Ghetto (for the non-working)

Initially, the border of the Nowy Sącz ghetto was supposed to be a line starting at the Dunajec River (where it is joined by the Żeglarka River) through Romanowskiego Street, the northern side of the Market Square, Wąska Street, and Św. Ducha Street, ending at the Kamienica River. The northern border was to be a bridge on the Tarnowska Steet, and the western one – the meeting point of the Dunajec and Żeglarka rivers. Poles were ordered to leave their homes in the district and move to the city center. The Jesuit college and the Holy Spirit Church were inside the original borders of the ghetto. At the request of the friars, on 8 November 1940,  the Germans have re-drawn them. Eventually, they were made to follow the streets of the pre-war Jewish district. From the north, the ghetto was closed up by the castle, from the south – by the northern side of the Market Square. From the east, the Piotra Skargi street became the border, with the street itself excluded from the ghetto. The Jewish district was separated from the “Aryan city” by a wall, closing up the Franciszkańska Street, the Trzeciego Maja Square. and the entry to the Kazimierza Wielkiego Street. The main gate of the ghetto was located on the corner of the Bóżnicza and Piotra Skargi streets. The second, “unofficial” gate, was located vis-a-vis the Evangelical Church. Through the unofficial most people would go straight to the Gestapo station – and from there one would not return. Pijarska Street, up to the aforementioned church, was not part of the ghetto, because the Germans would come here for service. Along these western border there was a wooden fence (closer to the castle), and a brick wall, closer to the evangelical church.

Ghetto (for the working)

Before the war, the so-called “Hell” (Piekło) was a district of Nowy Sącz, where next to beautiful tenement houses, rickety shacks, crop fields and orchards could be found. A typical shtetl: a small Polish-Jewish town. The borders of this part of the ghetto would go: in the south and in the west along the Kamienica River, in the east along Paderewskiego Street, and in the north along the Zdrojowa and Głowackiego streets. Because there were many orchards and crop fields here, it was scornfully called the “country ghetto”. Small wooden houses, a characteristic element of the pre-war landscape of the Hell District, were not a favorable environment for its inhabitants. Dampness, overpopulation and difficult sanitary conditions would cause numerous diseases and result in a high mortality rate among the population.
From here, from the Gwardyiska 35 Street, the first Jewish citizen of Nowy Sącz, Henryk Kornhasuer, was deported to Auschwitz. He died there after a month, supposedly of “pneumonia”. The ghetto for the working was also affected by the Gestapo operation of April 1942. The victims of this crime were mainly young people who have been living here. The greatest tragedies were seen in the streets. In July 1942, two Gestapo officers, Johan and Edward Stuber murdered Rachel Federgrun, just because she was carrying two chickens for her children’s dinner. In August of the same year at the Lwowska Street, Baruch Berliner (President of the Jewish City Committee) was shot for no reason. The body of another shot person, Helena Hochberger, was lying on the Lwowska Street, just outside of the Judenrat building, for two days. In April 1942, a young Jewish woman, Gusta Breinel, was bestially murdered and later the same would happen to the entire Wienstoc family on the Cicha Street. On one day the Gestapo shot 35 people on Gwardyjska Street, including Solomon Goldberger, before the eyes of his daughters.

Judenrat, Lwowska 17 Str.

It was in this building that the Jewish council, the Judenrat, was located. Judenrat would openly communicate with the occupying forces, often paying for it with their own lives. The institution was established in 1939. In 1942, it was mad up of 25 members of the Jewish elite of the city. The Council would organized the life in the ghetto in accordance with German directives, and was responsible for all matters connected to the functioning of the ghetto. The Judenrat would cooperate with the Joint (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) and Jewish Social Self-Help, and supervised the activities of all the Jewish institutions in the city. It played an important role in the day-to-day support of the Jewish people. A huge problem the Judenrat had to deal with was the organized resettlement of people to Nowy Sacz. Accommodation and living costs of the newcomers were to be covered by the Judenrat funds.

Jewish Hospital, Kraszewskiego 44 Str.

The Jewish hospital at Kraszewskiego 44 Street was opened in the middle of the 19th century. After the war broke out, it was closed. The Germans only allowed for it to be re-opened in 1940 One of the most important reasons for the hospital’s crestion was the influx of people into the ghetto. The hospital fund has been set up from social contributions and collections. The Jewish Social Self-Helpfrom Kraków and Joint also donated regularly. Izrael Drilich, an eye specialist, became the first director of the hospital. Izrael Friedman also placed great merit in its creation. The operations of the hospital was impressive, as demonstrated by the number of specialist offices and wards it had. People who were ill or hungry, as well as victims of the German crimes would find help here. The biggest challenge for the health service in the ghetto was the outbreak of the typhus epidemic in winter 1941/1942 During that time, as witnesses reported, the German propaganda posters appeared on the city walls: “Jews, lice, epidemic typhus”. Thanks to the doctors’ dedication, the epidemic has been brought under control. The hospital staff and patients were shot on the day the deportation of the Nowy Sącz ghetto started.

Burz Pharmacy, Lwowska 27 Str.

The pharmacy was owned and run by a non-Jewish pharmacist, Albin Burz. Its employees not only provided life-saving medicine, but also organized people’s escape from the ghetto. He was a member of the Central Welfare Council. Thanks to his efforts, a Jewish pharmacy was opened in the ghetto. It was set up next to the hospital at Kraszewskiego Street. Burz would deliver medicine to the pharmacy for a symbolic fee. At the back of his pharmacy, a large number of first-aid kits was packed for the Jewish people expecting to be deported.

Jewish Self-help, Lwowska 25 Str.

There were many other aid organizations in the ghetto for the working. At Lwowska 25 Street, the Jewish Social Self-help was located. In 1941 it’s president was Izrael Friedman. The Jewish Social Self-Help in Nowy Sącz received food from its central branch in Kraków and from the Joint. The peak of its activities was connected with the Jewish holidays. Social organizations were helping mainly those who worked in the labor camps in Lipie and Rożnów. The organization was overseen by the Judenrat.

Orphanage, Zdrojowa 12 Str.

Thanks to the Jewish Social Self-help and other relief institutions, an orphanage was being run on Zdrojowa Street. In 1941 it helped feed and clothe as many as 400 children. The institution was headed by Leonora Reicher, a teacher.

Judische Ordnungsdienst – the Jewish police, the corner of the Bóżnicza and Piotr Skarga streets

The formation existed from 1941 until the liquidation of the ghetto in August 1942. It was completelly subordinate  to the Germans. It consisted of 24 policemen and an equal number of deputies. All of them were young, under 35 years old The Jewish police actively participated in Gestapo operations, such as the April operation of 1942. The surviving witnesses remembered them as common criminals, who would not hesitate to collaborate with the Germans; moreover, they would often take bribes from the Jews themselves. The commander of the Jewish police was Maks Folkman.

Markus Lustig’s House (the building no longer exists)

During the April operation, the Gestapo officers entered the apartment of the Lustig family. Markus Lustig would reminisce: They went through my room, which I shared with my brother, five years younger than me, and went to our parents. They asked my father what his profession is. He answered he was a bookbinder. They told him to turn away, and shot him in the head. I heard my mother’s scream and the next shot. My sister didn’t survive too – they killed her. They then returned to my room. I was completely covered by a duvet. They shot my brother, but they didn’t notice me. I was lying still for many hours and listening. I felt my brother’s blood on my body. The Gestapo officers, said “good night” in Polish, as they walked out. In the morning he entered his parents’ room. The faces were so disfigured that he did not recognize them. Around him, the feathers from the pillows were floating in the air. The ones that fell down were laying in the puddles of blood.. Markus Lustig buried his family at the cemetery at Rybacka Street, in the grave of the victims, who were shot there a day before

The Memorial Plaque of the Victims of the April Operation, corner of the Franciszkańska and Kazimierza Wielkiego streets

The great tragedy occurred at night after the execution on the cemetery on April 29, 1942. At night, in the house on the corner of the Kazimierza and Franciszkańska streets, the Gestapo murdered all 81 inhabitants of the tenement house: from Neustadt, Miller, Perl and other families. The drunken Gestapo officers came in through the corner door. It was here that Hamann supposedly fatally shot his own deputy. The true scale of the disaster can be found in the description of the ghetto after this terrible night, when a stream of blood was seen flowing from under the door of the building and down the Kazimierza Wielkiego Street.

Jewish cemetery, Rybacka Str.

Many murders have taken place in the cemetery, the one remembered as especially brutal was the April Operation of 29th April 1942. At the time, a mass execution of 300 people took place here. Samuel Kaufer described the crime straightforwardly: “When they arrive in the cemetery, everyone must get undressed over the grave and fold their clothes in order. On command they all lay on the ground facing down. […] The gunshots subside, many are only injured, not everyone was lucky enough to find immediate death. No bullet should be wasted though, they are needed for the next victims. The warm, bleeding bodies are laid in layers, many still with signs of life… 360 bodies are laid in a mass grave, several Ordungstadiensts must trample the corpses with their feet for them to take up less space. The grave is filled with soil, and after a few days the blood pours out of the ground forms a black bloody puddle.”

The Meadow over the Dunajec River

A place connected with the liquidation of the Nowy Sącz ghetto and sealing of the fate of its inhabitants. The Germans ordered the Jews to be gathered here on 23rd August 1942. The Jewish people were lined by house and apartment numbers. The Polish Police and young people from the Baudienst were guarding the group. Around 5 in the morning, Henrich Hamann arrived. He selected a group of people to be sent to labor camps, factories and to clear the ghetto. Around five thousand people marched along the banks of the river to the so-called “Cat Planty” and along the Sienkiewicza Street to the railway station. There they had to get in the cattle train cars. Nearly one hundred people into one car. In such conditions, they were sent to the immediate extermination camp in Bełżec. Subsequent deportations took place on 25th and 28th August. The Jewish people were forced to march to the railway station via another route.

Jewish Track

From here, from 23rd to 28th August 1942, the Jewish people of Nowy Sącz were sent to the death camp in Bełżec n the cattle cars. None of them survived the deportation.

Trzeciego Maja Square

Formerly a market square. During the war, the Jewish people would hang large sheets of paper on the square with the writing “Save us! We are going to our doom.” The message was addressed for the Jesuits, who lived on the other side of the street and saw what was happenning in the ghetto. They provided the Jews with the help they needed. On the Trzeciego Maja square there also was a well with a pump, where the Germans murdered Jewish infants.

School, Kochanowskiego 9 Str.

In August 1942, a selection before the liquidation of the ghetto for the working in the Hell District took place here. As witnesses testified, there have been a lot of people in front of the school, trying to look good, to give the impression that they are still able to work. All those who got positively evaluated were sent to the labor camps, and the rest was relocated to the closed ghetto near the castle, where they would wait to be deported to the death camp in Bełżec.

The Railway Bridge over the Dunajec River

First executions. As M. Bergman reminisces, they took place under the bridge over the Dunajec River. Both Polish and Jewish people died here. Here, the Germans would tie stones to the Jews’ necks and throw them into the river.

The Town Hall Clock – the story of Berta Korenman and Stefan Mazur

Stefan saved his friend from the ghetto when the deportation started. He hid her under the mechanism of the town hall clock. After a few weeks, he led her out of the town hall and together they went east, through Przemyśl to Lvov. They were arrested and sent to work in the Reich. They both survived the war. Then they returned to Poland and settled in Lublin.

The Holocaust Victims Memorial Site.

A monument in the form of a niche, which was unveiled in August 2022, symbolizes the isolation and imprisonment of the Jewish people in the ghetto, their alienation and humiliation, and being closed behind the walls. The height of the monument walls symbolizes the size of the walls surrounding the district. The 30 tables contain 12 000 names of the victims of the Holocaust. Not all of them could have been identified. From the tiny window, symbolizing the windows of the train cars taking the Jews to Bełżec, the area of the former ghetto is visible, and the part where the longest, and at the same time the highest part of the wall separating life from death used to be.