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Poland / Biography

NN. Author of the letter from the Lublin ghetto


In 1942 German forces began deporting Jews from the Lublin ghetto to the Bełżec extermination camp. No records were kept listing the deportees so many remain anonymous till this day.

On the night of 16 and 17 March 1942, German forces started the liquidation of the Lublin ghetto. They carried out the so-called ‘displacement action’ in a systematic way: street by street they drove Jews out of their homes and gathered them at assembly points. The main place of selection was the Great Synagogue. From there SS men marched people to the loading yard behind the municipal slaughterhouse, where freight trains headed to the Bełżec extermination camp awaited them. In less than a month, about 28,000 Lublin Jews were murdered in the gas chambers there. There were no deportation lists. None of the ‘displaced’ survived.

Someone who was in the Lublin ghetto at that time described those tragic events in a letter from 24 March 1942. This dramatic account was written in Yiddish, the language spoken by the majority of Polish Jews. We do not know the name nor fate of its author: this partly illegible text is the only evidence of his existence. The emotions resounding in it — misery, pain, lack of hope — convey the personal nature of the message.
[…] I had to add a few words today about days that will be remembered as the darkest in the history of Jewish Lublin. Jews are standing in the middle of a bloody devil's dance. It […] Lublin, it is taking place in blood and tears. Jewish possessions without […]. Over 10,000 Jews already expelled […]. […] small streets. Hundreds of dead lay around […] abandoned apartments and without sufficient […] the orphanage and an old people’s home […] their [...] were sent […] not back. And [...] during [...] we are wandering about mistreated [...] tired, pained and broken. I can't do more [...] I can only shout to you: help. Add […] and the dead in shrouds. And […] go out […].

The content of this unique document survived the Holocaust in the Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto, created by members of the Jewish clandestine group Oneg Shabbat under the leadership of historian Emanuel Ringelblum.

After the war, part of the Ringelblum Archive was found. This unique resource, consisting of several thousand documents, has been inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. It is a testimony to the life, suffering, and death of individuals and entire Jewish communities doomed to extermination — created by themselves.