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Operation Reinhard in Kraków was a major 1942 German Nazi anti-Jewish operation in Kraków, Poland, headed by SS-Oberführer Julian Scherner as part of the countrywide Aktion Reinhard (Operation Reinhard), mass murder of Polish Jews in General Government under the command of SS and Polizeifuhrer Odilo Globocnik.

Kraków Ghetto, 1942. German checkpoint during anti-Jewish Operation Aktion Krakau.

Beginning in 1941, all Jewish inhabitants were ordered to relocate into the newly established Ghetto situated in Podgórze district of Kraków. A German Labour Office (Arbeitsamt) was set up for those employed outside the Ghetto. At the beginning of 1942, the entire Jewish population of Greater Krakow (including 29 surrounding villages) was forced to move into the Ghetto with each person granted 4 cubic meters of space. On 1 June 1942 the ghetto was surrounded by German police and SS. To conceal the purpose of the "Aktion" and calm the Jewish population, the SD and SIPO officers—among them Obersturmbannfuhrer Willi Haase, Obersturmfuhrer Becher, and Hauptscharfuhrer Heinrich—told the Jews of a resettlement programme. Jews who worked in German factories were permitted to remain, while the first transport of 7,000 Jews were assembled on Zgody Square and escorted to the railway station in Prokocim. On 5 June 1942 additional 4,000 Jews were deported to Bełżec extermination camp in a similar manner.

The next roundup of the Ghetto occupants took place over three separate days (July 27, July 31 and August 3, 1942), and was a combined effort of the Gestapo and GPK (Grenzpolizeikommissariat - Frontier Police Authority). The operation was directed by an officer under Scherner's command - SS-Hauptsturmführer Martin Fellenz. Thousands were deported to Belzec. After the Aktion had taken place, Jews in the Ghetto were requested to pay the transportation costs for the so-called 'evacuation'.

Deportation of Jews from the Kraków Ghetto, March 1943

It was during this 'Action' however, that a mass rescue took place. On the first day (July 27, 1942), the local military commander (Major Max Liedtke, who was in charge of the Jewish workforce) requested through his adjutant Dr Albert Battel that all Jews working for the Wehrmacht be exempted from the evacuation regardless of whether they had work permits. Upon the refusal of his request by the Gestapo, he took decisive action and ordered his troops to seize the two bridges that connected the divided city and halt all traffic. The Gestapo were forced to contact Scherner's office and finally Liedtke received permission to retain those workers performing service for the Wehrmacht. On the third day of the evacuations, Scherner himself was present, ostensibly to ensure things ran smoothly and to secure order. For the actions undertaken by Liedtke and Battel, Yad Vashem later named them "Righteous Among the Nations".

On March 13 and March 14, 1943, the Nazis carried out the final 'liquidation' of the ghetto under the command of SS-Sturmbannführer Amon Goth. Those deemed able to work were transported to the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp. Some 2,000 Jews were killed in the streets. Any remaining, were sent to Auschwitz.

References

  1. ^ Jerzy Wojciewski, Korespondencja własna z Sachsenhausen, Zielony Sztandar, 9 września 2007 r. Nr 36. See: reference made in the Polish language to the so called „Aktion Krakau” of 29 November 1939.
  • Jewish Virtual Library, a division of AICE. "Glossary."
  • The Simon Wiesenthal Center, 1997, "Aktion Reinhard." [1]
  • "The Krakow Ghetto", Aktion Reinhard. Sources: Robin O’Neil, Belzec; Anna Pioro, The Cracow Ghetto 1941 –1943; Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust, Photographs and Documents, Holocaust Historical Society.

See also

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