Trzebinia During the Holocaust

Children’s soup kitchen, Trzebinia, 1940-1941

Children’s soup kitchen, Trzebinia, 1940-1941

Tensions were already being felt in Trezbinia by the end of August 1939. The Polish authorities began to recruit reserve soldiers, among them Jews, who took part in anti-aircraft reinforcement for all the factories in the town and its surrounds. On the first day of the war, the German air force bombed Trzebinia, damaging the train station, which was an important junction on the railway. The explosion killed Mrs. Fletcher, accompanying her husband who had been called up to the Polish army. She was the first Jewish victim from Trzebinia. The same day there was a mass flight from the town, and many Jews joined the stream of refugees. A short while later the Jewish refugees began to return to Trzebinia. Many were murdered along the way. The Germans also massacred those refugees that made it back to the town. One day, soldiers and policemen stood guard at the entrances to the town, lying in wait for those returning. Some 70 people were caught and executed. They were buried in a mass grave near the bridge connecting Trzebinia and Chrzanów.

In the early days of the occupation, the Germans broke into the Jewish stores and apartments, robbing them of their possessions. At the end of 1939 and the beginning of 1940 all Jewish-owned factories were confiscated and the Jews of Trzebinia were put to hard labor. A slew of decrees made their lives even harder: they had to wear identifying marks, their movement was restricted and their properties were plundered. At the beginning of 1940, a Judenrat was established under the command of Moshe Marin, Chairman of the Sosnowiec Judenrat. In the summer, the Jews were forced to move to a number of streets, which eventually became the ghetto. At the end of 1940 and the first half of 1941, the Germans began to seize Jewish men for forced labor camps. On 29 May 1942 the deportation of the Jews of Trzebinia began, and on 7 June the last Jews in the town were deported to Auschwitz.

In the second half of 1944, a labor camp affiliated with Auschwitz was set up in the Trzebinia region. All the prisoners were Jews, taken there to develop the existing ammunitions factories.

“Huge clouds of smoke billow from the chimneys, pouring upwards into a great black river that moves, slowly, in the skies over Birkenau, and disappears above the forests on the way to Trzebinia. A transport… already going up in flames.”

Tadeusz Borowski (Letters to Maria)

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