I recently read glowing reports about the city of Lvov in Ukraine, including one from New York Times foreign correspondent Clifford J. Levy, who listed it was the one place he’d like to revisit in 2011. The city, the largest in western Ukraine with approximately 730,000 residents, is a center of culture and architecture, some dating back to the city’s origin in the 13th century. From 1347 to 1569, Lvov was part of Poland, then the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1772. The city in Galicia was in the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1772 to 1918, then in the new Polish republic until 1939 when it was annexed by the Soviet Union. Germany occupied the area from July 1941 to July 1944. The Soviet Union recaptured Lvov in its push westward. Martin Buber, Emanuel Ax and Simon Wiesenthal were born here.
Levy briefly noted the once-large Jewish population was now quite small. Before World War II, it stood at about 100,000, then swelled to almost 200,000 as Polish refugees flooded the city. After a pogrom in 1941 by Germans and Ukrainian nationals, the Nazis established a ghetto in the city, shipping Jews in from towns across Galicia like Bukachevtsy. Most of them were sent to the Belzec death camp for immediate extermination, while those found fit to work were sent to the nearby Janowstra labor camp to toil as slave laborers in German arms plants. At the end of the German occupation, only 200-300 Jews remained.
Entrance to the former Lvov ghetto
Tonia and Hinda Mandel took their last breaths in Lvov, and certainly other of my family members passed through before their deaths. Here are the names and their stories to go with the brutal statistics.
As noted in my “Nazism in America” post (November 1, 2010), my great-grandfather, Abraham Bloomfeld, had three sisters, who for unknown reasons had the surname Winz. All were born in Burszytn in Galicia in the 1860s. One was Rose Winz, who married Meshulum Zalman Mandel from Bukachevtsy, a town in Galicia established in 1438, in 1884. Together, they had 10 children (all born in Bukachevtsy); the first three did not reach age 3. Numbers 5 through 8 immigrated to the United States. The fourth, Benjamin, and ninth and tenth, Charcha and Gitel, were not so fortunate, as Nazi deportations began in September 1942.
Rose Winz Mandel