Podgorze Ghetto

After the Wannsee conference on Jan. 20, 1942, at which the "The Final Solution to the Jewish Question" was planned, the Nazis began the "transportation to the east" of 11,000 Jews from the Podgorze Ghetto to the extermination camp at Belzec on the eastern border of German-occupied Poland. There were two separate actions in June 1942 and October 1942 when Jews from the Podgorze Ghetto were rounded up and sent to the Belzec extermination camp. The movie Schindler's List combines these actions and the final liquidation of the Ghetto in 1943 into one scene.

German soldier kicks a Jew who is being forced onto a truck

On March 13, 1943, a Saturday, the Podgorze ghetto was officially closed and around 6,000 Jews who were able to work were sent to the Plaszow forced labor camp, while around 2,000 children and old people were sent to other camps, including Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau, which was both a labor camp and a death camp.

The Jews had originally been invited to settle in Poland by King Kazimierz the Great in the 14th century after they had been expelled from Western Europe. The first Jewish neighborhood in Krakow was south of ul. Sw. Anny in the University district which is the location of the Jagiellonian University, founded by King Kazimierz in 1364.

In 1495, King Jan Olbracht expelled the Jews from the University district and compelled them to live in a restricted area in Kazimierz. The concept of a Jewish ghetto dates back to the 13th century, but the term ghetto did not come into use until after 1519 when Jews in Venice were forced into a separate neighborhood near a cannon foundry called Gheta.

In the movie Schindler's List, there is a scene where the Commandant of Plaszow, Amon Goeth, who was in charge of liquidating the Podgorze Ghetto in 1943, makes a speech about the historical significance of ending six centuries of Jewish culture in Krakow. Goeth was Austrian and Krakow was in the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia from 1776 until 1919 when Poland again became an independent country. Goeth had been transferred to Plaszow after successfully liquidating the ghetto in Lublin, which was another center of Jewish culture and also the city which the Nazis chose for their eastern headquarters, partly because of its history of German domination in the dim past. Besides being an important Jewish center for centuries, Krakow was notable as a center for liberal politics and was Lenin's base for international communism from 1912 to 1914.

Amon Goeth was in charge of liquidating Podgorze Ghetto

One of the scenes in the movie Schindler's List shows Oskar Schindler as he watches the liquidation of the Podgorze Ghetto.

The photograph below shows the view looking westward towards Podgorze, as seen by Oskar Schindler as he rode his horse in Bednarskiego Park on a hill that extends from Limanowskiego Street. In the picture, the street on which the two cars are driving is Krakusa Street where Genia, the little girl in the red coat, was walking in the Schindler's List story. The movie scene was shot on this street, exactly where it happened. Krakusa street is one block west of the Plac Zgody, where the Pharmacy Museum is located. The park is located between the former Podgorze Ghetto and the Plaszow district and is very close to Oskar Schindler's factory.

Red car on Krakusa St. where Schindler saw the girl in a red coat

The photo below shows the bridal path along the edge of the hill overlooking Krakusa Street, from where Schindler looked down from his horse and saw 7,000 Jews being marched out of the Podgorze Ghetto for transporation to concentration camps, according to the novel, Schindler's Ark. The path is now overgrown with trees.

Path where Schindler rode his horse

The only non-Jewish inhabitant of the Podgorze ghetto was a master pharmacist named Tadeusz Pankiewicz. His Eagle Pharmacy was located at #18 on the cobble-stoned Plac Zgody which was the main square where selections took place and from where transports of Jews were sent to Belzec. In 1993, the same year that the movie was filmed, his pharmacy building was turned into a National Memorial Museum. At the museum are displayed pictures of the roundup and deportation of the Jews of Krakow and a few religious artifacts.

In 1947, Tadeusz Pankiewicz published his memoirs called The Pharmacy in the Krakow Ghetto. It is an account of how his pharmacy became a meeting place for the Jews in the ghetto where they could get information from the underground press. Letters were sent from and received at the pharmacy. It was also a hiding place for Jews whom the Nazis were trying to arrest for violations of their laws. According to Schindler's List, the pharmacy was where messages were passed between the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB) and the partisans of the Polish People's Army, the two main groups which fought the Nazis in guerrilla warfare during World War II. In the movie, Schindler's List, there is no mention of how Jewish partisans resisted the Nazis and helped to defeat the Germans in World War II.


Memorial to the Heroes of Podgorze Ghetto

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