• Art S.

Town of Borislav, Poland, Liquidated, First Mass Deportation of Jews to Death Camp, 1941

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

On This Day in Jewish History: August 9th, 1941


#onthisdayAugust 9th, 1941, the town of Borislav, Poland was liquidated. Between 5,000 and 10,000 Jews were placed on trains en route to the Nazi death camp at Belzec - becoming the first mass deportation of Jews to a death camp in the war.


In many ways, the experience of Borislav mirrored events across Eastern Europe. Jews there had suffered under Soviet rule beginning in 1939. But greater tragedies befell them when their town fell into German hands on July 1, 1942.


First came a pogrom at the hands of their Ukrainian neighbors that killed 300 people. Then came the murder of 1,500 Jews executed in the nearby forests. Those who did not fall victim to hunger and disease were rounded up and sent to labor camps.


Then, in August 1942, most of the remaining Jews were deported to Belzec. Belzec had opened the previous March as part of Operation Reinhard, the secret Nazi plan to exterminate all of Polish Jewry. Until its closing in June 1943, between 500,000 and 600,000 Jews were killed at Belzec, placing it only behind Treblinka and Auschwitz as the deadliest camp operated by Nazi Germany.


And yet it is the camp about which the least is known, in part because so few survived to describe its operations.


Borislav had been the center of oil production in Poland, an industry in which Jews had played a leading role in the late 19th century. By late 1942, those Jews who had not been deported were forced into a special labor camp devoted to the oil refineries.


The deportations from Borislav were a microcosm of the terrifying summer of 1942, during which Jews from Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Croatia, in addition to Poland, were deported to killing centers.


When the Soviet army re-took Borislav in August 1944, approximately 200 Jews were discovered hiding in the surrounding forest and another 200 returned from the Soviet Union and later from German camps. By then, of course, European Jewry had been decimated.


Information Source: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/borislav

Photo Source: https://dbs.anumuseum.org.il/skn/en/c6/e215418/Place/Borislav


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