Jewish Ghetto in Cracow

The Jewish Ghetto that the Nazis created in Cracow is often mistakenly thought to have been located in the Kazimierz district, which lies to the south east of the Royal Castle. However, whilst Kazimierz provided a home for many Jews over the centuries (as it did in parts for Christians too), it was in Podgorze, over the river, that the Nazis made their wartime ghetto.

Podgorze was initially a separate town that was founded by the Austrians in 1784 in the wake of the first partition of Poland. By the mid-nineteenth century all of Cracow was under the Austrian crown, and Podgorze was viewed as simply another district of the city.

The fringes of Podgorze had a pronounced industrial character, and disused quarries are still a prominent feature of the landscape (Steven Spielberg used one of them to build his set for the Plaszow Concentration Camp in his film 'Schindler's List').

By the 1930's, when Cracow was again part of an independent Poland, much of central Podgorze was owned by Polish Jews. At that time there were approximately 60,000 Jews living in Cracow. The poorest Jews tended to live in Kazimierz, whilst the more affluent ones lived in central Cracow, or in the more grand parts of Podgorze.

The Germans invaded Poland in September 1939. Hans Frank, the Nazi Governor of the region, planned for Cracow to be 'the cleanest' of the former Polish cities. After several waves of Jewish resettlement to other Polish cities it was finally decreed that all remaining Jews should move to Podgorze.

The area that was singled out for the ghetto constituted the heart of the Podgorze district. It spread east from the Main Market Square (Rynek Podgorski today) over an area of 20 hectares. The creation of the ghetto was announced on March 3rd, 1941. The Jews who stayed in Cracow were ordered to move to Podgorze by March 20th, 1941.

All Christians who lived in the area that was earmarked for the ghetto were compelled to move out, largely to Kazimierz north of the river. However, Tadeusz Pankiewicz, a graduate of medicine from the Jagiellonian University, protested against the rule and was permitted to remain. His pharmacy in the north eastern corner of the ghetto would later became an enclave of resistance to Nazi policy.

15,000 Polish Jews were crowded into an area that had previously housed 3,000 souls. It was standard for four families to share one flat. Conditions were made worse by a second transit in October 1941, when a further 6,000 Jews from nearby villages were forced into the ghetto.

Forced labour and rationing were standard features of the experience. Although many Jews were compelled to work outside the ghetto, they had little freedom of movement. Outside of working hours, all Jews had to stay within the newly built ghetto walls, whose form resembled oversized Jewish gravestones (fragments of the wall still stand today).

Deportations began on May 30th, 1942. Deportees were told that they would be working in the Ukraine. In the first few days, some 4,000 Jews were deported. They were transported from the nearby Plaszow station to Belzec concentration camp.

The following days were punctuated by shootings in the street, whilst immediately after the final deportations of June 4th, there was a further 'purge' in which some 600 Jews were killed within the ghetto walls.

A second deportation began in October 1942. Families were separated, and about 4500 people were deported to the Belzec camp.

In December 1942 the ghetto was divided into two parts, Ghetto A for 'Workers' and Ghetto B for 'Non-Workers'.

On March 13th, 1943 Ghetto A was liquidated and workers were sent to Plaszow camp where many would later perish, including the infamous 'Judenrat' Jewish police.

The following day Ghetto B was liquidated amidst widespread shooting on the streets. The remaining Jews were sent to the Auschwitz II: Birkenau camp.

In total, it is estimated that some 65,000 Polish Jews who lived in Cracow and its immediate vicinity were murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War, obliterating Jewish life and culture as it had existed before the War completely.

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Guest Reply Feb 24th, 2014

awesome

basiliiaa from Germany Reply Jun 4th, 2013

Germany commited no more crimes against humanity than the British French amiricans and Russian's have over the year's......

me from Aruba Feb 24th, 2014

are either of these countries responsible for the deaths of about 11 million people within a time span of 12 years?

campbell from Ireland Reply Jan 19th, 2013

Just return from a trip to Krakow. Loved every minute of the trip. Truly humbled by the history of the death camps and cannot comp-rend mans inhumanity to its fellow man. Great experience and hoping to return soon.

Mr B from United Kingdom Reply Dec 25th, 2012

Very informative. Corey Sandy, learn to embrace knowledge, or resign yourself to the fact you will flip burgers for the rest of your life. Or to put it in terms you'll understand. Stop being a prick.

Vijayisaboss from Tuvalu Reply Dec 16th, 2012

still wondering how the people living there were sent away

rachela goldfeld from Israel Reply Aug 15th, 2012

I was in ghetto Krakow in 1941, I would like to know who lived there at that time thank you. I am specifically looking for my fahter"Mordechai Warszawski thank you:rachela

Jim Bob Junior from Aruba and Netherlands Antilles Reply Apr 4th, 2012

This is a very good site for Krakow. Just one thing you spelled Krakow wrong in one of the paragraphs.

ROB MEDLEY from United Kingdom Reply Jan 10th, 2012

WE RETURNED YESTERDAY AFTER A WEEKEND VISIT, AND WERE COMPLETELY DUBSTRUCK BY THE EXPERIENCE.OUR VISITS TO THE DEATH CAMPS LEFT US SHOCKED AND HUMBLED,ON THE CONTRAST KRAKOW WITH ITS CHURCHES, CHRISTMAS MARKETS RESTAURANTS, FANTASTIC PEOPLE MADE THIS ONE OF THE MOST MEMORABLE OF VISITS

jimbob from Ireland Reply Oct 12th, 2011

great help for last minute H/wk :)

Stuart thomson from United Kingdom Reply Sep 25th, 2011

I absolutlely love this city. Been four times now and stayed at the batory hotel everytime. Will go back again in a few years great site. Nice people What a place Many thanks poland

Laila kierstein from Denmark Reply Aug 30th, 2011

I`ve been working the streets of the ghetto, I can hear the footsteps, the voices of the doomed,oh yes they are still there if you open your heart to them.On the page I miss a photo of the chairs and the explenation of, why they are there.

tushar saraswat from India Reply Jul 1st, 2011

o.m.g so much info THANK U my english project on boy in striped pyjamas pyjamas is complete

from Canada Reply Jun 13th, 2011

um, you spelt KRAKOW wrong?

flambuoeant from United States Reply Apr 3rd, 2011

this helped loads

from France Reply Mar 9th, 2011

i have to do a work on the jewish ghetto in krakow and it give us a lot of good informations

sleep ring from United Kingdom Reply Feb 28th, 2011

im having to do some boring work on boy in striped pyjamas as it has helped

rhian beth from United States Reply Dec 3rd, 2010

i think it was pretty helpful but it could of contained more information xx

megan from United Kingdom Reply Nov 28th, 2010

helped with boy in the striped pyjamas homework, cannot believe that the nazis killed 65,000 Polish Jews if that was just the Polish Jews then i wonder how many other Jews he killed...

molly from United Kingdom Reply Nov 16th, 2010

This really helped with my English Homework, thanks. All I needed to know and easy to understand.

charlotte from United Kingdom Reply Nov 14th, 2010

really helpful, we have been studying "the boy in striped pyjamas" and have had to find out information about the Ghettos in Cracow, so this has been perfect information to help me complete it.

Someone special from United Kingdom Reply Nov 7th, 2010

wow that was really helpful with my english homework. Who ever wrote that must have had a lot of patience as it contained a lot of information. Well done :)

Katie Waters from United Kingdom Reply Sep 30th, 2010

Very good great help on doing my english home and presentation :) god bless those who died, and i hope hitler is burning in hell and will always regret what he done to all those innocent people.

blah blah from United Kingdom Reply Jun 6th, 2010

very boring although it conatains alot of info also make it more engaging

zaiah lzg from United States Reply May 25th, 2010

this was a big help with my school report this site is helpful awsome and happy

cameron Ayers from United States Reply Apr 20th, 2010

I am a Liberator

Mac an Ghallóglaigh from United Kingdom Reply Mar 14th, 2010

God bless all who died at the hands of despicable Nazi scum

Kelly from United Kingdom Reply Feb 7th, 2010

not really what i was looking for, maybe more facts could be added like the sisez and the way they were treated.

Tyla from United States Reply Jan 27th, 2010

i need info for my revision ...?...

bobby from Congo Reply Dec 4th, 2009

kool dwg

Kassandra from United States Reply Nov 27th, 2009

This is so helpful for my essay!! This website helped me get a 98% on my essay....love it!!

choclate lover from United States Reply Oct 29th, 2009

it was ok

haley from United Kingdom Reply Sep 19th, 2009

this website helped me alot in writing my report on the concentration camps and everything else or as we can call it the hollocaust thumbs up keep up the good work

joe from United States Reply Sep 17th, 2009

this website is realy helpful

lolo from Australia Reply Sep 3rd, 2009

hi im doinga project on oscar and i need a map of where the factory is located

Chris from United Kingdom Reply May 27th, 2009

Shocking picture. Will definitely visit this part of town and will be thinking about what happened

Robert from United States Reply May 9th, 2009

If you are uneducated enough to believe that this did not happen or if this attrocity extended beyond the hands of the Nazi's, then you're a bloody fool. I'm not Jewish, but German/American and it breaks my heart to know that this is part of my heritage. I can understand that the Germans needed a hero in a time of economic disaster such as what the world is going through now, and Hitler initially answered the needs of many. We cannot ever allow this to happen again, to any race, in any nation, to any people. We, as humanity, must remain humble to the attrocities of WW2 and seek to find a better way for our generation and the generations to come. Please. We, as a world, must unite, together.

Ellisen from United States Reply May 2nd, 2009

Very informative site. The Germans were not the only ones responsible for the murder of the Jews and other victims. The US was, too. So was Britain. So was France! So was the whole damn world! It's time to stop blaming Germany entirely for the Holocaust when any other country could have come in and stopped it.

corey sandy from United States Reply Apr 30th, 2009

what up dogg yea all boring

Gabi Geva from United Kingdom Reply Apr 6th, 2009

What the Nazi's Germany has done to the Jews cannot be forgotten nor forgiven, yet the new generation in Germany should learn from the past and do their best to deduce from the past history all the necessary conclusions so as to understand the scale of the Holocaust they made to their own citizens as well as to proud Jewish nation. The new generation of Germany today should come to Israel visit the Yad Vashem memorial place for the Holocaust and take some other tours like meeting some of the survivors to undestand the scope of what their own parents/grandparents created in our world.

George Reilly from Germany Reply Feb 6th, 2009

The crimes Germans committed during the Third Reich at home and in their occupied territories during the war can never be forgiven nor forgotten. Germans today are trying to come to terms with these crimes. It is not an easy task but I think they are making a better effort than many other nations who also have accumulated a lot of blood on their hands over the centuries. This is not to exonerate the crimes committed by the Germans and their lackeys. Self righteousness on the part of anybody is not helpful.

Karl Hienz from Germany Reply Jan 24th, 2009

Germany commited no more crimes against humanity than the Brittish French and Russian's have over the year's......

FRANK SWEENY from United Kingdom Reply Jan 12th, 2009

mmmmm with the recent gaza conflict s thomson might have something regardig the israeli troops/a great site very interesting

hans from Germany Reply Dec 9th, 2008

i wonder if my nation will ever be forgiven for the horrors commited by the nazis but i think its time we were given a chance danke

BeckyC from Albania Reply Nov 19th, 2008

i think this website was very interesting =)

daniel from Belgium Reply Nov 17th, 2008

not to mention his spelling of "isreali" Perhaps he should return to basic English and Geography before decanting on Politics.

a.martin from United Kingdom Reply Oct 21st, 2008

good site i have been to krakow twice and seen auschwitz and i travelled to lublin and seen majdanek what an education

james from United Kingdom Reply Oct 13th, 2008

the jews were targeted as a result of peoples blinkered opinion of the part they played in the first world war and the humiliation suffered by Germany. Tgreat depression and the disillusionment of the youth added to the melting pot and created the most tragic period of history. Lets not also forget to those who try to justify the killing of innocent jewish children men and women that hitler also targeted others such as those with a disability. Anyone who can try to justify such events should think about the deportation of non french jews from Paris in 1942 - children were seperated from their parents and suffered for weeks uncared for before being sent on a three day train journey to their deaths in Auscwitz - the justification for this "their jewish blood. This behaviour has no justification!

frankie from Algeria Reply Oct 7th, 2008

its good but could be more in easier words for teens to know what they mean

Frank Amstel from Austria Reply May 27th, 2008

response to s.thompson: your spelling of 'by', as being 'buy',-indicates your ignorance. enough said.

Frank Amstel from Austria Reply May 27th, 2008

good page, good site

klaus from United States Reply May 25th, 2008

@ stephanie There was not a real Ghetto in Krakow at that time. But most of the Jew lifed in a jewish quarter, called Kazimierz, maybe the author of your book was talking about this quarter.

r miller from United Kingdom Reply May 10th, 2008

s.thomson your are spot on

s.thomson from United Kingdom Reply May 10th, 2008

j thomson are you trying to say that isreal play buy the rules read up on the middle east history there is nothing wrong with the site d/head

J thomson from United Kingdom Reply May 8th, 2008

Very good and informative site. S Thomson, you are an assole.

james carter from United States Reply Apr 24th, 2008

very interesting site but there is not enough information sites regarding all the other peoples who suffered under this evil time younger people i believe think only the jews suffered most movies about the holocaust are based on the jews suffering jim

kathleen white from Ireland Reply Apr 19th, 2008

very informative, and very sad. but i would like to know more about the jewish police in kracow ghetto including marcel goldberg, is he dead or alive? i feel so sorry for all the jewish people that have suffered so much injustice and predjudice in the past

s.thomson from United Kingdom Reply Mar 20th, 2008

yes it is a sad thing the way jews have been treated in the past but the isreali troops are the new nazis

Lizzie Fisher McCall from United Kingdom Reply Mar 5th, 2008

Very interesting also very sad. Jews have been percecuted for centuries,why does man feel threatened by this race of gentle people.

Lizzie Fisher McCall from United Kingdom Reply Mar 5th, 2008

Very interesting also very sad.

Jared Shafer from United States Reply Jan 29th, 2008

this was a great help for my report! two thumbs up!

Tia from United Kingdom Reply Sep 12th, 2007

I want to know what happened to the jews who lived in cracow poland ! , Can any one help ? o yeh n the page is alright i suppose . Very usefull at times =]

phil carnon from United Kingdom Reply Jul 25th, 2007

the whole thing was put together in a way that gave the viewer a sight into the tragic past.

Stephanie from Germany Reply May 27th, 2007

I' d like to know whether there had existed a ghetto before. I am reading Sydney Sheldon's bloodline set in the ghetto of Cracow and i cannot believe that a ghetto still existed by mid 19th century. Actually I think he is mixing up history of the middle ages with later times because as far as I know in the Austro-Hungarian empire there was certainly a certain level of discrimination against the Jews but nevertheless Jewish emancipation went on as well. I find that American fiction writers are sometimes more than negligent on European historical facts and it does bother me. So, who can tell me more?

Emily Nelson from United States Reply Apr 22nd, 2007

This website gave me tons of information! I'm writing a paper on the Krakow Ghetto and got some interesting facts. Keep up the good work!

Big D from United Kingdom Reply Apr 11th, 2007

an excellent page about Krakow Jewish Ghetto that contains all the information I needed - plus cleared up the question of where it actually was once and for all!