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Gurka Polonka

Apparently a member of the German Order Police near the mass grave at Gurka Polonka
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Photograph taken shortly after the murder operation. Apparently a member of the German Order Police near the mass grave at Gurka Polonka
Photograph taken shortly after the murder operation.
Yad Vashem Photo Collection 5870/8 Heinrich Lindner, the Gebietskommissar of Łuck County Heinrich Lindner, the Gebietskommissar of Łuck County Yad Vashem Photo Collection 1584/166 Jewish workers from the Krasne labor camp carrying the belongings of the victims from the Łuck ghetto Jewish workers from the Krasne labor camp carrying the belongings of the victims from the Łuck ghetto Yad Vashem Photo Collection 5870/15 Josef Glueck,an official of the Gebietskommissar office Josef Glueck,an official of the Gebietskommissar office Yad Vashem Photo Collection 1584/170

Shortly before the liquidation of the ghetto, since many of its inmates knew about the imminent murder operation, they went into hiding. On the evening of August 18, 1942 Gendarmerie men and Ukrainian auxiliary policemen surrounded the ghetto. On August 19 the Jews were ordered to assemble at Bazarnaya Square for registration. After the registration had been carried out, a group of artisans and craftsmen was selected while the rest were told to appear the next morning at the same collection point. The specialists, along with staff members of the Jewish hospital, were taken to Gurka Polonka (in Ukrainian Hirka Polonka)Forest about 8 kilometers southwest of Łuck. They were joined near Polonka village by a group of Jewish men from the Krasne labor camp, some municipality workers, and residents from the surrounding localities. All of them had to dig several large mass graves in the course of 24 hours. Between August 20 and 23 Jewish men, women, children, and old people, who had all been collected at Bazarnaya Square were loaded in groups of 35-40 onto several dozen trucks and, under the guard of Gendarmerie and Ukrainian auxiliary police, taken to Gurka Polonka. The children from the local Jewish orphanage were taken to the site as well. According to one testimony some hospital staff and members of their families committed suicide. This testimony also stated that when the Jews were loaded onto trucks and taken from the city to the murder site cheerful songs were played from loudspeakers positioned around the city. Josef Glueck, the SA officer who was, among other things, in charge of Jewish affairs at the Gebietskommissar office,was present during the liquidation of the ghetto. Upon their arrival at the shooting site, the Jews were forced to get off the trucks and to strip naked. Those who refused were beaten by Ukrainian policemen. According to one testimony, the elderly and infirm people were pulled from the trucks by Ukrainian and Gendarmerie policemen and thrown into the pits. The victims, in groups of 6 to 8, were forced into the pits, made to lie face down, and then shot to death with machine-guns in the back of the head by Gendarmerie officers. Then another group of victims was placed on the top of them and murdered in the same way. The members of the local Jewish council and the Jewish policemen were shot to death at this site as well. The clothes of those murdered were taken by truck to the city, where they were sorted. Municipality workers and men from the area covered the victims with earth (or, according to one testimony, with chlorine). Ukrainian auxiliary policemen who were guarding the shooting site carried out control shots of those victims who might still be alive. During the following days several hundred Jews were found in hiding in the ghetto or in the city by Ukrainian policemen and also shot to death at the site. After this murder operation a group of Jewish workers from the Krasne labor camp sorted the Jewish property left in the ghetto and then handed it over to the authorities.
Apparently in the first half of September (according to one testimony, on Rosh Ha-Shana eve) about 300 inmates of the small ghetto (that had been set up at the end of August), mainly women, children, and most of the remaining Jewish doctors and medical staff, were driven by Ukrainian auxiliary policemen and members of the Gendarmerie out of their homes and taken to the Lubart Fortress. At the same time a selection under the command of Josef Glueck was carried at the Krasne labor camp, during which skilled workers and specialists were left at the camp, while a group of about 150 Jews, mainly men (but including some women and teenagers) who had hid during the liquidation of the main ghetto and managed to find temporary refuge in the camp were taken to the former regional police headquarters located near the camp. The next morning they were taken to the Lubart Fortress and, together with Jews from the small ghetto, were loaded onto trucks and taken to Gurka Polonka, where they were all shot to death, apparently by a Gendarmerie murder squad. Heinrich Lindner, the Gebietskommissar of Łuck, was in charge of this large murder operation.
On December 12, 1942 a group of Jews from the Bolesław Chrobry labor camp was murdered at the site as well, apparently by an SS unit.
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Rachel Zaidman was born in Łuck in 1922 and was living there during the war years
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Rachel Zaidman was born in Łuck in 1922 and was living there during the war years
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