In Remembrance… candle
Today, a ghetto is thought of as an urban slum full of crime, noise, and filth. Seventy years ago, a ghetto would have been the imposed home for thousands of Jews uprooted for the Final Solution. Both are dirty, dark places with an abhorrent lifestyle. One of the many Polish ghettos built under the Nazi regime was Zamosc, which has a history of bleak conditions, forced evacuations, and amazing stories of survival.
The Zamosc ghetto became a symbol of anti-Semitic hatred and persecution through its harrowing conditions and restrictions. Zamosc was first taken captive by the Germans on September 14, 1939. Soon after, the Soviets arrived, took 5,000 Jews, and left. For a week, Zamosc was vacant of outsiders. On October 7, the Germans returned and promptly pillaged Jewish belongings. They deported Jews to various work camps in the Lublin area, including Wysokie, Bialobrzegi and Janowce. In 1939 and early 1940, several restrictions were placed upon the Jews. They were forbidden to drive, leave town, and were required to wear a white armband. In April 1941, they were coerced into moving to a neglected quarter in New Town. Many houses had been destroyed, and the rest were in ruins. Zamosc’s conditions were bleak. However, Poles were allowed entry into the ghetto, which gave Jews access to a minimal amount of food and necessities . Until June 1941, there was even an operating post office. In early 1942, rumors began to spread about mass deportations from the Lublin area to a nearby extermination camp, Belzec. It was confirmed that 10,000-12,000 Jews were arriving daily at Belzec, and were being killed by strange circumstances.
The first evacuation of Zamosc marked the beginning of the crumbling Jewish fate, and exemplified the brutality of the Germans. On the afternoon of April 11, 1942 Germans armed with handguns and grenades surrounded the Zamosc, and did not permit anyone to leave. Gotthard Schubert and his deputy Bohlman were the Gestapo commanders in charge of the first aktzia (the forced gathering of Jews for humiliation, labor, or death. ) According to Jekutiel Cwilich, a survivor from Zamosc, the Germans stayed for ten minutes, during which Schubert declared that 2,500 Jews were to be evacuated. All Jewish residents were to report to the northwestern side of the square in New Town within two hours for classification. German units went to Jewish homes and dragged the remaining………to the square. Many of the disabled and elderly were murdered in this search. The Jews assembled in the market had to wait without any sustenance for seven hours. In the night, they were marched to a train and loaded on to it. Many reported that dozens of people had been killed at the platform and thrown into already full carriages. Streets were strewn with the corpses of 520 people who had been shot in cold blood. Eyewitness David Mekler said, “Bodies everywhere, in the streets, in the courtyards, inside the houses; babies thrown...