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This article is about the pogroms in 1941. For the 1918 pogrom, see Lwów pogrom (1918).
Lviv pogroms of 1941
Lviv pogrom (June - July 1941).jpg
Woman chased by men and youth armed with clubs, Medova Street in Lviv, 1941
Date June 1941 (1941-06) - July 1941 (1941-07)
Location Lviv, Occupied Poland (Nazi German Distrikt Galizien)
Coordinates 49°30′36″N 24°00′36″E / 49.510°N 24.010°E / 49.510; 24.010Coordinates: 49°30′36″N 24°00′36″E / 49.510°N 24.010°E / 49.510; 24.010
Type Killings
Participants Ukrainian nationalists
Deaths In excess of 6,000 Jews [1]

The Lviv pogroms were the consecutive massacres of Jews living in the city of Lwów (now Lviv, Ukraine), which took place from 30 June to 2 July 1941, and from 25 to 29 July 1941 in occupied Poland, during World War II. The German historian Peter Longerich and the Holocaust Encyclopedia estimate that the first one cost at least 4,000 lives.[1] It was followed by the additional 2,500 to 3,000 arrests and executions in subsequent Einsatzgruppe killings,[2] and culminated in the so-called "Petlura Days" massacre of more than 2,000 Jews all killed in one-month span.[1][3] Prior to invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939 and the ensuing Holocaust, the city of Lwów had the third-largest Jewish population in Poland during the interwar period, which swelled further to over 200,000 Jews as the refugees fled east from the Nazis.[4]

First pogrom[edit]

Immediately after the Germans entered Lviv, the prison gates were opened and the scale of the NKVD prisoner massacres revealed. An OUN member estimated 10,000 dead victims at Brygidki although the numbers were later adjusted by the German investigation down to 4,000 in total.[5] The German report drafted by Judge Möller singled out the Jews as responsible. The Einsatzgruppe C with the participation of Ukrainian nationalists organized the first pogrom,[6] chiefly in revenge for the combined killings at Lwów's three prisons including Brygidki, Łąckiego and Zamarstynowska Street prisons.[6][7] According to the German report, the majority of the dead victims were Ukrainian. Although a significant number of Jewish prisoners had also been among the victims of the NKVD massacres (including intellectuals and political activists), the Jews were collectively blamed for everything.[5] The allegations inflamed the local Ukrainians, who then took the violent actions against the Jewish population of the city.[5] German propaganda made newsreels that purported to implicate Jewish men in the killing of Ukrainians and the German Foreign Office relayed them to Switzerland.[5][8]

In the presence of the newly arrived German forces which occupied Lviv, an ad hoc Ukrainian militia – which would soon be reorganized by Himmler as the Ukrainische Hilfspolizei (Ukrainian Auxiliary Police) – was assembled to spearhead the first pogrom.[9] Jakob Weiss in his Lemberg Mosaic wrote that initially the Ukrainian militia acted independently – with the blessings of the SS – but later were limited to joint operations (Aktions) with German units or otherwise functioned directly under Nazi command. The Ukrainian militia also received assistance from the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (at least one member of the OUN-B, Ivan Kovalyshyn, has been identified by John Paul Himka from several photograph of the pogrom), unorganized civilian Ukrainian nationalists, as well as from ordinary citizens many of whom were youths. Holocaust scholar and survivor from Lviv, Filip Friedman, researched this event and uncovered an official Report of the Reich Security Main Office (dated 16 July 1941) which documents the massacre as follows: "During the first hours after the departure of the Bolsheviks [i.e. the Soviet Army], the Ukrainian population took praisworthy action against the Jews... About 7,000 Jews were seized and shot by the [Ukrainian] police in retribution for inhuman acts of cruelty [at Brygidki and the other prisons]..."[10]

Killings by Einsatzgruppe[edit]

Almost immediately after the first pogrom, in the beginning of July 1941 the Einsatzgruppe C attached to the Army Group South in the invasion of Poland under the command of SS-Brigadeführer Otto Rasch made some 2,500 to 3,000 arrests in Lviv and gathered the detainees in the municipal stadium located right next to their headquarters.[11] Among the prisoners kept overnight and beaten were also non-Jews suspected of collaborating with the Soviets.[2] The following day under the supervision of Otto Rasch himself the condemned captives were trucked away in groups to a remote killing site (see also Janowska). The executions were carried out by Einsatzkommandos 5 and 6 until dawn. Those still alive at the end of the day were released, although their number can only be approximated. The executioners left Lviv about a week later according to deposition of SS-Brigadeführer Erwin Schulz, to conduct similar actions in Berdychiv and Zhytomyr.[11]

Petlura days[edit]

A second pogrom took place in the last days of July 1941 and was labeled "Petlura Days" after the assassinated Ukrainian leader Symon Petliura.[1] This pogrom was allegedly organized by Ukrainian nationalist circles with German encouragement. On 25 July, Ukrainian militants from outside the city, joined the Ukrainian militia (which later became the Ukrainian auxiliary police) and participated in acts of violence against Jews. This group assaulted Jews according to prepared lists of individuals seen as collaborators with the Soviets. Jews were taken to the Jewish cemetery and murdered brutally. Ukrainian police circulated in groups of five and consulted prepared lists. Some 2,000 people were murdered in approximately three days.


According to historian of the Holocaust Richard Breitman 5,000 Jews died as a result of these pogroms. In addition, some 3,000 mostly Jews were executed in the municipal stadium by the Germans.[12] The German propaganda passed off all victims of the NKVD killings in Lviv as Ukrainians even though the lists of prisoners left behind by the Soviets had about one-third of distinctly Polish and Jewish names in them. Over the next two years both German and pro-Nazi Ukrainian press including Ukrains'ki shchodenni visti, Krakivs'ki visti and others, went on to describe horrific acts of chekist torture (real or imagined) with the number of Ukrainian casualties multiplied out of thin air, wrote Professor John-Paul Himka.[8]

The Lwów Ghetto was established in November 1941 on the orders of SS-Gruppenführer Fritz Katzmann, the Higher SS and Police Leader (SSPF) of Lemberg and one of the most prolific mass murderers in the SS.[13][14] At its peak, the Ghetto held some 120,000 Jews, most of whom were deported to the Belzec extermination camp or killed locally during the next two years. Following the 1941 pogroms and Einsatzgruppe killings, harsh conditions in the Ghetto, and deportations to the Nazi concentration camps, including Belzec and the Janowska concentration camp located on the outskirts of the city, resulted in the almost complete annihilation of the Jewish population locally. When the Soviet forces reached and took over Lviv on 21 July 1944, only 823 Jews found their way back to the Jewish Provisional Committee in Lviv by Dr. David Sobol.[15]


The nature of the Lviv pogroms and their identifiable perpetrators remain controversial. Documents released in 2008 by the Ukrainian Security Services indicated that the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists may have been involved to a lesser degree than originally thought.[16] However, this collection of documents titled "For the Beginning: Book of Facts" (Do pochatku knyha faktiv) has been recognized by historians including John-Paul Himka, Per Anders Rudling, Marco Carynnyk, and Franziska Bruder, as an attempt at manipulating World War II history.[17][18][19][20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d USHMM. "Lwów" (Internet Archive). Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 
  2. ^ a b N.M.T. (1945). "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals" (PDF direct download). Volume IV : "The Einsatzgruppen Case" complete, 1210 pages. Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council Law No. 10. pp. 542–543 in PDF (518–519 in original document). Retrieved 1 March 2015. With N.M.T. commentary to testimony of Erwin Schulz (p. 543 in PDF). 
  3. ^ Longerich, Peter (2010). Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-19-280436-5. 
  4. ^ Stefan Szende, The Promise Hitler Kept, London 1945, p. 124. OCLC 758315597.
  5. ^ a b c d Alfred de Zayas (2000). "The Lviv Massacre". The Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau, 1939-1945. AlfreddeZayas.com. Retrieved 2 March 2015. Cheka-GPU-NKVD by Prytulak (de Zayas). 
  6. ^ a b Євген Наконечний (2006). «Шоа» у Львові [Yevhen Nakonechnyi, «Shoa» u Lvovi] (Source: Історія @ EX.UA). Publisher: Львів: ЛА «Піраміда». pp. 98–99 or 50 in current document (1/284 or 1/143 digitized). ISBN 966-8522-47-8. Retrieved 13 February 2015. DjVu Document (7.7 MB) at Nakonechnyi_Yevhen.Shoa_u_Lvovi.djvu 
  7. ^ Jakob Weiss, The Lemberg Mosaic in Wikipedia (New York: Alderbrook Press, 2011) pp. 165-174 (Prison Massacre), 206-210 ("Petlura Days" or Aktion Petlura).
  8. ^ a b John-Paul Himka (2014). "Ethnicity and the Reporting of Mass Murder: "Krakivs'ki visti", the NKVD Murders of 1941, and the Vinnytsia Exhumation". Chapter: Ethnicizing the Perpetrators (University of Alberta). Retrieved 1 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Himka, John-Paul (2011). "The Lviv Pogrom of 1941: The Germans, Ukrainian Nationalists, and the Carnival Crowd". Canadian Slavonic Papers 53 (2–4): 209–243. ISSN 0008-5006. 
  10. ^ Jakob Weiss, Lemberg Mosaic, p. 173
  11. ^ a b N.M.T. 1945, Volume IV : "The Einsatzgruppen Case", ibidem pp. 165–167.
  12. ^ Richard Breitman. "Himmler and the 'Terrible Secret' among the Executioners". Journal of Contemporary History; Vol. 26, No. 3/4: The Impact of Western Nationalisms; essays dedicated to Walter Z. Laqueur on the occasion of his 70th birthday (Sep. 1991), pp. 431-451
  13. ^ Waldemar „Scypion” Sadaj (January 27, 2010). "Fritz Friedrich Katzmann". SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS und Polizei. Allgemeine SS & Waffen-SS. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  14. ^ Claudia Koonz (November 2, 2005). "SS Man Katzmann’s “Solution of the Jewish Question in the District of Galicia”". The Raul Hilberg Lecture (University of Vermont): 2, 11, 16–18. Retrieved 30 January 2015. 
  15. ^ Dr. Filip Friedman (2007). Zaglada Zydow Lwowskich [The Annihilation of Lvovian Jews] (Internet Archive). Chapter 2 (Wydawnictwa Centralnej Zydowskiej Komisji Historycznej przy Centralnym Komitecie Zydow Polskich Nr 4). OCLC 38706656. Retrieved 4 March 2015. English translation of the Russian edition (excerpts). 
  16. ^ "SBU declassifies documents proving OUN-UPA not connected with anti-Jewish actions". unian.net. 6 February 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  17. ^ "Falsifying World War II history in Ukraine". Kyiv Post. 2011-05-08. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  18. ^ Per A. Rudling, The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths, The Carl Beck Papers in Russian & East European Studies, No. 2107, November 2011, ISSN 0889-275X, p. 29
  19. ^ "Історична напівправда гірша за одверту брехню". LB.ua. 2009-11-05. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  20. ^ "Strasti za Banderoju (‘Bandera Passion’)". DefendingHistory.com. 2011-11-20. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 

External links[edit]

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