March 13, 1943: The Jewish ghetto at Kraków is “liquidated”.

How exactly does oneliquidate a community of over 20,000 people (housed in a space that should have held only 1/6th that number)? This task was delegated to Amon Göth, the second lieutenant of Schindler’s List fame. Although thousands of Jews had been continuously deported from the ghetto for nearly a year, it was between March 13th and 14th that nearly 4,000 deemed fit for work were shipped to the nearby Kraków-Płaszów labor camp. The remainder, numbering around 4,000, were mostly the elderly, the sick, and children - all of whom were either shot on spot, or sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau for extermination. 

It was here, at the Kraków ghetto, that Oskar Schindler came seeking cheap labor, and it was here that Schindler saved over a thousand lives. Another non-Jew, Tadeusz Pankiewicz,ran the only pharmacy in the ghetto district after all the others had relocated to the ‘Aryan’ side. But, despite a local branch of the ŻOB’s attempts to engineer an organized uprising, the liquidation itself ultimately went unresisted. A plaque placed on what had been a ghetto wall now reads:

Here they lived, suffered and perished at the hands of Hitler’s executioners. From here they began their final journey to the death camps.”

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