Podgorze Ghetto in Krakow
A brick wall was constructed
around Podgorze Ghetto
In the Stephen Spielberg movie, Schindler's
List, the Jews in the Krakow area were herded into a walled ghetto
in the Podgorze district, which is just south of Kazimierz and
across the Wisla river, known to Americans as the Vistula. The
old photo above shows the Jews being forced to build a wall around
the Podgorze Ghetto in March 1941. The ghetto wall looked as
though it had been made with tombstones put close together. Living
behind a wall that looked like tombstones was psychological torture
for the Jews.
The photo below shows the gate into the
ghetto, which was reconstructed for the movie, Schindler's List.
Scene from the movie
Since Krakow was the capital of German-occupied
Poland, the governor of the occupied territory, Hans Frank, had
ordered in April 1940 that the city should become Judenrein,
or "clean of Jews." All the Jews were required to move
to the Podgorze ghetto, which was outside the city limits.
On March 21, 1941, the borders of the
Podgorze ghetto were closed and over 50,000 Jews from Krakow
and the surrounding area were confined to 320 buildings centered
around the Plac Zgody (Peace Square), according to a guidebook
which I purchased from the Pharmacy Museum in the former ghetto.
Among the Jews who were forced into the
Podgorze Ghetto were 3,000 from Kazimierz, almost two-thirds
of its population. The old photo below shows the Jews on their
way to the Podgorze Ghetto while German SS soldiers march alongside
them. Notice that they are wearing arm bands which identify them
Jews walk through Krakow
to Podgorze Ghetto
The Podgorze Ghetto was half the size
of Old Town Krakow, so it was not as crowded as some other Jewish
ghettos. According to the author of the novel, Schindler's Ark,
on which the movie Schindler's List was based, some of the Jews
didn't mind moving from Kazimierz across the river to Podgorze
because the Nazis promised to protect them from Polish nationalists
who were also their enemies. The following quote is from the
novel Schindler's Ark, which was renamed Schindler's List after
the movie came out:
"Oskar began to get hints from
his SS contacts at Pomorska Street that there was to be a ghetto
for Jews. He mentioned the rumor to Stern, not wanting to arouse
alarm. Oh, yes, said Stern, the word was out. Some people were
even looking forward to it. We'll be inside, the enemy will be
outside. We can run our own affairs. No one will envy us, no
one stone us in the streets.The walls of the ghetto will be fixed.
The walls would be the final, fixed form of the catastrophe."
Only a small fragment of the original
six foot high wall, that enclosed the ghetto, remains. For the
movie Schindler's List, Spielberg recreated the gate into the
Krakow ghetto; the original gate is shown in the two photos below.
Original gate into
Gate into Podgorze
ghetto in Krakow
The photo above shows the gate into the
Podgorze ghetto. Above the entrance are the words "Yiddisher
Woynbezirk" written with the Hebrew alphabet. This means
"Jüdische Wohnbezirk" in German and "Jewish
Residential Area" in English.
The Jews in all the ghettos were humiliated
by being forced to do manual labor. As the old photo below shows,
the German guards found this amusing.
Soldiers laughing at
Jews who are forced to work
The photograph below shows Jews being
forced to shovel snow on Sw. Krzyza (Holy Cross Street) at the
corner of Mikolajska street in the Stare Miasto (Old City)
of Krakow. Stephen
Spielberg recreated this scene in his movie Schindler's List
where he showed Jews shoveling snow on Poselska street.
Jews being forced to
shovel snow in the Old City of Krakow
This page was last updated on March 1,