2 Execution site(s)
Jerzy R., born in 1957: “When we went to gather mushrooms with my grandmother used to show the place where the Jews had been shot. There were several pits where the soil sagged. I don’t know how many people were buried here, because I didn’t see the shooting. So, I prefer not to tell anything about it.” (Witness n°861, interrogated in Kamionacz, on July, 7th 2018)
“1/ Date and place of execution: April 2, 3 and 4, 1940 in Rossoszyca (in the forest)
2/ Type of execution: injection in hospital, poisoned by gas in the truck on the road to the crime place.
3/ Data concerning killed people: Poles, Jews, foreigners: 287 Poles, 179 Jews, 28 Germans and 5 Russians.
5/ Who conducted the execution: Gestapo.” [Questionnaire n°467 on mass executions and mass graves (Miejsowosc : Warta ;Powiat : Sieradz ; Wojewodztwo : Łódź; RG-15.019M]
Józefów-Wiktorów is located 60km west of Łódź. The first Jews started to settle down in the area in the early 16th century. Back then the majority of Jews lived in the nearby town of Warta located 9km west of Józefów-Wiktorów. In 1616, 16 households in Watra were Jewish. At the beginning of the 19th century 388 Jews lived in Warta making up 41% of the total population. By 1881, the Jews represented 53% of the population. The majority of Jews lived off small scale or whole trade and handcraft. In Watra, there were a couple of small industries owned by Jews, like two clothing factories, a mill, soda-water and a vinegar bottling plant. The Jewish community had a cemetery and a synagogue which was destroyed during the first days of the occupation. In 1921, according to the census, 2,025 Jews lived in the town comprising 50% of the population.
Józefów-Wiktorów and Warta were occupied by the Germans during the first days of September 1939 due to its close location to the German border. Shortly after the occupation the persecution of Jews started. The Jews were subjected to systematic humiliation, robbery and forced labor. In late September, all the Jews were marked with distinguishing signs. In November 1939, there was an attempt to relocate all the Jews, but after the deportation was cancelled. In early February 1940, an open ghetto was created in Warta. According to the historical sources and local testimonies recorded by Yahad, the ghetto remained opened for a while but then was fenced in and guarded by Jewish police. 499 mentally ill people from the hospital, including 177 Jews, were taken by gas vans to the forest Pierzchnia Góra and murdered there in the course of several days in early April 1940. According to the local witness, there were three pits where the bodies were buried.
At the end of December 1940, some 1,750 Jews lived in the town of Warta. In January 1941, a group of young Jews were displaced from the Warta ghetto to a labor camp in the Poznan district. On April 14, 1942, 10 or 11 Jews, including the chairman of the Judenrat and the rabbi, allegedly sentenced for sending bread to prisoners of the labor camps , were hanged publicly in Warta. According to Martin Dean and historical sources, the ghetto was liquidated between August 22 and 25, 1942. During the liquidation, the Jews were first confined into the parish church, then, after a selection, about 1,000 were deported to the camp in Chelmo, while another 400 were sent to the Łódź ghetto. Only 50 Jews from the prewar Warta community survived the war.
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