.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

Tarnogród was occupied by the Germans on September 15, 1939. Shortly after, two police forces, Polish and Ukrainian, were created. There was also a German gendarmerie [police] station. The first anti-Jewish measures were implemented in November 1939, when all the Jews were ordered to wear distinguishing armbands with the Star of David on their shoulders. In December of the same year, under the order of Germans the Judenrat was created. From late 1939, the Germans started to gather the Jews from Łódź, Kalisz, Włocławek, Biłgoraj and its nearby area in Tarnogród. According to historical sources, some 2,730 Jews lived in Tarnogród in June 1941. They were forced to perform different kinds of forced labor during winter and spring of 1941. A medical clinic was established in summer 1941 as a result of a typhus epidemic that spread among the Jews. In May 1942, the ghetto was created. Under threat of death, it was forbidden to leave it, though it was not fenced. The first execution took place in May or June 1942, at the Catholic cemetery where from 40 to 49 Jewish men were shot by the Security Police and German gendarmes. In August of the same year, about 1,500 Jewish inmates were transferred to Biłgoraj, and then, together with Biłgoraj Jews sent to the Bełżec extermination camp where they were murdered. From September 1942 until the liquidation of the ghetto on November 2, 1942, about 800 Jews more were brought to Tarnogród from nearby villages and towns. The majority of those detained in the Tarnogród ghetto were murdered in November 1942 in different parts of the town. On November 2, 1942, the town was surrounded, and some 300-500 Jews were first gathered at the marketplace where they were shot dead shortly after. The bodies were taken by requisitioned Poles and buried in Kościuszko street. About 500-1,000 Jews were then taken from their homes and shot in a paddock behind the Catholic cemetery. The execution was conducted by the 3rd Company of Reserve Police Battalion 67, gendarmes and the SS. Some 300 were marched to Biłgoraj, many killed on the way. Those who arrived there were taken to the Bełżec extermination camp. A couple of days before the liquidation, about 70 Jews were shot at the Kościuszko street. A witness interviewed by Yahad In Unum claims that another execution was conducted behind the Catholic cemetery two days after the ghetto liquidation of Jews who were captured in hiding. There were also executions taking place in the Jewish cemetery. During executions the victims had to undress and then they were shot inside the pit by two Germans. According to the Polish archives 2,500 Jews were murdered altogether.

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