First Jewish ghetto established at Lublin

The Lublin district became a Judenreservat (Jewish reservoir): All Jews from the Generalgouvernement, the occupied Polish districts and the German Reich would be brought there.

Until February 1940, 6,300 Jews had been deported to the Lublin district, among them around 1,200 German Jews from Stettin. Most of them were sent to small ghettos in Piaski, Glusk and Belzyce.

In 1940 SS and police organized round-ups in Lublin and its environs. Thousands of men were sent to Belzec work camp. There they had to build the Eastern Wall at the Soviet border. Many of them died there due to primitive conditions. Until March 1941 many Jews still lived in their own apartments, except from the town centre where they were not even allowed to walk on the main street. They had to work for German institutions and companies, for example in the Forced Labour Camp Lipowa Street 7. Very often round-ups took place in the Jewish district finding people for work. German institutions, officers and even soldiers went on looting Jewish shops and flats.

In March 1941 Lublin’s governor Zörner proclaimed the establishment of a ghetto in Lublin. It comprised the oldest and poorest part of the historical Jewish district in Lublin’s Old Town. Several days before setting-up the ghetto about 14,000 Lublin Jews (most of them poor and without work) were resettled to several small towns in the Lublin district, but parts of them returned illegally. Around 40,000 Jews still lived in the town.

Until March 1942 the ghetto was not strictly closed, but Jews were not allowed access to the so-called "Aryan streets". Many Jewish families, especially those who worked as specialists for German institutions, still lived outside the ghetto.
The conditions were not as horrible as in the ghettos of Warsaw or Lodz regarding lack of food. In the Lublin ghetto Jews had contact with the world outside, enabling them to smuggle food inside the area allotted them. Even Nazi newspapers wrote about illegal trade in the ghetto on a large scale.