Lesko | Subcarpathian Voivodship

The synagogue in Lesko © Freddy Murphy/ Yahad-In Unum Franciszek G., born in 1928: “They didn’t really line up. They were just shooting them as they were coming.”   © Freddy Murphy/ Yahad-In Unum Janina Z., born in 1929, an eyewitness to the execution of Jews which she saw from her house located not far away from the Jewish cemetery. © Freddy Murphy/ Yahad-In Unum Adam R., born in 1926 :”Once the Jews were shot there were two local women who went to take their belongings. When the Germans knew that they shot them publicly at the market place.” © Freddy Murphy/ Yahad-In Unum Adam R., born in 1926, points out at the place where the Jews were shot. The pit was 20m long and 3-4m large.  © Freddy Murphy/ Yahad-In Unum The Jewish Cemetery in Lesko. There are two mass graves as there were two shootings. Firstly, they shot the elder and sick Jews in 1941, soon after the Germans entered the city. Afterwards they shot all the rest. © Freddy Murphy/ Yahad-In Unum

Execution on Jews in Lesko

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before :
Jewish cemetery
Memorials :
No
Period of occupation:
1941 - 1944
Number of victims :
170

Witness interview

Adam R., born in 1926, recalls: « Shortly after the German’ arrival they started to persecute the Jews. They rounded up all the elderly and ill Jews and took them to the cemetery to be shot. The Jews were marched in groups of fifteen people escorted by two Germans. There wasn’t a unique execution. I saw several executions carried out there by the Gestapo. I could see everything from about 40m. Once on the site, the Jews were forced to line up at the edge of the pit and the shooters fired at their backs. Before the execution, the Jews had to undress.” (Eyewitness n°377, interviewed in Lesko, on June 29th 2014)

German archives

“Back then there were about 2,000 Jews lived in Lesko. There was a Judenrat headed by Dr. Leon Teich. He was shot in August or September 1942 along with his family by the Gestapo members […] I was a witness to two crimes committed by the Gestapo from Sanok in Lesko. About fifty people were shot during each crime. I was arrested during the crime conducted in August 1942. I was ordered to register other people who were arrested at the same time as me. There were about 40-50 people. These people were taken on the same day to the Jewish cemetery where they were shot dead. I didn’t see the execution but I saw that they were taken in the direction of the cemetery. I heard gunshots coming from that direction afterwards. I was released with the help of the Judenrat head, Dr. Teich[…].” [Deposition of a Jewish survivor, Rena Dworecka, given on January 15th, 1968 in Bet-Dagan; B162-6346 p.57]

Polish Archives

  1. Date and place of execution: May – June 1943, Lesko;
  2. Type of execution (shooting, hanging or other): shooting;
  3. Personal data of the executed victims (Polish, Jews, other nationalities): Around 150 Jews from the city of Lesko and its neighbordhood were shot by Gestapo and gendarmerie
  4. Victims’ bodies were buried in the pit on the Jewish cemetery and in Krasickiego park; [Court inquiries about executions and mass graves in districts, provinces, camps and ghettos; [RG-15.019M Reel#10]

Historical note

Lesko is a town located about 91 kilometers south-east of Rzeszow – the capital of the region, and about 208 kilometers east-southeast of Krakow. The earliest known Jewish community dates back to the 16th century. In 1921, 61% of the total population was Jewish. However, by 1939 the Jewish population decreased and numbered about 30%. Before the outbreak of the war they were mostly traders and artisans. They owned 80% of the shops in town; including vinery, printing house and teahouse. There was a Jewish school in town as well as two synagogues and a Jewish cemetery.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

German army was the first one to appear in Lesko and it occupied the town from the 9th until the 27th of September 1939. After that Soviet army took over control which the Jewish population was happy about. A Jew was appointed as the city governor. The situation changed on the 24th of June 1941 when the German army occupied the city for the second time. In the spring 1942 a ghetto was created in Lesko that numbered about 2,750 Jews. By mid-July many Jews from the nearby areas, for instance from Cisna, Wola Michowa, Baligrod and Kalnica were resettled in the ghetto. The ghetto was liquidated on August 14, 1942, and the majority of the Jews were deported to Zaslaw while about 100 Jews, mostly elder and sick, were taken to the Jewish cemetery and shot. Those who managed to hide were executed at the Jewish cemetery. Thus, during summer of 1943 the Germans shot about 70 Jews who were hiding in their basements or at the attic. Those Jews deported to Zaslaw were either shot during September 1942 in the Zaslaw camp or deported to the Belzec camp where they were murdered.

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