Tarnów – The Jewish City (1939-1944)

On 9th February 1944, Tarnów was announced a ”Jew-free city” by the Germans. A city once inhabited by 25,000 citizens (1939), became non-existent.

The German army invaded Tarnów on 7th September 1939. Soon after that, in November 1939, all synagogues and prayer homes were either burnt down or blasted. A cordoned off ghetto for 40,000 Jews was set up on 19th June 1942. The ghetto liquidation was a 5-step process:  

Approximately 8,000 Jews were transported from Tarnów to the Bełżec camp between 11th-18th June 1942. All people unfit to travel (the elderly, the ill, the handicapped and mothers with small children), a total of  between 8,000 – 10,000, were murdered in the Buczyna forest near Zbylitowska Góra and in the forests of Skrzyszow. This operation cost lives of between 16,000 – 18,000 Jews. The number includes people who were murdered on the spot and transported to Bełżec.

12th-13th September 1942  – approximately 3,000 Jews were transported to Bełżec. An undisclosed number of Jews who did not have proper documents or were repressed, were murdered. According to Elżbieta Rączy, it might have been 5,000 people.

15th November 1942  – between  2,500 – 3,500 Jews were transported to Bełżec.

2nd September 1943 – the final liquidation of the Tarnów ghetto. Approximately 5,000 people were taken to Auschwitz, 2,000-3,000 to the Płaszów camp, while 500 people were murdered on the spot. A group of merely 300 people were spared lives.

9th February 1944 – the Germans announced Tarnów to be a ”Jew-free city” and sent the last surviving Jews to Płaszów. Thus, the Jewish Tarnów with once 25,000 inhabitants (1939) became non-existent.

Based on: Elżbieta Rączy, Zagłada Żydów w dystrykcie krakowskim w latach 1939-1945, Rzeszów 2014