Skawina | Lesser Poland

/ Stanislaw O., born in 1935, saw the shooting of Jews from Skawina in the nearby forest. © Victoria Bahr- Yahad-In Unum Wladyslaw S., born in 1921, recalls : “Jews from nearby towns and villages were brought to Skawina in carts. They were gathered together in the center of Skawina, the Germans wanted to have them under control.” ©Victoria Bahr- Yahad-In Unum Wladyslaw S., born in 1921, is drawing a sketch of the execution site:”There were two pits in the forest, one bigger than the other but both very deep. A few machine guns were placed nearby.” ©Victoria Bahr- Yahad-In Unum Stanislaw O., born in 1935, recalls: « The Jews had to walk in a column, stand in two rows at the edge of the pit. They were shot with a few machine guns” ©Victoria Bahr- Yahad-In Unum The research team during the interview © Victoria Bahr- Yahad-In Unum The aluminum mill in Skawina built in 1954 on the former mass grave ©The aluminum mill in Skawina built in 1954 on the former mass grave © Victoria Bahr- Yahad-In Unumictoria Bahr- Yahad-In Unum

Execution of Jews in Skawina

1 Execution site(s)

Kind of place before:
Period of occupation:
Number of victims:
About 150

Witness interview

Wladyslaw S., born in 1921, recalls : “One day in summer, all the Jews from Skawina were gathered together in the market square. The selection took place: young and healthy Jews were put in one group, old and sick or disabled Jews were put aside. After the selection, the group of young and healthy Jews was brought to the train station, which was located about 1km from the town center. They were put in the cargo wagon and transported somewhere. The rest of the Jews were put in trucks and brought to the nearby forest called “Bagienki” where two rectangular pits had been dug by Baudienst’s workers. The Jews were shot there and their bodies were buried with lime and soil.” (Eyewitness n°234, interviewed in Skawina, on September 14, 2013)

Historical note

Skawina is a town in southern Poland, situated in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship. The first Jewish family officially settled in Skawina only in the 18th century. This was due to the fact that since the 14th century, Skawina received the royal privilege of De non tolerandis Judaeis. In 1880, there were 86 Jews living in Skawina but at the end of the 19th century, the Jewish population increased. Jews from Skawina were mainly traders. In the 20th century, they had a synagogue, a mikvah, a cheder and many of them were members of the gmina council. Jewish shops and houses were mainly located in the market place, in the center of Skawina. In 1939, there were approximately 360 Jews living in Skawina.

Holocaust by bullets in figures

The Germans arrived in Skawina in September 1939. Many Jews managed to flee before the advancing German troops so that by the spring of 1940, there were only 290 Jews left in Skawina. In the autumn of 1940, a large number of Jews who had been expelled from Cracow were moved to Skawina, nearly doubling the town’s Jewish population. By the end of 1940, Jewish shops had been closed and the only source of income for Jews came from forced labor. In January 1941, 700 Jews were registered in Skawina. An informal open ghetto was in place by August 1942. On August 29, 1942, the Nazis decided to liquidate the ghetto. All the Jews were gathered in the market place, it was said they were about to be deported “to the East for work.” The next day, all the children, infants, the old and handicapped were loaded onto trucks and taken to the so-called Pobory Forest, where they were shot on the edge of a former mass grave. Polish workers from Baudienst were forced to bury the bodies after the execution. The rest of the Jews were sent to the Belzec extermination camp or to the Plaszow labor camp.

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