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Bedzin Ghetto is Established

On This Day in Jewish History: July 1, 1940



#onthisday the Bedzin Ghetto was established in Bedzin, Poland. It would last until January 1944 when the last Jews were deported to Auschwitz.


There was a Jewish community in Bedzin since the 13th century and Jews were the majority of the city since the 17th century. In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Bedzin and took control. This led to the beginning of the horrific events that would take place there. The Nazis burned down the synagogue in Bedzin with over 200 Jews praying inside. Anyone who ran away from the fire was shot and they did not allow firefighters to save the building. The fire spread to many of the streets in the Jewish Quarter causing lots of destruction of Jewish property.


The Nazis also forcibly shaved men’s beards and beat them on the street.

On July 1, 1940 the Nazis made Bedzin an official ghetto and forced 30,000 Jews inside. They kicked out any Jews who were living in the town center but they did not completely close off the ghetto at that time because the Jews were used as free laborers. The size of the ghetto grew when the Nazis relocated the Jews from Auschwitz to Bedzin in April and May 1941. This was before the Auschwitz concentration camp was created. The Jews in the ghetto were used for forced labor until May of 1942 when deportations to Auschwitz began.


Overall, about 30,000 Jews were sent from the Bedzin ghetto to Auschwitz where most perished. On May 1, 1943 the ghetto was officially closed off and the living conditions of the Jews inside got significantly worse.


The final liquidation of the ghetto was completed on August 8, 1943 and was met with armed resistance, which has existed in the ghetto since 1940 and had at times even made contact with the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The Nazis left 1,000 Jews in Bedzin to search for any hiding Jews and clean up. They were deported to Auschwitz in January 1944. Jews would return to Bedzin after World War Two ended but by the 1970’s there were no remaining Jews in Bedzin.

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Sources:

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C4%99dzin_Ghetto

- https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/bedzin

- https://www.ushmm.org/online/hsv/source_view.php?SourceId=30995

- https://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/last-letters/1943/joschkowitz.asp


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