1 Execution site(s)
Roman D., born in 1932: “I remember the liquidation of the ghetto; I was in the street which led straight out of the marketplace, next to the ghetto, to the stadium next to the train station where the Germans took the Jews. Beforehand, the Jews were rounded up at the stadium.
I saw one scene which struck me despite my young age. An old orthodox Jew struggled while walking. He hardly managed to move his feet. He was older than I am right now. Other Jews helped him walk, but they were all surrounded by German soldiers and Polish Blue Police. He fell down once. Then a second time. When he fell down the last time and didn’t have the energy to get up, he was shot dead on the spot by a German. His body was loaded on a truck passing by, which left in the direction of the cemetery. I still see the image in my head of these Jews walking. I remember the expression they had on their faces. They did not cry, and they did not complain. They did not say anything. They walked calmly. The silence was oppressive. Even this old man did not make a sound when he was shot. Not a sound”. (Eyewitness n°787, interviewed in Nowy Targ on March, 17th 2018)
“Questionnaire about the mass executions and mass graves.
1. Date and place of execution: from March 1942 to August 30,1942 on the Jewish cemetery in Nowy Targ.
2. Kind of execution/ shooting, hanging, other: shooting.
3. Data concerning executed victims: Poles, Jews, foreigner: Jews and Poles
4.Number of executed people: about 1,500 people altogether Where do the victims come from: From Nowy Targ and its surroundings.
5 Do we know what the victims were accused of? Or was the execution an order of retaliation? Or other? Racial persecution. Motives are unknown concerning Poles.
6. Who conducted the execution? Were they police officers, Gestapo, SS or Wehrmacht? Police officers, Gestapo and Sonderdienst.
7. Are the perpetrators’ names known? Give the names: [Note: The names are available in the original archives]." [IPNKrakowReport 1/11619/DVD/1 Statement of Tomasz Magierski aged 44, burgermeister of Nowy Targ, on 27/09/1945, concerning the executions of about 1,5000 Jews and Poles in the town of Nowy Targ in 1942. ]
Nowy Targ, located in the Tatra Mountains, is located 89 km (55 miles) south of Krakow. There is no exact information on when the first Jews settled in Nowy Targ, but are believed to have arrived in the middle of the 17th century. At the end of the 18th century, Nowy Targ, like all western Galicia, was incorporated into the Austro-Hungarian empire. At the beginning of their settlement, the Jewish community was not large. Still, it grew significantly by the end of the 19th century, even after the annulation of the law that forbade Jews from living in the Tatra region.
In 1884 there were 464 Jews, and by 1890 the community had grown to 773. In 1900 they were 900 Jews living in Nowy Targ, making up about 15% of the total population. Most Jews were merchants and peddlers as it was a tourist destination, and many Jews were involved in the tourist industry. According to the census in 1921, 1,342 Jews lived in the town.
The Jewish community had several synagogues, a Jewish cemetery, and educational institutions, such as Talmud Tora and a Hebrew heder school. After WWI, different Zionist movements were organized in Nowy Targ. On the eve of WWII, approximately 3,000 (23%) of the 13,000 residents living in Nowy Targ were Jewish.
On September 1, 1939, Nowy Targ was occupied by German soldiers that invaded Poland through Czechoslovakia. On the following day, 12 Jewish community leaders were arrested and sent to a concentration camp in Germany. Shortly after the occupation, anti-Jewish measures were implemented by the German Administration. All Jews over the age of 10 were forced to wear the Star of David. Jewish businesses were either liquidated or taken over by the ethnic Germans. Those fit to work were forced to perform public works, like repairing roads or working in a stone quarry in Zakopane.
Beginning in May 1941, an open ghetto was created in Nowy Targ. In the summer of 1941, approximately 2,000 Jews from Nowy Targ and the surrounding villages of Szczawnica, Kroscienko, Czarny Dunajec, and Rabka were confined to the ghetto. In the Fall of 1941, access to the ghetto was restricted, and Jews were forbidden to leave its confines. Those caught outside could be punished by death.
According to the Polish Archives, on June 8, 1942, several Jewish workers from the feather plucking plant were arrested and shot at the Jewish cemetery. The ghetto was liquidated on August 30, 1942. On the eve of the liquidation, all Jews were notified to assemble in the Pilsudski Sports Stadium under the pretext of being displaced for forced labor. On the day of the deportation, all Jews were forced to hand over their valuables. After the selection, the majority of ghetto residents, along with other Jews from Jordanow, were taken by foot toward the railway station, from where they were deported to the Belzec killing center. The elderly and sick, as well as the members of the Judenrat, were murdered at the Jewish cemetery. Those Jews who attempted to escape or were found in hiding were shot on the spot.
Overall, an estimated 1,500 Jews were murdered at the Jewish cemetery, including those found in hiding during the months following the liquidation. The aktions were conducted by a local SS unit accompanied by German and local police. Those Jews with special skills and craftsmen were spared and confined to the newly created Hobag labor camp behind the train station. The labor camp was liquidated on May 25, 1944, and the surviving prisoners were deported to the Płaszów forced labor camp.
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