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The Jewish Ghetto at Brody

                                                                               The Ghetto at Brody

 

 

 

Brody a town in the Lvov Oblast(district) Ukrainian SSR. Founded in the sixteenth century, Brody was under Polish rule in the period from 1918 to 1939, and was annexed to the Soviet Union in September of that year, 9000 Jews lived there in 1939.

 

It was one of the important Jewish communities in Galicia and for many years Jews constituted a majority of the population. Brody was well known on the one hand it was a renowned Hassidic centre, yet at the same time at the beginning of the 19th Century Brody also became one of the first locations of the Haskala (Jewish Enlightenment) in the province.

 

The prominent Jewish – Austrian novelist Joseph Roth came from Brody. The town itself was also well- known from the 18th Century when it became a major trading place, and in the 19th Century because of its location close to the Russian border, many Jewish refugees passed through Brody fleeing Russian pogroms.

 

From September 1939 until 1 July 1941 the town was under Soviet occupation, during this period some Jews collaborated with the Soviets. Some wealthy residents were arrested and deported to Siberia.

 

On 1 July 1941, the Germans occupied the town and lost no time in issuing anti-Jewish decrees, the Jews were ordered to wear an armband with the Star of David and to make punitive payments, they were subject to forced labour and their movements were restricted.

 

On 15 July 1941, a group of 250 intellectuals were summoned to the local Gestapo, where they were subjected to two days of torture and then murdered in ditches adjoining the Jewish cemetery.

 

On the day following the executions, the first Jewish Council (Judenrat) was established from among the Jewish intelligentsia who survived the previous day’s slaughter. The first president of the Judenrat was Dr Bloch, who before the outbreak of the Second World War had been a director of a local bank.

 

According to testimonies of survivors the first members of the Judenrat were decent, but later the local Gestapo replaced many members and quickly the Judenrat became simply a pliant tool for implementing German policy.

 

Together with German and Ukrainians many members of the Judenrat, as well as members of the Jewish police force, participated in the plunder of Jewish property.

 

The German civil administration ordered the payment of contributions by the Jews. Apart from money and valuables the Jews had to supply the Germans with furniture, clothes, shoes, linen and coffee.  

 

The Judenrat was also ordered to supply hundreds of Jews daily for work on bridge repairs, on road building and in military camps. By August, Jewish property was being plundered on a large scale by both Germans and Ukrainians.

 

In December 1941, the Germans began stopping Jewish youths in the street, and transporting them to labour camps that had been established in the area. These camps were located at Jaktorow, Sasow, and Laski. Jewish women worked mainly in manors near the town – when rumours spread about impending deportations, some Jews paid large sums of money to acquire work-cards. At the same time some Jews began to construct shelters and hiding places in their homes.

 

 In the first half of 1942 about 1,500 Jews were imprisoned in these camps. Their number dwindled sharply in the second half of 1942 and the beginning of the following year, owing to the high death rate caused by mistreatment, hard labour, starvation and disease.

 

During the summer of 1942 the Judenrat on its own initiative, launched an effort to find jobs in areas that were considered vital to the German economy, in the hope that this would give protection, at least to some degree, from deportation to the labour camps.

 

On 19 September 1942 Germans, including members of the Civil Administration under the command of Landkommissar Weiss,Ukrainian police, Ukrainian and Polish civilians, arrested Jews on the street or dragged them out of their houses and hiding places.

 

The Jews were gathered on the market square and from there were led to the waiting train, which took them to Belzec death camp. When this “Aktion” was over, 2,000 Jews were deported to the Belzec death camp, while 300 were killed on the spot.

 

Among the Germans in Brody there was one family who tried to aid the Jews. Liselotte Hassenstein and her husband Otto, who worked in the Forest Administration, were very active during the “Aktionen” in helping the Jews.

 

Otto Hassenstein saved many Jews by assigning them to work in the forest. He told everyone:

Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/ghettos/brody.html

The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
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Copyright  Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2009

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